Sunday, October 31, 2010

Jakob Dylan @ Exit/In (Concert Review)

Nothing endears me to an artist more than when they out perform their albums in concert. No matter how much you already respect a musician and like their songs, making that personal connection to their art in a live setting creates a whole new experience. It always makes me appreciate their talents that much more and it allows the roots of what’s already been planted to really take hold. Jakob Dylan is one of those musicians who exudes talent, melody, passion and intelligence, all while making it look effortless. However, his calm demeanor and deceptively casual guitar playing is merely a front for his thought provoking lyrics and his working man’s call to action. At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I walked in to the show a Jakob Dylan fan and I walked out a Jakob Dylan believer.

The night started out with a 45 minute set from singer-songwriter Dylan LeBlanc. Signed to Rough Trade, LeBlanc just released his debut album, Paupers Field, back in August. All of his songs were sung over a gently finger-picked acoustic and were accompanied by a gorgeous sounding pedal steel. Sounding like the most laid back moments of Destroyer-era Ryan Adams, LeBlanc’s quiet songs and unassuming nature never seemed to entirely catch the audience. I believe he was suffering from some microphone and sound issues as well, which didn’t help his case. Overall though, he caught my attention enough to want to check out his album. Plus, he closed with a Townes Van Zandt cover, so he scored some extra points for that.

Jakob Dylan hit the stage a little after 10pm and gripped the audience for over an hour and a half while he orchestrated his songwriting master class. His 21 song set was perfectly mixed with material from his two solo albums and from four of his Wallflowers’ records. Armed with a few gorgeous vintage guitars, Jakob sang of love and loss, painted rural landscapes and filled them with relatable people and issues, challenged us to pay attention to the world around us and reminded us that there are things worth fighting for. While that may sound heavy and overbearing, Jakob’s delivery and song structures made it an inviting provocation. He was backed by an incredibly stellar band of electric guitar, pedal steel, stand up bass, and drums, with background vocals provided by Kelly Hogan and Nora O’Conner. The band provided a solid, rootsy sonic canvas for Jakob to let his songs breathe over. Their talents and watchful eyes allowed him to construct the songs on the fly, using his head, hands and body language to extend a song or call out solos like a folksy James Brown. Jakob is known for using great guitars and he played his black Gretsch for most of the night, while also whipping out his Gibson and his Martin for the acoustic numbers. For guitar players, this eye and ear candy was definitely noticed and much appreciated. He started the show with four songs from his latest album, Women + Country, before playing what would be one of seven songs from his days fronting The Wallflowers. I was really pleased to see that the crowd responded equally as much to his solo material as they did his Wallflowers’ output, with “6th Avenue Heartache” getting only a slightly bigger sing-a-long than everything else. The band went backstage for a couple numbers and left Jakob, Kelly and Nora to sing a beautifully haunting “War Is Kind” and a cool, stripped down version of “Here He Comes (Confessions of a Drunken Marionette).” Jakob closed the first set with a fiery version of “They’ve Trapped Us Boys” and we luckily coaxed them back out for an encore of “On Up the Mountain” and a thunderous “God Don’t Make Lonely Girls.” Jakob’s entire set was enthralling and impressive and picking a standout song is hard as there wasn’t a dud in the bunch. I was already well aware that Nashville was pretty lucky to be included in this short run of only 6 shows. But after a performance like that, I hope everyone walked away knowing just how special the night turned out to be. Even in a city known for its musical output, great songwriting and talented musicianship can still move your heart and stop you in your tracks.

Here's the setlist and a few more pictures:

Nothing but the Whole Wide World

Everybody’s Hurting

Truth for A Truth

Holy Rollers for Love

God Says Nothing Back

Evil Is Alive and Well

Smile When You Call Me That

How Good It Can Get

All Day and All Night

6th Avenue Heartache

War Is Kind

Here He Comes (Confessions of a Drunken Marionette)

