This year’s Float Fest features a multitude of talent from Austin, Texas. While the genres and sounds for each artist may be different, you can expect all of them to bring a lively, engaging performance to Float Fest. Here’s a list of five artists you can’t miss.
What: Groovy Funk and Soul When: Sunday from 2:30 to 3:15 Where: Water Stage
Why: The group is composed of a handful of talented local artists performing their contemporary taste on funk. According to their website, A-Town Getdown’s primary goal is making people “want to dance.” Their infectious, unique sound has earned them a loyal following in a city where the genres of indie rock and country reign supreme.
What: Acoustic Indie-Pop When: Sunday from 5:30 to 6:15 Where: Water Stage
Why: The seven-piece band elegantly pairs uncommon instruments, for example a cello and a trumpet, with strong vocals. The result is complex songs with earnest lyrics and hopeful tunes. The honestly of their music has been internationally appreciated, and the band has sold out tours in North America and Europe.
What: Talking Heads Tribute Band When: Saturday from 3:15 to 4:00 Where: Sun Stage
Why: Some of Austin’s most talented musicians came together to form a tribute for world-renowned band, The Talking Heads. Heartbyrne charms audiences with their high-energy performances of the legendary band’s many hits.
What: Future Funk When: Saturday from 2:30 to 3:15 Where: Water Stage
Why: Resonant Frequency has been on fire in Austin during the past few weeks. The group consists of three artists — Vince Seidl, Landon Reichle and Ben Slade, who each bring a different musical instrument to make up a cohesive electro-soul. They recently performed on the first-ever JamBarge, and they are set to open for electronic superstar, Pretty Lights.
What: Funky Electronic When: Saturday from 4:00 to 4:45 Where: Water Stage
Why: Blunt Force is an electronic due that mixes some funk with heavy bass to produce an unforgettable live show. After successfully headlining JamBarge in June, the duo announced their first headliner show at Empire. The also recently played their first set in front of a big crowd at the legendary Stubb’s Ampitheatre, and they’re set to play a few more festivals this year. May the Blunt Force be with you.
Other notable Austin artists performing at Float Fest include Walter Lukens, Los Coast, Sweet Spirit and UME.
Follow these artists as well as Float Fest on JamFeed for up-to-date information on the festival and updates on the artists. Happy Floating!
After selling out Madison Square Garden back to back nights in early February, The Lumineers are kicking off the second leg of their Cleopatra US Tour with a bang! Not only are they donating all their profits from their upcoming Dallas show next week to Planned Parenthood, but today they announced their ticket giveaway partnership with JamFeed.
Lumineers fans can win a pair of free tickets to 9 upcoming shows across the US, including 2 sets of VIP tickets for some very lucky fans! All you have to do to win is download the JamFeed App and follow The Lumineers to win, and you can bring a +1 with you to the show.
The winners for each show will be announced by 12pm the day before the show, and can pick up their 2 tickets at will call with a valid Photo ID.
* You must download JamFeed and follow The Lumineers to be eligible for this ticket giveaway. We will use location services in the app to determine your location and which show you are eligible to win!
Check out the Lumineers Cleopatra World Tour Update video below and don’t miss your chance to win tickets to see them live!
I recently ended a nearly two-year long distance relationship.
Anybody who has ever been in a long distance relationship understands that physical distance between bodies tends to, over time, amplify problems and chip away at lines of communication. It happens slowly, like winds eating away at an exposed piece of rock, at a pace that neither person can neatly identify in real time.
Amongst the reasons that I decided to end a relationship with an amazing woman, ultimately, it was this combination of time and distance that led me to my decision more than any other. I have a great new job, one that I can see myself growing into for many years to come, and a great new life in a great new city. It’s intimidating and oftentimes overwhelming, but if I don’t see where this journey takes me I will regret it for a lifetime. In the end, I was unwilling to sacrifice my independence for her by moving and settling into comfortability, and with each passing day it seemed as if the miles between us were growing because of it.
She felt the same way.
Thus we were left, two fiercely independent mid-twenty-somethings, trying to hold onto visions of our independent selves while simultaneously attempting to make something work that would have required one of those visions to change dramatically. Independence is a true blessing; one that always comes at a cost.
The Lumineers know this all too well.
After struggling to be heard for nearly a decade, all the while going through the vast plethora of issues that plague the journey of a starving band, all of a sudden Wesley Schultz, Jeremiah Fraites, and (since 2010) Neyla Pekarek had a monster hit on their hands.
