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From The Horseshack to your home

June 2, 2010

I’ve made no mistake about my love for Daytrotter on this blog. It may be the best way to discover new music on the web, and it’s certainly one of the most creative music-related sites around.

I was introduced to the site by my favorite musicians of all time: Limbeck. Way back in October 2007 the So-Cal alt-rockers dropped by The Horseshack in the Quad Cities for a recording session, and because they enjoyed their time there so much they decided to release a limited edition album with more songs from that session entitled The Delicacy of Living Modestly (and it’s great, by the way).

Because, just like Limbeck, I enjoy the site so much that I can’t get enough of it, I would like to present my ten favorite sessions of all time. I j hope you enjoy these sessions as much as I do.

10. A.A. Bondy – Feb. 3, 2010

Though this session only has four songs from When The Devil’s Loose it retains all the power and gusto that the album provides. Bondy’s music has a magnificently understated glory to it to begin with, this subtlety is perfect for Daytrotter. And, as usual, the live nuance and charm is captured perfectly in the Rock Island studio. I love this session because of it’s simplicity: that’s all that is really needed.

A. A. Bondy – “I Can See The Pines Are Dancing”

9. Dear and the Headlights – Dec. 16, 2008

Dear and the Headlights hit Daytrotter with a wild streak; their session, which features songs from Drunk Like Bible Times, displays the band unrestrained. The voice of lead singer Ian Metzger cries out over the heavy distortion creating a raucous sonic bliss. The band clearly knew how to have a good time in the studio, and they may have had the best time while playing at The Horseshack.

Dear and the Headlights – “Bad News”

8. Joe Pug – Feb. 3, 2009

Chicago native Joe Pug’s first trip to the Daytrotter studio is undoubtedly my favorite of his two sessions. At the time of his session he had only released his Nation of Heat EP, but had much more to share with the public. Joe decided to share the beautiful “Hymn 101” from Nation of Heat and three unreleased tracks (which would later appear on his full-length Messenger). Joe’s session is partly great because of it’s content, but also great because the timing that let fans hear three new songs a year before the album came out.

Joe Pug – “Hymn 101”

7. The Avett Brothers – July 27, 2009

This session came out on my birthday, so maybe my fondness for this session comes from my misguided feelings that this was a birthday present to me. No one could ever accurately capture the experience of a live Avett Brothers show – not in words, by video or sound recording – but this live recording is about as good as it will get. And it’s plenty good, even though the Daytrotter crew was using a minimalist SXSW set-up.

The Avett Brothers – “Laundry Room”

6. Owen – Mar. 25, 2007

Mike Kinsella makes some beautiful music, that’s not news. But his ability to recreate those songs live is pretty newsworthy. For those who have never seen the man play live, this session might even be better than attending a concert. The focus of these recordings are his intricate playing; this opposed to drinking, or stage banter, or arguing with the guy in the back who wants to hear a specific song. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t see Kinsella live, just treasure this session.

Owen – “Bad News”

5. Justin Townes Earle – Sep. 8, 2008

It’s hard to quantify how Justin Townes Earle makes me feel in words. In short, he gives me faith in music. His Daytrotter session gives me six more reasons to live him. With entries from both of his full length albums and a cover of Bo Carter’s “Biscuits,” this session is a good time for all, with a great Nashville swing. By way of Twitter I am to understand that he has an encore session being prepped for the site in the near future. I look forward to hearing some new songs and maybe getting another great cover or two. For now, I’m content with this great set.

Justin Townes Earle – Lone Pine Hill

4. Headlights – June 13, 2008

One of the greatest things about seeing Headlights perform is that they almost never play their songs identical to the album versions. In fact, most of the time the version you hear live is dramatically different from the version they recorded. Their Daytrotter three sessions are no exception to this, but my favorite is most certainly their second, which came shortly after their sophomore album Some Racing, Some Stopping. It’s a fun and beautiful take on a few songs that were beautiful to begin with.

Headlights – “Market Girl”

3. Spoon – June 16, 2008

Spoon did something quite interesting when they visited The Horseshack: rather than select tracks from their most recent (critically acclaimed) album, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, to perform, they chose a myriad of lesser known songs to share. This decision might backfire for a band without the pedigree of Britt Daniel & Co. but their choice seems sublime. The odd assortment of “I Could See The Dude” (from the Soft Effects EP), “Back to the Life” (from Kill the Moonlight) and Paul Simon’s “Peace Like A River” make for an amazing collection of songs. Their set is certainly one of the best ever put to tape in the Quad Cities.

Spoon – “Peace Like a River (Paul Simon Cover)”

2. Josh Ritter – April 12, 2010

Josh’s Daytrotter session, like those previous, contains a wonderfully eclectic mix of songs from the breadth of Ritter’s career, as well as a bevy of new songs released on the cusp of a new album. Two songs from his latest album So Runs The World Away, one from three previous albums and one unreleased song make up the diverse session, a brilliant collection from one of folk’s most gifted artists. Ritter’s delicate voice rings softly over his acoustic guitar; it’s a perfect little concert in your headphones.

Josh Ritter – “The Curse”

1. Andrew Bird – Oct. 29, 2007

Picking Andrew Bird to be number one for any list seems like a cop out. The man may be the most talented musician of his time; his skill on violin, guitar and songcraft in general are of the highest caliber and when he puts it all together the product is incredible. He uses the familiar formula of varied songs for his session, but those that are present truly special. I was unfortunate to just be on the outside of the lucky 2,500 who were able to download “The Giant of Illinois,” but just to stream it from the website is a treat. Bird’s work is gorgeous and his Daytrotter session is not one to be missed.

Andrew Bird – “Fiery Crash”

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