Something Good This Way Comes

I’ve Been Delivered

Will It Grow

Standing Eight Count

Three Marlenas

Lend A Hand

They’ve Trapped Us Boys


On Up the Mountain

God Don’t Make Lonely Girls

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Party Playlist

If you grew up in church like I did, this time of year is more synonymous with the term "Fall Festival" than with Halloween. The two celebrations share pumpkins and candy, but Fall Festivals trade the ghosts and ghouls of Halloween for more autumnal characters such as farmers and pilgrims. But who are we kidding, when you're a kid you don't care if you're dressed up as Captain John Smith or Captain Jack Sparrow as long as the Skittles and Tootsie Rolls are flowing. Even as adults though, many individuals still enjoy dressing up in costume, even if candy isn't involved. At work yesterday I didn't have to dress up to get into the Halloween spirit thanks to the following scenes: The Grim Reaper walking into the break room and hiking up his robe to get some change out of his Dockers to buy some Bugles, Darth Vader having trouble answering the phone because it was a little too big to fit under his helmet and Gumby getting his big, green, oddly-angled head stuck in the revolving door. I love my job and I love watching grown adults act like sugar-fueled kids for a day. If that's not enough to get you ready for the trick-or-treaters, here's a few tunes to help you out. Some old, some new, some from movies and some from my days growing up in Atlanta. Instant party, just add candy.

"This Is Halloween" - Danny Elfman (The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack)

"Little Ghost" - The White Stripes (Get Behind Me Satan)

"Goolie Get-Together" - The Toadies (Saturday Morning Cartoon's Greatest Hits)

"The Ghost Who Walks" - Karen Elson (The Ghost Who Walks)

"People Are Strange" - Echo & The Bunnymen (The Lost Boys soundtrack)

"The Munsters Theme" - Los Straitjackets (Halloween Hootenanny)

"Gloomy In Us All" - Thunder Buffalo (Thunder Buffalo)

"Freaks Come Out At Night" - Whodini (Escape)

"I Don't Wanna Go Down To The Basement" - Ramones (Ramones)

"The Halloween Dance" - Reverend Horton Heat (Halloween Hootenanny)

"Where Boys Fear To Tread" - The Smashing Pumpkins (Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Arrested In El Paso Blues" Video - Tumbledown

In anticipation of their new album, Empty Bottle, coming out next week, Tumbledown has released a video for their first single, “Arrested In El Paso Blues.” The “based on a true story” song was written on tour last year after the band was arrested and questioned in El Paso while travelling between shows. Being detained and hassled by the border patrol is songwriting goldmine for a band like Tumbledown. Apparently it ended as well as a situation like that could, with no charges filed and Tumbledown still making it to the next show. I had previously only heard this song done solo acoustically by Mike, so hearing the full band version in the video has got me even more jacked for the new album. The video looks really cool, with the guys setting up shop in a scrap yard and just going for it. There’s also copious amounts of fire, junkyard dogs (real ones, not the old WWF wrestler) and gorgeous Washington state pines in the background as well. I really prefer the unencumbered, scenic performance over a lyrical reenactment route, and they nailed it. Empty Bottle, Tumbledown’s second full length studio album, will be released October 26th on End Sounds. Pre-Orders for cd and vinyl can be placed HERE.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fantazzmo - Fantazzmo I: Enter The Fantazz (Album Review)

Looking for a new outlet with which to spread his musical wings, former Anima/Idle frontman Sergio Bedolla has taken on the alter ego Fantazzmo and created the multi-styled musical roller coaster that is Fantazzmo I: Enter The Fantazz. Having the feel of a party mixtape, Bedolla experiments with rock, reggae, R&B, ska, funk and hip-hop for this 12 song album. Diversity is the name of the game as he combines genres and instrumentation to come up with something both familiar and fresh. One minute he can be in your face and the next he’s as laid back as can be, never relying on one more than the other. One thing’s for sure though, whether it’s with a powerful vocal, a blistering guitar solo or just a unique instrumental blend, Fantazzmo will grab your attention one way or another.

For Fantazzmo, Bedolla wears his musical influences on his sleeve. Some songs have a distinct 311 feel (“I Know You’re Mine,” “Drown Your Lies” and “Reciprocity”), some have that fluid Carlos Santana touch (“What You Doin’ To Me” and “Always Something”) and some even have an almost Rage Against The Machine guitar tone (“Superman” and “Souls On Ice”). He even spices in some tasty Middle Eastern flavors in “We Are Waiting For You” and some great Pink Floyd psychedelia in “Eternal Abyss” to keep things super interesting. All of these feel much more like acknowledging nods than reproductions though, as Bedolla is quite content to use these as ingredients to cook up his own brand of music. The only song I don’t quite get is the closing instrumental “Cancion De La Gitana.” Using only two acoustic guitars, the track starts off nice but quickly sounds like each guitar was recorded without hearing the other one. Maybe I’m just missing something, but the instrumental abilities found throughout the rest of the album convey a much more talented and melody-minded individual than this last track does. But hey, to each his own. Bedolla makes sure that every song on the album has an unmistakable rhythm and groove to it and with a little track list tweaking, you’ve easily got a ready-made party on your hands.

