Tag Archives: Folk rock

SOTD: Nick Fradiani

Nick Fradiani – “I’ll Wait For You”

We caught Nick Fradiani on an American Idol tour a few years back and left the arena impressed by his live show. His music is a bit more poppy than the typical RARAS Farm fare, but it’s damn good stuff. He’s influenced by folk-fueled rock ‘n roll songwriters like Springsteen, Petty and Stephen Kellogg, and his new offering “I’ll Wait For You” is a nice inspired pop rock offering.

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Album Review: Les Bohem – Moved to Duarte

Les Bohem, Moved to DuarteLes Bohem has had a varied career. He came to music in the mid-80’s with the band Gleaming Spires who had a minor cult hit with “Are You Ready For the Sex Girls.” He was also a member of the grossly underrated band Sparks, for whom he played bass. The interesting thing about Bohem is that at one point, as his music career stalled, he picked up a pen and began writing screenplays. Bohem found success writing feature films including Daylight, Dante’s Peak, The Alamo, and The Darkest Hour. He won an Emmy for writing and producing the mini-series Taken with Steven Spielberg.

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River City Extension Delivers Again



River City Extension Deliverance Album Review

New Jersey’s River City Extension broke through in 2012 with a fantastic sophomore album release, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Your Anger, an album that finished the year in the Top 5 albums in our annual album of the year feature. Finally, we get to see their follow-up release, and it was worth the wait.

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On Deliverance, their third album, we clearly see a band progressing through changes.  They were a diversely talented octet a few years ago, and have since pared down to a more manageable quintet. Still, the music of River City Extension is as diverse and creative as we’ve grown accustomed to.

With Deliverance, they open the next chapter in their musical odyssey, and it promises to be an exciting one. The new offering, via Anchor & Hope Records still boasts an ample serving of the eclectic indie folk rock feel that sets River City Extension apart from so many of their peers, and it also offers some brave new twists.

As we’ve come to expect from front man Joe Michelini, the first pass through the album is like listening to a new indie-folk rock playlist on shuffle – each song a surprise, usually captivating in its own way and typically very different from the predecessor.

The album, which hits the streets Tuesday, March 10th, kicks off with an excellent rocker, “Something’s Gotta Give.” It’s beautifully arranged, multi-layered chaos that is an absolute joy to listen to. The guitars and strings are perfectly-placed and masterfully diverse, the lead vocals and harmonies catchy as hell. It might be the best song on the album, but there’s plenty more of substance on here, as well.

I also loved the rockabilly feel of “Ohio” an instantly comfortable song carried along by excellent drums and some nice strings, and the bouncy folksy sound of “White Blackmail.” “Vox Populi” is an intriguing offering, as well; the track starts with a tremendously subdued opening, then explodes into an angry, passionate rocker, punctuated by Michelini’s grittiest work on the album.

“Indian Summer” is a track that truly captures the essence of the band.  Michelini’s vocals are tender and vulnerable, the strings understated yet attention-grabbing and combined perfectly with hard-driving drums. The transition from ballad into hearty rocker is just wonderful.

On the softer side, “Man Of Conviction” is a nice showcase for Michelini’s evolving vocal prowess, while the stark “Deliverance Pt. 2” takes his vocals to a naked and vulnerable extreme.

Is Deliverance as good as Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Your Anger?  Probably not, but it delivers an absolutely fresh and welcome cut at rock ‘n roll that deserves a spot on your new music radar.

Rock On!

Okay, well if you made it this far in the article, you are obviously a rock music fanatic like the Rock And Roll Animals at RARAsFarm. Do us a big favor and like our Facebook page for future updates, rock news and photos. Thanks and please spread the word to other intelligent, creative, beautiful music fans like you 🙂



Interview With Carbon Leaf’s Barry Privett

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Barry Privett of Carbon Leaf Chats With RARAs Farm

Over the past twenty years or so, I’ve heard a bunch of references to this interesting and engaging band out of Virginia.  They’ve developed a rabid, loyal fan base and quite the reputation as excellent live performers.

