M. Ward, the “Him” in She & Him alongside “She,” actress and singer Zooey Deschanel, moments ago sent out the above tweet announcing a new LP from the duo. As the tweet states, the record – which will be their fourth and first since 2011′s holiday set, A Very She & Him Christmas – is expected to be released “late spring” with more info to follow soon. Their debut album, Volume One, was issued in 2008 on Merge Records and was followed in 2010 by Volume Two, also on Merge.
Just when you thought that Zooey Deschanel couldn’t be anymore adorable, they went ahead and turned her into a cartoon in order to create a music video for She & Him’s take on the holiday classic Baby, It’s Cold Outside from last year’s A Very She & Him Christmas. Both Zooey and Matt get the animated treatment in this vintage looking clip that has Zooey going to Kathy Bates in Misery length extremes to keep Matt inside with her on a snowy winter’s day. Let’s check it out…
After focusing his efforts on a variety of collaborative projects over the last few years, both as an artist and producer, M. Ward has finally returned to being a solo act with the release of A Wasteland Companion. The Portland-based singer-songwriter recorded the 12-track record at eight different studios, and received a helping hand from the likes of Toby Leaman (Dr. Dog), Howie Gelb (Giant Sand), Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, Monster Of Folk) and Zooey Deschanel (She & Him). Last week Matt stopped by Conan O’Brien’s TBS show with a full backing band to perform Primitive Girl, which includes a fiery guitar solo about two-thirds of the way through. Let’s check it out…
Four years may seem like a lot of time between records, but since the release of Hold Time in 2009, M. Ward hasn’t been a stranger to the recording studio choosing to spend his time on collaborative projects both with the Monsters Of Folk and She & Him. On April 10 the singer-songwriter will return to being a solo act, as he will release his latest studio album, A Wasteland Companion, via his longtime label Merge Records. Last week Matt released the animated music video for the record’s first single – The First Time I Ran Away – which is full of everything we’ve come to love from his patina-drenched sound – smokey vocals, John Fahey-inspired guitar sounds and layers of Phil Spector-esque production. Let’s check it out…
Over the last few years M. Ward has been spending a good majority of his time concentrating on collaborative projects, with both the indie-folk super-group Monsters Of Folk, who released their debut in 2009; and She & Him, his vintage-pop collaboration with doe-eyed actress Zooey Deschanel, putting out their sophomore album, as well as a holiday record. For 2012, the singer-songwriter will go back to being a solo act, as Ward will release his seventh studio album A Wasteland Companion on April 10 via his longtime label Merge Records. The day following the album’s release, Matt will head out for a 20-date cross-country tour, which kicks off with a gig at the historic Fillmore in San Francisco, and will see him get support from Jonathan Richman, the newly reunited fiREHORSE and Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo at various stops during the run.
If you’re not into a night with Matt’s brand of patina drenched sounds, then maybe you’ll be interested in hitting one of these recently announced tours…
In the pantheon of gut wrenching, emotionally charged break up albums none may top the sheer heartbreak found throughout Bob Dylan’s 1975 release Blood On The Tracks. The album has been mined for its share of covers over the years, but it’s the first time we are actually featuring a track from what is arguably one of Dylan’s best LPs.
While there may be a few more obvious choices, we’re going with the moody album’s melancholy closing track, Buckets Of Rain. The tune, which according to Wikipedia has astonishingly only been played live once by Dylan, is as tender as it is devastating with lines such as, “Like your smile, and your fingertips. Like the way that you move your lips, I like the cool way you look at me. Everything about you is bringing me misery.”
Before hitting it big on his own, M. Ward was a member of Beth Orton’s touring band. The duo’s version finds Orton and Ward trading off on the verses, which was released as the B-side for the digital single of Heart Of Soul, a track that Ward co-wrote with Orton for her 2006 album Comfort Of Strangers.
READ ON for more covers of Buckets Of Rain from the likes of Neko Case, David Gray, Vic Chesnutt and more…
This year at Hidden Track, we concocted a little experiment for our year-end Best Albums of 2009 list. Instead of picking the old fashioned way – subjectively – we opted for something a little different: a collaborative, collective list that incorporates the opinions of everybody here at HT.
