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Archive for the ‘The Head and The Heart’ Category

I can’t say enough good things about these Seattle sweethearts, The Head And The Heart, whose onstage energy and chemistry has won over many ears, hearts and wallets and whose Sub-Pop self-titled debut record earned them #28 on NPR’s All Songs Considered’s best records of 2011. Sound On The Sound released a bonus Doe Bay Session today of THATH playing No One To Let You Down with some friends against the beautiful backdrop of Orcas Island.

I am hoping 2012 will bring THATH more success and me a sophomore album to add to my collection. For now, enjoy:

 

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The end of the year marks a great opportunity for reflection. For a music enthusiast, it’s a perfect excuse to make a list of my top albums and songs of the year. This was relatively challenging for me. I tend to think and live very much in the moment. I get swept up in what’s going on around me right now. And for this exercise I had to abandon, for a second, what was playing in the moment, and reflect on what had been playing over the course of the past 12 months. I am not sure I entirely succeeded. But, alas, below I present to you my top 20 songs and top 11 albums of 2011!

Top 20 Songs of 2011

20. Long Days, Fast Years by Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers

19. Someone Like You by Adele

18. Another by The White Album

17. Kiss Quick by Matt Nathanson

16. If I Wanted Someone by Dawes

15. Eagle’s Nest by Caroline Smith & The Good Night Sleeps

14. Café Lights by Hey Marseilles

13. Everything (Overture) by Chris Bathgate

12. Anyhow… by Tyler Lyle

11. The Nature of Our Kind by Vandaveer

10. We Will All Be Changed by Seryn

9. Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes

8. Down In The Valley by The Head and the Heart

7. Poison & Wine by The Civil Wars

6. New York by Blind Pilot

5. Old Pine by Ben Howard

4. Blackout by Pickwick

3. 1957 by Milo Greene

2. Beggar In The Morning by The Barr Brothers

1. Honey Jars by Bryan John Appleby

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Top 11 Albums

11. Gift Horse by Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers

10. 21 by Adele

9. Ashes and Fire by Ryan Adams

8. Dig Down Deep by Vandaveer

7. The Golden Age & The Silver Girl by Tyler Lyle

6. The Barr Brothers by The Barr Brothers

5. Barton Hollow by The Civil Wars

4. Fire On The Vine by Bryan John Appleby

3. Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes

2. The Head and The Heart by The Head and The Heart

1. We Are The Tide by Blind Pilot

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If my previous post did not adequately convince you of THATH’s pure talent, perhaps this incredibly beautiful sound on the sound video from the Doe Bay Festival will do the trick:

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The first time I heard The Head and The Heart I was sitting in the backseat of a friend’s car, driving through Seattle. It was my first time in this picturesque Pacific Northwest city (home to many of my favorite bands) and in spite of 5 days of 100% precipitation, I was ready to pack up and move. Mike and his girlfriend were sitting in the front seat, singing along to the catchy lyrics: “How’s that bricklayin’ comin’? / How’s your engine runnin’? / Is that bridge gettin’ built? / Are your hands gettin’ filled? / Won’t you tell me, my brother?” Lyrics to a song that would soon become my anthem.

Seven months later, I have seen THATH in concert twice, introduced their music to numerous friends, and danced around to their sounds with my roommate in our apartment on countless nights. To say I am an avid fan would be an outrageous understatement.

The Head and The Heart is a six-piece “folk-indie-pop-rock” (description on their website, I swear) band that in a little over two years has taken Seattle (and the rest of the US) by storm. Their story is one that gives hope to the hundreds, thousands (millions?) of hopeful artists aspiring to make a life in music.

The band formed after Jon Russell and Josiah Johnson met at open mic nights at Conor Byrne, a bar in Seattle’s Ballard district. Soon thereafter, Jon convinced his high school buddy Tyler to move up from Virginia and Charity, Kenny and Chris (then Conor Byrne’s bartender) completed the crew. In June 2010 the band self-recorded their debut 9-song self-titled album, which quickly became a top 10-seller in Seattle and spread like wildfire across the country. In November of 2010, The Head and the Heart joined the ranks of Fleet Foxes and Iron and Wine when the prolific Seattle label Sub-Pop records signed them.

The Head and The Heart’s explosive energy will knock the wind out of you from the first chord to the last note. Their infectious music swells with three-part harmonies, the spice of Charity’s violin and unique voice and the magic touch of Kenny on the keys. Their lyrics paint Americana stories of love, loss and home. On stage they have a chemistry that is visceral constantly giving each other smiling nods of reassurance. In the audience, you feel at once connected—to the notes, the lyrics, the pounding beat—and left out of what is clearly a special family.

Down In The Valley is one of my favorite songs on the record, though I actually prefer it live. Jon’s raspy, dark voice grabs you and is perfectly complemented by the soft, pure sound of charity’s violin. The song builds slowly to the crescendo where the bass drum starts softly beating and is joined by the keys. Before you know it, your whole body is shaking to the music: “I am on my way back to where I started / California, Oklahoma / And all of the places I ain’t ever been to but / Down in the valley with / Whiskey rivers / These are the places you will find me hidin’ / These are the places I will always go.”

Josh McBride was not recorded on the album but has proliferated on youtube and vimeo and has quickly become a classic. It has an antique quality and feels like a timeless tale. Josiah’s deep, pure voice sings: “You are in the seat beside me / you are in my dreams at night / you are in grand mother’s wisdom / and you are in grandfather’s charm.” The following video is the most beautiful recording of it I’ve seen yet.

Rivers and Roads has become The Head and The Heart’s go-to closer at concerts. Josiah closes his eyes and sings of nostalgia and anticipation. The song builds up energy until every member of the six-piece band singing at the top of his and her lungs. Just when the music is at its loudest, the band goes silent and Charity steps up to belt out her solo: “Rivers and roads / Rivers ‘til I reach you.” Her unique, organic, almost gospel voice has become a fan favorite. This video of THATH performing Rivers and Roads at Doe Bay in 2010 does not quite capture the energy of a live, audience-filled show, but it sure is beautiful!

I’m not sure what is in the water in the Pacific Northwest, but these guys have been drinking a lot of it. They are selling out shows left and right and are about to head to Europe to open for My Morning Jacket. I hope they will then return to the studio and record a highly anticipated sophomore album. For now, buy their album, listen to it on repeat, and join the ranks of adoring THATH fans.

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