“Ho Hey,” the infectious chart-topping lead single that pushed their self-titled 2012 debut album to nearly 2x platinum status in the U.S. alone, was unavoidable for that entire calendar year. Schultz, Fraites, and Pekarek were able to tour arenas across the world because of it. So after grinding with no end in sight for almost ten years, only to become the darlings of the indie folk and folk rock scenes overnight, what is a band to do on their follow-up LP?
Ask an industry executive and they’ll surely tell you to cash the fuck out; sign with a major label; work with a producer who can expand your sound into the pop realm; and most importantly, get your ass back in the studio and make “Ho Hey” part two.
The Lumineers did none of these things.
If anything, ‘Cleopatra,’ the excellent follow-up to their debut, is an ode to independence. The Lumineers decided to remain on Dualtone Records, the Nashville-based independent label that gave them their shot. They sought out the production prowess of Simone Felice, formerly of the folk rock band The Felice Brothers, who The Lumineers have praised for years.
And they doubled down on the sound that they wanted to pursue. Not the light-hearted chants, upbeat tambourine shakes, and vaguely wistful longings of “Ho Hey,” but rather, the very abtruse and arduous emotions that come with the reality of being out in the world, away from home, trying not to forget what got you here while doing your best to carve a new path.
Clocking in at 33 minutes, ‘Cleopatra’ is brisk to say the least. The band makes a point to avoid the clutter that plagues the majority of major label releases. Much less percussion is involved, which highlights Schultz’s songwriting prowess. It’s an album that doesn’t try to recapture previous success, but on the contrary, earns a new trust from the listener with each subsequent spin. The 11 tracks are anti-triumphant, and in that sense, triumphantly independent.
Perhaps the female protagonists, “Ophelia,” “Cleopatra,” and “Angela” are the best testaments to this triumph.
“Oh Ophelia, you’ve been on my mind, girl, like a drug… Heaven help the fool who falls in love,” reflects Schultz about the struggle to stay grounded amidst getting tugged in a thousand directions by newfound fame and glory.
Yet “Cleopatra,” the album’s title track, assures us that Schultz, like the now aging woman from whose perspective he sings, has the strength to say no to the temptations. Although she deeply misses the man who asked her to marry him at a young age, I do not view “Cleopatra” as a sorrowful ode to lost love. Rather, to me anyways, it’s a statement of bravery: to accept that living life on your own terms often comes with necessary sacrifice.
This manifesto is driven home, quite literally, by “Angela,” who finally musters the strength to leave her home in search of a new one. Although she doesn’t settle in a new town by song’s end, she has found home at last, suggesting that home is never really a destination at all.
For The Lumineers it seems as if, at least for the time being, they have found their home on ‘Cleopatra.’ They managed to create an excellent and challenging sophomore album that stakes the group’s independence and avoids mainstream pop cliches. They urge their fans to ride alongside them on their own terms – even if the chants of “HO” and “HEY” are nothing more but echoes in the distance.
Jamestown Revival’s Jonathan Clay is no stranger to the music industry. The Magnolia, TX, born-and-raised singer/songwriter has been active as a solo artist since the release of his debut EP, 2006’s Whole New Me. From there Clay was able to sign a development deal with Atlantic Records and released his second project, Back to Good, in 2007. A third album, Everything She Wants, came in 2010 amidst various song placements for shows on MTV, ABC, and FX.
However, accomplishments rarely ever hold any real weight by their lonesome. What good is a dream come true if you can’t share that dream with your best friend — especially if that best friend is someone as musically inclined as Jamestown’s other half, Zach Chance?
Speaking with Clay (and briefly with Chance) on the phone for about half-an-hour, it quickly became evident that the joy of creating something meaningful alongside another meaningful person is the ultimate reward for the childhood partners-in-crime, who reunited to form Jamestown Revival in 2010. I could keep writing cliches about friendship, or I could let Clay explain why: “We just enjoyed playing music together a lot more than playing it apart.”
Five years later and the southern folk-rock duo find themselves in the midst of an extensive tour for their highly successful and critically acclaimed debut album, UTAH, which was released in September of last year. The tour has brought them in front of massive festival crowds at Austin City Limits (a homecoming of sorts for them), Coachella, and Wakarusa, amongst others, with an appearance at Lollapalooza on the horizon later this summer.
