Next month Ray Lamontagne will release his 4th studio album. This time he seems armed with more than just his guitar and that raspy yet endearing voice of his. On August 17th, Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs will release God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise. Ray seems to have taken a new approach with this record. It appears that he wanted his backing band to have more of their fingerprints on the album. Not only is this his first record without his long-time collaborator/producer Ethan Johns, but he didn’t let his backing band (the Pariah Dogs who are listed on the album cover for the first time) hear the new songs until they day that they cut them.
I have to admit I was slightly disappointed with LaMontagne’s last effort, Gossip in the Grain, but I believe that we have yet to hear the best that this timeless troubadour has to offer. Ray recently told Rolling Stone that “I want to write music that will out live me. And I haven’t done it yet.” While I would disagree with that statement, I love to hear that he isn’t satisfied with what he’s given so far and it makes me all the more excited to hear not just this new record but the many that will assuredly follow.
I’ve been quite lazy in my posting around here lately. I’ve been shooting down idea after idea in my head, until something magical just kinda fell into my lap. Before I just endlessly spill the details of my personal life, let me just get right into why I’m back and what I’m bringing with me. Last fall I had this idea of making weekly mix-CD’s; some for myself and some for others, but at least one a week. The plan kinda fell through after only a month and a half, but I did get a great mix or two out of it. One of the mixes was for my friend Courtney, and I told her that I was going to make her an amazing mix-CD just because I wanted to. So I set to work, and I put it together in about a day. I took me a few listens to make sure I was happy with, but it was still the same songs. After a couple days of trying to catch each other, I gave her the mix-CD in a white cd-envelope with the track-listing scrawled in the blank space. She loved it. Now, fast forward to three days ago. She texts me out of the blue at 11pm to tell me how she still loves the mix. I hadn’t spoken with her in over a month, nor did we ever text each other much. I knew she was serious. I told her it’s time I made her another one.
And that’s how I got here. So I got to work one more time. I worked real hard to fill the CD the first time; with a whopping 23 tracks and 78 minutes of music, that sucker was chock full of goodness. I decided that this time around, I was going to go for quality over quantity.
Track 1. I’m Actual – The Format
While this song is the second track, of The Format‘s album Dog Problems, I found it a good opener to my mix for two reasons. First, was the opening line, “Can we take the next hour / And talk about me / Talk about me, and we’ll talk about me/ Talk about me, and we’ll only talk about me”. I liked this, because from the end of this song, the mix is approximately an hour long. The second reason is that I just love this song. It sets a tone of beautifully orchestrated music, preparing your palate for what is to come. It’s like the hostess seating you at the table, and handing you the menu.
Track 2. To the Dogs or Whoever – Josh Ritter
The transition between songs is perfect. The guitar comes in from out of nowhere, and before you know it you’re right in the middle of the song without even noticing that it really changed. This song doesn’t really follow a theme from the first song, it’s just here because I like it. It’s fun to sing in the shower, and in the car. It’s a good mix-cd song, so it’s on here.
Track 3. Float On – Goldspot
I don’t want to diss on Modest Mouse, but I really love this cover. Now this song is a spring-ish kind of song. The full name of this mix is Someday Soon Spring Shall Surface So Sing Some Songs, so this is the first song that starts to set the theme of the mix. This is the shortest “song” on the mix, and ends almost as abruptly as it starts. It’s an enjoyable listen, and is a great addition to the mix.
Track 4. I Can See The Pines Are Dancing – A.A. Bondy
This one goes off theme, for almost a complete change of pace. Had I not already burned a few copies, and made fancy artwork/cases, I might reconsider the placement of this song. This song feels more… fall or winter to me than spring. But that’s almost the point of it all, that someday spring will come, but as for now we must enjoy the winter while it lasts. Or maybe not. Do pines dance in spring? I guess you just have to listen and decide for yourself.
Track 5. Remain – Tyrone Wells
Back on track with more spring-ness now. I first heard Tyrone on the internal Starbucks radio CD/mixer, and went home and bought his album on iTunes. His voice reminds me of a musician from Tulsa named Ben Kilgore, and the people familiar with both artists seem to agree with me. A solid track, and another great mix-CD song.
Track 6. Ramona – Guster
I think it should be a law that every mix-CD contain at least one Guster song. Nathan (our site founder and editor-in-chief) introduced me to them years ago, and I have since fallen in love. This song works well for this mix in both the sound/feel department as well as lyrically. I live in Oklahoma, as does the recipient of this mix, so when I found a great Guster song that mentions this great state I got a little giddy. “Ramona, you’re Miss Oklahoma /and you miss Oklahoma.” It’s a great line, and a great, great,GREAT song. Perhaps my favorite song on the mix, and the one I really wanted to leave an impact with.
Track 7. Life in Disguise – The Slip
This song pairs wonderfully with Ramona, and is great in it’s own right. A great spring-time night-driving song if I ever knew one. It finds great company between tracks six and seven, serving as the proper transition between the two. This song is amazingly soothing, and always makes me feel better.
Track 8. Cartwheels – The Reindeer Section
If you listen to this track, you’re probably going to say, “Hey that voice sounds familiar!” Well you’re right! You’re hearing the voice of Gary Lightbody, front-man of alt-rock band Snow Patrol along with some other Irish indie rockers as part of the super-group The Reindeer Section. It’s a great song. Just beautiful. This is the kind of night-driving song that WILL make you start day-dreaming. Consider yourself warned.
