Elephant Revival Interview

Elephant Revival is a band that blends folk music with bluegrass, celtic music, psychedelic country, indie rock, and occasionally, even reggae and hip hop. Even with so many different sounds in their songs, they retain a style that is distinctly their own—mostly because of their wonderful vocals and environmentally conscious themes. Since 2006, they’ve been building a solid fan base around the country, and are about to embark on a Midwest tour. On September 28th, they’ll be playing at the Majestic Theatre in Madison, just a skip away from Murfie HQ—so we thought the time was perfect to learn a bit more about them! Here’s a Q&A I had with Dan Rodriguez (acoustic guitar, electric banjo/guitar, vocals). We talked via phone from his friend’s studio in Boulder, Colorado:

K: I see you guys are from Nederland, Colorado!

D: Yeah. We started there, and we all lived there for a handful of years. Just recently Sage moved back to Kansas to the family farm. So we’re not all living in Nederland now, but we still consider ourselves a Nederland band.

K: I actually visited that place for the first time last year for Nedfest—have you gone to that?

D: I’ve gone to it many times, and performed there a few times too. It’s a hometown fest!

K: Nederland is a funky little town, there’s mountains and taverns and flannel—I love it. And the people are really nice. One thing I like about your band is it’s a co-ed band, a mix of guys and girls. Have you found that it brings a certain energy to the band?

D: I certainly couldn’t imagine it any differently. The men and the women—the kind of alchemy that happens—it’s just been such an integral part of everything. It’s just a big part of our sound and part of the vibe.

K: So you all are coming to Madison on September 28th —do you have shows in between then?

D: Yeah, we do. We have one in Minneapolis, at the Cedar Cultural Center, and then we play Boats and Bluegrass Festival in Winona, Minnesota, then we play Ames, Iowa, and then we’re in Madison.

K: Have you had some good luck touring in the past? Do you like to travel around for shows?

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Sounds Like Florida: The Best of the Sunshine State

Last week, we brought you the best of the Garden State with New Jersey’s finest. This week, check out the best of Florida!

Lynyrd Skynyrd
Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd

This album is, in a nutshell, the Southern Rock album. Lynyrd Skynyrd, more so than any other band of their time, epitomized that sound by bringing together country, blues and rock to make an incredibly authentic blend. For a debut album—or any album—this is a raw and original sound.

One of this album’s strengths is how concise it is – with only eight songs, the band doesn’t waste a moment on anything unnecessary. Instead, each song is incredibly strong. Another bold move was the sheer variety moving through the tracklist. Opening with “I Ain’t the One” and moving on to the sadder, slower “Tuesday’s Gone”, the band moves through sounds and emotions seamlessly.

These pieces alone make this album good, but it’s Skynyrd’s one-of-a-kind sound that makes them great. It takes a great band to blend hard rock, country and blues into one, and that ‘s exactly what this album does. Not only was this album the birth of a great band, it’s the birth of a genre.

Don’t Miss Tracks: “Sweet Home Alabama”, “I Ain’t the One”

Iron & Winehttps://www.murfie.com/albums/iron-wine-the-shepherd-s-dog
The Shepherd’s Dog

This album, to put it succinctly, made me an Iron & Wine fan. When it was released, it became the band’s most progressive and unique album to date; the kind of record that takes several listenings to fully appreciate. It’s also a turning point for the band, moving them away from lo-fi recordings towards a fuller sound.

Despite this transition, the album is still rooted in vocals, lyrics and guitar, as on its previous albums. These foundations are rock-solid, and the band builds on them by adding blues, dub and numerous other styles on top. These details, however, are the best part of the album: banjos, steel guitars, and vocal harmonies top off an already solid sound.

This album is a foray into new territory for Iron & Wine, and they executed that transition beautifully. It’s rare that I find a record that I can listen to over and over again, but this lends itself easily to repeat. The attention to detail and beautiful flow of these songs is addictive.

Don’t Miss Tracks: “House by the Sea”, “Love Song of the Buzzard”

Trans-Siberian Orchestra
The Christmas Attic

Although this album is not exactly currently seasonal, I’m unashamed to admit that Trans-Siberian Orchestra has year-round rotation in my music collection. This album in particular is a favorite of mine—the orchestra showcases its mastery of composition, storytelling, vocals and instrumentation. It’s a captivating album that puts a great twist on classical musical and holiday tunes.

This album shines on its most animated tracks, which are flawlessly executed and brilliantly original. These songs mix traditional Christmas songs, including “’Tis the Season” and “Joy to the World”, with the Orchestra’s trademark touches. The Orchestra incorporates countless instruments, most notably strings and percussion. The real star here, though, is electric guitar, which shines through on tracks like “March of the Kings – Hark the Herald Angel”.

Although this album certainly draws comparisons to the Orchestra’s previous holiday releases, it’s strong enough to stand alone. Despite these comparisons, it’s impossible to overlook how beautiful the instrumentation and vocals are here, and to forget this group’s mastery of both arrangement and storytelling.

Don’t Miss Tracks: “Midnight Christmas Eve”, “The Snow Came Down”