ABSOLUTELY CUCKOO: MINNESOTA COVERS THE “69 LOVE SONGS”
Presented by 89.3 THE CURRENT
Proceeds donated to OutFront Minnesota (www.outfront.org)
THE LEGEND OF THE ACTUAL WOLF: There are outlaws, and there are outlaws. Some practice the pose and cultivate the image, though seldom dirty their soft, bourgeois hands with anything actually outside the law. When they do, it is often despicable, irresponsible or just plain mundane. The Actual Wolf (aka Eric Pollard), however, is a real outlaw and has pled guilty to it. Between the bust and before the trial AW recorded a pair of EPs, each showing ‘another side of the Wolf’.
The first is USA, an everyman’s acoustic album that channels both Woody and Zimmerman on a smuggler’s road trip on the cop-laden corridor of the I-80. The second—Lightning & the Wolf— conjures a 30-something’s symphony to Gawd, a rock EP at times so ethereal that it floats like smoke up into the aether, at others so earthy & grounded you can almost feel the parole. This is not music that pleads for forgiveness—the man has given his freedom as a sacrament at the altar of his beliefs. Rather, these are songs of redemption. Actual Wolf has paid a price, but like many deals with devils, seems to have come out the greater for it.
[City Pages "Picked 2 Click" 2012: #6]
"By about the one-minute mark of Al Church And State’s debut album—right when the group’s adenoidal harmonies kick in atop some arena-ready crunchy riffage—it’s pretty clear that Al Church is one big Weezer fan (so much so, he apparently used to front a tribute band to the group). Thankfully, Church’s Rivers Cuomo fixation extends only to the band’s formative adolescent-angst-anthem and sweater-destroying era—no Raditude-styled b.s. here—and doesn’t dominate the entire album. More than mere power-pop geeks, Church and his highly capable band, which includes former Aneuretical frontman Matthew Sandstedt, also make convincing stabs at shimmering balladry (“She’s Okay”), and sinewy Spoon-styled post-punk (“Stick Up”) and keep the music briskly moving throughout the album. If only Weezer itself showed this much range." // Grade: A- // by Rob Van Alstyne // Onion A.V. Club
Born and raised in rural Minnesota, Meg Ashling has deep roots in the prairie. Inspired by the search for truth, beauty, and love, she preserves the bardic traditions by weaving new tales out of ancient threads. With a catalog spanning nearly a century, she is inspired by music of many styles and many different eras. An accomplished vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, Meg has been playing and writing music for the past 18 years and plans on releasing a full-length album soon.
Songstress Bethany Larson reaches to new lengths with the first full length release, When We Reach the City. This follow up album to Bethany Larson’s first EP release Sticks & Stones includes a brand new backing band, The Bee’s Knees. Bethany Larson & The Bee’s Knees bring us through the tides of a relationship, heartbreak then up to selffulfillment. “Don’t You Want to Know?” grooves with a great rhythm section featuring Brennan Goetzman on Bass and Sara Horishnyk on Drums. Brother Chris Larson backs up Bethany’s vocals with boldness and assurance. Throughout the album Bethany exudes confidence, poise and commitment to her songwriting.
Raised in Austin Minnesota, Bethany grew up a preacher’s daughter with three older brothers. She began singing with the church choir at the age of five and picked up guitar at fifteen. Moving on to college, Bethany maintained a love for music while studying classical voice. She began performing at more traditional venues in 2006 such as The Acadia Café. Since then she has moved up the scale, most notably performing for the debut of The Southern Songbook “Lush Life” with local band Heiruspecs, backing her on the jazz standards “My Funny Valentine” and “Someone to Watch over Me.” When We Reach The City might be a sophomore album for Bethany, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. It retains all the trademarks of a sophisticated musician. Recorded at Humans Win! studios, this album brings Bethany Larson & The Bee’s Knees to the forefront of the Twin Cities music scene.
