Monday, December 31, 2012

Band of the Year is....

Full recap tomorrow, but congratulations to....


Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday Morning Music Shuffle - Last Hurrah? Mix

Well, it's Friday again, and we've reached what will likely be the final Morning Shuffle of 2012.  As I mentioned yesterday, I loaded up my new memory card with a random sampling of my digital music collection.  I left some space for all of the great new music to come in 2013.  

UPDATE on Band of the Year Voting:  As of the time I am writing this post, we've had in the neighborhood of 1750 votes.  Brooklyn based The Disappointment are holding a 5% point leave over Skeletons in the Piano who are from Upstate New York.  Currently, New York band The Great American Novel are running third.  You've got a couple more days to vote. Voting will end just before Midnight (Central Time) on Sunday December 30.  Also, we need about 200 more votes to surpass our total vote count for last years inaugural Band of the Year poll.  So keep the votes coming.  Here is where to vote:  CLICK HERE

Now for the shuffle which is pretty mind-blowingly eclectic and includes some songs I probably heard for the first time today.  After the JUMP!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

ICYMI - Ear to the Ground Presents Volume 1 (Download)

 Back in April, we released our first download compilation featuring many of the artists we had featured up to that point.  The release was timed so that it coincided with the high holy Record Store Day.  As a year end treat, for those who might have missed it, I'm linking one more time to the Download Page for the Compilation. You'll find all the details there.  And thanks once again to the great friend's who contributed to this collection of beautiful music.  Happy New Year everybody from your friends at Ear to the Ground.



Thursday Morning Music Shuffle - White Tornado Mix

So, here we go... after several months of waiting, I finally have a 32GB card in my phone and to celebrate I added a random 20GB (left room to grow) sampling of my entire digital library and then I randomly shuffled that 20GB and the resulting Morning Music Shuffle is after the jump:

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Rare Stream of Madness Post 2012 in Review (or something)

Well, well, well - 2012 is winding down.  A lot a of people are putting out Best of Posts and I have the Band of the Year thing - but that's for my readers to decide.  Rather than some neatly organized recap or whatever of 2012 in Music, I thought I would indulge in something I don't get to do very often and that is just write out my random thoughts as they occur to me.  I may supplement with some videos or other linkage, but for the most part this will just be my thoughts for whatever that is worth.

By my estimation, 2012 has been a great year for music. Chances are, you will hear someone name some random disposable pop stars of the moment as an argument that "music sucks these days" and then name from great artists/albums from the past and say, "music was better in the 60s/70s/80s/90s/2000s/2011"  The thing is, you can always make that argument and quite a few people always do.  Every year, the most mundane/crappy pop music of the day does not compare favorable to the classic/legends of the past - so it is in 2012 and so it will be ever after.

2012 was a great year for music because I say so. Not that my say so is that important, but it is for me.  Tons of great music have some through various media and into my ears.  Some of the best of 2012 include Anais Mitchell's Young Man in America, Bob Dylan's Tempest, Leonard Cohen's Old Ideas, Justin Townes Earle's Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now, Jack White's Blundebuss, Mumford and Sons' Babel, and so many more...

Our friends' The Dead Exs started a Relovolution. 

We met and fell in love with tons of great new artists. In addition to those in our Band of Year poll, we also discovered some great music from all over the world including: Cosmonauts, The Danbury Lie, Shelly Colvin, Brennen Leigh, The Grimm Generation, The Amboys, The Dogs of Oz, Christopher Paul Stelling, Citizen Smith, Aoede, Cupla and again so many more.  Finding great new music was not our challenge in 2012. Finding the time to post it all was our challenge.  While you are here - explore the site.  Over on the right side bar, down the page a little, is a list of tags from the most used to the least used.  Check out our posts about some of these bands listed above or about of the other music.

In addition to the new stuff, we remain conscious of the fact that was obsessed with music as we are, there is tons of older music which has slipped past us, and when we "discover" some great old music, we aren't ashamed to present it to you and admit that we missed out on the music the first time.

