It’s only rock and roll… but I like it. Mick Jagger was both host and musical guest on Saturday Night Live this past weekend and, for his first number, he performed the Rolling Stones classic “The Last Time” while backed by Arcade Fire. It isn’t everyday you see the lead singer of the Stones shimmying with an accordion player (in this case, Arcade Fire’s Régine Chassagne), so savor this image while you can.
Move over ABBA; I have a new favorite Swedish band. Detektivbyrån is a folk/electronic Swedish trio with a penchant for whimsical arrangements and Amelie-inspired melodies. Like a music box gone wild, their instrumentals balance the sprightly tinkling of glockenspiel, bells, and toy piano with a boisterous accordion and occasional synthesizer. This video captures the band performing “Generation Celebration” from their latest album, Wermland.
(Found via Lauralee and Squeezytunes)
Our friends, The Corner Laughers, have just released their second album, Ultraviolet Garden, available from their website and iTunes. Anna is featured playing accordion on one track, and she also did the album art!
During production of the track “Dead Sicilians,” the band brought Anna (and her accordion) on board to give the song an authentic Italian feel. From the decorative accents to the frenzied climax, the accordion really packs a punch. Check it out!
It’s never too early to get into the Christmas spirit, which may explain this week’s release of Bob Dylan’s Christmas album, Christmas in the Heart. Nestled among classics like “The Little Drummer Boy” and “Silver Bells” is a tune that will be instantly recognizable to Brave Combo fans: “Must Be Santa” from the band’s own Christmas album (It’s Christmas, Man!) in 1991. Dylan’s version is nearly identical to their arrangement, right down to the polka beat and bouncy accordion supplied by David Hidalgo of Los Lobos. You can listen to Dylan’s rendition using the widget below:
Is it a coincidence or is Bob Dylan a closet Brave Combo fan? Turns out it’s the latter — apparently Dylan once played the Brave Combo version on his satellite radio show. Yet another score for the boys from Denton.
We’re back! After a long vacation, we’re tanned, rested, and ready to share some strange and wonderful things from the accordion world with you. Let’s start with some classic rock with a twist; as you can guess from their name, The Polka Floyd Show isn’t your typical Pink Floyd tribute band. This Ohio band combines a love for Roger Waters and the boys with accordion and peppy polka rhythms. Their latest release, Live from the Ohio Theatre, showcases tracks from throughout Pink Floyd’s lengthy career, including early chestnuts like “The Gnome,” while a lively crowd eats it up.
You might think their schtick would get old quickly, but the musicianship is solid and the energy never wanes. Traditional? Hardly. Campy? A bit. Fun? Absolutely.
Classically trained on piano, Margaret Stutt of Pezzettino picked up her father’s accordion in 2008 and has been writing songs nonstop ever since. Alternating between accordion and piano, her music is moody and restless while her lyrics are intensely personal. She’s also a textbook example of the do-it-yourself independent musician in the digital age, using tools like Twitter to connect with her audience and even filming custom videos on YouTube for fans who support her music. After recording her debut album solo on a laptop, she’s been slowly adding to her band and released her second album, Lion, in April.
You would expect a band living and writing music off the grid in an Airstream trailer in the woods outside of Raleigh, NC, to play some lo-fi acoustic folk. But that’s just a tiny part of what Bowerbirds are all about. The duo of Phil Moore (guitar) and Beth Tacular (accordion) won over critics with their beautiful 2007 debut, Hymns for a Dark Horse and have just released their follow-up, Upper Air. Sparse, subtle arrangements incorporating violin, percussion, and more set the stage for beguiling harmonies and unabashedly pastoral lyrics. Currently touring the US, you can find most of their upcoming shows on our accordion events calendar.
We have our Canadian friends at Accordion Noir to thank for turning us on to today’s artist — Edmonton-born singer/accordionist Wendy McNeill. Now based in Sweden, McNeill blends intimate, narrative folk with dreamy, melancholy cabaret. Her latest album, A Dreamer’s Guide to Hardcore Living, keeps her accordion and voice at the center, but adds swelling, orchestral arrangements to the mix. Above all, though, McNeill is a natural storyteller, sharing strange and expressive tales of faith, temptation, shape-shifting coyotes, and more. Take a listen and I think you’ll see why she’s rapidly becoming one of our favorite accordion-toting artists.
And as an added bonus, here’s the clever video for Wendy’s “Ask Me No Questions”, shot in one continuous take:
I also highly recommend a pair of videos filmed by Pocket Music during Wendy’s trip to São Paolo, Brazil. The one where she strolls through the open-air market while people stop and dance along to her music is fantastic.
All too often, a musician will immerse themselves in a culture only to create work that’s a pale imitation of what inspired them in the first place. Not so for Albuquerque duo A Hawk and a Hacksaw — accordionist Jeremy Barnes and violinist Heather Trost — whose adventures in Eastern Europe have continued to produce inspired, passionate music that defies easy categorization. In 2007, the duo moved to Budapest to eat, breathe, and play with local musicians; the result is their new album, and most vibrant work to date, Délivrance. It’s a high-spirited stew where the mariachi and American folk of the duo’s homeland melds with the sounds of Hungary, Romania, Turkey, Greece, and more. The album’s opener, “Foni Tu Argile”, is a barn-burner in any language.
As an added bonus — let’s call it “MP3/Video Monday” — here’s a beautiful video for the song “The Man Who Sold His Beard” off Délivrance:
Are you ready to rock? Hold on… ARE YOU READY TO ROCK???
One of our favorite Finnish metal bands — and yes, there’s more than one — Korpiklaani is back with a brand-new album. Korpiklaani plays metal, but with a folk twist; electric guitars and drums fight it out with violin, accordion, and woodwinds. The result is a happier, more upbeat metal than you might be used to. Check out the video for “Vodka” (sample lyric: “Drinking is good for you / And you will feel awesome”), the first single from their new album, Karkelo.