Track 9. Pills – The Perishers
I really loved the album Let There Be Morning by The Perishers. I mean, really love. I probably listen to at least one song off it every day. But enough about me, and more about this song. It’s kind of dark, talking about being dependent on substances to be able to sleep because a relationship is going so poorly, but not telling their significant other the truth about the root of it all. I just like how it sounds. Oh well. Next song
Track 10. Somerville – The Pernice Brothers
I was gifted this album by a friend, and I love it. This song is about being stuck in a dead end town and getting out of it with the person you care about. While I’ve never been there, Courtney is from a small town in Oklahoma called Harrah, so I figured why not have a song about small towns. It has a spring-y feel to it. It feels good. This is the kind of song you sing when you’re driving down the highway with the windows down. It’s cathartic and simple, but I love it.
Track 11. Life is Beautiful – Vega4
This track is another key song of the mix. I was really aiming this one at her tastes, and I hope I got it right. The song is magnificent, and paints a beautiful picture in my mind. The pre-chorus just sucks you in, and then when the chorus hits that first time you just explode with wonder. When the song finally climaxes, your mind is doubly blown. This is the kind of song that needs to be at about the the halfway mark of a mix, and that’s just where you find it. The song keeps my listener hooked, and will surely keep listening after such a great song.
Track 12. You Do – Until June
Now we slow it back down. This song starts soft, light vocals and the sound of train cars. The piano and heavily-fx’d guitar wash over the audial canvas in a motion that will relax every thought in your mind. The song’s lyrics are christian based, but at it’s root appeals to the higher notion of just being able to understand the unexplainable. I like to imagine the night sky, stars and satellites overhead as I sing the hook over and over to myself.
Track 13. Julia – The Beatles
I love how delicate this song is. It sets up the mix for a much bigger song to follow, and The Beatles just really rock the subtly of this one. I suppose this song could have been better place if Courtney’s name was actually Julia, or if I was in love with her, but neither are true so we just take it at face value.
Track 14. I Ran Away – Coldplay
This next treasure is a rare Coldplay b-side to their hit single The Scientist. It’s a shame that it got lost amongst the hype of it all. For Coldplay haters, this song follows a predictable structure that can grow tiresome as it continues. If you like Coldplay, this is a great rare track; otherwise, skip it.
Track 15. Middle Distance Runner – Sea Wolf
This band is on my list of artists that belong on every mix I make. I wish more people were aware of their stupendous awesomeness. In retrospect I should have chosen a song off their newest album, but this one just kinda stood out to me. I’ve dangerously danced in the shower to this one a few too many times. This song sounds a bit like musical raining. I had the chance to listen to it in the rain a week ago, and it was awesome. Perfect rainy songs are perfect spring songs. Done and done.
Track 16. Morning Light – Graham Colton Band
Here’s the climax of the mix! You finally made it! This is such an appropriate song for the climax because of the first line, “Sometimes I think I pass you walking on the street, and I believe it.” What does this have to do with me or Courtney? Well, Courtney moved back home to Harrah and I had no idea. I had thought for the last three weeks that she was still living on-campus at my school. So I guess the song was true in that aspect that I thought I was seeing her on the street when I really wasn’t. This was merely coincidence, I found this out after I had made the mix. Trust me, its a better story than the real one.
Track 17. One Last “Whoo-hoo!” For The Pullman – Sufjan Stevens
Seven seconds of Sufjan. Are you ready?
Track 18. Within You – Ray LaMontagne
AAAAAaaaaaannnd that wraps it up. This great track from Ray is a brilliant close to his album, and now to my mix. This song is beautiful and just does a great job of tieing up all the musical loose ends, leaving the listener with a feeling of completeness as the song fades into empty sound.
And that’s it! I was so proud of it that I had to come share. I want to come back and share my greatest playlists more often, as well as get back into the remix saddle very soon. So be on the lookout for more great posts coming your way.
Until then, I hope your ears bleed someday soon. Ω
I just stumbled upon a great cover song by Ray LaMontagne and just had to share it with you. It’s a fun and upbeat rendition of the legendary Woody Guthrie’s “Vigilante Man.” Well thanks to Music Induced Euphoria for bringing this song to my attention. Hope you all enjoy it.
When in search of a musical artist that is head and shoulders above all other counterparts, Ray LaMontagne does not disappoint. Armed with a guitar, beard, and a truck load of God given talent Ray has been on the gold paved road in a sea of solo artists whielding a wide array of styled love songs. His smooth, raspy voice accompanied by melodious guitar offers up a perfect combination, sure to spread love and happiness wherever played. Add the horn sounds of big band and you have, “You Are the Best Thing,” off of LaMontagne’s newest album “Gospel in the Grain.” This performance on The Late Show with David Letterman, illuminates all of the talent Ray LaMontagne has been blessed with. Be sure to enjoy and share this with those you love.
Hailing from Long Beach, CA, utilizing the sounds of british bands, and add a heavy dose of Freddie Mercury (Queen) inspired singing styles and you have the Cold War Kids. Performing “Relief,” off of their second and newest album, Loyalty to Loyalty, this grungy, dark song truly illustrates what separates them from all of the pop music being produced today. With heavy use of keyboard, drums and no guitar, it provides a great foundational beat, partnered with the very different vocal styles of lead singer Nathan Willett; you have their performance that showcases who the Cold War Kids are on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. I have personally been impressed with all of the work the Cold War Kids have created, enjoy this great performance! I hope it causes more interest in listening to the great music the Cold War Kids have become known for.