We also like to feature music which shaped our lives.  So, we can discover/ or rediscover the music of our youth and young adult lives. 

For Ear to the Ground, we are completing our first full year of blogging (we started in May 2011).  We outgrew the Band of the Week format, we introduced the Featured Artists of the Month, as always our signature feature is our Morning Music Shuffle. We released our first ever down compilation (on Record Store Day) which featured several of our favorite artists.

In 2013, we have big things on tap. Expect a volume 2 of our Compilation album. We anticipate new music and a Nashville tour stop by our friends The End Men, we are exploring options for moving our blog to our own Domain, we look forward to presenting tons of great new music and continuing to find exciting ways to bring the music to you.  



Wednesday Morning Music Shuffle - Devil's Toolbox Mix

 Good morning from cold and wet Nashville where we currently have flurries flying around (or as we call it, a blizzard).  Hope everyone had a lovely December 25th.  

Band of the Year voting took off over the long weekend. We currently stand at over 1,400 votes counted and The Disappointment holds about a 150 vote lead over second place Skeletons in the Piano.  Still time to vote (voting officially ends at 11:59:59 p.m. on Sunday December 30.  Any votes received after the cutoff will not be counted.   Vote here!

Today's shuffle after the jump:

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Morning Music Shuffle - A Ordinary Day Mix

Well, we're still and here and hopefully you are, too. How about some seriously cool tunes to celebrate the continued existence of this world which is clearly broken but still capable of awesome beauty when it puts its mind to it.

 Quick summary of voting in our Band of the Year Poll.  Total Votes: 534

Currently leading: The Disappointment Skeletons in the Piano
Currently 2nd:  Skeletons in the Piano The Disappointment -7
 Currently 3rd: The Great American Novel -31

Voting continues until 11:59:59 on December 30 cause even I am not music nerd enough to be checking results on New Years Eve* 

*okay actually I am, but I don't want you to know that.

 Shuffle after the jump:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thursday Morning Music Shuffle - Beginning of the End Mix

A cold and misty rain here in Music City USA.  Reminder: Voting is heating up in our 2nd Annual Band of the Year poll. Right now, the Brooklyn band The Disappointment have jumped out into the lead. Sci-Romance, Skeletons in the Piano, The End Me, and Black Jake and the Carnies round out the top so far, but it's early and anything can happen.

Shuffle after the Jump:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wednesday Morning Music Shuffle - Not Gonna Mix

Time is marching on.  Hey, if you haven't now is the time to vote for the Band of the Year. The E2TG elves are busy, so don't expect much outside of Morning Shuffles and Band of the Year voting SPAM, but we have great things on tap for 2013.  Shuffle it up after the jump:

Monday, December 17, 2012

E2TG Presents: The 2nd Annual Band of the Year Readers Poll

The time is upon us time to vote for the 2nd Annual Band of the Year at Ear to the Ground.  It's been a great year for music and for meeting new friends.  The main purpose of this poll is to give you another chance to experience some of our favorites for the year.

We will be presenting more information on each of our nominees. In the meantime, look them up and make an informed vote.


Monday Morning Music Shuffle - Can See No Reason Mix

Before we get to the shuffle, I have to take a moment to send out lots of prayers, good thoughts and love to everyone affected by the tragedy in Connecticut on Friday.  And let's face it, it affected most of us in some way.  Several bands we follow regularly here at Ear t the Ground live not too far from Newtown. The Velveteens who were featured artists a couple of months back had family members who attend the school. Thankfully, they were okay. For those of us with children, for those of us who have any compassion - this was an unspeakably devastating event.  But talk we must.  So, I sent out the prayers and good thoughts and love to those in Newtown and those in Connecticut and those in the United States of America and those in the world.  We are sick of violence, but we feel powerless in the face of it.  But, if there is power to break the cycles and change the old ways, it will... it must come from within us.  And it won't all come in these fleeting moments of national and international grief and outrage.  The necessary changes have to come over time, even as the immediacy of the horror begins to fade and blend with all the previous horrors which were once in our immediate path.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Music Shuffle for a Thursday Afternoon Drive - Jail Guitar Doors Mix


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wednesday Morning Music Shuffle - Dozens and Dozens Mix


Trying to use the new technology to satisfy the philosophy and integrate the dichotomy that resonates in the... that's it... 