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I’m a sucker for creative rock bands, and even more so for bands boasting any kind of folksy Irish flair. This eclectic quintet, though, somehow kept slipping through my radar, but that’s about to change, as they are headed to Orlando for a show at The Social on Friday, January 23rd.  To prep for my first Carbon Leaf experience, I caught up with frontman Barry Privett for an engaging interview.

Cretin: There seems to be a recent trend for bands to reimagine previously successful releases. You recently did that with Indian Summer Revisited, what drove that decision?
Barry  Privett: Several reasons: Indian Summer was turning 10 years old, and the label still owned the master recording, but not the songs themselves, so what better way to celebrate than re-record the album – which legally we were now permitted to do – and return the Indian Summer project back into Carbon Leaf’s control. Fans were very enthused by it, and of course the original album still exists. We had a lot of fun making it, and have been around for 21 years, so we’d like to do this with all of our older material, and introduce the music to new fans who may not be familiar with some of it. It’s a great thing to do in between writing and recording new material.

Cretin: When you finished the new album, with ten years of life experiences added to your conscience did you find any one or two songs that took on a totally new meaning to you?
Barry  Privett: We certainly are better at playing the songs now than back then! I can’t say that songs mean something else to me now, though the original subjects of certain songs to fade in and out of memory more now when performing them. I would say the songs become their own thing and the focus is on the energy of the crowd that is singing them back, rather than pondering about a breakup or something. I think that’s a good thing. “One Prairie Outpost” is perhaps the most nostalgic one for me on the album, so that takes me back a bit I think. But I don’t think of ole Jenny every time I sing “Life Less Ordinary.” Not every time anyway.

Cretin: In your live set, what versions of the songs will the fans be hearing?
Barry  Privett: Either more stopped down acoustic or maybe even some around 1-mic, but typically these songs feel the best when the whole band is behind them. Indian Summer was a pretty dense record.

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Cretin: The music has very obvious Celtic influences, especially vocally, but it is not really Celtic rock. How would you classify the band’s style?
Barry  Privett: Right. The Celtic influence percentage is fairly small, but it leaves an obvious footprint. Some of the songs are overt Celtic-rock, but then there’s “Desperation Song,” or “She’s Gone,” or “Oi” that have some of those folk elements more as passing textures. Maybe “She’s Gone” not so much, I don’t know…I should do a spreadsheet. But yeah, you put us next to a beer swilling, Celtic rock band and it’s a different thing, which will often frustrate some people who want to swing beers more. I’m happy to be left of center of that when we choose to work in the genre.

Cretin: For a first timer coming out to see you guys live (like me), what should I expect to see/hear?
Barry  Privett: There will be a lot of styles and instruments. Generally we try to be engaging, fun, but hopefully play well enough where people walk out thinking we are a really great band with good tunes! It’s a fun night.

Cretin: The band has shared the stage with some great names in the music business over your 23 year career. Were there any acts you played with who really influenced the band’s sound?
Barry  Privett: When we were really plying the Celtic stuff early on as a younger band, Great Big Sea was a big influence, but they have kind of a special thing and you can’t just jump up there and be that. And we didn’t, but their fan base was very receptive to us and we still benefit from that association for the few tours we supported them.

Cretin: So you’ve got one show in Orlando before you hit the high seas for The Rock Boat. Sharing the stages with Sister Hazel, BNL, The Mowglis and a handful of other diverse bands. How did this gig come about?
Barry  Privett: It’s maybe our 7th year? We’d played a show or two with Sister Hazel in the past.  I’m not sure how it came about, other than our agent got the gig at the time. It’s great to see some old friends, and see music, which you don’t get to do when you’re in a band, ironically enough. It’s good to commune a bit, and meet fans too. Pretty relaxed atmosphere.

Cretin: Any of the bands on the Rockboat you are particularly excited to see?
Barry  Privett: There are so many I’ve not even heard of, so yeah I will have my list, when we have the free time. I’ve not seen Michael Franti yet, and we’ve ganged around to varying degrees with Sister Hazel, Gaelic Storm, Red Wanting Blue, Will Hoge, Scars on 45, Von Grey….but yeah, most the boat artists this year are new to us, so it should be a great time. The artists are always solid on TRB.

You can catch Barry and his Carbon Leaf mates at The Social on Friday, January 23rd, before they hit the high seas with The Rock Boat, leaving Miami on the 24th.

