January’s First Sunday Six

Iceland's Of Monsters And Men

Happy New Year, kids! On the first Sunday of every month this year, I’ll be posting a “First Sunday Six” with six lower-to-medium profile bands that I’ve been listening to in the preceding weeks. I’ll keep these posts pretty brief, but will keep the pretty pictures going. Note this isn’t all new stuff and some of these bands I’ve even talked about before…so, here we go.

Of Monsters And Men (Reykjavík, Un) – I first discovered these folks in 2010 after KEXP in Seattle recorded a video of the band performing backstage at the The Iceland Airways Festival. Well, they’ve grown up a bit since then. I even heard their song “Little Talks” in a bar in Richmond, VA while I was home for the holidays. Just before Christmas, the band released a short four-song album/EP called Into The Woods (Spotify & AmazonMP3). We’ll be seeing these guys around and I can’t wait to meet them.

Caroline Smith And The Good Night Sleeps

Caroline Smith and The Good Night Sleeps (Minneapolis) – A friend tipped me on this band’s album Little Wind (Spotify & AmazonMP3), which is loaded with mellow folk ballads that feature unique and stunning builds. Smith’s voice and writing helps her stand out from the massive pack of singer songwriters. The band recently opened for Dawes, so I expect we’ll see more of them this year. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iHpY8FtjzQ

Seryn of Denton, TX

Seryn (Denton TX) – Pronouced – “sir – rin,” this band is a Paste favorite, taking the magazine’s top performance spot at SXSW 2011 and making the top song list for 2011 (which I’ve posted about here before). I’ve probably listened to the band’s album, This Is Where We Are (Spotify & AmazonMP3), more than any other in the last month and it represents the type of music that this blog is all about, with beautiful blends of guitar, ukulele, accordion, bass, viola, banjo and various percussion. I’m especially a fan of “Untitled.”  http://vimeo.com/28186365

David Mayfield of The David Mayfield Parade

The David Mayfield Parade (Kent, OH) – While Jessica Lee Mayfield was opening Ryan Adams at Carnegie Hall a few weeks back, her brother David, the former band member of the now defunct Cadillac Sky, was thinking ahead to his show at Delilah’s on Cayuga in Ithaca. While David might not be opening the kind of acts like his sister, his self-titled album (Spotify & AmazonMP3) produced by Dan Auerbach (a favorite musician and producer of mine) is amazing. A 2010 tour in his sister’s band opening for The Avett Bros, caught the attention of Scott and Seth who became friends and asked him to sit in with them dozens of times including their 2010 Bonnaroo & Merlefest sets. If you like the Avetts, you’ll like David Mayfield. Be sure to listen to “Blue Skies Again” and “Sea of Heartbreak,” a cover of the song that Don Gibson made famous.

The Parlor Soldiers

The Parlor Soldiers (Fredericksburg, VA) – In December, this band from the almost DC suburb of Fredericksburg released When The Dust Settles (Bandcamp). Songwriters Alex Culbreth and Karen Jonas are joined by Dan Dutton on double bass for a strong mix of dark Americana tunes that I’m still getting to know, but love listening to. More on these guys in the next couple weeks. Be sure to check out “Pacing Through The Garden.”

Joseph Arthur - Photo by Myriam Santos

Joseph Arthur (Brooklyn) – While Arthur is not widely known as a musician, his writing has been strong enough to catch the attention of pop stars all over. “In the Sun,” covered by Chris Martin of Coldplay and remixed by Justin Timberlake, is one of many lyrically amazing songs from years of writing. I’m actually about to dash out the door to catch him at City Winery with Tift Merritt, but have been enjoying his latest album, The Graduation Ceremony (Spotify & AmazonMP3). It’s first track “Out On a Limb” is amazing.