Anyway, so I'm experimenting with some new ways to bring you the Morning Shuffle.  Today, for example, the Amazon links are up top in the handy widget thing.  I got this handy, dandy bluetooth speaker, so I started the shuffle on my way in to work and continued it for my walk up the steps of the capitol.   So, tons of great music.  Let's get to it.... more on the shuffle after the jump....


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tuesday Morning Music Shuffle - Any Day Now Mix

Good morning from chilly Nashville.  A cold drive and walk into today marvelous sights and sounds, plus a pretty cool random shuffle of the whole sound card....(Update: yeah, yeah, it's not morning any more... the day just kind of jumped on me... *sigh*

Shuffle after the jump:

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Morning Music Shuffle - Stereotypically Stereotyping Mix

I try hard not to stereotype and I also try not to fall back on tired old clichés... however, then it comes to be a Monday Morning and it's raining and the car won't start, and I find myself understanding why people strereotype Mondays as bad and begin to hear in my head, that song about rainy days and Mondays....

We are backFriday didn't go as planned, and we didn't have a shuffle.  I can't believe we are already to the 10th of DecemberI have to say, I am going to have to say no to any new major undertakings until after the first of the yearThe exception, obviously, is the 2nd Annual Band of the Year Poll.  We are hard at work rounding out the last couple of "wildcard" spots - and the poll should be open to receive votes by the end of this week.  As way of a preview, today's Shuffle comes from a playlist I'm creating with all of our Band of the Year candidates.  Shuffle after the jump...

2012 has been a big year for our friends The Dead Exs.  They released a fabulous new album called Relovolution and spent part of the fall playing some shows in the Longhorn State including some dates with the legendary Ray Wylie Hubbard.  Today we have the cautionary song Don't Mess With The Girl from Texas from the new record.  Let's hope The Dead Exs took their own advice.  The Dead Exs finished a close second in the Band of the Month poll for December 2011 (which we rolled into 2012), and they were an easy pick for a wildcard spot in the BOTY poll.


The California band Sci-Fi Romance also had a big 2012 and they, too fell just short in their BOTM competition in May.  The band released their ambitious and awesome album The Ghost of John Henry in May. From that record, which is a retelling of the story of the steel driver facing the possibility of obsolescence at the hands of modern machinery, comes the heartbreaking Steam Drill Blues.


Here is a CXCW performance of another track from The Ghost of John Henry


The Great American Novel are a great American band and Kissing is a great American record and by the way American Weekend is - you guessed it - a great American song.  The band ended up as co-Band of the Month is September when voting ended in a tie.  


We have a video of a different song from Kissing.
The upstate New York band Skeletons in the Piano were our Band of the Month in June and they currently have a Kickstarter deal going to get support for pressing vinyl for their forth-coming album.  Check out that information here.  Only a few hours to go and they are on the cusp of reaching their goal.  You could put them over the top.  In the shuffle we have the lead track from the band's 2011 album Stranger on a Damned Staircase. The song is called The Old Hound Dog.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thursday Morning Music Shuffle - Swearing Off Mix

I'm late and running short on time - so to the shuffle

The Grimm Generation - The Ear 2 the Ground Interview

It's not secret that I love music.  Honest - it's not a secret - ask anyone.  And, it's part of my nature to constantly seek out new music.  I don't just do it because of this blog - this just gives me a more legitimate excuse for doing so (as if I need an excuse - legitimate or not).  I make presenting and featuring new music an important part of what we do here.  You also may know that I have pretty eclectic taste in music. Jazz, Punk, Experimental Hip-Hop, Americana, Alt-Rock, Alt-Country, Alt-Pop-Folk, Acoustic Baroque Dubsteppy Metal - I don't care what you call it - if it's got a good beat and I can dance to it, I'll give it an '8'!

