Music Recommendation – Heymoonshaker

The specific alchemy of what makes a band stand out from the rest will never be codified. Sometimes the lyrics will grab you, enunciating something about your life that you have struggled to voice. Sometimes a voice’s particular lilt or tonality will pull you in or shake you up. Sometimes the thrill resides in how the artist fills each note, each word, each moment, each pause, each breath with an intensity that is utterly honest and devoid of pretense. Whatever the magic, when you find a band that wakes you up and moves you—physically, emotionally, spiritually, and yes, even intellectually—the excitement of discovery is one to be savored. Today, I’m savoring the discovery of this band:

The opening minute or so didn’t really grab me, but as soon as the beat-box performance kicked in, I was hooked. There is an intensity shared between the two performers that is exciting and deeply intimate. This is Heymoonshaker, the collaboration between guitarist/singer/songwriter Andy Balcon and beat-boxer Dave Crowe and I highly recommend you give the band some serious attention. The blend of Balcon’s steel-wool voice and explosive blues playing, alongside the precision and expressiveness of Crowe’s vocal beats creates something special, unique, and undeniably energetic. That those beats are emerging from a human and not from a human hitting things or a drum-machine is hard to remember when you aren’t watching video performances of the music. I’ve been listening to their 2015 release, Noir on repeat throughout most of today and my brain keeps forgetting that the “drums” are actually sounds emerging from a human diaphragm and larynx. In fact, on just listening to the Heymoonshaker albums, Crowe’s work might fade into the background a bit, overshadowed by Balcon’s graveled voice and masterful guitarwork. If, like me, you aren’t very up-to-date with the beat-box scene, you might not realize just how insanely talented and musical Crowe is on his own. So I’d recommend checking this solo performance out:

While I certainly don’t think that you need to see Heymoonshaker to appreciate their music, there is a frisson that comes from watching, even in video form, the way that Balcon and Crowe interact with each other and it helps to keep in mind just how much work Crowe is putting into the music.

In addition to being damn good musicians, they bring an infectious energy to the crowd and you can see it in the way people grin and move in time with the music. But there’s another word I keep coming back to when watching both the first video I posted and this next one: intimacy. Maybe its a U.S. thing, but both videos demonstrate a physical proximity and a directness of gaze between the two men that seems rare to me.

Words after that feel small and unnecessary. So I’ll end by simply suggesting that if you dig their music, give them some support and buy their albums. And if ever they tour the U.S. I’m sure as hell going to line up for tickets.

Without music, life would be a mistake. – Friedrich Nietzsche

Just Four Songs

Just four songs. One EP. The songs are not even titled, marked merely I, II, III, IV. A woman’s voice sweeps and swoops and there are hints of other musicians to be sure—Antony Hegarty, Ani DiFrano, PJ Harvey—but in the end, you are wrapped up inside the voice of one Anna B. Savage. Each song is a dark and dusky gem of pain, heartbreak, courage, and fear. Her voice embraces you even as her words skewer and cut, drawing blood. This is an artist you cannot ignore, whose songs run deep and raw.

You will, I suspect, either love or hate her work. I do not expect that she leaves much middle ground. I am, already, after one song, in love with this woman and her words and her voice and her guitar and I cannot not share this with the world. After a long silence, after feeling I have little to say and nothing useful to add to this space, I knew I had to write something. Even if very few ever come across this post, every one of them should know this: if you listen to Anna B. Savage you will be changed and you will feel and you will be enriched.

Just four songs. But four songs you may need to hear.