Deas Vail – Birds And Cages

In Music on October 27, 2009 at 10:40 AM

Birds And Cages

I am really proud to announce that the first new Mono Vs Stereo release comes out today! Matty T and I have been placed in charge of signing bands to the label and I can’t think of a better possible first release than our buds in Deas Vail and their amazing new record Birds And Cages. Unfortunately we were not able to be a part of the recording process because we signed them after the recording was completed (although Matt does make a guest vocal appearance), but our good friend and my dad-in-law Mark Townsend produced the record and it sounds great (he also produced our new album). I am not only excited about these songs, but about the amount of great music these guys are going to continue to make. I have been a fan of this band since they put out their first record on Brave New World and I have been trying to put bugs in our friends ears about taking them on tour since then because they are a great live band. Wes is seriously one of the best singers that I have ever seen and it seems so effortless for him to be incredibly accurate. The band is out on tour with our friends Mae, who is a perfect fit for the band to tour with, and it seems like things are just lining up right now. They also have a tour in Jan/Feb with Owl City and Lights, which will be great!

I will talk about the record a little bit now. I am really pleased with the sequence of the album, Matt had some ideas that I would have never thought of and I really like how the album starts with a lot of energy. All the songs have so much depth and interesting things going on, it is definitely not an album you can just figure out on the first listen. But it is one you can enjoy on the first listen…although I think the more you listen to it, more and more tracks begin to stand out. One of my favorite things about the record are these little moments of songs that are really powerful and memorable. One of my favorites happens at the back half of the first track “The Things You Were”, everything cuts out except a little delay guitar and I just love the group vocals as well as Laura Beth singing more than on their earlier albums. The song “Excuses” is a great pop song that is actually interesting to listen to…I love the Americana rock feel of the verses. Followed by what is maybe my favorite song “Cages”. The ending on this song is so powerful, it was a big question of whether it should be the last track, but we really didn’t want it to get overlooked. Matt sings on “Birds”, which is a really cool song that features a cool old 60’s organ sound that reminds me of the The Never Ending Story or something like that. The album almost seems to unfold like a book or a children’s story, which goes perfectly with the artwork.

Some bands need to be in the right place at the right time to succeed (which is why there is so much bad music in the world), but I believe that Deas Vail is such quality music that it is just a matter of people hearing the record and giving them a chance. Please check it out.

buy the album for $7.99 on iTunes!

check out the band – listen to “Excuses” and check out their tour dates!

A Few Favorites…

In Music on October 22, 2009 at 4:02 AM

Hello kids, I have been a little under the weather lately, I don’t think it is the swine flu, but I can’t be certain that it is not terrorist induced. I am finally feeling a little better though. I have been thinking a lot about music lately and I was recently inspired to make an all time favorite music list by my sister Ashley. I was trying really hard to make it an even 5, but I decided 6 would have to be the number. Just another note – I decided to pick all newer bands, stuff I listened to in high school and bands that have made a huge impact on me, not just one album, but the entire catalogue. I left off a few classic bands that I love like The Beatles and Tom Petty to name a few. It is weird how music just chooses to connect with people at different times, and the cool thing about picking your favorites is that no one can question it. Please leave your top 5 or so in the replies if you feel so inclined.

Something else, slightly off the subject that I have been talking about lately is how hard it is for one band to put out more than 2 great records. I mean, most bands have a few good records and then there are just 2 that are way better than the rest. It is really hard to get past that point. I think a greater number of older bands have been able to do it – The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, etc, but it seems hard to make a list of more than 10 bands that I like that have put out more than 2 great records. I don’t know exactly what makes this so hard, but let me know if you feel differently about this. You look at like Weezer, Radiohead, Foo Fighters, it is just really hard for me to say that they have more than 2 great albums.

Ok, just one more rant before I post my list. I recently heard from an unnamed source that (this person) doesn’t listen to Coldplay because they are the same thing as Nickelback, just vanilla radio crap. Are you serious? I just cannot respect this opinion, I feel like it is classic snobbery. Even if you said “I don’t like Coldplay”, I would say “cool, that is your opinion”, but to put them on the same level as Nickelback is just not correct. I never realized there was a negative backlash toward Coldplay, I thought everyone just liked them. I don’t think I realized this until I picked “Viva La Vida” as my favorite album of 2008 and most people disagreed. It was honestly a hard decision, and I was swayed by just seeing an amazing Coldplay concert, but it doesn’t change the fact that it is a great album and Coldplay is arguably one of the most consistently great bands of our time. All 4 of their albums are great in their own way, and none is obviously better than the others. I understand that people will always hate on what is popular, but Coldplay makes good music and I am not embarrassed to call myself a fan. (I would be embarrassed to call myself a fan of Nickelback, by the way), but enough about them…ha.