What was I talking about... oh yeah, Music - good music.  I've tried from the start to keep the energy positive. If I like it, I'll write about it; if I don't, I probably won't.

Now, that being said - out of all the music I've "discovered" in course of writing this silly blog - the number of times I've been blown out of the water by a band or song or record has been very low. By blown out of the water - I'm talking about being bowled over - on the spot.  Love at first thing: The Music Edition. I am not going to attempt to name those few bands for one because I'll leave somebody off and two because... just because...

Bottom line here people is that The Grimm Generation was one of those handful of bands that rocked my world and didn't even buy me dinner first. But, now I'm hooked and they can't shake me off - like that person you met at a dark bar and...well you see where I'm going with this.

In an earlier post, I said something to the effect that The GG make music that sounds like it has always existed. They make unabashedly great music.  Every time, I hear The Grimm Generation, I find myself thinking - why doesn't everybody in the world know about this.  And then I blame myself, and say I could've done more!  So I find an excuse to write more.  If asked why I love this band so much, I would not have been able to say for sure, but recently, I had a chance to "talk" via good old fashioned e-mai to Jason and Carmen of The Grimm Generation and as you will see, everything became crystal clear...

E2TG: How long has The Grimm Generation existed and what has changed since the early days of the band?
THE GRIMM GENERATION: The Grimm Generation formed in 2010 based on the post-divorce transcripts, hang ups and habits that we each brought to the online dating table where we first met in 2007. It started off the two of us trading stories and then singing them. And we’ve grown a sound now that serves the songs, with a band who bring colors in we never considered . We still write too much and release online too easily, but we seem to be getting heard.
E: Why The Grimm Generation?

GG: We felt we grew up at a strange age in time: post Free Love and firmly ensconced when Reagan was in the white house. Our older kin was squarely in the 70s drug culture and we got 'just say no'. We felt gypped and decided to sing about it. Which is why so much of our material is based on the consequences of 'kicks'. We are boho hedonists, but can't help but feel guilty about it. We self-titled the age group The Grimm Generation, reflecting on how 'we believe in fairy tales and we believe in nothing at all'.
E: What do you like best about being in a band?

GG:Starting something in the kitchen that ends up on the stage. Watching the songs flourish with the additional instruments and the way they make the song shine.

E: What do you dislike the most?
GG: The pay.

E: How does the songwriting process work for the band?

Carmen Champagne: All songs are written by both Jason and I. We pick through the best of them and send to Lys (guitars, banjo, bells, lapsteel, mandola), Eric (bass) and Julie (cello). And then, magic. We met everyone online or at gigs, so we didn't have a long history with the band, but what they bring is the sound we needed, turning our acoustic threats into fully arranged promises. 

E: Your latest release is called Coming Home, how did that come about?

C C: Jason played with Adam Hagymasi in The Citizen Spy and kept in touch. Adam was a crazy-good guitar player. Adam offered to have us out to his place in Collinsville to record a couple songs. We jumped at the chance.
The songs were two new songs (Blink, Im Gone and Your Body Betrays You) we wrote and three old ones we loved and never had a chance to record. We went to Adam’s a couple of nights and recorded basic guitar and vocals to drum clicks and let Adam have at it. He created five beautiful pieces of work. Sound, stylistically, hitting upon different moods. Very Grimm mood music.

E: Any big plans for 2013?

GG: Recording the new CD is what we’re all about for 2013. We tend to turn gigs into themed events and we have a couple of those coming up as well. We try to make everything we do fun for us and hopefully that joy translates. So far, so good.

Shifting gears:

E: What is the first music you can remember hearing?

C C: AM pop/rock mixed in with the Morning Voice of WTIC and French Canadian pop tunes playing on my parents stereo.

Jason Klug: For me it’s my older sister play Black Sabbath 'Volume 4' and Deep Purple 'Machine Head' while I played with the album covers.

E: When do you begin making music?

J K: I wrote my first song at 13 and did my first gig at 15 at a local teen center. I eventually learned to play some guitar and started writing solo around 18.

C C: When I met JPK.

E: Was there a moment, when you thought, this is it - this is what I'm meant to do?