Rock On!

Okay, well if you made it this far in the article, you are obviously a rock music fanatic like the Rock And Roll Animals at RARAsFarm. Do us a big favor and like our Facebook page for future updates, rock news and photos. Thanks and please spread the word to other intelligent, creative, beautiful music fans like you 🙂

Nate Currin – You and I Are Ghosts

Nate Currin Album Review

Up until this point working with RARASFARM, I have almost exclusively reviewed albums formed by bands in their youth.

Being in my early twenties I feel a certain draw to bands composed of people my age. The lyrics are strong, emotional, and generally surround things I can relate to. Bands in their youth are a wonderful thing; their lyrics and sound often personify the uneasy and awkward transition between childhood and adulthood. These bands are experiencing many things for the first time and these new experiences and transitions make for powerful songs. However, eventually young bands grow up and if their lucky they become something like Nate Currin.

It’s hard to make a good album but it’s even harder to make a better follow-up album. Nate Currin’s 2013 concept album The Pilgrim was nearly flawless and listeners will be happy to hear that his follow up album You and I are Ghosts is equally if not more pleasing.

Music is such a subjective art that it’s hard to call any one album perfect but Nate Currin has come as close as possible, twice in a row. His latest offering is a blessing to the music world. I respect young artists depicting their growing pains through their music but what I respect even more is a seasoned artist’s understanding of life.

Nate Currin has been through it all and what’s better is he is so clearly able to express his emotions and life experience through his music. You and I Are Ghosts covers issues from relationship and friends to lifestyles and places. The concept behind the album is that everyone goes through phases in their lives and everything we leave behind are ghosts. Nate has an incredible understanding and a vastly inspiring outlook on all aspects of life.

On “Our Fading Numbered Days,” Nate says “I’ve no regrets the things we all forget lost and gone in distant haste.” The album is all about taking the best outlook on all facets of life; it’s a textbook on the best way to view life. Not all of life is wonderful but Currin reminds us all that life only exists as we view it.

The message and lyrics on the album should be looked at as a bible for growing bands but the mighty shadow that the album’s message casts does not block out the other amazing elements of the album. Not since Yellowcard have I heard a violin incorporated in rock music so well. Given, Nate Currin is in an entirely different genre of rock but it makes the violin on the album no less enthralling. Nate knows when to bring in the violin and when to let the acoustic guitar do the talking.

The instrumentals have a very solemn sound to them that compliment Nate’s voice exceptionally well. The album stays true to its pop rock/ folk genre but leans more to the folk side. Nate’s voice naturally lends itself to a folk twang; he has the voice of a weathered man, a man who has seen the world and has something to say about it.

After listening to You and I are Ghosts nearly 1000 times, I am left wondering how it is possible that artists like Nate Currin exist outside of the top forty charts. His style isn’t the kind you’d normally hear blasted on the radio over and over but it is the kind you listen to once and get hooked.

If you have time on your hands to reflect on your entire life, I highly recommend you download Nate Currin’s You and I Are Ghosts from iTunes immediately. Even if you don’t have time for all that, still download the album because I promise you it will instantly become a new favorite.

Joey Farese

OK, America – It’s Time to get on Frank Turner’s Bandwagon

Frank Turner, Tape Deck Heart Album Review

Frank Turner has quietly became a huge star in his native England, while illogically wallowing in relative mainstream obscurity in the States. He’s a relentless road warrior famous for delivering fantastic live shows, and is a prolific song-writer with an excellent catalog of songs. I suspect he’s quite happy with his cult following in the States, where he’s never really had a commercial breakthrough, but that is about to change.

Tape Deck Heart, Turner’s Fifth solo album is a rare marriage of stirring song-writing and creative passionate music. Turner is a talented poet, sincere story-teller and tremendous musician, and he’s created a fantastic album, destined to be prominently included in 2013’s year-end Best Albums lists.

The 31 year-old Turner is the former front-man for hardcore punk rockers Million Dead. Since going off on his own, he has shifted to more of an acoustic driven sound as a solo artist. On Tape Deck Heart, we see a perfect melding of the strumming folk troubadour and the fervid punk rocker.  The sound is unique and Turner pulls it off perfectly. We hear a roller-coaster of lyrics that effortlessly transforms from hopefulness to resignation to bitterness and despair before sneaking back to optimism: just magnificent.

