Posts Tagged ‘Sam Beam’

Iron & Wine are following up their 2018 Grammy-nominated full-length Beast Epic with the aptly titled EP,Weed Garden available worldwide on August 31stHaving gone over three years between releases prior toBeast Epic, Weed Garden arrives in short order, but right on time for Iron & Wine fans.

The six-song EP features material that was part of the writing phase for Beast Epic, but for various reasons went unfinished. The term “weed garden” could easily imply that which doesn’t belong, for principal songwriter Sam Beam, it was more about getting more “into the weeds” on a creative process to finish the material. Weed Garden serves as the perfect companion piece to last years full length.

While on tour last fall, the final pieces fell into place and a sense of urgency prevailed in bringing these songs to fruition. Space was created at the top of the year to return to The Loft recording studio in Chicago with the band behind Beast Epic – Joe Adamik, Jim Becker, Rob Burger and Teddy Rankin-Parker. The collection of songs range from urgent (“What Hurts Worse”) to fun (“Rock and Roll Heroes”) to personal (“Talking to Fog”). The tones and themes all feel part of the larger narrative that presented itself on Beast Epic bringing this collection of characters full circle.

Weed Garden also includes the fan favorite “Waves of Galveston”.  Widely bootlegged, but never officially released until now, this track is the oldest song on the EP.  It first appeared as an online performance video as part of The Onion’s AV Club“State Songs”. The Weed Garden artwork also features a series of original paintings from Iron & Wine’s principal songwriter Sam Beam.  This cover joins the ranks of previous album covers, Endless Numbered Days, The Shepherd’s Dog, Kiss Each Other Clean and In the Reins that feature his paintings or drawings. 

“Tomorrow on the Runway” Written by Karen Peris and Don Peris / The Innocence Mission (BMI)

From the film “Irreplaceable You” directed by Stephanie Laing available exclusively on Netflix. The original version of the song appears on The Innocence Mission album, “Befriended” (Badman Recording Co.)

‘Weed Garden’ (Release date: August 31, 2018)

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Iron & Wine have shared a new single off their forthcoming EP Weed Garden.

The six-song EP will be released via Sub Pop records on August. 31st, and according to Sam Beam, the band’s main creative force, the title of the new EP stems from getting “into the weeds” of the songwriting process.

The Weed Garden EP will act as the follow-up to Beam’s Beast Epic LP, and you can listen to the first single, “What Hurts Worse,”  Iron & Wine will be releasing the new EP “Weed Garden” – featuring material that was part of the writing phase for Beast Epic, but for various reasons went unfinished

Iron & Wine follow up their 2018 Grammy-nominated full-length Beast Epic with the EP Weed Garden, a collection of material that began about three years ago. The six-song EP features songs that were part of the writing phase for Beast Epic, but went unfinished. They were part of a larger narrative for principal songwriter Sam Beam, who ran out of time to get them where they needed to be for inclusion on Beast Epic. Weed Garden also includes the fan favorite “Waves of Galveston.”

While on tour in the fall of 2017, the final pieces of material took shape and a sense of urgency prevailed in bringing these characters full circle. To resolution. To completion. In January of 2018, Beam and company hunkered down in Chicago at The Loft recording studio to capture these six songs.  No more, no less.

Weed Garden joins the good company of previous Iron & Wine EP’s – The Sea & the Rhythm, Woman King, In the Reins – and in 2018’s attention-span challenged world that’s not a bad thing.

‘Weed Garden’ (Release date: August 31, 2018)

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Sam Beam’s return to veteran indie label Sub Pop after five years with major label Nonesuch seems significant. When Beam introduced himself as Iron & Wine on the lo-fi-recorded folk pluck-alongs of 2002’s The Creek Drank The Cradle, he proved that all you need to make a great song is a few good chords and a warmly melodic voice. Yet with albums like 2013’s Ghost On Ghost, Beam strayed far from that stripped-down approach by adding strings, ’70s soft-rock production and a lushness that sounded dramatically different, even if the songs at their core were just as warm and nourishing.