Brianna Kocka, otherwise known as her stage name CAETANI, is a singer-songwriter from Minneapolis, Minnesota. With the help of bassist Matt Uttech, drummer Levi Stugelmeyer and guitar-god Steve Bosmans, CAETANI released her first record, The Black EP in April of 2012. Jon Schober, music intern at MPR's The Local Current wrote, "I can’t quite describe what CAETANI reminds me of, but this lead single off the forthcoming The Black EP hinges on the power of frontwoman Brianna Kocka’s voice, one of the most distinctive and striking timbres I’ve heard in a long time," about CAETANI's first single, ‘A Shield, A Fire.’ CAETANI has recently finished a track on an upcoming Magnetic Fields cover album with friends Brian Gollnick, Paul Flynn and Peter Bregman, set to be released in the winter of 2012. In the meantime, CAETANI is writing her second EP, playing local shows, and planning her escape of modern society to an off the grid cabin in the woods.
The three emcees in The Chalice are known quite well individually in the Twin Cities music community. Lizzo has a popular project called Lizzo and The Larva Ink, Sophia Eris has released a steady stream of material (and expects a new record shortly) and Claire De Lune has appeared as a guest vocalist on tracks by MaLLy, Guante and The Tribe & Big Cats! It should then come as no surprise that when the three team up as The Chalice, they are creating some of most dynamic music in Minnesota, fusing individual influences like soul, funk, R&B, reggae and straight up hip-hop.
All transplants to the Midwest, you can hear what each woman brings to the mix. Claire De Lune harnesses the sultry, jazz-inspired nighttime of New York City. Sophia Eris hails from Dayton, OH, or the “Gem City” as it has been deemed, and she certainly exudes the queen-like qualities that exist inside all women, much like a younger Erykah Badu. And Lizzo lashes out with her fresh, southern bite, a result of growing up in Houston.
The Chalice are still relatively new, but things seem bright — the response to their one public song “Push It” has been overwhelming. It’s a set-up that Minnesota hasn’t seen in a very long time: three respected female hip-hop artists under one roof, harnessing the girl-power that Aby Wolf, Dessa, Maria Isa and Desdamona have created in recent years. It’s time for the young ones to take over the reigns. With heavy support from the Rhymesayers roster, well-regarded South Minneapolis rappers and other musicians throughout the country, we think The Chalice will have no issue getting the attention that is warranted. [Jon Schober, 89.3 The Current]
World champion jug band. Born during a lightning storm in 2005, the Como Ave Jug Band is a gang of friends who more or less taught themselves how to play music, sometimes on instruments they made or found around the house. They guarantee you will have a good time if you come to their shows.
Martin Devaney has always embraced his local identity, literally dubbed the Mayor of St. Paul by friends and compatriots in the music scene. A classically trained musician with a jazz sax background, the accomplished singer-songwriter got his start playing with revered hip-hop ensemble Heiruspecs before embarking on a solo career. After self-releasing an EP in 2001, Martin followed with four full-length albums, each garnering more praise and attention from press and fans. Described as “a charming, bushy haired, sweet voiced tunesmith” by No Depression, Martin became quickly known for his poetic, yet unpretentious songs and inspired live performances.
Now, over four years after his last release, Martin Devaney unveils his best work yet. The West End, another project with Mark Stockert and Underwood Studios, features an all-star cast of musicians Dave Boquist (Son Volt), Steve Murray (Molly Maher and Her Disbelievers) and Mick Wirtz (Bellwether). It also highlights the long-time collaboration with Jake Hyer (vocals, violin, mandolins). Harmonies with Hyer provide the bread and butter to Devaney’s artful, sincere songs, and obviously guided much of The West End’s creative energy. In addition to his own band, Devaney plays sax with Twin Cities’ indie-folk darlings Roma Di Luna, recently mentioned in Rolling Stone, and heads the local rock band Crossing Guards. In the past decade, Martin Devaney has shared the state with and impressive list of national acts, including Andrew Bird, Mason Jennings, The Jayhawks, Semisonic, Soul Asylum, Billy Bragg, Evan Dando, Mary Lou Lord, Robbie Fulks, Dan Bern, Ike Reilly, Damien Jurado, Rhett Miller, Mike Doughty, Mary Lou Lord, The Roots, Southern Culture on the Skids, and Richard Buckner.