But as much as Jamestown appreciates the overwhelming love and support, they remain some of the most humble and grounded musicians that I have ever spoken to. Indeed, if I didn’t know anything about them, I very well could have mistaken them for a far less established group. Perhaps this ego-less approach to life is why they opted to forego the expansive studio budgets and bright lights of a big city recording experience, instead finding a log cabin high in the mountains of Utah to track the aptly-titled album entirely to tape.
The story of Jamestown Revival is really that of two best friends who help each other remain true to themselves, relying on and sacrificing for one another in the midst of a crazy musical journey through an even crazier music industry. Read on to hear directly from Jonathan (and at times, from Zach) about his thoughts on Jamestown winning iTunes’ singer/songwriter album of the year, why they don’t record while on the road, a preliminary release goal for their UTAH follow-up record, plenty of stuff about their current home of Austin — which they share with JamFeed! — and much more.
Interview by Julia Waicberg.
How did you guys get started as musicians?
Jonathan Clay: My dad played guitar, music was a big part of my household growing up. Zach’s mom sings and his dad played piano, so it’s something that is in both of our family lineages. None of our family members performed professionally, but music was on both sides of our families. We wrote our first song together when we were fifteen. At first we were friends, but then that friendship developed into a bandship. But we started as friends, and first and foremost, we still are friends.
You (Jonathan) had a solo career for awhile. Why did you and Zach reunite to form Jamestown Revival?
JC: We just enjoyed playing music together a lot more than playing it apart.
Who are your musical influences?
JC: Guy Clark, Willie Nelson, and John Prine are big ones. Everybody from James Taylor to The Everly Brothers to The Rolling Stones… a lot of classic music. We don’t listen to a whole lot of current music. Zach does a better job of listening to more current music than I do, but I’m a bit of a grandpa.
You call your fans “revivalists.” Where do you find your biggest fan base?
JC: Austin, LA, New York, Boston, and Chicago. I guess that parallels all of the biggest cities, but it’s where we have the biggest shows… We can rest assured that the fans are going to be there, and that they are going to have our backs.
You moved from Austin to California in mid-2011. What caused the move away from your home state?
JC: We just wanted to change it up. We wanted a change in scenery. We felt like it might inspire something, and that it did. It inspired an entire album!
You lived near Bakersfield, CA. What about that area allowed you to write so much of UTAH?
JC: I think it was just being away from home and feeling completely displaced. There was a longing for familiarity. And the mountains and the water were all new to us.
You guys have been touring for awhile now. What are your thoughts on recording while on the road?
JC: For us, if you’re tracking vocals and guitar for a song and you don’t finish it that day and you want to come back and finish it the next day, you’re not going to be able to get the same sound. You can never repeat. When you break down and then come back, you’re never going to get the same sound twice. And I think that holds true in a larger sense. For us, the album should really be one complete thought. It’s a really important thing. And I feel like it would introduce a bit of a disjointed quality if you were doing a couple songs in a studio here and a couple songs in a studio there. The whole cohesiveness of the album is a really important aspect of it — for it to read like a book from start to finish, for it to feel like a complete thought, and to feel like all those songs are of the same family.
Do you have any necessary touring rules?
Zach Chance: You can tell when people aren’t in a good mood. You know, when someone needs their space. There are some general unwritten rules, like if you’re lucky enough to be on a bus you need to be clean. But nothing too crazy. Everyone’s pretty respectful.
Is there anything you make sure to do while you’re on the road to take your mind off of music?
ZC: We always make a point to get some camping in. We really do enjoy the outdoors. You get out and collect your thoughts, even if you’re not writing a song about hiking. I think doing that, stepping away from your phone and the congestion of the city, is a really good place to figure out where your head’s at. So we try to make time for that. We’ve also gotten really into bowling.
What has been your favorite festival to play at?
JC: Being from Austin, I would say ACL. It was really cool. That was the first festival I had ever been to, just as a fan… That was five years ago. And then five years later, being able to play that festival, that was pretty special.
What is the next step in terms of your next album?
JC: Our plan right now is to finish a song or two by the end of the year and follow it up with an album early next year.
Do you have plans on where to record yet?
JC: No. We haven’t gotten to that part yet… Making an album is a team sport. You’ve got me and Zach, you’ve got our management, our band, our producers, our label (Republic Records). We have a lot of people involved and it will be a decision that we all make together.
iTunes named UTAH the Best Singer/Songwriter Album of 2014. How was that experience for you?