Beast Epic, Beam’s fourth for Sub Pop and sixth overall, is a happy midpoint between his starkest, simplest recordings and his more indulgent ones. Beam keeps to simpler arrangements on Beast Epic. The days of him simply finger-picking an acoustic guitar alone are well behind him, but a track like “Thomas County Law” only features slightly more instrumentation: light taps of percussion, a sparse bassline and gentle piano accompaniment. It’s the most intimate he’s sounded in years.

The album’s relative spaciousness is neither shocking nor unexpected. Beam wears this comfortable, lived-in approach well, delivering songs that maintain the prettiness and emotional impact of past records while offering the illusion of sitting in on a loose session between veteran session players. “Call It Dreaming” is just such an example, a big-hearted hymn about making the most of our short-term flesh-and-bone rentals. There’s a knowing sense of hurt, yet he delivers it with a smile.

Everything about Beast Epic feels true to Iron & Wine. Beam neither abandons his greater ambitions nor overindulges. He’s making a return trip to his roots, offering a gentle reminder of his early records’ simple beauty while allowing himself the freedom to build.

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Iron & Wine—the moniker of singer/songwriter Sam Beam, has basically achieved folk-hero status. The former film teacher started sharing his original songs in the early 2000s, which led to a contact with Sub Pop Records. Six LPs and a smattering of EPs and exclusive releases later, the bearded, soft-spoken Beam has become a beacon for the evolution of acoustic music in a time of digital domination.

In August, Beam released his sixth LP, “Beast Epic”, as Iron & Wine. This week, the full-band version of his project sets out on tour with two sold out dates in Chicago. From there, Iron & Wine traverses North America through November, before jetting to Scandinavia, Europe and the United Kingdom in early 2018. So here we take a look at the best of Iron & Wine songs (excluding collaborations with Calexico, Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses, Jesca Hoop and others).

“About a Bruise”
Born in South Carolina, now residing in North Carolina, with stops in Florida and Virginia along the way, Beam is a true Southerner. While the lyrics of this Beast Epic song can be a bit obtuse, the Southern imagery—from skies full of prayers to duck hunting to mall cops in Mobile—all culminate in a choir proclaiming, “This is Alabama.” If Beast Epic illustrates the cyclical nature of living, the acoustic slapping of “About a Bruise” showcases those musical and lyrics phases in Beam’s life.

“The Sea and the Rhythm”
The title track from this 2003 EP is one of the sexiest songs Beam has ever written. It’d be hard to tell on first listen, though; Beam apparently recorded this collection in his Miami home and the songs all assume a hushed, barely multi-tracked quality. With just an acoustic guitar, some layered vocals and an outro banjo solo, “The Sea and the Rhythm” could be a simple lullaby. But listen closer and you’ll hear Beam’s romantic poetry: “Your hands they move like waves over me / Beneath the moon, tonight, we’re the sea.” It’s no wonder the sultry song was used in the closing episode of the first season of The O.C.

“Joy”
For an album that actually peaked in the Top 10 on the Rock charts, 2013’s Ghost on Ghost contained a few songs that didn’t necessarily fit into Beam’s self-described, AM radio-influenced fifth studio LP. “Joy” is one of those songs. In fewer than three minutes, Beam extolls the tumultuous journey of falling in love, admitting, “I’m only frightened ‘cause you finally gave me something to lose.” But instead of the fingerpicked guitar work that defined previous efforts, Beam takes his exposed playing and transfers it to the piano, lending “Joy” an even brighter sentiment.

“Biting Your Tail”
For many of the other songs on this list, the mainly acoustic versions took on new and improved lives when Beam and co. reinvented them in concert. However, “Biting Your Tail,” a B-side from the Walking Far From Home sessions in 2011, actually functions better in its (presumably) original format—just Beam and his guitar. The fingerpicked ballad serves as prayer and reminder for humility, with lines like, “May your mouth betray your wisdom / May you get what they failed to mention / May your love be your only religion / Preach it to us all.”