Vain Vladimir Mainstream, Linus Calvin Johan Kangas, Thomas Matthew Tier, The Dude McGhee, Lorin David Nelson, Kevin Joseph Long, Erik Starbuck Korhonen, Noah "God" Johnson, Tyler "David" Hansen, Fiona Jean Watson, Marky Ken Masters, Allie F, Jon "Danger" Danger (High Voltage), Robert "Fones" Fones, Paul James Treiber, Roni Goldstein, Vanesa Windschitl
After a stint in New York City as drummer for Dan Melchior's Broke Revue, GD Mills (aka Sir Gregory Fuck Knight) packed up two drums, a cymbal, two sticks and a microphone and headed west to Minneapolis on an art school scholarship. In the aftermath of a violent 'destruction of school property' performance which ultimately lead to his expulsion, Mills formed Fuck Knights in 2007 on the very same day as the I-35W bridge collapse.
Basement keggers soon became crowded bar gigs, word-of-mouth became press coverage, self-made cassettes became 7" records released on regional and then European labels (including an EP recorded by Gary Burger from The Monks), and shared bills with the likes of King Khan and BBQ Show, Greenhornes, Fleshtones, Black Diamond Heavies, Nobunny, Brimstone Howl, Human Eye, Jacuzzi Boys, Lover!, and Monotonix became tours throughout the U.S. Great Lakes/Rust Belt region, and continental Europe.
"Fully endorsed" by Maximumrocknroll and described by Mongrel Zine as "way cool psychedelic garage punk", Fuck Knights' raging, ragged rock and roll, according to Detroit-based Smashin' Transistors, "pays homage to the 60s but doesn't care to sit around and play dress up because it's been proven that jumping in a time machine is corny. They just wanna play loud, probably get drunk and maybe get laid (or get arrested trying)." The band released its first full-length, Let It Bleed, on the Italian label, Boss Hoss Records, in June of 2011 and followed it up with their 3-song Real Love EP, released July 2012 on the Chicago label, Cold Slice Cassettes.
Dan Israel’s not your average rock star. Or maybe he’s a little too average. Or maybe he’s not really a rock star at all. A lot of people just know him as that kid from St. Louis Park, Minnesota, who grew up to be a husband, parent of two, and state worker. He rarely goes out, doesn’t keep up on the latest trends, barely knows how to burn a CD on a computer, and is hardly on the cutting edge of anything. And yet, the dude can flat-out write a song. They certainly thought so in Austin, Texas, where he was named one of that music mecca’s Top 15 songwriters (along with heavyweights like Alejandro Escovedo) in 1995 during Israel’s brief tenure there. They certainly think so in his home state of Minnesota, where he was named Songwriter of the Year in the 2006 Minnesota Music Awards.
Backed by his new band the Cultivators, Israel released a string of critically-acclaimed albums in the late ‘90s and ‘00’s, with 2000’s painfully-honest solo acoustic outing Dan Who? stirring up serious buzz after St. Paul Pioneer Press music critic Jim Walsh raved “Somebody buy a billboard, hire a blimp and give this guy his due already. His name is Dan Israel, one of the mad ones, one of the strugglers, and he just made the record of his life.”Drawing comparisons to Freedy Johnston, Tom Petty, Randy Newman, Elvis Costello, and Wilco, the songs and discs kept coming, and so did the praise, if not the sales. Lauded by national publications like No Depression, Paste, and Performing Songwriter, and even receiving a 4-star review in the UK’s Uncut, Israel continued to cement his reputation, as he garnered opening spots for the likes of Morrissey, the Tragically Hip, Loudon Wainwright III, Iris Dement, Todd Snider, Marshall Crenshaw, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, and yes, Foghat, Rick Springfield, and Blue Oyster Cult (true!).