"I Know You're Mine" - Fantazzmo (Fantazzmo I: Enter The Fantazz)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Secret Sisters @ Wal-Mart In-Store (Concert Review)

To go along with their throwback musical vibe, The Secret Sisters have decided to do a little vintage style promotional marketing as well. Their debut album came out this past Tuesday and they commemorated the event by doing an in-store concert at the Wal-Mart in their hometown of Muscle Shoals, Alabama and one here just a little south of Nashville. Although they didn’t have any amplification and they were awkwardly placed in a section usually reserved for women’s clothing, The Secret Sisters immediately commanded the space with their humble likeableness and their amazing harmonies. Our closeness to the cash registers and the general sounds of the store required you to lean in just a little to hear them better, but the extra concentration was greatly rewarded by Laura and Lydia’s musical offerings. They were positioned in a high traffic area and it was really awesome to see head-down, focused shoppers stop what they were doing to listen to the pure talent and musicianship that was on display.

The girls started off their short set by singing “The One I Love Is Gone” with Lydia on acoustic guitar. Picking such a harmony-rich duet to kick things off was a wise choice as everyone was instantly sucked in. After the first song, the girls thanked everyone for coming, scooted a little closer to the crowd, and Lydia handed off the guitar to Laura for the rest of the songs. We were then treated to a few covers that aren’t on their album, Brandi Carlile’s “Same Ol’ You,” Willie Nelson’s “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain,” “Tonight You Belong To Me” (most famously done by Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters in “The Jerk”) and Hank Williams’ “Your Cheating Heart.” They told us they chose the Willie Nelson song because just earlier that day they had been invited to do a run of shows with him and they were understandably super excited about it. They closed out with “Do You Love An Apple,” another stellar duet from the album that is heavy on the heavenly harmonies. One day when I get to see The Secret Sisters have the entire audience hanging on to their every vocal line at a place like The Ryman, I’ll remember this beautifully simplistic performance and think about how lucky I was to be able to see and hear them in such a special, close up setting.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My Part-Time Cover: "The Ocean"

Led Zeppelin is without question one of the biggest rock bands of all time. In their heyday of the 70's, about the only thing they could do to be any better in the eyes of their fans was to actually write a song about them. So for their fifth album, Houses of the Holy, they wrote "The Ocean" about the sea of fans at their concerts. “The Ocean” is one of Led Zeppelin’s best loved songs and the main guitar riff is one of the most recognizable of their catalog. The mixed-metered groove (measures of 4/4 and 7/8), the a cappella vocal breakdown and the doo wop ending make this classic rock song even more creative and fun to sing along with. As an added bonus, if you listen closely to the beginning you’ll even be able to hear a few words from legendary drummer John Bonham before he counts off.

"The Ocean" - Led Zeppelin (Houses of the Holy)

This week Jealous Butcher Records put out From The Land of Ice and Snow: The Songs of Led Zeppelin and it is huge! This 50 band, 3 album (2 physical and 1 digital) tribute record is comprised of some impressive indie bands all hailing from the Northwest and it has been 6 years in the making. While the majority of the bands may be unfamiliar to most, there are some heavyweights like M. Ward, Laura Veirs and Chris Walla from Death Cab For Cutie to anchor this ambitious labor of love. My personal favorite is Laura Veirs’ take on “The Ocean.” With a little help from Tucker Martine’s side project Mount Analog, Laura turns out a faithful rendition of “The Ocean” with enough character and individuality to differentiate it from the original. The cool, smaller guitar sound, Laura’s unique voice and the party feel in the outro make this track a standout and worthy of repeated listens. I’ve always thought that females sound better than males when covering Led Zeppelin because of that signature, sexy tone of Robert Plant’s voice and Laura does a great job in helping to prove my point. If you’re covering one of the most iconic bands in musical history, you need to make sure to capture all the passion, power and soul or you’ll become the musical equivalent of a 4th grader stumbling through the Gettysburg Address at a PTA meeting. There's no worries of that happening here as Laura nails “The Ocean” perfectly and definitely sits atop the snowcaps of this mountainous release.