“Grace For Saints and Ramblers”
When Iron & Wine unveiled this pop gem as the lead single from Ghost on Ghost in 2013, fans knew they were in a Tilt-A-Whirl of a ride. With the snare-heavy percussion, brass accents and mouthfuls of words, “Grace For Saints and Ramblers” represented a new age of Iron & Wine, moving far beyond its skeletal, folky beginnings. But beneath the flashy (by Beam’s standards) accouterments remains a core of a song that is utterly representative of Iron & Wine—careful, thoughtful and gorgeous.

“Walking Far From Home”
“Walking Far From Home” is another example of how four chords and the truth can really set you free. A Bob Dylan-esque epic with lyrics that are easy to get out of order, the magic of track from 2011’s highest charting Kiss Each Other Clean comes from its dynamics. Beam masterfully conducts his accompaniments—woodwinds, brass, backup singers and more—to rise and fall with the intensity of the lyrics.

 “Jezebel” 
Each track on the six-track Woman King EP from 2005 honors a prominent female spiritual figure. However, Beam takes the titular character, who was associated with false prophets in the Old Testament, and re-envisions her narrative. With sister Sarah Beam’s backing vocals floating higher and higher with each verse and chorus, the acoustic track becomes nearly ethereal.

“Call It Dreaming”
The moment Iron & Wine returned with this song after back-to-back collaborative albums (with Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses and Jesca Hoop, respectively), it was easy to breathe a sigh of relief. “Call It Dreaming” sounds like a return to form. It’s not that those two other albums were bad—there was an sense of exploration and excitement about them—but as a whole, Beast Epic illustrates Beam’s career, in his own words, is the shape of a circle. Plus, the video features Beam and a dog riding around in the bed of a pickup truck, which is pretty great just by itself.

Boy With a Coin”
The first single from 2007’s The Shepherd’s Dog, “Boy With a Coin” showcased Iron & Wine’s new direction in a defiant, yet tempered way. The acoustic strumming that marked Beam’s initial releases wasn’t exactly gone, but layers of claps and drums, vocal, overdubs and electric guitars interjected with feedback fidgeted above them. The video, featuring a ballet troupe emphasizing the tapping percussion, alludes to way Iron & Wine would later turn this song into a danceable romp in live shows to come.

“Your Fake Name Is Good Enough For Me”
Perhaps the heaviest song Iron & Wine has released, “Your Fake Name Is Good Enough For Me” opens with a distorted curl of a riff that could be mistaken for a scream of feedback. The bass grooves, laying a foundation for a burst of brass that carries the melody until Beam comes in to retrieve it with his singing. However, it’s the transition to the wholly new second movement is what placed this song so high on this list. About halfway through the song, the horns peter out and the electric guitar skitters to a half time and half as much distortion. And rather than lyrical slights-of-hand of the first movement, the second embraces many visions of reality, all filtered though Beam’s soulful singing of metaphors of what “we will become.”

“Passing Afternoon”
The closing track to Our Endless Numbered Days, this acoustic number is as dreamy as its title implies. In fact, the album title comes from a lyric in this song. Leave it to Beam to write a song about trying to appreciate the tiniest moments in our fleeting lives.

“Such Great Heights”
With all due respect to the adorable, digitized tunes on The Postal Service’s indie cult-classic, Give Up, it seems some of the songs are just better suited for other artists. Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam provided convincing evidence of that when he took the skeleton of “Such Great Heights” and dressed it in the dreamiest of dulcet tones. The signature sounds of hushed guitar plucking and nearly-whispered vocals could easily fool anyone unfamiliar with Ben Gibbard’s early electronic days into thinking the song was an Iron & Wine original.

 “Upward Over the Mountain”
Already a hefty six-minute track, this cut from Iron & Wine’s beloved debut The Creek Drank the Cradle wholly transforms when performed in a full-band setting: The tempo picks up, the acoustic instruments are traded for electric ones (that sometimes take solos!) and the outro breakdown has been known to leave fans in a frenzy. Yet, such a song of forgiveness and hope can still resonates in its barest form—this original version from 2002.

“The Trapeze Swinger”
Written in the same time as Our Endless Numbered Days and placed in the film In Good Company, “The Trapeze Swinger” never actually made it on an Iron & Wine album until 2009’s compilation album of B-sides and rarities called Around the Well. Still, the song has been a fan-favorite since at least 2005, as you can hear on the limited release official bootleg Norfolk 6/20/05. Beam typically performs this winding narrative on nostalgia solo acoustic, which helps emphasize the already personal lyrics delivered as snapshot memories verse after verse after verse. Depending on the listeners’ own emotional state, the effect is either comforting or utterly heart shattering—a testament to Beam’s timeless storytelling.

“Naked As We Came”
This acoustic number from Our Endless Numbered Days encapsulates what it’s like to be an Iron & Wine fan. In just two-and-a-half minutes, Sam Beam sings a love song about death, inviting all who join him to pause, breathe, and appreciate it all before it’s too late.

Today is Sam Beam’s 43rd birthday the songwriting mastermind behind the band Iron and Wine and he’s chosen to celebrate in a rather morbid way. The indie folk artist has released a video for his new single “Thomas County Law” that finds presiding over his own funeral.

The track itself is a gentle ballad with thumping guitar strums and careful string accompaniments evoking Beam’s earlier work. Its J. Austin Wilson-directed video, however, reflects more on the melancholy lyrics like,  “There’s nowhere safe to bury all the time I’ve killed/ Nobody looks away when the sun goes down.” The clip sees Beam as a small town preacher cleaning and prepping his church for a funeral. Only it turns out it’s Beam himself in the casket, as well as on the pulpit and digging the grave.

“Thomas County Law” is the latest single from Iron & Wine’s forthcoming LP, tiltled “Beast Epic” It’s out via Sub Pop Records on August 25th, and Beam will begin touring behind the record the very next day.

‘Beast Epic’ (Release date: August 25th, 2017) All customers who pre-order the LP version of ‘Beast Epic’ from the Sub Pop Mega Mart will receive the album on Loser Edition colored vinyl, while supplies last.

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Iron & Wine is excited to participate in Record Store Day 2017 with this blue vinyl release of Archives Volume 3. This entry in the ongoing series jumps to the year 2009 and that fertile time between The Shepherd’s Dog and Kiss Each Other Clean. Volumes 1 and 2 explored the home spun recordings from The Creek Drank the Cradle-era, while these two tracks have a fuller and richer sound of those two recordings. “A Stranger Lays Besides Me” has been performed live a number of times and become a fan favorite. “Miss Bottom of the Hill” has never been heard in either a live or recorded format. This package may contain one of FIVE GOLDEN TICKETS, granting free admission worldwide for you (+ guest) to every Iron & Wine performance.

Pressed on translucent blue vinyl and limited to 2000 copies worldwide.

As part of an ongoing set of releases featuring material recorded at various points from Iron and Wine’s career, the Iron and Wine ‘Archive Series’ returns with ‘Volume No. 3’.

This third instalment in the series jumps almost ten years forward to 2009 and showcases two songs that could have easily found themselves on either ‘The Shepherd’s Dog’ or ‘Kiss Each Other Clean’.

The A-side track and a fan favorite ‘A Stranger Lay Beside Me’ has turned up on tour and been performed in a live setting a number of times over the years. The flip side features the track ‘Miss Bottom of the Hill’ (which, until earlier this year, was believed to have been erased in the great Sam Beam computer crash of 2010) is a sleeper of a track.

In total the 12” clocks in at just over 13 minutes.

