Music | A Continuous Lean.

Made in the Land of Wheat and Maize.

Feb 5th, 2014 | Categories: Music, Video | by Michael Williams

Generally I feel comfortable away from home. I’ve lived in New York for 12 years and I don’t ever think I will feel like a New Yorker. I don’t think I ever want to. When I say “home” I am referring to Ohio. It’s a place I have barely lived as an adult, but it is still where I feel like I fit best into the world. There’s some sort of Midwestern draw that comes back to me very quickly when I am there. My business partner and I are both from Ohio and I think we both like to hire people from the Midwest because we all seem to think about the world in similar ways. We just make sense to each other. It’s also the reason we love to work with Red Wing. Part of it is the spirit of the company, and part of it is the people. Nothing is forced and nothing is insincere. If something doesn’t make sense, they don’t do it.

A few months ago I flew to Minneapolis to see Red Wing, but we didn’t drive down to its headquarters on the Mississippi, we got in a car and drove a few hours straight into the Wisconsin countryside to Eau Claire. With the talented director Andrew David Watson, we set out to make a film about the supremely talented musician Justin Vernon. We knew that he had an affinity for Red Wing and that he has been wearing the boots for years, having learned of the brand the same way I did, from his dad. More than make a marketing video, Red Wing really just wanted to tell Justin’s story because it is honest and real.





Calling It Early | Noteworthy Albums of 2013.

Nov 10th, 2013 | Categories: Al James, Music | by Al James

phosphorescent-muchacho-cover-art

These days it’s hard to find an actual musical underground where something new is truly discovered, as virtually every release gets some amount of exposure from writers online and in print. There is a lot of good music out there, it just takes time to wade through it all. So after ten months of wading, these are some of the best, and by that I mean these are the albums that have staying power; the ones that I continue to come back to over and over, the ones that are solid from front to back, the ones that made me actually feel something, the ones that didn’t lose steam or relevance after multiple spins. Like everything else on ACL, these releases are judged on quality, durability and style. Shouldn’t those always be the deciding factors, even with music? Everything listed below is available on download and streaming services, but also at your local record store on LP. – AJ





Sounds of the Times.

Apr 9th, 2013 | Categories: Music | by Michael Williams

Treetop Flyers | Things Will Change

Occasionally a band or a song will spark my interest in sharing some of the sounds that have been playing in the office as of late. The British band Treetop Flyers and their album The Mountain Moves was the thing that pushed me over the edge to put this post together. The band recently (I think?) signed on with Partisan Records, one of my favorites, as its label in the U.S. Their record —which is a trip back in time— would feel just fine if it were on the radio in 1977. The single below is good, but the rest of the album is even better. Worth checking out when it comes out in June.

If you want to go back further than the late 70s, listen to Charles Bradley and be transported to 1962. That guy’s story is insane — he was only “discovered” a few years ago and signed to Brooklyn’s Daptone Records. Here’s the story on NPR.

Both Charles Bradley and Gary Clark Jr (also below) performed at the Newport Folk Festival this past summer and I remember watching Gary and thinking ‘he’s gonna put The Black Keys out of business’. Honestly though, seeing him reminded me of what I felt the first time I saw The Black Keys live. Great stuff.

Charles Bradley | Strictly Reserved For You

Gary Clark Jr. | Bright Lights





South by Southwest: Dead Reckoning

Mar 20th, 2013 | Categories: Austin, David Coggins, Music | by David Coggins

French Legation

Drink Today Dignity in the Saddle

Some time around 3am Sunday morning, the end of South by Southwest drew nigh. The phones needed to be recharged and the people did too. The streets were full of walking wounded and you vowed you were never going to subject yourself to this again. Then you remember you said the same thing last year, and maybe the year before too. A man stood on a balcony dressed as a Pope, but his hat was green, so eager was he to honor St Patrick’s Day, just a few hours old.

Near the closing bell we nearly stumbled over a man’s seeing eye dog in the back of a dark club. What was it doing there? That’s a worthy question that we didn’t ask. After four days strung out on music, performed everywhere from Goth clubs to sunny backyards, you’re not sure what you’re seeing. Was that really an origami swan sitting in a martini glass? When we looked again it was gone. Somebody probably tried to drink it.

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A Place of Harmony | Newport Folk Festival

Jul 31st, 2012 | Categories: Music | by Michael Williams

Imagine a music festival that is not massively packed and not obsessed with making as much money as possible. Seems impossible in 2012, but it’s not. The Newport Folk Festival is the last bastion of enjoyable music festivals in the United States. The crowd is courteous, the staff amenable and the stages accessible. You can bring a chair and a cooler without being subject to a full body cavity search. You can move between stages easily and enjoy the entire line-up if you wish. And the setting in Fort Adams in Newport offers a good setting to see live music and picturesque views of the harbor. Mix in some boozy fun in town and the weekend could be the best of summer.

MMJ’s Jim James performs at the Quad Stage.





Listen to this | Dr. John Locked Down

Apr 5th, 2012 | Categories: Music | by Michael Williams

Dr. John is one of those musicians that, admirably, has always just done his own thing. The performance of his that sticks in my head is always The Last Waltz — an amazing show and classic film. I remember seeing it for the first time and getting caught on those scenes with his music. Last year Dr. John performed at Bonnaroo with The Black Keys front man Dan Auerbach, and the performance went so well that it led the two musicians into the studio to collaborate on Dr. John’s newest album Locked Down, which Auerbach helped produce and was released this past Tuesday.






The SXSW Dispatch: Sensory Reward and Punishment

Mar 19th, 2012 | Categories: Austin, David Coggins, Music | by David Coggins

You already know South by Southwest doesn’t lend itself to peaceful contemplation. It’s an endurance test for all involved, that reverberates long after you leave. Yes, it’s a crowded mess—overlapping with St. Patrick’s green-stained idiocy doesn’t help. But it can also be oddly intimate: You see bands in small clubs, carrying their own instruments, playing countless shows as their sanity wavers. In the best moments, you’re reminded of the elemental equation between musician and audience. It’s an attraction renewed in real time, one that outlasts clueless corporate sponsorships, new media gambits and apocalyptic meditations about the future of the recording industry.