He has fans all over the world, gets airplay in 32 sovereign countries recognized by the United Nations, has toured the UK and all over the U.S. of A., has showcased numerous times at SXSW and other industry conferences, has members of the Jayhawks, Son Volt, the Honeydogs, and many other notable bands play on his albums, and yet Dan Israel is just, well, an ordinary guy. Sort of. But now this “ordinary guy” returns with his 11th album, Crosstown Traveler, which demonstrates once again why Dan Israel is anything but ordinary. The songs virtually bleed over with pain, joy, frustration, wonder, and heartache, all backed by shimmering roots-pop production and set to indelible melodies that set up shop in your subconscious and resist attempts at eviction. Featuring ten songs that range from joyous odes to his young daughter (“I’d Never Make it Through” and “Second to None”) to staring-through-the-looking-glass takes on depression and mortality (“Up to You” and “No Closer to Home”), “Crosstown Traveler” is alternately downbeat and uplifting, soaring and crashing, and finding Dan Israel to be, at the ripe old age of 40, just now finding his stride.
Brianna Lane is a gifted singer/songwriter in true Americana form. She writes and performs on an acoustic guitar as well as a banjo, crafting songs that are clear-eyed and pure—with an integrity derived from her gritty, unflinching emotional honesty. Long time music-writer/author/rock-journalist Jim Walsh recently wrote that Brianna Lane is “…a star in the making. She’s poised, ambitious, a great writer, a soul singer of the first order, and an accomplished guitarist.” (Star Tribune)
Lane grew up in Minnesota and still calls Minneapolis home. In her eight years of touring Lane has shared the stage with Billy Bragg, Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, Colin Hay, Dar Williams, Patty Larkin, The Weepies, Jennifer Nettles (of Sugarland), and numerous other well seasoned musicians. She has also shared powerhouse, leg-powered bicycle tours with Signature Sounds’ artist Peter Mulvey. Lane has released three full length solo records and one duo EP with Cahalen Morrison as “Harbor Collective”. Her latest full-length CD is entitled Let You In.
Matt Latterell is a singer/songwriter based out of Northeast Minneapolis. Known for its small-town vibe and strong artistic culture, the neighborhood has become the perfect home to Latterell, who began writing songs in the small town of Foley, MN some thirteen years ago. In the spring of 2010 Latterell released his first full-length solo album, Charades, which he described in an interview with KFAI (90.3 FM) as a “love letter to Nordeast.”
Prior to Charades, Latterell had released a few albums with his now defunct band, Hokey, as well as a few solo EPs. In 2008 Latterell released the EP, The Sweetheart Boy of the Rainbow Café, a satirical take on a real-life murder mystery from his hometown. Though the lyrics were unflinchingly explicit, the CD (issued with storybook and stickers) helped Latterell begin to make a name for himself in Minneapolis. He soon became a regular solo act at his favorite Northeast bar, the 331 Club. Developed during this period, Charades was inspired by NE nightlife and laments a young folk scene’s fantasies of Americana in the midst of a cheap, modern, commercial world. Upon the release of Charades, Holly Newsom (Zoo Animal) joined Latterell’s live show on drums. The two would perform as a duo for the next year.
On New Year’s Day 2011, Latterell surprised fans with the release of a free online single (The Kids Are All Adults/Hostage). From January to April he released a new single each month, finishing each just a day prior to release. In May, however, Latterell found himself laid off from his job and his perspective had shifted. Matt abandoned the monthly singles project to use his newly freed time to finish an album. On October 13, 2011 Latterell released Life On Land at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis. The album is being released on Suntanman Records, a new venture founded by Holly Newsom. Sonically the album is a firm departure from the bastard folk sounds of Charades, with bigger songs and deeper arrangements. To better recreate the material live, Matt and Holly welcomed Reed Pagel (Hokey) on bass and Steve McPherson (Big Trouble, Crossing Guards) on guitar to the lineup.
Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, singer-songwriter (and original member of the alt-bluegrass band The Pistol Whippin’ Party Penguins) Jake Manders, started writing songs and playing guitar when we was 14. To remember them all he recorded them on a handheld tape cassette player before finally transferring them to his laptop. Today Jake has a collection of more than 200 original songs... In 2009 he started recording for his first full-length album at Slow Studios with Ben Kyle of the alt-country band Romantica. Over the two years it took to complete the album Jake invited many of his friends from the music scene to add their talent to the ongoing project. Some of the songs on the album were written during the two years in which they were recorded while others were written 5, 10 or even 15 years prior.
Jennifer has been singing all her life, but when the hardship of a failed marriage drove her to the Hexagon Bar every week for the Country Jam, she really found her niche. Learning a hundred classic country covers by Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline and Hank Williams, among others, Jennifer learned guitar and started sitting in with The Dieselfitters (Clay Williams, Richard Gunderson and Steve Everett), becoming comfortable on stage and eventually joining the band. When Markey set out on her own in 2006, she brought on bassist Eric Paulson (of The Twin City Playboys); Clay Williams joined on as lead guitar in 2009; Matt Steele wraps up the current line-up on drums.
4’10 ft and fit to slap some funk and attitude in some pop face! This young Korean American pop artist hails from Minneapolis, MN. After a summer of touring the Midwest, Europe, and South Korea, MAYDA released her second full length album, Tusks in Furs, with the help of world-class drummer, Michael Bland, DJ Chris Neviator, Sonny Thompson, and Tommy Barbarella (Prince, Soul Asylum, Nick Jonas & the Administration). Teaming up once again with producer, Bland and company, the album will continue the new brand of funk pop that remains to be a mystery to name yet rightfully belongs to the self-taught songstress herself.
She has written and played with the Sugar Divas, Jellybean Johnson of THE TIME, Chance Howard of THE TIME and PRINCE, Phil Hansen, Word For Word, the Boy Sopranos (Doomtree Crew), Soul Asylum, and many more. Her music has gained local and national recognition. After touring in South Korea with the hip hop group Alliancen (Denmark), she has continued to work in and out of the studio. Featured on The Rachael Ray Show, Good Morning America (MARCH 1st, 2007), Radio K, Channel 4, KARE 11, and mentioned by writer Jim Walsh of The Mad Ripple, Mayda represents a new wave of Twin Cities music.
Like a tidal wave of sound Me and My Arrow's musical performances soak through every pore of the human body. The blend of strings, pianos, synths, guitars and urban clanging make for an orchestral sound that is larger than large. The pieces fit together in unique ways, coming together to create a new sonic palette the likes of which haven't been heard since the invention of the sonic boom. When the band comes together to vocalize either in harmony or unison one cannot do anything but feel. With every show the band gets better.