JC: That was really cool! You know, when you create something like an album, and you listen to it so many times during the mixing process and the recording process, you can’t even tell by the end of the process whether or not it’s good. So getting a little bit of recognition, it gives you some much needed approval and affirmation that what you’re doing is worth it, and that you’re not crazy.
Do you listen to your old music still?
JC: Oh, no. Once we’ve signed off on the final master, we don’t ever listen to it… It’s kind of like “Okay, I think I look okay in this picture,” and then “Okay, I’m done with this. I don’t have a need to look at this picture ever again.” Whereas, your significant other, you could look at them over and over. But when it’s yourself, it’s not fun to look at necessarily.
How do you know that a song is good and complete?
JC: It just has a bit of magic to it. And sometimes finding that bit of magic is really difficult, so when you find it, it’s obvious. Sometimes it feels like you’re digging for a needle in a haystack, and then all of a sudden you prick yourself. And then it’s obvious that it’s right there… When you get it, you just know. You just think to yourself, “Okay, that’s it.”
You guys are from Magnolia, TX, but lived in San Marcos and have been residing in Austin (for the second time) since late 2013. Your sound seems to fit into the Austin folk scene, would you agree?
JC: Yeah. And from a larger perspective, just Texas and southern music in general. Austin is obviously a very dynamic, eclectic place. There are so many different kinds of music, but I do feel like we took a lot of influence from the south and southern music. You know, Texas songwriters. Guy Clark and Willie Nelson, to name a few. We merged that with kind of our own inclinations and I guess this is what you get.
What is your favorite venue to play in Austin?
JC: To have a show at Stubb’s Outdoors — that’s the goal. That could be my favorite place. We’ve played inside at Stubb’s, but yet to play outside.
You’re playing at Blues on the Green in Austin later this summer. Have you played before, and are you excited about it?
JC: We’ve been to Blues on the Green before, but haven’t played. But we’re very excited. It seems like in the city of Austin, we’re legitimately building a musical home. It’s always been our home in the truest sense of the word, but now it’s starting to feel like a musical home as well.
What is your favorite national park in Utah?
ZC: Man… Utah is a well-kept secret. Zion is great. I’m pretty partial to Bryce Canyon, just because we took this backpacking trip there. I think we did 18 miles in a day-and-a-half and were covered in blisters, but we spent several days out there and had a great time. And obviously, Zion is awesome. Utah is amazing. And Park City, we always love getting up that way.
Follow Jamestown Revival on JamFeed to stay up-to-date with all of their latest moves, and if you’re in the Austin area be sure to catch them at Blues on the Green on August 5th.
Last week, Ron Weasley Ed Sheeran delivered an impromptu cover of “CoCo” by O.T. Genasis on BBC Radio 1Xtra. I watched the video and immediately sent it to my editor, Yunus Church. Here was our conversation:
Neal: I think I need to write about how awful this is. God. Gosh. Darn. Fuck. This is really bad.
Yunus: No way did this happen. I refuse to listen or even acknowledge it. This didn’t happen. (Editor’s note: Still haven’t listened to it, still won’t. Can’t risk the possibility of Sheeran’s voice intruding my turn up whilst bangin’ the original)
I want to talk about how awful this is, not because I hate Ed Sheeran but because I love covers. I really, really love them. I’m fascinated by why artists decide to cover certain songs by other artists. Are they paying homage to someone who has influenced their work? Do they have a new, interesting take on the song? Are they too lazy to write and need to add one more track to an album? Because of these curiosities, I will listen to almost any cover of any song.
But acoustic covers of hip-hop songs are problematic. There’s an entire conversation to be had about cultural appropriation, about how the only way to make songs like “CoCo” more accessible is to have a young white guy play them on the guitar. It’s a little unnerving to hear these kinds of covers because they place the singer so far outside the scope of the original work. It always comes off as slightly patronizing, as if the cover is revealing some kind of hidden substance that wasn’t there to begin with. Oftentimes the results, as is the case with Sheeran’s cover, are purely comedic, and there’s an arrogance in showing how ridiculous some hip-hop songs are when driven from their context. It’s a flippant type of white privilege. This doesn’t work when hip-hop artists cover pop songs. You would never hear O.T. Genasis cover Ed Sheeran. If you did, it probably wouldn’t sound funny.
