Jason Gonulsen

Sunshine Collective: Wanna Play?

It’s summer, so you might guess that Sunshine Collective should have something good for your ears. And yeah, it’s true, their first album, Wanna Play?, is all you need for a sunny day.

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Volume 39: Sam Quinn

When Sam Quinn was 19, he met Jill Andrews at a summer camp. Quinn played the guitar, and Andrews sang Gram Parsons with him; little did they know, it was the beginning of the everybodyfields, the band Quinn and Andrews built up from glorious dreams of hot summer days

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Josh Ritter: So Runs the World Away

I am assured that peace will come to me,” Josh Ritter sings on “Lark,” a song that channels his inner Paul Simon on his newest album, So Runs the World Away. Before Ritter penned these tunes, the songwriter from Idaho suffered a case of writer’s block, but you can’t tell that he was struggling on his fifth full-length; because on these 13 tracks, Ritter sounds better than ever.

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Cary Brothers – Breaking Off the Bough

These days, Cary Brothers has his own independent label and a wonderful new album, Under Control. As you might have guessed, it’s a personal batch of songs dealing with loss and breaking free. It’s Cary Brothers as himself, the real artist—the one who set out to “very intentionally make a record that you could put on and listen to beginning to end.”

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Volume 37: Jay Farrar

“What I’d give for that hat to be medicine.” To me, that is the quintessential Jay Farrar lyric. It’s poetic. It’s direct. It’s something that could mean anything.

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Volume 35: Bob Dylan

I bought my first Bob Dylan album in San Antonio, Texas, in November of 1993. I had taken a train there from Springfield, Illinois with my dad and my brother—a ride that lasted 26 hours each way. We traveled to watch NAIA soccer, you know, the usual things a family does over Thanksgiving.  Needless to say, we weren’t the usual family.

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Tori Amos : Midwinter Graces

Tori Amos has made a career out of being unordinary, and most of her albums are better because of this fact. Here on Midwinter Graces, she’s still giving a max effort, it’s just that not much stands out. The holiday-themed album has a nice overall feel and flow, but it’s probably best served for background music at a party, something that can’t be said of any of Amos’ prior work. If you’re an Amos completist, by all means, get your copy—just don’t expect the magic you’re used to.

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Strangers Almanac: Best of 2009 – All That and Then Some

Well, we did it again.  Despite a loud constituency of music fans out there who abhor these end of the year lists for their arrogance, their subjectivity, their self-indulgent ways, we came up with a short list of our favorites from the year.  And we have to make one thing clear: these best-of-the-year lists should be more accurately called “the-best-of-what-we-know” lists.

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Lissie: Why You Runnin’

Although she’s a California girl these days, don’t be fooled—Lissie still writes and sings about matters close to Midwestern life. And boy can she sing—her voice has an eerie quality of a transient churchgoer who needs no practice to call the angels down from the sky; her pipes are soothing and quite heavenly. The songs on her EP, Why You Runnin,’ offer a bit of folk, an ounce of soul, and healthy dose of realism that you just can’t deny, no matter what mood you’re in—a stunning and charming debut.

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