But wait Black Cricket is proud to offer FIVE Golden Tickets – each of which guarantee the finder to a lifetime of entry to live performances by Iron and Wine.* The Golden Tickets will be inserted by the record plant and then packaged and sent blindly worldwide. So whether it’s your home town, Seattle, Dublin, Sydney or Des Moines Black Cricket have you covered (* certain restrictions apply. For entry, see label website for full details).

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Over the summer, a portion of a version of Cyndi Laupers classic ballad “Time After Time” recorded by Iron and Wine  was used as part of the McDonald’s ad campaign . Now Sam Beam has released the entire song,

Cover songs have become somewhat of a parallel career recently for Sam Beam, the sole force behind Iron and Wine, with his acoustic guitar and gentle voice being used for either heartfelt purposes as can be heard here or ironic, such as when he tackled Gwar “Sick Of You” Last year, he teamed up with Ben Bridwell of the Band Of Horses in which they recorded 12 diverse covers ranging from Talking Heads “This Must Be The Place” to Sade “Bulletproof Soul” , Pete Seeger “Coyote, My Little Brother” to Spiritualized “The Straight and Narrow”.

Earlier this year, Beam had returned to singing his own compositions, releasing the wonderful “Love Letter For Fire” an album of duets that he wrote and recorded with Jesca Hoop. Beam has not put out an album comprised solely of Iron and Wine material since 2013’s Ghost on Ghost.

“Time After Time” was the second single from Lauper’s blockbuster 1983 debut, She’s So Unusual. The song received a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year, but lost out to Tina Turner’s equally timeless “What’s Love Got to Do With It.”

Listen to Iron and Wine’s Cover of “Time After Time”

 

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Despite their disparate backgrounds, Sam Beam (Iron and Wine) and Jesca Hoop have managed to make an album that’s both hushed and harmonious, one that finds this, their first dual effort, blurring the lines between the sedate and the seductive. Beam’s no stranger to this approach; his efforts with Iron & Wine generally find him dwelling in more cerebral realms. Hoop, on the other hand, has yet to establish an identity with any such distinction; four albums on,.

Happily then, Hoop’s recognition factor is likely to climb significantly. Beam may be the marquee name here, but it’s Hoop’s supple harmonies that give this effort its sense of purpose. Most of these songs rarely rise above a whisper, their dreamy designs and precious approach suggesting a nocturnal feel that’s consistent with a nu-folk noir. Songs like “The Lamb You Lost,” “We Two Are A Moon,” “Every Songbird Says” and “Bright Lights and Goodbyes” keep that consistency intact. Likewise, Hoop’s focused take on “Soft Place To Land” and Beam’s immediate follow-up, “Sailor to Siren,” suggest each of these artists might qualify as dimly-lit folkies if that was indeed their desire.

From the 8/5/16 Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop digital single

Jesca Hoop and Iron & Wine's Sam Beam

Without even listening to this record,  Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop are perfect complements for each other.

“Neither of us had written a song with anyone else, so we both were like, ‘How do we do this?’” Beam says. “Because our own styles are fixed things, it was kind of like, ‘What’s that going to be like when you put those two together?’”

“It was like walking around a forest in the dark,” adds Hoop. “A nice healthy forest.” “With one leg,” adds Beam.

Both Sam Beam, under his stage name Iron & Wine, and Hoop have found success in the past decade as idiosyncratic solo artists in a region of the musical universe somewhere close to Americana and folk, but often experimenting with rock, country, pop and even electronic music, and always penning interesting, ear-catching lyrics.

“There’s a song of hers called ‘Moon Rock Needle’ that I discovered,” says Beam. “The first line is, ‘There’s food at your house, let’s go to your house.’ After that I was hooked! And I just got enamored with her voice and her songwriting.

“For a while I had this seed of an idea for a project of duets,” he continues. “I like duets. I like the conversation element of it; you can have a monologue song that you’ve written for yourself, have two people sing it and it becomes a very different song. I thought we might sound really great together, so I asked her to come on tour.”

