Chris Thile & Michael Daves: Sleep with One Eye Open (CD Review)

Chris Thile & Michael Daves

Sleep with One Eye Open

Nonesuch CD

Chris Thile is best known for his work as vocalist and virtuoso mandolinist with the bands Punch Brothers and Nickel Creek. And while his fancy finger work frequently dazzles, he’s been criticized in the past for allowing the production values imposed on his music to have to glitzy a sheen: blunting the “authentic-sounding” quality that connoisseurs often prize in traditional music-making. But his recently collaboration with guitarist and vocalist Michael Daves restores a sense of folksiness, grit, and yes, authenticity to the proceedings.Daves is a wonderful foil for Thile. His stomping grounds are in Brooklyn, but his sound is a spot-on reanimation of old-time Nashville. Ironically, the recording takes place in that very city, in a new studio with vintage equipment – Jack White’s Third Man studios.

The concept for the album is beautifully simple. Thiles and Daves went into Third Man and, in four days, recorded all sixteen of the album’s cuts: traditional songs and material by beloved Bluegrass icons such as Flatt and Scruggs. Just two guys standing toe to toe, playing with youthful energy and nimble virtuosity and singing their hearts out.  No backing band, no overdubs: none necessary.

In an era of glitzy presentation and overproduction, of far too many cooks spoiling an often thinly appointed stew, Sleep with One Eye Open is an object lesson on how to do it right. Recommended.

Robotanists cover King of Limbs in 24 hours

It’s true that Radiohead is one of the most covered bands of the current era, but indie quartet Robotanists have taken enthusiasm for their latest album – The King of Limbs – to a new extreme. The band covered the entire LP within 24 hours of its official release. Talk about a quick turnaround!

You can grab it for free via the embedded widget below.

Sharon Van Etten covers REM at Bowery Ballroom (video)

One of our favorite alt-folk singer-songwriters, Sharon van Etten covered REM in her set the other night at the Bowery Ballroom.

If you haven’t heard Sharon’s latest recording, Epic (out now on Ba Da Bing), get thee forthwith to a record seller!

Galen at the Gershwin

Most Sequenza 21 readers know Galen Brown as the site’s Senior Editor and an intrepid post-minimal composer. But Galen leads another life as well – as a pop singer! He specializes in covers – ironic in cast – of pop songs. Check out his flirtation with YouTube celebrity below – a cover of Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” – goth-style!

Galen will be appearing at the Gershwin Hotel this Saturday, performing a set of pop covers that includes songs by Perry, Michael Jackson, and his first time performing Ice-T’s “Cop Killer” live. Also on the bill are Matt Marks and Mellissa Hughes, presenting their own quirky take on pop hits as the “Melly and Mafoo Variety Hour.”

Saturday, May 1, 2010 at 8:00 PM
The Gershwin Hotel
7 East 27th Street
New York, NY 10016