Sep 10, 2014

‘Cause I got music, and it makes me feel alright.*

Last night, I headed out to Iowa City because Joshua James was playing. If you don’t know who Joshua James is, you should. You might recognize a few of his songs that have been used in Sons of Anarchy (Coal War, Crash This Train). Live, though, is where he really shines. He has a soft yet powerful voice and tremendous stage presence. The guys he shares the stage with sound as if they’ve been a band since birth. If you ever see he's playing a show near you, go. Here's his "Queen of the City" off his highly recommended From the Top of Willamette Mountain.

Anyway, I want to use this space to talk about the two acts that opened for Joshua James that I'd never heard of before. See, I only found out about Joshua James because he opened for someone at RIBCO in Rock Island in 2009. I’d never heard of him, either, but I left RIBCO obsessed. Sometimes you know after a song or two that a person/band has it. Joshua James had it.  The two opening acts last night have it.

Armon Jay took the stage alone with his acoustic guitar, and sang his own version of singer-songwriter, folksy music. And then he sang “To Be Honest.” This song will instantly relate to anyone that’s ever gone through difficult stretches of introspection and self-doubt. Naturally, this was the song that I identified with most.

On his album, Everything’s Different, Nothing’s Changed (produced, coincidentally, by Joshua James), he pieces together a nice blend of folk and Americana, with a should-be-on-the-radio song “Carry Through” directly preceding the aforementioned “To Be Honest.” The album is on iTunes here, and if you listen close enough, you’ll swear you hear Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) singing harmonies at the end of the title track.

Neulore has a new album coming out on September 23, but we got to hear a number of the songs off it. In fact, 3 songs off the new album Animal Evolve are already available on iTunes. All three plus “Native Skin” were on the pre-release EP they had at the show. You might recognize the song “Shadow of a Man” from an episode of Grey’s Anatomy last year (at least that’s what they told us, and appears true via Google).

This two-man act, with a couple guitars and a kick drum, produced a full sound with beautiful, simple harmonies. Here's their "Shadow of a Man."

Hope you enjoy the music folks.

*lyric from The Beautiful Girls' "Music"

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