GG: When we first got together, it was just one guitar and two singers writing something, hopefully meaningful…and kind of catchy. We love these songs like our dumb, errant children and as we meet people and play with them, the songs grow and learn to walk on their own. We thought (and maybe sometimes still think) our stuff is a little outside for rock. But when the songs hit people, lyrically, it gets meaningful.

E: Did you get much encouragement when you began playing music? Any discouragement?

GG: Liquid courage but no encouragement.

E: What music is in the Grimm Generation record machine these days?

GG: Well, the Grimm Generation, lol! But we also are digging The Brian Jonestown Massacre and Mountain Goats 'All Hail West Texas'. Also a lot of Casiotone For The Painfully Alone and M Ward.

E: Any music that you really dig that would surprise the casual observer of the band?

GG: Jason’s a big Belle and Sebastian fan. We both listen to a lot of Prince. Carmen enjoys some Goth industrial from time to time. We tend to wear our influences on our sleeve, like Morphine and Elvis Costello.

E: Social Media and other technology has changed the way music is made and distributed. This can be a good thing or a bad thing? Do you think the bad out weighs good or vice-verse?

GG: In our case, the internet has been good to us. It gave us the opportunity to present what we do without going through traditional channels. We adapted to what would ever get our songs heard. We met most of our band through social media. The internet has been good to us.

E: All things being equal and time and monetary restrictions aside, do you see The GG releasing tons of music in a short time or releasing less music to focus more on each song.

GG: The answer is always releasing tons of music in a short time. We’ve got words We are spazzes. It’s a core Grimm element.

E: If you could pull any band from any time to see play live, which band and from which part of their timeline would you choose? Not thinking in particular about an historic show but more a hypothetical scenario?

C C: Queen, 1977. One of my biggest regrets is not having been able to experience the super showmanship of Freddy Mercury live.

J K: Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Imperial Bedroom me, Elvis and The Attractions were the hottest, ballsiest, smartest and most emotionally effective of rock bands.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wednesday Morning Music Shuffle - Bobbin' and Pretendin' Mix

 So lot's on my mind, but anyway, I had a great walk in accompanied by some cool music, and I wanted to share that music with you - because that is what I do:

 The Morning gets under way with a recent Featured Artist from Knoxville Tennessee. It's Tim Lee 3 with the song Long Way to the Ground from their 2010 double album Raucous Americanus.

It's amazing and disturbing how often the next song seems incredibly timely.  Politics sometimes bore me, but I feel like a hypocrite talking to some people and not speaking out against the madness I hear coming from their mouths and their keyboards....

 Your Racist Friend is one of the many classic tracks on They Might Be Giant's excellent third album - 1990s, Flood.


For the final two songs of today's mix, the shuffle machine takes us to the American West with a pair of songs from LA artists who were pioneers in the punk and alt-rock/Americana movement.  

Dave Alvin (ex-Blasters and ex-X) released West of the West in 2006 which was his tribute to California roots music.  Included on the album was his cover of Merle Haggard's 1985 song, Kern River.  I swear I could listen to Dave Alvin's amazing vocals all day long.

(Here's Dave doing another River song)

(and here's Merle's version)

We close out the shuffle with Dave Alvin's one-time bandmate, John Doe of X, with a track from his 1990 solo debut Meet John Doe with the achingly beautiful It's Only Love.

(I couldn't find a video for It's Only Love... so as a bonus treat - here's Doe covering The Replacement's classic Here Comes a Regular)


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tuesday Morning Music Shuffle - Easy Listenin' Mix

Well congrats again to Walking for Pennies and Nena Anderson for being voted Bands of the Months for November/December combined.  Next, we turn our attention to the 2nd Annual Ear 2 the Ground Band of the Year Poll.  Throughout this year, we've had some epic battles for Band of the Month.  Who can forget the nail biting photo finish from January when the mighty, mighty MAKAR edged out The End Men, so the battle between South of Ramona and Sci-Fi Romance with the boys from Utah coming out on top.  Or the no-holds-bar Texas death match when Upstate NY band Skeletons in the Piano narrowing defeated Georgia's own Killing Kuddles.  Well, soon all of these bands and more of your favorite E2TG featured Artists will be pitted in a Battle Royale.  Remember, no biting, eye gouging or hitting below the belt.  And mostly remember, our main purpose is to have another opportunity to present some of the great music that has reached our ears this year. So keep it clean and have fun.

