March’s First Sunday Six

Andrew Bird

It’s that time again folks. It came sooner this month than any other.

Andrew Bird (Chicago) – Kicking off this month’s six is an album I’m enjoying more than any new album that I’ve heard this year. Andrew Bird’s Break It Yourself (AmazonMP3) is out on Tuesday and follows Noble Beast (AmazonMP3), which Bird released in 2009, and Useful Creatures in 2010. Nobel Beast has stood the test of time making the download on multiple phones of mine and is still a “go to,” but I like this one better than that one or even Bird’s infamous 2005 album, The Mysterious Production of Eggs (AmazonMP3 & Spotify). Break It Yourself was recorded at Bird’s barn in Western Illinois near the banks of the Mississippi River. Besides blowing my mind musically, it’s an album that’s just a well packaged story in sound and I’ve been listening all the way through over and over again. You can listen to it in its entirety on NPR Music.

Carolina Chocolate Drops

Carolina Chocolate Drops (Durham) – In 2005, before they were a band, the original three Carolina Chocolate Drops began visiting Joe Thompson, the legendary black string band fiddler, every Thursday to learn from a master. Soon they formed the band, which we’ve written about a number of times around here. Genuine Negro Jig (AmazonMP3 & Spotify), the band’s 2010 hit that won a Grammy for best traditional folk album and skyrocketed the band’s profile, is now followed by Leaving Eden (AmazonMP3 & Spotify), which was just released last week – only a few days after the death of Joe Thompson. As the LA Times notes, this album is more traditional than the last. I actually like it better than Genuine or the band’s album with Joe. Great interview with CCD’s Dom Flemons by our friend Chris with the Uprooted Music Revue is here.

Joy Kills Sorrow

Joy Kills Sorrow (Boston) – Among the fresh faces at Telluride this year, Boston’s Joy Kills Sorrow is loaded with the best of the best, including guitarist and Winfield’s National Flatpicking Champion Matthew Arcara, mandolin virtuoso Jacob Joliff, who was Berklee’s first full-scholarship mandolin student, banjoist Wesley Corbett who toured with Crooked Still, and vocalist Emma Beaton, the 2008 Canadian Folk Music Awards’ Young Performer of the Year. The band gained steam with its self-titled release in 2007 (AmazonMP3 & Spotify), but I’ve been listening to the band’s 2010 album, Darkness Sure Becomes This City (AmazonMP3 & Spotify), and latest album, This Unknown Science (AmazonMP3 & Spotify), and I am just pissed I didn’t find them sooner. Polished sound and brilliant melodies.  Beaton’s voice is BADASS.

Blind Pilot

Blind Pilot (Portland) – While I’ve long praised them for their bike tours, I had not listened to Blind Pilot in forever. Besides the band’s iTunes EP that I blogged about two years ago, their last album was in 2008. However, after the band appeared on the Newport Folk Festival lineup, I realized that I glazed over their September 2011 release called We Are The Tide (AmazonMP3 & Spotify). Being a Bama grad, that title instantly drew me in (though I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with Alabama Football). This band, like Fleet Foxes, The Head and the Heart, Horse Feathers and Brandi Carlisle, falls into that new and somber Pacific Northwest sound and lyrical authenticity that I can’t get enough of. The album is gorgeous, adding more instrumentation than their last for a richer sound, and I can’t wait to see these guys in Newport.

The Honeycutters

The Honeycutters (Asheville) – Among the lesser-known acts on the bill at next month’s Merlefest is Ashville’s The Honeycutters, a band made up of singer songwriter Amanda Anne Platt, guitarist Peter James and others. The band released Irene (listen on Facebook – love that title track), its first full-length album, back in 2009. It’s real Blue Ridge Mountain North Carolina Americana and I love it. Stef will be hitting Merlefest with her day job and will hopefully report back on how these guys sound live. In the meantime, here’s a taste.

Ann & Pete Sibley

Ann & Pete Sibley (Jackson, WY) – Critically acclaimed husband & wife folk duet Ann & Pete Sibley will hit Oak Hill New York’s Grey Fox Festival in July. Featured on NPR Prarie Home Companion for their timeless sound and spine chilling harmonies, Ann & Pete haven’t let their two kids keep them from traveling the country for festivals and house concerts. The band’s latest album, Coming Home (AmazonMP3), is filled with amazing originals, old gospel tune covers and more. While the band’s voices put them on the map, their instrumentation is impressive. Check out the title track live here in this video.