April 18, 2011

Guest Post: Folk Hive's Samantha Kramer

Let's be honest: a lot of music blogs feature writing that is entirely underwhelming. Whether by simply copying and pasting press releases or writing in vague language, the average music blogger is best suited to get his or her point across by simply sharing an mp3—end of thought. That's not the case with one of my absolute favorite sites, Folk Hive: you might visit at first for the music, but you'll return time and again for Samantha Kramer's balls-to-the-wall passionate, insightful, conversational, and hilarious writing.

So, let me just tell you guys what happened. When I was a kid, a teenager, an adult, a new mom, a significant other, I was obsessed with music. Basically that means for like, ever. I had this kid (who is so badass, he thinks we should name his banjo AnnaLee, just like that woman The Band sings about) and after that I did what people do: I started acting like a grown up. I stopped getting drunk on Wednesdays, I started wearing my seatbelt. I bought less cheap beer and more diapers, the former which can make one involuntarily piss themselves and the latter which prevents others from noticing that very thing, oddly enough. Life parallels, that shit right there.

I also started writing again. I started listening to music. More. I started taking it in and jiving only with what appealed to me and what mirrored my life. I started perusing blogs and I watched Almost Famous a fucking thousand-and-two times ("The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone when you're uncool").

I started reading more music blogs. To me, the two go hand in hand. I'm not looking to let fucking Ke$ha's label tell me what's interesting and worth my time. I'm looking to individuals who so very obviously love the music in the same obsessive manner that I do to tell me what I might have missed and what I should promptly put in my eustachian. Brad Cook (of the amazing Megafaun, a band you MUST listen to RIGHT FUCKING NOW) once said: "I have always felt there to be a direct correlation with trust and music. You trust websites, you trust critics, you trust friends that show you music and you trust friends that make music." This assessment? THIS assessment is what I'm talking about. My connection to music is utterly personal and it's almost like a relationship—I've really got to trust a writer/blogger before I'll let them tell me what I should be hearing. One of those people I trust is Matt, the man behind Everybody Taste.

Matt, who must be either insane or was high when he asked (though the latter probably isn't the case as he seems to be all-pro and not into brain function fucker-uppers) extended the invitation to write up something for his readers here. I accepted—"FUCK YES! ARE YOU SERIOUS?!"—and then set to...staring at my computer screen for three months. What the hell are you supposed to do when one of your favorite bloggers calls you funny, builds you up, and asks you to write something specific? Over here, in my world, you panic and freeze. But then the other day, this dude who makes some music and who you will hear below, sent me a lovely email and said my writing reminds him of Edward Abbey. Now, that dude? THAT dude HAD to be high. But that little mess of impaired judgement compliment-age sent me over the top and now you're reading what I furiously scribed out while listening to ''Bully's Lament" on repeat.

At any rate, I'd like to introduce you to some people I know. Not people I'm acquainted with in the 19th century definition of the term—we're certainly not meeting for tea with curled mustaches on view to discuss the new Postal Service ("Mail delivered by men on horses? How absurd!") but they are artists I've 'met' in the 21st century version of the term. I've listened to their music—whether by finding it on my own or being contacted about it—I've conversed with these lovely makers of jams by email, and I've promised to promote this shit whenever and wherever I can simply because I love it and feel it's all good and wonderful and should be heard.

Within these songs are the beauty of the music blog. Each of them has affected my life in some way, big or small, and there's a good chance I would not have these songs had I not spent a good portion of the past six months blowing off dishes and mowing the yard to write instead.

To wit, here are some jams from some people I 'know'...

**  Ed. note: Download all of Folk Hive's recommendations as a zip file at the bottom of the post. **

Shakey Graves - "Once In A While" [MP3] / BANDCAMP

Yeah man, I'm totally a-fucking-ware Matt's talked about this recently. But stumbling accidentally upon Alejandro's Bandcamp really made the end of 2010 for me. I'm so excited for the new album—shit, I'm still excited for THIS album. One cannot recommend SG enough.


Harlowe and the Great North Woods - "Untitled" [Stream] / WEBSITE

For fans of Horse Feathers. For fans of total fucking awesomeness.


Shaun Watt - "In A World of Two" [MP3] / WEBSITE

Years ago, I was a huge fan of Great Lake Swimmers. Recently, I was a huge fan of SISKIYOU. And now, one can color me a huge fan of Shaunn Watt. I'll leave it up to the reader to take the time to figure out the connection between these three things but all are worth your time. I implore, fuck mopping the kitchen floor tonight and listen to jams from every band/singer I just mentioned.


King Harobed - "Hard Patch Earth" [MP3] / BANDCAMP

While Brian (a.k.a. King Harobed) is obvs a totally nice dude he is obvs insane as well. This is the man who made the Edward Abbey comparison and while you might think I'm only talking up his music because a lady has no choice after a man makes an assessment like that, you'd be wrong. 'Hard Patch Earth' is a song that feels like home to me. I imagine that I could walk into my local MFA (google it, city folk) and gain me some serious cred with those retired men in cowboy hats if I played this jam. They'd be all, "Well dammit Roy Earl, my crops won't grow either!", and I'd be all, "See, THE HIPPIES GET IT!".