If you’re not familiar with Frank Turner, and are looking for a comparison, there’s not truly an easy match.  At times I thought of the best traits of artists such as The Lemonheads (before Evan Dando imploded), The Replacements, Chuck Ragan and Flogging Molly.  An eclectic mix, but damn good company.

Recovery” is the first single off of the album and already one of the year’s top songs. It’s a catchy, bouncy tune that is pure addiction. The lyrics belie the poppy sound, as they reflect a desperate, if not unrealistic attempt to recover from a failed relationship. Turner’s vocals are wide-ranging and captivating; nicely accompanied by a rollicking piano and guitar driven backdrop.  “Losing Days” is another song cut from the same cloth, and an excellent track on it’s own.

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On the opposite side of the spectrum is the tender “Tell Tale Signs,” The stark song kicks off with a cold “Goddammit Amy,” and then shares a sad tale of love lost. “Like nothing really matters, Like pain doesn’t hurt, You should mean more to me by now, Than just a heartbreak in a short skirt.” The entire song is a lyrical gem and great story; one of many samples of Turner’s story-telling magic.

The best song is the fantastic “Four Simple Words.” It’s a 5 minute roller coaster ride that just oozes creative genius. The song starts as a slow meandering tome accompanied by minimalist piano, then a bit of a hopeful plea (those four words) “I want to dance,” before exploding into a raucous punk rock anthem.  The vocals are diverse and captivating, and the lyrics again superb. It’s a brilliant song, and sadly one that will never get a sniff of airplay on our stale American radio outlets, but stand assured, this will quickly become a highlighted staple in his live shows.

“The way I Tend To Be” and “Polaroid” are two more tracks with the potential to be hits that you’ll find bouncing around in your head.  At the other end of the scale is the slow, heart-wrenching “Broken Piano,” and the farewell ballad “Anymore.”  The album is masterfully produced by Rich Costey (Muse, NIN) who does a nice job highlighting Turner’s distinctive voice and giving the album a great feel and flow.

We hear the refrain too often that rock music is dead. It’s not, there’s still some fantastic stuff from the likes of The Black Keys, The Drowning Men and Foo Fighters; now, it’s safe to add Frank Turner to that list. Go out, buy the album below and help save rock ‘n roll.

I’ll leave you with this quote from “Four Simple Words:” “Somebody told me that music with guitars was going out of fashion and I had to laugh. This shit wasn’t fashionable when I fell in love. If the hipsters move on, why should I give a fuck?”

Rock On!

RARA's Choice Plus (9/10)
RARA’s Choice Plus (9/10)

(see RARA’s rating system)

P.S. Follow Frank on Twitter – he’s a caustic intelligent guy and always entertaining. @frankturner

RARA’s Six Pack with Brooke Annibale

Brooke Annibale Interview

Singer-songwriter Brooke Annibale is set to release her new EP, Words In Your Eyes, on February 5, 2013. Annibale, a Pittsburgh native with a fantastic voice has relocated to Nashville and is offering up six new tracks on this follow-up to her 2011 full-length release, Silence Worth Breaking.

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We caught up with Brooke on the eve of her release and shared a six pack, RARA’s style. Here’s the RARA’s Six Pack with Brooke Annibale:

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RARA’s Farm: How has the move to Nashville helped you develop as an artist?

Brooke Annibale: I think Nashville has been really good for me. I went to college here and met a lot of people I still work with in music now. I’ve also been able to discover so many other artists that I may not have if i wasn’t following the scene here. There are just so many resources here for an independent musician. It’s a community where everyone is always being creative in someway, and that is really inspiring. It definitely pushes me to try and be better at what I do.

RARA’s Farm: You’ve received accolades both for your writing and your performing, which mean the most to you?
Brooke Annibale: Probably writing, since that’s really what got me started in music. I started writing lyrics before anything else.  I think that writing a good song is what is most important and rewarding to me. Of course I love when the song really gets to come to life in front of an audience though!

