The Lumineers

Twenty years ago, Wesley Schultz saw the future.

Back then, growing up in the New York City suburb of Ramsey, New Jersey, Wesley spent his days drawing side by side with his best friend, Josh Fraites. Today, as bandleader of The Lumineers, Wesley's replaced his pencil with a guitar, his drawings with songs, and plays side by side with Joshua's younger brother Jeremiah. He still practices a lot, and it still turns out good.

But The Lumineers' story didn't come so easily.
It begins in 2002, the year Jeremiah's brother, Josh, died from a drug overdose at 19. Amidst the loss and grief, Wes and Jer found solace in music, writing songs and playing gigs around New York. After battling the city's cutthroat music scene and impossibly high cost of living, the two decided to expand their horizons. They packed everything they owned—nothing more than a couple suitcases of clothes and a trailer full of musical instruments—and headed for Denver, Colorado. It was less a pilgrimage than act of stubborn hopefulness.

The first thing they did in Denver was place a Craigslist ad for a cellist, and the first person to respond was Neyla Pekarek, a classically trained Denver native. As a trio, they began playing at the Meadowlark, a gritty basement club where the city's most talented songwriters gathered every Tuesday for an open mic and dollar PBRs. Neyla softened Wes and Jer's rough edges while expanding her skills to mandolin and piano. And so The Lumineers sound took shape; an amalgam of heart-swelling stomp-and-clap acoustic rock, classic pop, and front-porch folk.
In 2011, an eponymous, self-recorded EP led to a self-booked tour, and before long The Lumineers started attracting devout fans, first across the Western US, then back in their old East Coast stamping grounds. Young, old and in-between, they're drawn by songs like "Ho Hey" and "Stubborn Love," Americana-inflected barnburners in the vein of the Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons. They're drawn by songs like "Slow it Down" and "Dead Sea," slow, sultry ballads that suggest the raw revelations of Jeff Buckley and Ryan Adams. They're drawn by the live Lumineers experience—a coming-together in musical solidarity against isolation, adversity, and despair.

The roots revival of the last few years has primed listeners for a new generation of rustic, heart-on-the-sleeve music—the kind that nods to tradition while setting off into uncharted territory. The Lumineers walk that line with an unerring gift for timeless melodies and soul-stirring lyrics. It will all be on display soon, on the band's first full-length album, due in March.

Born out of sorrow, powered by passion, ripened by hard work, The Lumineers have found their sound when the world needs it most.

Dr. Dog’s third studio album on Anti, B Room, marks the band’s greatest point of clarity in more than a decade of performing and recording. Their arrangements, while still ambitious, are much simpler, moving past the multi-tracked pastiche of earlier efforts into a unique and vibrant band voice. Indeed, it is this discovery of the band-collective as a compositional tool that makes B Room the most cohesive, soulful, loose, and plain fun record of their career.

The making of B Room begins, not with the sound of guitars and drums, but with jackhammers. When Dr. Dog reconvened this winter to record, they didn’t have demos, they even didn’t have a place to make them. What they had was the foresight to know that the recording process needed to be remodeled. After ending their lease at Meth Beach, where they had been headquartered for the past eight years,the band took on the commitment of constructing an entirely new recording space within a now defunct silversmith mill. As bassist-vocalist Toby Leaman put it, “The whole process of recording really started with building the studio.”

Rather than just cosmetically altering the appearance to make it feel like their own as they’d done at Meth Beach, the band built out the new studio, from the studs to the sheet rock to the recording booth. As Leaman now understands, making a record is a lot like doing construction. Both require a similar amount of frustration, intensity, and cohesion. By building the space first and releasing all of that emotion, the band was then free to engage in their creative process without the expectation or preconception that they admittedly had brought into other sessions.

This lack of pretense was a welcome departure for guitarist-vocalist Scott McMicken. His affinity for creating ethereal soundscapes through multi-tracked instrumentals and effects was always rooted in the potential for a piece of music to feel greater than the sum of its parts. But as he came to accept, “I used to think that all I needed was a tape recorder and a bunch of instruments in a room. Now I realize that I’m useless by myself.”

Dr. Dog manifested McMicken’s epiphany by recording many of the album’s tracks as live takes. On songs like “Minding the Usher” and “Love” the spontaneity of the band’s live performances seamlessly fuses with the intricacy of their kaleidoscopic composition. Both Leaman and McMicken credit this evolution to relying less on the pre-produced demos they brought to other sessions, and more on the musicians surrounding them; an intention not so easily accomplished by two people who have been playing music together since 8th grade.

But with the melodic groundwork of bandmates Frank McElroy, Zach Miller, and Dimitri Manos, along with the intuitive rhythm of drummer Eric Slick, everyone was released from the self-conscious inhibition risked when songwriting is flowing from a single source. After being told by more than one listener that many beats on the album had a hip-hop quality, Leaman responded, “What I love about Slick’s drumming is that it doesn’t have to tell you that you should be moving to the music, you just do it, and that’s what I think he has in common with hip-hop or funk or soul.”

Leaman’s last thought touches on a current that travels throughout B Room. This album, in its purest form, is a soul album. It may be obvious as the first track opens with the Gamble and Huff inspired, “The Truth.” But as the album progresses, the music continues to take on a soulfulness that is vibrant in its simplicity. AsMcMicken put it, “The hallmark of soul music for me is that the arrangements are simple rather than virtuosic, and that the sound creates a feeling that is intuitive rather than intellectual.”

McMicken is proved true in the foot stomping revelry of “Nellie,” while the intuitive approach peaks in the almost spiritual “Too Weak to Ramble” where McMicken and Leaman strip everything down to just two guitars and Leaman’s fervent and tender vocals.

Although “The Sound of Philadelphia” influence may fade after the first track, the city that has helped define Dr. Dog’s sound remains a heavy presence on the album. When asked about the city’s role in their music, Leaman pointed out that many of the famous acts coming out of Philly were collaborations, from Eddie Lang and Joe Venuti to Hall and Oates. In his words, “Just a bunch of weirdoes playing music and taking risks together.” Assuming that Leaman is referring to Dr. Dog’s own journey with his deprecating analysis, he reveals a maturity and genuine self-awareness that is the essence of not just the album, but the band’s current place in time. From the construction of the studio to the recording of the album that took place within its walls, the band has found that boundless moment of creativity where their spirit and soul coexist.

Nathaniel Rateliff

Singer-songwriter Nathaniel Rateliff has made his way from modest means in Bay, Missouri (population 60) to the international stage. After signing with Rounder Records Rateliff toured relentlessly in 2010 and 2011 supporting his critically acclaimed debut in Memory of Loss; headlining shows and performing major festivals throughout the USA, Canada, UK and Europe. His work has been praised by Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant who called Rateliff's music "fragmented and poignant." Plant also placed Rateliff's haunting track "Early Spring Till" atop his iTunes celebrity play list. In May of 2011 Rateliff performed two songs on the UK's biggest music program Later…with Jools Holland. Rateliff has played multiple dates with some of the most popular names in music including Mumford & Sons, the Fray, Bon Iver, Laura Marling, Tallest Man on Earth, Low Anthem, Delta Spirit and Jessica Lea Mayfield to name a few. Rateliff is currently working on his sophomore record which is expected to be released in Spring



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