Before we jump into  the Band of the Year battle, we'll take a look back at our inaugural Band of the Year Poll.

But, now, we have a Morning Shuffle to present so, let's stop jibber jabbering and get to it... 
Shuffle after the jump...


I tend to  think of The Sea and Cake as Easy Listenin' Music for the cool kids.  And, I don't mean that in a bad way at all. There is an appeal to music that mellows you out.  It's why so many alternative boys and girls take guilty and secret pleasure in listening to the classic Easy Listenin' songs from the 70s.  The Sea and Cake provide the mellowness free of any guilt.  Up on the North Shore from 2011's The Moonlight Butterfly is a good introduction to the band.  


Former Drive By Trucker, Jason Isbell along with his fabulous band, the 400 Unit, are tearing it up on the Americana rock circuit.  In the shuffle today, we have a bonus track from the Deluxe edition of Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit album - a cover of Big Star's When My Baby's Beside Me which was on Number 1 Record.

By 1987s See How We Are, Billy Zoom had departed from X and was replaced on the album by ex-Blaster Dave Alvin.  Alvin left shortly after that and was replaced by Tony Gilkyson for a subsequent tour.  See How We Are found the band fully embracing the emerging Americana/Alt-Country sound which had been hinted at in their earlier. (I contend that even their early punk days, Billy Zoom's rockabilly guitar style was a natural precursor to the later more explicitly countryesque sound). Today's shuffle contains When It Rains from See How We Are.
Could not find a video for When It Rains - here is an early version of the album's title track

We'll close out today's Morning Shuffle with a Classic from Hank Williams - Hey Good Lookin'.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Monday Morning Music Shuffle - Radio On Mix

Happy Monday!  Man, it feels like forever since I've done a Morning Shuffle.  Still trying to figure out how to do this on my new phone... 

Anyway, it's a beautiful day in Nashville and very warm for early December.  

Our good friend, Don Ryan just released a new song called Vultures.  We told you about it - did you see it.  Well, here's where to find it --- HERE

Don finished 3rd in our First Annual Band of the Year voting.  We start off a Monday Shuffle with the song Midtown Waiting from his first album Tangle Town.  


The second best thing to come out of Idaho (I love me some taters) is Built to Spill. The band has been releasing albums for close to twenty years.  Our song today, Aisle 13 comes from the band's most recent album, 2009 There is No Enemy.


The Godfather of Alternative Music - Lou Reed has released about twenty solo records - which does not count his collaborations or his work with The Velvet Underground.  An impressive career.  Here is his take on 80s style hip-hop with his song, The Original Wrapper from his 14th solo album Mistrial.


More Meat Puppets is a good thing.  Here is the instrumental Six Gallon Pie from their 1991 album Forbidden Places.  The album is currently out of print.  Here's a link to Amazon to buy a physical copy of the song.

The Modern Lovers first album (self-titled) was recorded in 1971 and 1972, but was not released in 1976.  Nevertheless, it stands as one of the greatest Rock records of all time.  This original incarnation of  the band which featured Jonathan Richman, Jerry Harrison (Talking Heads), David Robinson (The Cars), Ernie Robinson and John Felice (The Real Kids), only made one album but recorded some the most important songs of the Rock era - Pablo Picasso, Modern World, Girlfriend, Hospital and perhaps most famously - Roadrunner which is the next song in our shuffle.


And we close out today's shuffle with a song from an underappreciated 80s artist, The Call.  Almost everyone knows their song The Walls Came Down.  Today though we have another track from the band's third album Scene Beyond Dreams which we got from their 1991 compilation, The Best of the Mercury Years.


 Could not find a video of One Life... so here's the classic , The Walls Came Down.

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