To begin, we devised an all-encompassing list of around 100 nominees and populated it in a Google spreadsheet – essentially anything that anybody who writes for Hidden Track liked at all, made the list. Then we invited our crew of writers to independently vote on the whole list (omitting anything unfamiliar) on a scale of 1 to 20 (20 = five stars). We ended up with 33 voters with varying degrees of familiarity with the nominees; some folks voted on just about everything, while some just a few. From there, we eliminated anything that did not receive at least three votes, calculated the average scores, and sorted it. We took the top 25 scores and presto: the Hidden Track 25 Best Albums of 2009. No bullshit, no big opinions; just the results.
Key Tracks: Stars Of Leo, Rave On, Never Had Nobody Like You
Sounds Like: An old antique photo
Skinny: In 2008 M. Ward seemed to take a backseat to doe-eyed actress Zooey Deschanel as the Him in vintage indie-pop act She & Him, but he was back in 2009 with his latest solo release, Hold Time. The album is full of everything we’ve come to expect from Matt over the years – modern indie-rock that is completely bathed in the patina of the last fifty-plus years of pop music. Combining his sepia-drenched vocals and open tuning guitar work with guest appearances from the aforementioned Deschanel, Lucinda Williams and Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle.
READ ON for the next four albums in our countdown…
With the first six months of 2009 beginning to feel like a distant memory, figured it was time to continue with a tradition we started last year around this time, by taking a look at my favorite albums from the first half of the year with a little something we’ve dubbed Top 6 Of The First 6.
Maybe I’m getting old, but this list is dominated by mainly roots and Americana-tinged albums, so for those of you expecting Animal Collective somewhere here you may be sorely disappoint. So let’s get at it…
Outer South may technically be Conor Oberst’s second “solo” release in as many years, but it would be hard to call this record a true solo effort. While Oberst’s prolific songwriting tendencies may rival that of Mr. Mandy Moore, his latest effort with the Mystic Valley Band is a collaborative affair, with band members contributing and singing their own songs often making you forget you’re listening to a record that has the wordy, singer-songwriter’s name attached to it. The album itself is chocked full of breezy, ’70s influenced country and folk-rock, mixed with the aughts indie-sensibility making it hard to avoid giving them the tag of an updated version of the Traveling Wilburys.
READ ON for the rest of Jeff’s Top 6 Of The First 6…
Back in 2004, the formidable trio of Conor Oberst, Jim James and M. Ward teamed up for a tour they dubbed Monsters Of Folk. Each artist delivered a solo set, where they often interpreted each others material, that often culminated with all three on stage at the end for some spirited covers and a mixed bag of the artists’ tunes. Earlier this year news surfaced that trio had plans to collaborate and record an album together. Well, the band’s debut effort now has a release date and will hit store shelves on September 22.
Finally, Several months after hordes of Bruce Springsteen fans were up in arms after seemingly being being shut out of The Boss’ recent IZOD Center shows, the Newark Star-Ledger went digging for the truth about how so many premium seats ended up on the secondary market so quickly – which may or may not be so surprising. The reporter discovered that “1,126 seats in the four sections closest to the stage, but only 108 of those tickets were ever for sale to the public…In all, 2,262 seats were held back from public sale, for the band, its record company and agent and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority…that number represents about 12 percent of the total.”
North Carolina based indie-label Merge Records has a big 2009 planned to celebrate their 20th anniversary. The label, which is home to acts like Neutral Milk Hotel, She & Him, Arcade Fire and Spoon, is rolling out a box set of material that includes 14 curated compilation CDs, a remix album and a covers comp that features non-Merge artists covering songs from the Merge catalog. In addition to all this they will also celebrate with a five-day festival dubbed XX Merge that will take place from July 22 – 25 with four nights of shows at Cat’s Cradle and a final night at Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill.
Already on board to perform are label founders Superchunk, M. Ward, Spoon, Conor Oberst, the Broken West, and Destroyer, with more artists both “expected” and “unexpected” to be added in the coming weeks.
If you can’t make it down to Carolina for what should be an amazing five days, than maybe you’ll be able to hit one of these recently announced tours…
Finally, Carlos Santana has signed an exclusive deal with the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino to become Las Vegas’s first rock artist to have a residence show. The legendary guitar-slinger will hold court at The Joint through 2010 with a show called Supernatural Santana: A Trip Through the Hits and will be the only place to catch the band west of the Mississippi through 2010.
When the names Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr both appeared on the bill for the last night’s Change Begins Within benefit at Radio City Music Hall those who had plunked down money for the all-star bill – that included Ben Harper, MMJ’s Jim James, Eddie Vedder, Donovan and Sheryl Crow – were hoping that the former band mates would share the stage together for a tune or two. While the stellar night seemed to included a number of musical highlights, it wasn’t until almost the very end of the night during McCartney’s hit-laden set that that moment that everyone had anticipated finally happened when McCartney brought out Starr out by join him on vocals for With a Little Help From My Friends by introducing him as Billy Shears.
Starr remained on-stage moving to behind the drums for a take on Cosmically Conscious, a rarity written during The Beatles trip to India and the show closing all-star sing-along of I Saw Her Standing There.
Finally a few weeks back we reported that original Woodstock promotor Michael Lang was looking to honor the 40th annivesary of the fest with a pair of free concerts in New York and Germany. The latest rumor to circulating around the one-day free concert finds it landing in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park’s Long Meadow. Lang who has been in talks with the city’s parks department, is also still looking to lockdown between $8 to 10 million in sponsorship funding, which he would need to do by month’s end to pull off the event – which he is hoping to attract original Woodstock acts along with contemporary bands that have embraced the fests vibe like Phish and Dave Matthews Band.
There must be something in the water in the Pacific Northwest. Over the last couple of years the region has once again reclaimed the mantle as the epicenter of music cool, cranking out some of the most buzzed about bands around, which includes the likes of Fleet Foxes, Blitzen Trapper, The Decemberists and Blind Pilot. Among the acts that hail from that region that deserves your immediate attention is rootsy-singer-songwriter M. Ward who calls the Rose City his home.
Matt (that’s what the M stands for) seemed to be everywhere last year as one half of the indie-pop duo She & Him – his teaming with doe-eyed actress Zooey Deschanel. While taking a back seat to the starlet who wrote most of the album’s material, Ward’s stellar production work secured the record a place on critic’s best-of lists at year’s end.
Prior to collaborating with Hollywood A-Listers Ward previously performed as a member of Beth Orton’s live band, toured with Jim James and Conor Oberst as The Monsters Of Folk and co-produced Jenny Lewis’ solo debut – oh and he’s also been making records on his own, most recently releasing his sixth studio effort Hold Time.
“Oh a trance is a spell/ with a thrill wrapped up inside it,” Portland, Oregon singer-songwriter M. Ward sang, six songs into his set at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue in Washington on Feb. 21. While he may not have intended it, you can’t help but think the line is a bit self-referential.
[Photos by Zachary Herrmann]
There is, indeed, something trance-like about Ward’s music, and he had the crowd deep in meditation as he took the stage unaccompanied to open the show. With just an acoustic guitar, harmonica and his voice, Ward dazzled the crowd with impeccable leads on One Hundred Million Years and Duet for Guitars #3.
An underrated guitarist, Ward is simply mesmerizing with an acoustic guitar – effortlessly balancing bass notes with lead lines on the Rev. Robert Wilkins cover Prodigal Son. He’s no slouch on electric either, later destroying the fret board – with a full band in tow – on Bean Vine Blues #2, a song by one of his biggest influences, John Fahey.
With 2008 starting to look smaller and smaller in the rear view mirror and 2009 now in full swing, we’re sure that you’ve probably grown tired of some of the music you injected into your iPod last year. Since you may not get the itch each Tuesday to hit your local record shop for new tunes, I thought I’d use this week’s mix tape to feature some new music that has already hit stores this year. So sit back, relax and take a listen…
We kick things off with the Derek Trucks Band’s soulful cover of Down In The Flood from the band’s seventh album Already Free. From there, we’ve got A.C. Newman – the “side-project” from New Pornographers front-man Carl Newman – with The Palace At 4 AM from Get Guilty. We continue on with the beautifully, spooky title track from Bon Iver’s recent EP Blood Bank. Next up is Whispered Words from Black Keys guitar-slinger Dan Auerbach’s solo debut Keep It Hid. Then, we’ve got another cover tune. This one comes from M. Ward who takes on Buddy Holly’s Rave On from his upcoming release Hold Time. Finally, we close things with some indie-twang-pop with Ben Kweller’s Things I Like To Do from Changing Horses.