"The Ocean" - Laura Veirs (From The Land of Ice and Snow)

From The Land of Ice and Snow: The Songs of Led Zeppelin can be ordered directly from Jealous Butcher Records HERE.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Secret Sisters - The Secret Sisters (Album Review)

Alright folks, I usually don't say this kind of thing about a new band, so you can trust me. When it comes to The Secret Sisters, believe the hype. When you have folks like Jack White and T Bone Burnett producing your material before you have any recording or touring under your belt, there's bound to be loads of both hyperbole and criticism. Luckily for The Secret Sisters, real life siblings Lydia and Laura Rogers, their timeless voices and their incredible ability to blend them together rightfully earns the accolades and silences any naysayers. These ladies are the real deal and each vocal note and harmony line they sing further proves the point that they are worthy of your attention. When The Secret Sisters start singing, they effortlessly transport you back to a time of authentic music and simpler days. Refreshingly free of flash, pretense, or ego, these demure, southern girls from Muscle Shoals, Alabama let their singing do every bit of the talking.

Using their album to bring some vintage country gems back into the spotlight, The Secret Sisters picked some big songs to fill. They do not disappoint with impressive covers of Hank Williams ("Why Don't You Love Me" and "House of Gold"), Buck Owens ("My Heart Skips A Beat"), Bill Monroe ("The One I Love Is Gone") and George Jones ("Why Baby Why") just to name a few. Alongside these excellent renditions are two originals as well ("Tennessee Me" and "Waste The Day"). With each song, The Secret Sisters make their own stamp by blending their voices together in the kind of close harmony that is reserved for family singers. Their vibrant voices are framed perfectly with the sparse, eloquent instrumentation T Bone is known to create. Foregoing digital studio luxuries and modern equipment, The Secret Sisters recorded their album on to tape using old analog equipment and musical gear that was true to the time period they were looking to evoke. Laura and Lydia even recorded their vocals at that same time while singing into the same microphone to be able to capture there unique sound. The entire album is track by track solid gold with no filler and no songs worth skipping. Currently, my most repeated listens go to "Why Don't You Love Me" and "My Heart Skips A Beat." Ask me tomorrow and the answer might change, but if forced to decide, I think "My Heart Skips A Beat" is pulling ahead. There's just something about the character and playfulness in the vocals and they capture the "Bakersfield Sound" like few others have. I believe that this album will be one of those that has staying power long after the initial hype has waned and hopefully we will be hearing a lot more from The Secret Sisters in the future. Until then, pick up The Secret Sisters and you'll be able to enjoy their enduring vocals and the best classic country sounds this side of a mid-century Grand Ole Opry broadcast.

"My Heart Skips A Beat" - The Secret Sisters (The Secret Sisters)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Agent Ribbons - Chateau Crone (Album Review)

The colorful ladies in the eccentric trio Agent Ribbons are finally ready to unleash their sophomore album, Chateau Crone, into the world. Making far more of an impressively sprawling musical landscape than three musicians should be able to create, Agent Ribbons float in and out of many moods and genres without ever stumbling or repeating themselves. Imagine mixing together an off beat theater troupe, a pawn shop full of unique instruments and a bunch of 45s from some of the best girl groups of the 60’s and you’ll be somewhat in the right head space to fully appreciate what Agent Ribbons has cooked up. Catchy opening track “I’m Alright” will immediately capture you and promises to be stuck in your head for days. If you’re not careful, you may find yourself wanting to settle for a full album of songs just like it. But Agent Ribbons has more ambitious plans. Track after track shows the varied tastes and talents of the band while still being able to maintain unifying threads, especially in the shared vocals. But if by chance you do come across a song you can’t get into, there’s no need to worry. They don’t rehash any musical elements and each song is inventive and different enough from the next to guarantee you’ll find something to truly enjoy.