Sheeran’s cover doesn’t sound funny either, only terrible. “CoCo” isn’t good to begin with (“Water whip, like I’m Nemo.” Excuse me?) but Sheeran doesn’t offer a compelling stylistic alternative. The cognitive dissonance of playing a song about cooking crack-cocaine as if it were merely a low-key Jack Johnson b-side is staggering in its absurdity. Sheeran has written about addiction before in his hit single “The A Team” so perhaps this particular song resonates with him. That’s the best excuse I can come up with for why this had to happen.
I don’t ever want to talk about this cover again, but I do want to talk about other ones. Specifically, what makes a good cover. In my mind there are three key distinctions:
1). The cover is an homage to the original in some way, shape or form, whether vocally or melodically, but usually not both. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery but you can’t just make a carbon copy of someone else’s work.
2). The cover is a complete and total reworking of the original, unique and even a bit audacious in its execution. However, it must make sense in context. Sorry, Obadiah Parker but “Hey Ya” is a happy song. It’s a feel good song. It makes you want to dance. You shouldn’t be sad while you’re shaking it like a polaroid picture. That doesn’t make any fucking sense.
In that spirit, here are a few of my many favorite covers, ranked in no particular order. Please share yours in the comments!
Isaac Hayes, “Walk On By”
My mother worships Dionne Warwick and I grew up listening to her early recordings, many of them written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Warwick, as Jean Monteaux once wrote, normally sings with “not a voice so much as an organ.” On “Walk on By,” however, she croons softly, allowing Bacharach’s shifting orchestration to take over. A brass section morphs into violins as backup singers punctuate Warwick with authority.
Hayes covered this song at the end of the turbulent 60’s and turned it into a 12-minute funk epic, complete with a roaring guitar and violent string introduction that finally gives way to Hayes’ smooth, haunting vocals. The vamp eventually speeds up so electrically, repeating and repeating itself with remarkable intensity that by the time it burns out abruptly and ends with a sad, simple drum solo, you’re still catching your breath. No one has ever turned Bacharach upside down quite like this.
Ingrid Michaelson, “Nightswimming”
“Nightswimming” is one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands so I hold any renditions of it to a high standard (talking to you, Dashboard Confessional). It’s hard not to be impressed by Michelson here, as she uses a looper pedal to match her dynamic riffing. She pays reverence to the circularity of Michael Mills’ memorable piano motif while making the song indelibly her own.
Rufus Wainwright, “Chelsea Hotel No. 2”
Wainwright is best known for his cover of another Leonard Cohen classic, but this one is just as moving.The orchestra swells climactically at the end of the second verse and recedes gently under the power of Wainwright’s voice. This video is his performance of “Chelsea Hotel No. 2” in the underrated concert documentary Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man, but I prefer the album version; the strings don’t overpower him as much. I typically have little patience for those who can’t separate Cohen’s poetic genius from the sultry depths of his vocal range, but Wainwright, one of the most gifted singers of his generation, makes this song feel profoundly urgent. Cohen’s version is direct in its simplicity, as if it were no more than a formal statement. Wainwright turns it into a confessional.
Cat Power, “Sea of Love”
In his excellent book Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, critic Daniel Durchholz writes that Tom Waits has a voice that sounds like it was “soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car.” I always think of this quote when listening to Waits, and when you hear his gruff and demanding rendition of Phil Phillips’ doo-wop single “Sea of Love,” you know what Durchholz means. My preferred cover of this song, however, comes from the Atlanta born Cat Power, the vocal antithesis of Waits. Her version, famously used in the movie Juno, is melodically faithful to Phillips but stripped down to only a ukulele. This simplicity brings out the beauty of Power’s textured isolation. It turns the song from a cute Hallmark card into a melancholy plea for closeness. If you like this, check out the rest of the aptly titled The Covers Record, where Power pays strange and powerful homage to everyone from Johnny Mathis to The Rolling Stones.
John Legend, “Dancing In The Dark”
This one goes in the Cover Hall of Fame. My favorite version of it comes from Legend’s appearance in 2012 on Jimmy Fallon’s late night show. With some help from the Roots, Legend keeps the loose spirit of the original but with a strutting jazz arrangement that is more timeless. Other renditions, like the one above, feature a solo Legend confidently gliding along the ivory keys. Regardless of how he does it, Legend crafts this song into a more psychological exploration of longing.
I’ve always loved the lyrics to “Dancing In The Dark,” but Springsteen seems to fight against them, covering up the pain with dated, distracting synthesizers. Legend embraces it and allows the melody, and his soulful vocals, to convey a sense of hope amidst despair. He’s soft and sure, and understands that most men lead lives of quiet desperation.