"There's been a lot of talk about the size of local band Me & My Arrow, but it's warranted, since there are only a small handful of Minneapolis stages that can accommodate them comfortably. They've recently trimmed down from nine members to a relatively lean seven, but in order to pull off the anthemic, heavily layered sound that's become the band's stock-in-trade, the largeness is a necessity rather than overkill. Just the coordination involved in this mini-orchestra should tell you that M&MA are ambitious enough to stand on equal footing with more established projects, and with the release of their debut LP they'll take a major stab at attracting the kind of attention that could transform the band into the nationally recognized indie darlings they deserve to be. That the band's tour concludes with this hometown show at the not-long-for-this-world Uptown Bar could prove to be fitting, as the decline of one Minneapolis mainstay could signal the rise of another." [Ian Traas, City Pages]
Maggie Morrison's pitch-perfect, brazenly unaffected singing instrument is perhaps (Lookbook's) most well-selected keepsake from the glory days of the discotheque. Live or on record, Morrison never slumps, never slides, never half-asses a single note. Like an Annie Lennox sans buzz cut, Morrison has a voice that manages to be forcefully intimate, as if emanating from some phantom space between your ears, and unseeably remote. Something in Morrison's live delivery may account for this—she has as little use for meaningless mannerisms as she does for tremolo. As chillingly immaculate as a sine wave, Morrison and her voice have an inhuman perfection to them. Fortunately for her, and for us, Voight-Kampf tests are still a distant fiction. If she's a replicant, we won't raise a peep. [City Pages, Best Vocalist (Female) 2010]
The Parlour Suite is the surf-pop project, formed by Mpls husband-wife team, Joel and Inga Roberts. The band is supported on drums by Joshua Perez and on bass by Josiah Quick. Their most recent record, Everyone's Looking, was released on April 13, 2012. Recorded at Flowers Studio, by Peter Anderson, the release wields ethereal vocals, spanky Fender Strat, and analog organ tones. Reflective of cityscapes... and hot beaches, their stories are soaked in vintage-pop sensibility.
Having featured music in: Lifetime series Drop Dead Diva, with accompanying soundtrack distributed by Sony Pictures; Summer ad campaign for Minnetonka Moccasin, along with a featured interview on the company's website; Showtime's The Real L Word. The band is currently working with Secret Road, out of Los Angeles, on upcoming film and commercial projects. The Parlour Suite has toured extensively playing: Nashville, NYC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and more. And has shared the stage with: The Civil Wars, Friends, Madi Diaz, Priscilla Ahn, The Tallest Man on Earth, Corporal (featuring Michael Shannon of Boardwalk Empire), David Ramirez, Dark Dark Dark, and more...
The Prairie Fire Lady Choir is a Twin Cities based singing group open to ladies of all levels of musical skill. The choir currently has more than 60 active members, and includes singers who work as stay-at-home moms, scientists, health-care providers, teachers, artists, researchers, social workers, graphic designers, academics, writers, program administrators, therapists and servers.
The PFLC is artistically-directed from within and marshals the collected skills of its singers to operate through a consensus decision-making process. The choir’s repertoire includes original songs written and arranged by members of the choir, as well as original arrangements.
The mission of PFLC is to create a space where ladies can come together to sing, take risks, stretch skills and enjoy our and others’ talents. Our choir participates in and supports our local arts scene through performances and creating opportunities for collaboration with our singers. The PFLC has performed at a wide variety of events and venues, including the Walker Art Center, Cedar Cultural Center, Minnesota State Fair, Northern Spark series, First Avenue, Honey, the Zombie Pub Crawl, the Co-Kisser Poetry and Film Festival, and they sang the National Anthem at both a Saint Paul Saints and a Lynx game.
The Roe Family Singers are a Good-Time, Old-Time Hillbilly band from the Mississippi-headwaters community of Kirkwood Hollow, MN. Led by wife & husband Kim Roe (Best Female Vocalist, City Pages/Village Voice) and Quillan Roe (Accident Clearinghouse), the band blends characteristic old-time sound with rock & roll urgency and influence.
Joined by as many as seven musicians, and featuring banjo, autoharp, guitar, and washboard, the band and family of fans have been regularly filling Minneapolis’ 331 Club every Monday night since 2005. In 2010 the band opened for both Doc Watson and Del McCoury, each playing at the Cedar Cultural Center; the Grascals at the MBOTMA Winter Bluegrass Weekend; and Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur at the National Jug Band Jubilee in Louisville, KY. In 2011 the band was awarded the prestigious McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians, and has previously won the title of “World's Best” at the 29th annual Battle of the Jug Bands. With a mix of original music and contemporary takes on old-time, traditional, and gospel tunes, every performance raises a ruckus.