The Beaten Sea - "Turn Out Empty" [MP3] / BANDCAMP
Dry Creek - "My Latest Sun Is Sinking" [MP3] / BANDCAMP
Comrade - "No Need Now" [MP3] / WEBSITE

Music is like my sister. It is like my brother, my mother and my father. And so, collectives like The Dallas Family Band that bond and record and move together inspire me. The Beaten Sea, Dry Creek, Comrade: all these bands are part of that family and all of them are my family.


Eric & Magill - "Should We All Wake Up" [MP3] / BANDCAMP
Eric & Magill - "Grandpa's Pink Wine" [MP3]

The Pay-Whatever-The-Fuck-You-Want album from Eric & Magill, All Those I Know, made the rounds last year and it was so good that it earned a spot on my Best of 2010 list. Every song is varied and every song is a glorious experiment in what music should be: inclusive but in a way that every listener feels it is personal. Should we all wake up, with nothing but our love, that should be enough. Amen, brothers.


Decibully - "Bang Bang" [MP3] / WEBSITE

Let's just bring this shit back up a notch. I tell you, here and now, the new and last Decibully album is the shit. Seriously. Download it. And note: Ryan Weber of Decibully was half of the Eric & Magill album up there. Dude's got a fucking brilliant track record when it comes to music.


Jacob Wright - "Could It Be" [MP3] / BANDCAMP

I fell in love with this singular jam last year and thus far, in the new year, this is all I've heard from Jacob. But my love and hope for his music abounds. There's a vinyl printing in the works, paid for via a Kickstarter campaign, which just tickles my fancy. HARD.


Liam O'Brien - "Pyrite" [MP3] / BANDCAMP

The paragraph above, re: Jacob Wright, could be quoted verbatim in regards to Liam O'Brien. In fact, the two are friends. Good friends. The two men are putting out that aforementioned vinyl via Kickstarter together.


King Jim - "I Still Believe" [MP3] / BANDCAMP

While I'm generally more concerned with quality over quantity, King Jim is one of those artists in the same vein as Shakey Graves: putting out solid jams seemingly by the hour. Banjos and heart, this guy.


New Animal - "Fall Out" [MP3] / SOUNDCLOUD

New Animal, it seems to me, was lucky enough to be able to follow the same path as Eric & Magill when it comes to getting an album out there. From first listen I was enamored and again, here's another band putting out jams consistently but still managing to keep we, the listeners, enthralled. That's about as hard to do as pissing into the Missouri wind in March but they're pulling it off.


Port St. Willow - "Stay Even" [MP3] / WEBSITE

I stumbled upon Port St. Willow a while back and I couldn't be more stoked that his tunes are picking up steam among listeners and bloggers, alike. I find such beauty in music that seems simplistic but in actuality, is the most complicated of all. Port St. Willow fits that bill and not only that, his own love for concocting a jam is glorious to see.


Balto - "The Railyard" [MP3] / BANDCAMP

Yet another gorgeous find amongst the ambient/shoe-gaze/anti-folk that is occasionally on Bandcamp: Balto's album, October's Road, really got at me. That voice, those oooooohhh's, that depth. The whole album, a measly 4 bucks for 10 fantastic tracks, is good for your soul.


Big Snow Big Thaw - "Damn Allegheny" [MP3] / BANDCAMP

Bloggers, these dudes. Friends and wonderful music makers, fellow lovers of banjo. This jam has been in rotation since I discovered it and it's got such appeal that even my brother, lover of Jason Aldean and Jamey Johnson, gets to stompin' his feet when he hears it. Boy's been known to bust out in a jig over this shit. That right there is some fucking mass appeal.


Juniper Tar - "Birds In The Trees" [MP3] / WEBSITE

I say we close this bitch out strong, eh? There are great bands and then there are great bands made up of great dudes, which makes them greater bands. The brothers Schleicher and their comrades are the nicest group of fellows, and for serious, their music is the epitome of awesome. I've had the pleasure of becoming somewhat friends with Schleicher the Younger and after a series of mixtapes and lost packages mishandled by UPS, I can honestly say that this band has made it into my favorites list, where it solidly sits right up there at the top.

**  Download all of Folk Hive's recommendations: Folk Hive Guest Post.zip **

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Previous guest post: The Needle Drop's Anthony Fantano

Juniper Tar


  1. my favorite sentence --> "That's about as hard to do as pissing into the Missouri wind in March but they're pulling it off."

  2. harlowe rocks

  3. That is one great guest post. Just wish it came with a zip file since we all know Sam's taste is aces and it be nice to get it all the goodies in one little package.

  4. Jessica: Great call. It's a lot of clicking to download all 17 tracks. Please find the zip file at bottom of the post.