Here is my top 6 list, in alphabetical order, with my favorite album in parenthesis…

– David Bazan/Pedro the Lion (Control)

– Death Cab For Cutie (Transatlanticism)

– Denison Witmer (Of Joy And Sorrow)

– Jimmy Eat World (Clarity)

– The Get Up Kids (Something To Write Home About)

– Sufjan Stevens (Greetings from Michigan)

Also, I thought I would list a few links to what I am currently listening to. I feel like I get asked that question all the time, and I am never sure what to say. But here are a few things that I enjoy.

David Bazan – Curse Your Branches – This is the only thing that I want to listen to all the time lately, I think it is brilliant. I don’t think that music needs to be theologically congruent because songs are feelings and ideas, not your life theology. And I really like to question things, and I like when other people do as well. I think it is the only way to really find out what you believe.

– Deas Vail – Birds And Cages (our first release on Mono Vs Stereo, coming out next week, more info to come)

– Mew – No More Stories Are Told – unbelievable album

– Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix – just too catchy

The Rocketboys – 20,000 Ghosts – great band, I can’t wait to hear more from these guys

– Sherwood – QU – Good friends and I am so happy for them that this record turned out so great.

We Were Promised Jetpacks – These Four Walls – I am normally not into thick accents in music, but I love the Scottish brogue and great songs, and guitar sounds…

anyway, let me know what you are listening to lately, as well as your all time favorites. Isn’t it cool that Owl City is blowing it up right now? I love that guy and I wish him the best. Have a wonderful day friends.
Stella and a Steel Drum

I am so glad that Stella loves music! She is an amazing singer.

Bike Blog NYC

In Bikes on October 6, 2009 at 3:06 AM

I had a great day today. We had the day off and were lucky enough to spend it in New York City. I always really like coming to city. I like finding new places and seeing new things. It is really crowded, and dirty, and expensive, but I think the good outweighs the bad for the most part. I always get a surreal feeling when I am here, like life is not the same as everywhere else, but it isn’t necessarily bad. Today was also the first day that I have ever thought, “Hey, I could live here and it would be fun”. I think it was when I passed the third really nice looking park with a playground and saw all the kids playing and moms with their strollers, and it just seemed like families could exist here.

Our guitar tech James and I decided that it would be fun to ride bikes into the city. I was honestly a little nervous, mostly because people drive like maniacs in the city, but it ended up no being too bad. We also found a ton of bike lanes. I have been hearing about all the bike lanes that were being built, and there are actually a lot. Although some of the lanes on Broadway were not even useable because there are so many people, it would be like riding your bike through a crowded store, except they are all walking fast and looking down. I was really looking forward to using these bike lanes, but we ended up heading back to other roads because it was just so slow. We did get to stop though Times Square, which is not one of my favorite parts of the city, but I kind of wanted to see it since they closed it to traffic. It seemed still in a bit of transition, like just throwing a bunch of red tables out in the street doesn’t feel right, but I think taking away cars adds to the weird vibe of that place. We rode all the way in from Secaucus, NJ, where the bus was parked and it was only a few miles to the ferry across the Hudson River.
harbor 1

harbor 2

One thing I was really excited about was riding through Central Park. I have never really been able to spend much time in the park, and today we rode around the entire thing, which is something I have always wanted to do. It was s great ride and it really is a beautiful park. We got a really late start, and I had wanted to stop a few stores that friends had recommended and we never had time, but I am really happy we chose to head to the park first and I can’t wait to ride there again. I had hoped to see more crazy fixed gear bikes, but I hear you have to go to Williamsburg for that. I was also hoping to see John Prolly doing tricks or have bikesnobnyc make fun of my bike while it was locked somewhere…maybe next time.



Then we met some good friends for some good food and sushi. There are so many places to eat in New York City, that sometimes it is overwhelming to try to pick somewhere good. So we were glad to have some locals to show us around a little bit. After that we headed down to SoHo to see Sufjan Stevens at the Bowery Ballroom. I am so excited that we got to see him! It was such a random coincidence that we were even here when he was playing! The show was great, he played a lot of new songs, and many of them had a darker, almost haunted house feeling to them. Also a few of the new songs were electronic, with beats and keyboards, but as you would imagine, it still sounded very organic and interesting. He always uses such cool instruments, and I love the orchestration of pulling off the songs live. I was also glad to see my friend and one my favorite singers Denison Witmer. We got to hang out with him a few days ago in his hometown of Philadelphia, and it was cool to see him again so soon. I am such a fan, I have to try to hold myself back from asking questions all the time, but Denison is one of my favorite singer/songwriters of all time, I really want to put out some of his music on Mono Vs Stereo someday.

It was such a good day and I am beat tired, even though we took a cab home. Our cab driver was amazing though, he had an ipod and let us pick songs. I started out with an Almost song and then ended it out with a little Dr. Dre and Jay Z. It was a good night.