Posts Tagged ‘Vermont’

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I am of the belief that if you know of some great music you should spread the word. Too many artists slip through the cracks and I feel like their music fades into the abyss while many people miss out on some stellar sounds and songs. I’m here to spread the word on some good tunes by a songwriter you may have missed.

Vermont singer, songwriter & guitarist Josh Brooks has been called “a storyteller and message-bearer whose word-smithery and hints of darkness keep you listening to the end” (Seven Days), and ’Vermont’s Johnny Cash’ (Northeast Performer). For fans of Steve Earle, Guy Clark and John Prine will all find something to like in Josh Brooks.

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Josh Brooks says This album was not raised by wolves. Its genesis is in the folk tales and myths I have been reading to my kindergarten students and telling my three daughters for the past fifteen years. Stories about the Pacific Northwest trickster Raven, Odziodzo and the origins of the Champlain Valley, and the local legend of the Dugway led the children and I to question the meaning of truth. Is a story true because you experienced it? Is it true because someone else tells you it is? Or is it true because it expresses a truth about life?

On my travels as a father, teacher and songwriter, this last answer has held the most water. Written over the last decade and a half, the nine songs on tall tales, for me at least, reflect this understanding. Some of the characters are inspired by family (‘Tommy’; ‘Queen for a Day’), some by public figures of ill repute (‘The Ballad of Heather Home Wrecker’; ‘One for the Money’), and some by historical enigmas (‘Anastasia in a Commoner’s Clothes’). Some are inspired by dreams (‘Handsome Boy’), some by experience (‘Josh Brooks’ 115th Hangover‘; ‘You Remind Me of Her’), and some from the place where experience and imagination meet (‘Frog on a Lawn’). What unites these nine story songs is that they aim for something like truth… whether they are true or not.

I recorded tall tales live on one mic, sitting on the edge of my bed, in stolen moments between basketball practices, grading papers, washing dishes, reading stories, loving my wife… you know the drill. The decision to record this way was both an artistic and a monetary one: bedtime stories for adults told on a father / teacher / grad student / songwriter’s budget. After five years of making big noise with Grant Black, Panton Flats and The Benoits, it seemed like the right time to get back to basics for a number of reasons. Many thanks to Ryan Power of Stu Stu Studio for taking my rough drafts and polishing up the edges. Also many thanks to all of the reviewers, DJ’s, fans, friends and family who have helped, are helping, or will someday help to bring this album to life. Josh is busy now being a teacher and raising a family but last year he found time to put out his most recent album “Tall Tales” which is just Josh and his guitar and its absolutely terrific. It also confirms my belief that if you give a great songwriter a guitar and microphone you can get a great record. Songs like “The Ballad of Heather Home Wrecker” about a gold digging woman turning a town upside down showcase Josh’s ability to infuse his work with some satire. The highlight for me is “Tommy” which gives us an up close look at the effect of war on an unstable veteran.

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I think when people picture Vermont they think of green mountains, streams and skiing. I think if someone wants to get a real feel for life in Vermont they should listen to all of Josh Brooks’ records. Do yourself a favor and pour some whiskey in your glass and settle in with some of Josh’s music. I’ll let the music speak for itself and here’s a quick top 5 from me:

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The Vacant Lots initially came together in 2009 in their hometown of Burlington, Vermont, and made their recorded debut a couple years later with the ‘Confusion’ single, which was highly praised. This minimalist aesthetic is something they have developed over the past few years, not least by continuing as a two-piece. “We auditioned other guitarists and bass players early on, but were never able to find that connection with another member,” explains percussionist/singer Brian MacFadyen. “There are certain limitations imposed on two people, but the level of unspoken connection between us has allowed the process of everything to be quite efficient.” Guitarist/singer Jared Artaud agrees: “We are able to strip it down until the music becomes elementary and essential, until every note counts. We are constantly trying to explore the limits of what two people can do with sound.” 

American duo The Vacant Lots release their debut album ‘Departure’ via Sonic Cathedral on June 30, 2014 (UK/EU) and July 1, 2014 (US). It will be available on limited-edition half-black, half-white vinyl, CD and as a digital download. ‘Departure’ was mixed and mastered by former Spacemen 3 legend Sonic Boom and follows previous single releases on Mexican Summer and The Reverberation Appreciation Society, plus an appearance on our very own ‘Psych For Sore Eyes’ EP, now recognised as a landmark release in the burgeoning new psychedelic movement.