Jesca Hoop accepted, going on tour with Iron & Wine, performing as the opening act. But it was Hoop who made the first move to record music together. “I took a chance and asked him,” she says. “When we started singing together, it was just the most natural thing. It didn’t take much trying to find common ground.”

To join them on that common ground, they enlisted musicians, Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche, multi-instrumentalist Rob Burger (John Zorn, Lucinda Williams), violist Eyvind Kang and former Soul Coughing bassist Sebastian Steinberg. Together these musicians helped to create a nocturnal, lazy river for Beam and Hoop’s vocals to swim around and harmonize in.

“It’s all acoustic, but there are some songs that sound straight-up synthetic in a strange way,” Beam says. “There are some musical flourishes, but it’s more of a melodic, vocal record.”

The finished product, “Love Letter for Fire”, puts Hoop and Beam’s vocals and lyrics front and center for the listener to decipher.

“The recording process was a fluid joy,” says Hoop, “but the writing process was a lot of stumbling around in the dark. But you know when you’re in the dark and your eyes eventually adjust, then you can see? That’s what it was like.”

“It was a lot of emailing back and forth,” says Beam. “We would send poems, trade lines, just do things to get things started, and just have fun. Then we would get together and do tours, and hash things out across the table, because there’s a lot of nuances that don’t get translated over emails.”

On many of the songs, Beam and Hoop seem to be addressing each other as lovers. When asked about the possible discomfort of writing and singing a love song as platonic friends, Hoop quickly replies, “Have you ever been in love? Yes? Then let’s write a song about it right now. I’m sure there’s something you could say about it, because it’s something we can all relate to, and there’s endless material to draw from. From our own experiences, to the experiences of our parents, brothers and sisters, our friends and family.”

“We’ve both written love songs,” adds Beam, “but to have someone else’s experiences and thoughts come into play in your own songwriting. … I’d send her a line, and then she’d send me a line and I’d be like, ‘Oh, I never thought about that.’ I had to adjust. As a writer it’s fun, and when you have a man and woman singing together you automatically have a sexual tension whether you’re talking about love or not.”

“We still have different opinions on what [the songs] mean,” says Hoop. “I mean, every time you sing them, they say something different to you.”

“That’s kind of like a conversation though, isn’t it?” says Beam. “Most of the times you have a conversation with someone and you sort of think you know what they’re trying to say.” “Exactly,” says Hoop.

From the new album released on 15th April 2016 Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop album “Love Letter for Fire”

Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop's new album, Love Letter For Fire, comes out April 15.

It’s been 15 years since Sam Beam released his first collection of whispery, low-definition solo recordings, recorded at home under the name Iron & Wine. Back then, it would have been difficult to imagine how many directions Beam’s music would travel: Iron & Wine’s records have evolved into lavish exercises in horn-laden Technicolor sprawl, while Beam has most recently set aside time for album-length collaborations with Band Of Horses’ Ben Bridwell and now singer-songwriter Jesca Hoop.

Hoop, who’s long deserved more attention, proves an excellent foil for Beam’s lived-in warmth: Her versatile voice is equally suited to lilting harmonies and the more distinct and esoteric lead work she puts into “Chalk It Up To Chi.” That’s one of the 13 songs on Love Letter For Fire, on which the two singers stretch and prod at the boundaries of what they usually do. Take “Welcome To Feeling,” which opens the album with 60 seconds of perfectly packed vocal harmonies and strings: It’s an all-too-brief sketch with a painting’s worth of flourishes.

Love Letter For Fire was, at least in part, inspired by the pair’s desire to make songs that function as conversations rather than soliloquies, and their work backs that up. In the gorgeous “Every Songbird Says,” Hoop and Beam trade bits of the lyric rapidly, occasionally blending their voices as they build to a cooing earworm of a chorus. With the help of producer Tucker Martine and a smart, subtle band, the two achieve a fine balance — of songwriting sensibilities, of time in the spotlight — in the service of songs that feel at once fresh and timeless.