R&R | Summer of Festivals Playlist
by Adam E. Smith
May 09, 2013 | 1169 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print

This week there is virtually no live music scheduled for dedicated Western Slope audiophiles. While you take a needed breath, or cope with withdrawal symptoms, check this custom playlist to get you amped for the festival season.  

Truly the year of landmark anniversaries for Telluride’s legacy of music institutions, the 20th Blues & Brews Festival is bringing an eclectic array of tradition and trailblazing to Town Park. My Morning Jacket luminary Jim James has released the most attractive solo album of 2013 thus far with Regions of Light and Sound of God, and it’s tracks like the profoundly eerie “State of the Art - A. E. I. O. U.” and the futuristic lo-fi soul of “Know Til Now” that validate this claim. Taking all the best parts of Radiohead and squishing them into subtle facets of David Bowie, James is still capable of resonating the MMJ tone he defined. He even delivers the poetry “there is much more stardust when you are near” on “A New Life” to drive that connection home.

Equally strong in the songwriter category, but eons beyond every vocalist you’ll see in the Western Slope this Summer, Allen Stone’s self-titled project announced his official arrival to the music world. Focusing on jaw-dropping range and pristine pitch, Stone is pure soul of the best kind. Mandatory tracks like “Contact High” and “Sleep” speak for themselves, but give them a listen to prove it to yourself.

Orthodox rock ‘n’ rollers the Bright Light Social Hour stormed onto the scene with their self-titled release last year. A four part powerhouse keen on heavy blues, soaring harmonization, and dance-ready rock, BLSH can slow it down on “Detroit,” or break necks with “Back and Forth.” Pay attention to the bookend compositions “Shanty” and “Rhubarb Jam” to see what happens when wholesome synthesizers and heavy bass are put in the hands of modern rock demigods. The nearly 10-minute instrumental odyssey “Garden Of The Gods” will need a few spins for you to comprehend the guitar craftsmanship this band wears every night of their tour. 

As heartwarming as it is impressive, The Relatives are a band with a narrative that starts in the 70s that went completely untold for 30 years, and is now resurfacing with their first album release in three decades. The Electric Word is brimming with hot porno-funk and the psychedelic soul that has been missing for too long. “Bad Trip” is a mind-bender while “Things Are Changing” is a timeless two step groove vehicle.  

Also reaching an impressive watermark with 40 strong years in the game, Telluride Bluegrass Festival made sure to pack in fan favorites and new innovators to celebrate the jubilation. The Punch Brothers are no strangers to the Western Slope, but their release Ahoy!  features fresh tracks leftover from Whose Feeling Young Now? like “Moonshiner” and “Squirrel of Possibility,” plus dramatic covers of Josh Ritter’s “Another New World” and Mclusky’s “Icarus Smicaus,” to be incorporated into the live experience. 

The Milk Carton Kids follow up Prologue with the 2013 release The Ash & Clay. Keeping in line with their slow paced reflective ballads, “The Jewels Of June” and “Snake Eyes” are the perfect soundtrack for lazy Sundays with the windows open. For something with a bit more oomph, check out the livelier “Honey, Honey.”       

Although Tim O’Brien told us in Telluride recently that we can expect a new Hot Rize album this year, for now we are stuck with his very awesome collaborative album with Darrell Scott titled We’re Usually A Lot Better Than This for now. This collection of live goodness captured and put to tape has everything there is to love about O’Brien, and should get you pumped for his sets this Summer. 

Lake Street Dive dropped Fun Machine in 2012 with the intent of included sultry soul covers of George Michael’s “Faith”, Hall & Oates’ “Rich Girl”, and The Drifters’ “This Magic Moment.” For an entirely different take on these sing-a-long tunes then you have ever heard before, give this short compilation a spin or two. Or three.   

Trampled By Turtles’ Stars and Satellites is signature lo-fi bluegrass with an affinity for delicate strings and beautiful harmonies. Slow tunes such as “Alone”, and dexterous pick-work on “Walt Whitman” and “Risk,” show the boys keep evolving with their niche. Their songwriting has only gotten better since Palomino, without sacrificing the ability to launch into instrumental warfare on their strings. 

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