If you haven’t noticed, everyone and their grandma has been posting their year end lists in the past week or so. I guess I might as well try something like that. But I’d feel weird trying to rank albums. That’s not the point of music. Also, I’m just going to talk about some of my favorite stuff that Folk-O-Rama bands have done this year. There are plenty of other places on the internet that you can find out what more famous bands are doing!
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the list and maybe find something cool to listen to. Also here’s a friendly reminder that we put out a few new compilations this year. You can listen to those on Bandcamp.
Now to the music…
Amy Bruce Spaceshow - On Loving Myself and You
This is the second major Amy Bruce Spaceshow release of 2013. I loved Self Aware and Self Conscious, but this EP just blew me away from the very first time I heard it. Matt’s lyrics are fantastic as usual, but the music that accompanies them keeps getting better. The horns, piano, and doubled vocals all sound amazing. I was fortunate enough to play four shows with Matt this year and it’s been awesome to hear his music grow even over a relatively short period of time.
Listen on On Loving Myself and You on Bandcamp: http://amybrucespaceshow.bandcamp.com/album/on-loving-myself-and-you
Billy Mack Collector - Collector
Billy put out two albums this year as well, but I really love this one. He describes his music as “happy songs about being uncomfortable” and I think that really hits the nail on the head. There’s a bunch of really fun instrumentation on here (toy piano, anyone?) along with some great group vocals. I picked up this album from Billy when I was on tour this summer and I listened to it a bunch in my car that week. One of my favorite memories of the year is recording a Folk-O-Rama Session of the song “Jaywalking” in a bank drive-thru in DeKalb, IL. Billy played it and a bunch of us sang along. You can watch that here.
Listen to Collector on Bandcamp: http://billymackcollector.bandcamp.com/album/collector
Bogsey and the Argonauts - Skinned Knees
I had never heard of Bogsey and the Argonauts until I checked my email one day and found a message from Brandon with an MP3 of “Sci-Fi Movie Night!” attached. I loved it so much that I put it on Folk-O-Rama 2 even though I had already said I wasn’t going to add any more songs to it. That song rules, but Skinned Knees is a solid record all the way through. Some of it’s really Mountain Goats-y, and that is (obviously) a very good thing.
Listen to Skinned Knees on Bandcamp: http://bogseyandtheargonauts.bandcamp.com/album/skinned-knees
Davey Dynamite and Friends - WAITT
Davey Dynamite is always doing cool stuff. WAITT is a really interesting album in that in addition to songs, it also features a bunch of his friends reading poems. And I know Folk-O-Rama is all about acoustic guitars and banjos and crap, but some of my very favorite parts of this record are the full band songs. Every time I listen to “Sad Songs” and “Destroy Privilege,” I wonder why Dave isn’t just touring the country in some rad punk rock band. I hope that he does someday.
Listen to WAITT on Bandcamp: http://daveydynamite.bandcamp.com/album/waitt
Dubb Nubb - Wild Dreamin’
Dubb Nubb is one of my favorite bands, and I’m lucky that we live in the same town because that means I get to see them play all the time. Wild Dreamin’ hasn’t left the CD player in my car since the release show a few weeks ago. It’s a really great mix of upbeat, poppy songs and beautiful slower ones. The lyrics and harmonies are great as always, and the occasional touches of bass and organ are really nice additions.
Listen to Wild Dreamin’ on Bandcamp: http://dubbnubb.bandcamp.com/album/wild-dreamin
Dustin and the Furniture - Growing Up and Shedding
It was a little weird for me putting a Dustin and the Furniture song on Folk-O-Rama 3. But I mean weird in a totally good way. Dustin was one of the very first folk punk bands I ever got into back when I was in high school. I downloaded all of his albums and listened to them a bunch. I still do. They’re all so good. I thought that he wasn’t really doing music anymore, but then seemingly out of nowhere, this album appeared online earlier this year. It’s a great set of songs featuring his wonderful classical guitar playing and lyricism. I feel like Dustin should be huge in the folk punk world, but no one seems to know about him. But I guess that’s why I’m writing this.
Listen to Growing Up and Shedding on Bandcamp: http://dustinandthefurniture.bandcamp.com/
Just Nick & Human Kitten - Only Dog Can Judge Me
Nick and Elijah are two of my favorite people. We played a few shows together in California over the summer, including the first ever Folk-O-Rama Friends Fest. It was really great getting to know both of them. This split is short and sweet - just five songs - but don’t be fooled. There’s a lot to take in here. For instance, have you ever heard a folk punk song that uses the phrase “visual perceptual property” before? Look no further.
Listen to Only Dog Can Judge Me on Bandcamp: http://music.humankitten.com/album/only-dog-can-judge-me
Kyle Hall - Different State
It’s impossible to keep track of Kyle Hall these days. He released like six albums this year on his birthday alone. He’s going on three different tours just this month. I don’t even know how many bands he’s in. The other night he called me and asked if I could book him and Chris Clavin a show on less than a day’s notice. I did.
Picking a favorite Kyle Hall release from this year was difficult, but I think ultimately, I’m going to give the nod to Different State. The songs are all wonderful and catchy, and the nylon guitar and minimalist drumming on this album really suit Kyle’s sound perfectly.
Listen to Different State on Bandcamp: http://kylehall.bandcamp.com/album/different-state
Moon Bandits - Action Changes Thinking
Moon Bandits have such a simple sound - nothing but a banjo, a violin, and their lungs. It seems like it wouldn’t work, but it does. In fact, it works so well that it makes you wonder why the rest of the world isn’t starting banjo-centric vegan straight-edge punk bands. The songs are political and serious, but in an empowering way. They don’t bring you down - they simply make you want to be a better person.
Listen to Action Changes Thinking on Bandcamp: http://moonbandits.bandcamp.com/album/action-changes-thinking
Not Half Bad - Good People
Not Half Bad used to more of a straight up folk punk band, but over time they’ve evolved to a full band. But hey, I’m not complaining. This album rocks hard and sounds better the louder you play it. Of course, there are still a few great acoustic numbers mixed in. If you don’t instantly want to sing along to “Punk Rock is a Full Time Job,” then I’m going to have to question why you’re even reading this post right now.
Listen to Good People on Bandcamp: http://nothalfbad.bandcamp.com/album/good-people
Typesetter - Typesetter #2
Here’s another Folk-O-Rama band that is decidedly not a folk band. The first song they ever put out was an acoustic track on the first Folk-O-Rama compilation, but now they’re just a kick-ass punk rock band fresh off of playing The Fest in Gainesville this year. They’re also quite possibly the loudest band I have ever heard live. If you’re into stuff like Hot Water Music or Desaparecidos, you might find something to like in Typesetter. Awesome side note: the cover art for this record was done by Heather Gabel.
Listen to Typesetter #2 on Bandcamp: http://typesetter.bandcamp.com/album/typesetter-2