Friday, April 15, 2011

Iron & Wine @ Mass MoCA - April 16th

Lamely enough, it was the Garden State soundtrack that got me started with Iron & Wine, that “indie-tastic” collection of Braff-approved tracks that to many {somewhat erroneously} define the term indie.  Any form of quirky folk/acoustic rock now gets the “indie” tag, despite all the amazing things going on in other genres.  In any case, I was growing out of my Postal Service fandom when I was grabbed by their cover of “Such Great Heights”.  Sorry Ben Gibbard, but there’s something all too manufactured about Give Up, a certain amount of overproduction that Sam Beam’s finger-picked guitar and softly hummed vocals manage to strip away.

I immediately fell in love with their first LP; the sleepy folk classic The Creek Drank the Cradle, just under 40 minutes of unpolished yet entrancing music.  Largely self-recorded in Beam’s home studio (this being back when the band was more Beam’s solo project than a "band"), Creek is a perfect starting point for new listeners as it gives context to the change/expansion of their sound over time.  Embedded below is lead track and album highlight “Lion’s Mane”.

Iron & Wine’s sound expanded on subsequent albums and EPs, adding both members and influences as they’ve soldiered on.  Elements of jazz-fusion and jam acts have slowly worked their way into the music, particularly on their most recent album Kiss Each Other Clean.  Throughout their history from album to album, the only common sonic thread linking them is Beam’s guitar/vocal work and songwriting.

We’ll be road tripping up to North Adams to see the band touring this newest LP Saturday night (April 16) at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA), which is also the site of Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival.  The plan is to hit the Great Barrington Brewery (with empty growlers in hand) on the way up and Stockbridge, the site of the Alice’s Restaurant Massacree, on the way back, getting the most out of our schlep North.  Except follow up posts on the brewery and concert and enjoy a couple embedded tracks that are sure to be our soundtrack for the ride.

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