My name is Rupert. I dance and hype bands that I love. One day, while I was getting ready for work, I heard some music that got me dancing right there in my bedroom. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t care. I felt happy. I just danced. And that changed my world. I followed that band to clubs, bars, beer gardens, ballrooms, high schools, colleges, churches, charity events-even mega malls, marathons, and outdoor festivals – Anywhere people could hear the music, feel the music, and find the happiness I felt the day I started dancing.
When the band broke up, I was blown out. I was so sad my body felt physically broken. I stopped dancing and went back to just being a working man. But happiness wouldn’t leave me alone. I stumbled across a new band and fell in love again. Then another band caught my ear. I discovered that being happy isn’t hard. All it takes is letting go and connecting to the moment. Now I’m on a mission: I want to find the most kick-ass bands, dance with their fans to make the moment awesome, and show people how easy it is to be happy. Dance On!
We Are The Willows is the project of one singer/songwriter Peter Michael Miller. He writes, arranges, and performs a good deal of the sounds you hear on his recordings. Peter writes simple songs that take musical hints from folk, pop, singer/songwriters like Bob Dylan, Randy Newman, and Paul Simon that leave room for exaggerations and embellishments that may nod to contemporary indie rock bands like Grandaddy, Sigur Ros, and Sufjan Stevens.
Peter usually plays alone. Though his recordings would lead one to think otherwise, he simply can't afford to bring all his friends on the road. However, whether Peter is accompanied by a string quartet in an attentive theater, blaring electric guitars and electronic sound samples in a bustling bar, or is quietly communicating his songs solo in a cafe, We Are The Willows is about imagination. It's about understanding the world and re-imagining it in a new way...with music. In the past few years We Are The Willows has released a full length record on Amble Down Records, the same collective that has given rise to Grammy winner Bon Iver and S. Carey, been voted the Twin Cities' best male vocalist by City Pages, been featured on Daytrotter, MPR's 89.3 The Current, and spent over 7 months touring all over the country.
With We Are The Willows' newest release, Places, which was self released in June of 2011, Peter flirts with the idea of being a band. The songs on Places have proven to be his most collaborative and involved recordings to date. With oscillating violins and cello, arching vocal harmonies, steady but subtle drums and bass, Places has turned out to be a step toward musical maturity. Currently, Peter is writing a collection of songs that are based on over 350 letters exchanged between his Grandparents while his Grandfather was stationed in the South Pacific during World War II. The songs will be an attempt to understand and communicate notions of love, life, death, and mundanity in a time of national and personal crisis. As Peter reads the letters and begins writing the songs, it seems that in understanding his Grandparents, he may end up understanding something new about himself and about the world. We Are The Willows manifests itself live in many ways. However, whether Peter is accompanied by a string quartet in an attentive theater, blaring electric guitars and electronic sound samples in a bustling bar, or is quietly communicating his songs solo in a cafe, We Are The Willows is about imagination. It's about understanding the world and re-imagining it in a new way; in a song.
“I couldn’t overcome feeling I’d been dropped into the novel world of Cormac McCarthy’s gritty western fiction meets pure Southern Gothic. Lyrics are imbued with a straightforward clarity and darkness. Melodies echo universal hard-scrabble characters and striking vistas….You can nearly feel the fading heart, the grieving, the loss, the warm fluids running across cold fingers.” - Refueled Magazine
“it feels like the late nights spent on porches across America at the end of a party where those remaining are a little too drunk to get home and so sit, smoke cigarettes and wait for sobriety or dawn, whichever comes first.” – Cakein15.com
“Western Fifth sing a sad little song with perfectly placed piano bits and vocal howls that tug at the heartstrings, making for a great soundtrack to a cold night warmed only by whiskey and neon signs in a dive bar...sounds like a dirtier, grittier Wilco, with a touch of Up Records-era Modest Mouse, thanks to their howling guitars and strange, raspy voices." - MFR
"There are many, many points in the music where a lethargic phrase all of a sudden takes a breath and then slams into you with what can only be called full-on lethargy, akin to being broadsided by a bus." - howwastheshow.com