For the most part, garage pop guitars and sugary, reverbed vocals are staples throughout Chateau Crone’s 10 songs. Clearly there was much care and attention put into how the exceptional voices in Agent Ribbons were recorded and mixed together because the results are stunning. “I’m Alright,” “Grey Gardens,” “I Was Born To Sing Sad Songs” and “Oh, La La!” are all driven by retro-toned electric guitars, gently urging drums and gorgeous vocal effects. But don’t get too comfortable. They showcase some tasty accordion for the Parisian cafĂ© waltz of “I’ll Let You Be My Baby,” a ukulele shows up on “Your Hands, My Hands,” and “Wallpaper Of Skin” opens with a chiming grandfather clock that gives way to a stabbing violin. They are no slouches when it comes to lyrics as well. Lines like "I'd rather be going nowhere, knowing that that's where I was going, than to be always headed somewhere unbeknownst to me" and "Please don't give me everything I want, I want to want some things" show their intelligence, wit and clever wordplay skills. So far, my favorite track is probably the unsettled pulsing of “Wood, Lead, Rubber.” Combining a killer drum pattern, sassy Debbie Harry style vocals, a wailing violin and frantic tempo changes, this track is unpredictable, dangerous and ridiculously fun to listen to, just like Agent Ribbons themselves.

Chateau Crone will be available October 12th from Antenna Farm Records.

"Wood, Lead, Rubber" - Agent Ribbons (Chateau Crone)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Feral Children - Brand New Blood (Album Review)

“Texture” is the word that comes to mind to best describe Feral Children’s Brand New Blood album. With a true indie rock approach to their song structures and sonic tones, Feral Children dares you to try and slap a genre label on them. Once the ability to compartmentalize them is out of the question, it frees you up to enjoy what they are creating. While the foundation of their songs include the standard guitar/bass/drums format, there are layers and layers of sounds going on in the background and floating around the lyrics. They even throw in double-tracked vocals and the occasional mid-song tempo change to keep things really interesting. The feeling they create is one of mood, atmosphere and vibe more so than verse, chorus and bridge. Feral Children doesn’t write songs to listen to, they dream up spaces to get lost in.

The instrumental tones on Brand New Blood are quite expansive and diverse. “Kid Origami” softly opens the album with synthesizers and backwards guitar lines and is backed by an agitated swing beat. “Castrato” pulses with a tribal drum pattern and a snaking guitar riff while tinkling piano notes, sliding bass and crashing cymbals are sprinkled throughout. Electric guitar distortion becomes its own melodic instrument on the ebbing “Rivers of Forever” and “Conveyor” rocks along with fast echoing keyboard chords and atonal guitar noises made by plucking the strings above the nut or below the bridge where there is no melodic definition. In keeping with the left turn aesthetic, they even do a folky number in the finger-picked acoustic led “Woodland Mutts.” “Enchanted Parkway” closes out the album with some Stray Cats surf/rockabilly, B-52’s background vocal yelps and a saxophone solo. Fun, frantic and wholly original, it adds an exclamation point to an already unique and entertaining album.

"Woodland Mutts" - Feral Children (Brand New Blood)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

"Nobody Told Me" - John Lennon

Today marks the 70th birthday of John Lennon, one of my most revered and respected musical heroes. Although he was tragically murdered the same year I was born, I have always felt a strong, personal connection to his music and his story. As far back as I can remember, I have specific memories of my mom and dad listening to Beatles' records. My mom favored the earlier ones and my dad favored the later ones. I can remember cleaning the house with my mom and her acting crazy to John's frenzied vocal from "Twist and Shout." My dad liked it best when John got wistful, like on "In My Life" and "Watching The Wheels." Between the two of them, my parents taught me to appreciate all the sides John Lennon had to offer. He was unafraid to tap deeply into whatever emotion he was feeling and was able to express his ideas in a passionate, uninhibited, unfiltered way. While this led to certain songs and decisions of his being a little farther out in left field than I could follow, the majority of what he gave to the world was wholly beautiful, authentic, original and pure. Like every other human being, he was not without flaw. But for every one he might've had, he put forth many more characteristics and ideas worth embracing and championing. Love, equality, peace, forgiveness, creativity, simple pleasures, ideals, passions, and revolutions were all things that he felt were worth having a conversation about and worth fighting for.

While many musicians have been mislabeled as "the next John Lennon," I can't think of a single one who completely embodies everything that John did. Sure there are many talented rock singers, but few can get as heartfelt and as primal as "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" and "Rock and Roll Music." John's unparalleled sense of melody and rhythm are on full display in "Jealous Guy," "In My Life," "Happiness Is A Warm Gun," "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," and "Whatever Gets You Through The Night." I can't think of anyone who has so eloquently captured the emotional vulnerability and insecurity found in "Help!," "Nowhere Man" and "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away." Where most songwriters would be happy with at least one song that could inspire change and action, John gave us "Give Peace A Chance," "Revolution," "Power To The People," and "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)." Who else has matched the painfully open writing and sang with such raw passion as captured on "Mother." Who else has chiseled away all the pretenses and fluff to just say "All You Need Is Love." But seriously, the beautiful weight and simplicity of "Imagine" makes all those questions irrelevant anyway. Untouched, unmatched and unbelievably missed, John Lennon took every chance he could to remind us in song and in deed that we need each other, we need love and we need good music. Thankfully his message is still being told long after he stopped being able to tell it himself. Happy birthday to a dreamer, a songwriter, an idealist, and an inspiration to everyone, most especially me.