RARA’s Farm: What’s your favorite place to play live?
Brooke Annibale: Well, I always enjoy playing in my hometown, Pittsburgh and Club Cafe is a great spot for a singer-songwriter. I just got back from something called 30A Songwriters Festival in Florida (on the Panhandle). It is definitely up there on my list of favorite places to play.

RARA’s Farm: Being from Pittsburgh, is Primanti Brothers really that good?
Brooke Annibale: Haha! I’ve honesty only been to Primanti’s a handful of times in my life. But yeah, it is pretty good.

RARA’s Farm: I’ve seen you compared to Natalie Merchant? Was she an influence? Who has been?
Brooke Annibale: I was definitely really flattered to get that comparison, though I feel its more of a vocal rather than a genre/style comparison. I’ve had a lot of different influences and I always find that to be a hard question to answer, especially cause I’m not sure that who influences me actually shines through in my music all the time. I’ve always really liked artists like Brandi Carlile, The Swell Season…etc. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Kathleen Edwards, and I can definitely tell her music has had an impact on my writing a bit.

RARA’s Farm: What’s next for Brooke Annibale?
Brooke Annibale: I’ve got my new EP coming out on February 5. It’s entitled Words In Your Eyes, and features 6 new songs I worked on over the past year. Now I’m trying to write and record more, and get out on the road a bit too.

RARA’sFarm: Keep your eye out for Brooke’s new album, Words In Your Eyes, available on iTunes via the link below or at her website: brookeannibale.com

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Of Monsters and Men Dazzles Orlando

Since January when we first wrote about this uber-talented band out of Iceland, I’ve been looking forward to catching them live, to see if their live show lived up to my lofty expectations. After their powerful, engaging fourteen song set at The Beacham, there’s no doubt, we witnessed the next huge Indie breakout band.

Of Monsters and Men is often compared to The Arcade Fire, and although there are indeed musical similarities  the crew from Iceland have a sound all of their own. It’s unique indie-rock with a folksy flair that comes across even better live than on their hit album, Into The Woods.  I do see valid comparisons to The Arcade Fire in their huge potential to become the next Indie rock act to cross over to huge mainstream success, both critical and commercial.

The Beacham was sold out for this show, and the packed crowd was eagerly engaged from the opening notes of “Dirty Paws” to the powerful closing notes of the final encore “Yellow Light.” Nanna Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar Þórhallsson share the vocals and sounded magnificent all night trading off between the female and male leads. Their voices were pure all night, distinct and captivating, at times reminding me of the exceptional vocals of The Beautiful South which is high praise.

The band has added a seventh member for this tour, and it works magnificently, as they sound bigger, fuller and more vibrant than in their recordings. Their line-up features three guitars (including the left-handed Ragnar), a bass, drums, keyboards, accordion, kettle drum and trumpet, offering up plenty of unique mixes. The band members enjoyed the packed house throughout the show and seemed humbled by the crowd’s constant participation, either clapping or singing along to most songs.

(Check out our concert photos here)

The house was rocking all night, but the fervor kicked up a notch for “Slow and Steady,” where the entire corwd had their hands aloft clapping rhythmically, and then hit a fever pitch for their current hit “Mountain Sound.” They also threw in a nice cover of The Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs’ “Skeletons.”

The highlight of the show was an extended version of “Lakehouse,” where drummer Arnar Hilmarsson came out front and led the crowd through an animated singalong. From there, they closed out the set with an exhilaration version of their hit single “Little Talks.”

From there, it was a nice three song encore, that led off with a stripped down version of “Sloom” with just the three guitarists on stage. They were rejoined on stage by their band mates for “Beneath the Bed,” before closing with a raucous version of “Yellow Light,” which featured grewat drums from Hilmarsson, as well as Nanna on kettle drum – a rousing end to a great night of rock music. For the 1200 in attendance it was a great glimpse into the future of rock stardom, and likely a fleeting chance to see them in a cozy venue, as their next trip to Orlando will find them in a much bigger venue.

Rock On!

Dirty Paws
From Finner
Slow and Steady
Mountain Sound
Your Bones
Skeletons (Yeah Yeah Yeahs cover)
Love Love Love
King and Lionheart
Little Talks
Six Weeks

Beneath My Bed
Yellow Light