"Nobody Told Me" - John Lennon (Milk and Honey)

"Nobody Told Me" is a perfect example of John's intelligence, wit and attitude combining with his rock sensibilities. The opening line, "Everbody's talking but no one says a word," is one of my favorites of his and it becomes more and more true and relevant as the years go by. "Nobody Told Me" is from Milk and Honey, John's first posthumous album which was released in 1984. This was the last single of John's to reach the Top 10 and I think it's a fantastic song with which to end his 20+ years dominance on the charts.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Thunder Buffalo - Thunder Buffalo (Album Review)

The psychedelic garage rock sounds of Thunder Buffalo are courtesy of one man tour de force Aaron Schroeder. Not only did he write all the songs and play all the instruments himself, he recorded, produced and mixed the entire album as well. A true labor of love, Thunder Buffalo’s self-titled debut album is a fuzzy, swirling slice of unrestrained rumble rock with a danceable backbeat. While the distorted, monotone vocals can be indecipherable at times, they fall perfectly into place within the slinky, 60’s rock vibe and the loose, loungey feel that Aaron creates. Thunder Buffalo’s sound is like one of those garbled radio stations you find on a road trip that never quite comes in totally clear, but still manages to give you enough beat, melody and emotion to grab your attention and makes you a little sad when it’s gone.

Whether it’s the pounding gallop of “Middle Of The Street” or the reverb heavy stroll of “This Is My Life,” Thunder Buffalo waits no time and no sounds in getting the point across. Forget long winded intros, indulgent solos, or vocal gymnastics, these songs are meant to start a party and make you move one way or the other. Song titles like “BeBop Sing-A-Long,” and the Wizard of Oz inspired “In The Valley Of The Scarecrow” let you know that there’s some uncharted musical territory just waiting for you to stumble upon. The 11 tracks on Thunder Buffalo clock in at just under 33 minutes, which is just enough time to hook you and then leave you wanting more. With Aaron's musical output frequency thus far, I'm sure there's more fuzzed out, static-laced ditties to look forward to in the near future. Since recording this album, Aaron has rounded up a few folks (Andrew Greagor on drums and Branden Kempt on bass) and taken Thunder Buffalo on the road. While I can’t imagine the live performances sound exactly like the record, I can’t imagine you’d stopped being mesmerized long enough to notice or care.

"Stereo" - Thunder Buffalo (Thunder Buffalo)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

"I'd Like To Die" - Anberlin

I've got to say, I'm pretty impressed with the promotional items Anberlin's management sent me that are tied to their Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place album that was released earlier this month. First up is a 7" vinyl single with "Impossible" on one side and a non-album b-side, "Hell Or High Water" on the other. "Hell Or High Water" is a riff-driven rocker with a pounding beat and a wailing vocal. It could've easily fit in with the other songs on Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place but could've possibly been held off in favor of a more diverse, down tempo number. The actual vinyl is also a cool tri-color mix of white, gray and maroon.

The second piece is incredibly interesting as well. It's a unique cd/vinyl hybrid and I've never seen anything like it. The cd/digital side looks just like the shiny underside of a cd and the vinyl/analog side has a thin outer ring of vinyl grooves imbedded in the plastic. The cd contains another non-album b-side, "I'd Like To Die," and a music video for "Impossible." The vinyl side contains "We Owe This To Ourselves," the opening track on Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place. The actual vinyl is a little tough to play because of its size and its spindle hole being the normal cd size, meaning it's bigger than a regular vinyl spindle but too small for a 45 rpm adapter. It's no big deal though because the coolness factor way outweighs the functionality factor. Anberlin really came up with some cool promo items this time around and I can only hope that it inspires other bands to do the same in the future.

"I'd Like To Die" - Anberlin (We Owe This To Ourselves single)

Here's a pic of the promos and a detailed close-up of the vinyl/cd hybrid: