Best albums 2014

2014 was another great year for new music!

Here are my top albums of 2014

1. The Afhgan Whigs “Do To the Beast” (SubPop)

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2. Mike Doughty “Stellar Motel” (Megaforce Records)
3. Hozier “Hozier” (Columbia)
4. Red Wanting Blue “Little America” (C05 Music/Fanatic Records)
5. U2 “Songs of Innocence” (Interscope)
6. The Wind & The Wave “From the Wreckage” (RCA)
7. First Aid Kit “Stay Gold” (Columbia)
8. Passenger “Whispers” (Nettwerk)
9. Sylvan Esso “Sylvan Esso” (Partisan)
10. Tony Lucca “Tony Lucca” (Noble Steed Music)
11. Sage Francis “Copper Gone” (Strange Famous)
12. The Black Keys “Turn Blue” (Nonesuch)
12. Damien Rice “My Favourite Faded Fantasy” (Warner Bros. Records)
13. Greylag “Greylag” (Dead Oceans)
14. The Howling Tongues “The Howling Tongues” (Phosphorlative Entertainment Group/Mondo Tunes)
15. Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas “Secret Evil” (Dead Owl Music/Instant Records)
16. Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes “Kid Tiger” (Dear Head Music)
17. Joe Bonamassa “Different Shades of Blue” (J&R Adventures)

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18. Lucinda Williams “Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone” (Highway 20 Records)
19. The Great Escape “The Great Escape” (Nordmeister)
20. Phox “Phox” (Partisan)

Other artists that I totally fell in love with (in some cases, I fell even more in love):

1. Turning Plates
2. Monica Heidal
3. Flagship
4. Jeremy Messersmith
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5. Kongos
6. St. paul & The Broken Bones
7. Owl John
8. Lake Street Dive
9. Run River North
10. Grizfolk
11. Knox Hamilton
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12. Banks
13. Fink
14. Noah Gundersen
15. The Slambovian Circus of Dreams
16. Bleachers
17. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
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18. No Sinner
19. Rob Drabkin
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20. Wet
21. Atlas Road Crew
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Best concerts:
I cannot even begin to list the awesome artists I saw this year. This is just a sampling of those musicians that inspired me:

1. Joe Bonamassa
2. The Wind & The Wave
3. The Afghan Whigs
4. Walk the Moon
5. ST. Paul & The Broken Bones
6. Andrew McMahon In the Wilderness
7. JohnnySwim
8. NeedToBreathe
9. Foy Vance
10. Red Wanting Blue
11. Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes
12. Bastille
13. Typhoon

Weekly email 6/10/14

Whoooo, what a crazy and incredible week!

First off, I stepped on the scale at the gym and almost fell over. As of yesterday, I have lost 91 pounds! I’m still in shock about it, to be honest. Once I lose 100 pounds there will be a mega party.

In gardening news, boy child’s cucumber, pepper, and basil are doing great. His tomatoes never sprouted. So we’re off to buy a tomato plant later today.

We had an incredible time, musically speaking, at WJCU last week. (In non musical stuff, it was bad. Our BSI server crashed so we had to go to our backup – which we’re still on. Our poor engineer and GM are working overtime to try and get it up and running.)

But let’s focus on the positive! We had three amazing artists stop by. On Wednesday, Jeremy Messersmith came by. He’s so awesome. We bonded and I have declared him my long lost twin brother. It’s not often I get a guest on the air that can discuss whether JJ Abrahms will destroy the Star Wars Universe with me. Talented, smart, and a geek? Love it!

I didn’t get to see his show that night, I had a prior commitment to see a friend from Toronto perform at a house concert. Her name is Heather Dale and she is fabulous. Amazing writer and performer. :) It was a great night of wonderful folk music.

Then Thursday came and I hit the ground running. For those who don’t know, I offer my services to drive artists to and from venues if needed. And it was needed on Thursday!

I picked up one of my all time favorite bands, NeedToBreathe, from House of Blues Cleveland and took them to WJCU. We had a great visit and the interview was pretty darn good, if I say so myself. Bear made me cry (in a good way) and he, Bo, and Seth did a fabulous job playing (no surprise there!)

We took quick pics then I took them back to HoB, swapping them out for Foy Vance. We headed back to the studio and went on air in the 2 o’clock hour. I adore that man. We had such a great time visiting (on and off the air). We shared great stories and music. He even played some new music for me in the car as we were heading to/from the HoB – including a song written and performed by his TM, Lee, who is a super mad talented man in his own right!

I dropped Foy back at the HoB then headed home. I had 90 minutes to make dinner, change clothes, visit with the kids, then back out the door to the concert.

Which was PHENOMENAL. I’m such a huge fan of NeedToBreathe and Foy Vance. Both together in one night was perfect! My good friend, Karen, joined me and she was in heaven. Foy performed a newer song he’s written called “The Death of God” and it’s gorgeous!

Here’s a pic of me with Foy at the station after his interview:

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If you’d like to hear the interviews, they are up on our website.

This week is another full one for me. The Belle Brigade is stopping by on Wednesday then I’ll be seeing them open for Ray LaMontagne that night (Yay! Ray!!). Thursday, Cayucas will be stopping by for an interview.

Then early Friday morning my daughter and I head to Wisconsin for a camping trip with friends. So between all the work and time with the kids (oh yeah, did I mention they’re done with school for the summer?) I have to get stuff packed for camping.

Yes, I am insane. Did you have any doubts?

Adds this week:

*Fink – I was biased to begin with, I can’t lie. Fink is my maternal grandmother’s maiden last name. So the name drew my eye. And then I listened. Then I called JB Brenner and asked for the full CD so I could get a better feel about their sound. Art (or as I call him: “JB’s partner in crime”) sent me the digital link. After the 3rd song I emailed them both and said “YES!” The album is beautiful and haunting.

*The Belle Brigade – I’m a huge fan of theirs and delighted to add the second single. And I can’t wait to meet them on Wednesday!

*First Aid Kit – I kept forgetting to add them. Then Michael Ehrenberg and I were talking about music we’re loving and he mentioned the album as one of his favorites. I said “OMG yes! Thank you for reminding me! I need to add it Monday!” So kudos to Michael for reminding me to get this gorgeous song in rotation.

*John Fullbright – What a great song from a great artist! I knew on the first listen that I’d be adding it.

*Selwyn Birchwood – If you were at the Music Meeting at NonComm, you know my thoughts on this one. But if you missed it, here’s my summation: “Sometimes I want kick ass blues that makes me want to roll the windows down and jam. I’m adding it the minute Tim (Kolleth w/ Alligator) asks me to.” Love this new artist!

Have a great week!

Weekly email week of 1/21/14

I am slowly recovering from what I have dubbed “The Weekend of Awesome”.

I traveled to Chicago Friday to spend time with friends and had a wonderful time. I saw folks I haven’t seen in months and had a blast catching up. Sunday I lazed around with the friends I stayed with before heading to Detroit to catch the band Bastille in concert.

How do I describe meeting and seeing Bastille? “OMG OMG OMG love!” comes to mind. What fabulous guys and the concert was one of the best I’ve seen. It was really a phenomenal night for me. They showed me (and the rest of the sold out crowd) why the were named my Best New Band of 2013 and Best Album as well. They are stellar performers. Momma K gives a mega stamp of approval. I’m looking forward to their performance Saturday on SNL. I just know they are going to hit it out of the ballpark!

Bonus of the evening: meeting Dan Connelly’s partner-in-crime/co-worker Bill Carroll, who is a great guy. We also enjoyed the opening band Grizfolk who wowed the crowd.

Here’s a pic of my friend Allie and I with Dan & Woody from Bastille:
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That wasn’t the only music I saw last week. Last Monday I saw the artist Matt Andersen perform and was super impressed.

Confession time: normally when I go to concerts I sneak out early, especially on a weeknight. I stick around for 5-6 songs then head out. Not with Matt Andersen. I was so impressed I wouldn’t have moved for anything. Here’s a link to a YouTube video of him performing (and it starts with the song that brought tears to my eyes): http://youtu.be/gD56M89F7Ew

I am impatiently awaiting his new album which comes out in April. :)

In other news….it’s Cleveland in winter so the usual round of snow and cold. Kids and hubby are doing well. I think I’m taking the kids sledding this weekend….something all three of us love to do. (See, Ayappa? Another bonus to Cleveland winters: sledding, followed by hot coca and snuggles on the couch.)

Adds this week:

* Elizabeth & The Catapult: Spider messaged me last week to tell me how incredible he thinks the new album is. We don’t normally work music to each other unless we’re hooked. Spider is absolutely hooked! And I absolutely agreed. :)

*Greg Laswell: A core artist to our format with good reason. I love the remake of the song and the whole album.

* HAIM: I really love this band, so delighted to add the second single!

* JD Eicher & The Goodnights: We love JD here on The Heights! What a great album (and amazing artist!)

* Rosanne Cash: I brought the album with me on my road trip this weekend to try and find a single I thought could work for The Heights. After consideration (and a talk with Melanie from Songlines) I decided Modern Blue was the perfect song for The Heights.

*Sam Roberts: I’m a huge fan of his and so are a lot of our listeners. I can’t wait to hear the full album.

* Tommy Castro & The Painkillers: You know we love our blues here in Cleveland. One listen was all it took to know I needed to add the single to The Heights.

Weekly letter week of 1/14/14

Good afternoon!

For those keeping track, early last week Cleveland was hit by that Polar Vortex. No school for my kids until Thursday and it.was.cold. At one point with the wind chill it went down to -38 degrees. Probably colder but I refused to look at the reports after that. But my car started both days and we didn’t get the snow everyone else seemed to get slammed with, thank goodness.

I remember my mother telling me to “put on a sweater” whenever I complained about the cold as a child and I copied her wonderfully for my children. And I didn’t smack girl child when she suggested we just turn up the heat. I chose to give her my patented “are you kidding me??” look instead. :)

Some news that I forgot to share last week: Every year WJCU hosts a “Blizzard Bash” to raise funds for the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland. We had our best showing yet, featuring 3 wonderful local bands (Welshley Arms, So Long Albatross, and We the People). We raised $3,000! It was a great event and I’m so proud we made this our best year to date.

I also wanted to share the link to my “Best of 2013″ list: http://karolinekramer.com/?p=20

I couldn’t even stop at 25 and there are albums I didn’t mention that I love simply because I was so overwhelmed with the amazing music last year!

Concerts are ramping up for me again, off to see a new artist tonight: Matt Andersen. More on the show next week!

Adds this week:

*Bastille: I have gone on and on and on about Bastille. They are, hands down, my favorite new artist. I’m going to see them on Sunday in Detroit and can’t wait. Every song on the album is phenomenal!
*Chris Weaver Band: I heard the two focus tracks from the new album and was hooked. Incredible!
*Nicole Atkins: I listened to the single and thought: Oh yeah, she’s hit one right out of the gate! (I just totally mashed my metaphors, pardon me) What a great start to 2014.
*Toad the Wet Sprocket: This song, from a wonderful core band in our format, makes me excited about music and about them. So glad they got back together for this album.
*von Grey: I’ve loved this band for a while and the single. So glad I could finally make room to add it on The Heights.

Best of 2013

Yep, it’s that time of year again. Time for my list of the albums, concerts, and artists that impressed me this year. I had a hard time getting this list down to 25 albums. Sounds crazy, since so many others list 10. I just couldn’t do it this year. There were too many albums that impressed the heck out of me.

Best albums of 2013

1. Bastille – Bad Blood

2. The 1975 – The 1975

3. Alpha Rev – Bloom

4. Kodaline – In A Perfect World

5. Patty Griffin – American Kid

6. Tom Odell – Long Way Down

7. Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle

8. Satellite – Calling Birds

9. The Lone Bellow – The Lone Bellow

10. The Head & The Heart – Let’s Be Still

11. Serena Ryder – Harmony

12. Paul McCartney – New

13. Lee DeWyze – Frames

14. Enter the Haggis – The Modest Revolution

15. Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse

16. Brendan James – Simplify

17. Typhoon – White Lighter

18. Phosphorescent – Muchacho

19. Tedeschi Trucks Band – Made Up Mind

20. Vienna Teng – Aims

21. Daughter – If You Leave

22. Foy Vance – Joy of Nothing

23. The Royal Teeth – Glow

24. Shearwater – Fellow Travelers

25.  Ghost Brothers of Darkland County

Honorable mention:

Clarence Bucaro – Dreaming From the Heart of New York

Best Concerts of 2013

It seems like I went to more concerts than I could believe this year. Of all the concerts I attended, these are the ones that were incredible:

1. Muse – So incredible I saw it them twice this year. They are one of my favorite all time bands and their concert is off the hook amazing.

2. fun. – Another band I saw twice. Once in Cleveland and then 5 days later at Bunbury Festival. I think watching a fun. show should be mandatory for all artists because they know how to do it right.

3. Walk The Moon – If you have a chance to see them live, absolutely do it. What a fun show.

4. Michael Franti – It was like group meditation. So much love and fun. Michael is one of my favorite artists.

5. The Airborne Toxic Event – How do you describe a show that blows you away from the moment the curtain goes up? You don’t. If you haven’t seen them live you are missing one of the best bands of our time.

6. A Silent Film – I am still amazed that more folks don’t know A Silent Film. I saw them twice this year – at Bunbury Festival and then in Pittsburgh. They are electrifying.

7. A shout out to Bunbury Festival. It was my first festival and I am so glad I went. Flooding caused them to have to rearrange some stuff at the last minute but it didn’t put a damper on anything. Huge crowds and tons of fun.

Best New Bands

1. Bastille

2. The Lone Bellow

3. Satellite

4.The Wild Feathers

5. Delta Rae

6. Tom Odell

7. The Darcys

8. Kodaline

9. The 1975 1

10. Cults

11. Typhoon

12. Phosporescent

13. Saints of Valory

14. American Authors

15. Royal Teeth

16. Foy Vance

17. Levi Robin

Weekly industry email for the week of 11/18/13

We had snow here in NE Ohio last week. 5 inches worth where I live. I don’t mind snow, I really don’t. What I don’t like are the way most people drive in it. At least at the beginning of the snow season. After the first few snowfalls folks tend to remember how to drive in it so my desire to throttle most of them lessens. *grin*

In other news, don’t talk to me about the Cleveland Browns, please. Just……don’t.

I had a busy week, music-wise. Tuesday morning, Lee DeWyze stopped by the studio for an interview/visit. I adore Lee. He has got to be one of the most personable artists I’ve ever interviewed. And musically? He’s brilliant. I really love his new album “Frames” – it shows his depth as an artist. Each song is different and incredible.
Wednesday I had a chance to meet with Glen Philips for an interview because Toad the Wet Sprocket was performing at a local venue. Lee DeWyze was opening, He and Toad did a great job. Such a fabulous night of music!
But no rest for the weary: Thursday night a friend and I drove to Pittsburgh to see one of our favorite bands, A Silent Film. I managed to get a quick interview with them, which will be posted on the WJCU website this week. They played some new songs from their upcoming album (to be released in 2014) and I was really impressed. I’ve always loved their sound and seeing them live is always a treat. Bonus for me was the band opening for them called Hands. Super impressed!
This week is laid back – only one concert I could go to if I wanted, but CG is out of town for work and I’m thinking I’ll enjoy evenings at home with the kids. Things pick up again this weekend – 4 nights of concerts in a row for me (and I don’t want to miss a single one!)
Adds this week:
I swear I was only going to add 2 songs. But then I kept listening and realizing I couldn’t pick only 2. Plus with the 3 week music break coming up in December I want to make sure I have the best of the best in rotation for our listeners. :)
*Amos Lee: What a gorgeous song off a gorgeous album. Love this man, can’t wait for his show in Cleveland this spring!
*Broken Bells: The first time I heard this single I fell in love. Delighted to add it to The Heights.
*Ken Yates: What a truly stunning album. I had a hard time picking the single to play because all the songs are that incredible.
*Kodaline: I really love this band. They are one of my top favorite “new artists” from 2013. The single is perfect for our station.
*Shearwater: I know I say I love bands a lot. But Shearwater has a special place in my heart. I’ve never met them, never seen them live, but I cannot get enough of them. This entire album (of covers!!) is so stunning I had a hard time picking a single to add. This album is already on my iPod and I just can’t stop listening.Have a wonderful week!

 

Weekly email week of 10/8/13

Every day I think about how blessed I am to work in such an amazing field. For a former actress with a Masters in Computer Tech, how did I end up here? I’m just a lucky woman.

Sometimes, however, I have to take a step back and relax. If I don’t my body forces me to. Today is a case of that. I had a whirlwind weekend in Columbus, OH with friends and now I’m paying the price with a cold. So I’m lounging in a comfy chair with hot tea and tissues typing this week’s email.

There are a ton of things I was supposed to do today but all I want to do is make myself a nest with blankets and do nothing. Well, maybe watch a few good movies. Those of you with kids understand why that’s just not possible, of course. Darnit.

So instead I’ll push through because tonight I’m going to see The Neighborhood at the House of Blues and I definitely don’t want to miss that.

In other news, I’m busy planning my schedule for when I’m in NYC next week. If there’s a music showcase you’d like me to attend, let me know as soon as you can. My dance card is really filling up!

We had another fabulous week of music at WJCU. On Wednesday, Keith Jeffery of Atlas Genius stopped by the station with their tour manager Forrest (whom I adore). It was great having him visit us – the interview is on our website if you’d like to give it a listen – as are all of our interviews with artists. Check them all out at wjcu.org. That evening I went to the show with a friend and we had a wonderful time. Atlas Genius puts on one heck of an amazing show. And did you know that their parents tour with them? Their dad runs the sound board and their mom works merch. I think that has got to be one of the coolest things I know of. The whole band not only put on a great show but were super sweet to everyone – they even go meet fans after the show at the merch table! I loved their music before last week. But now I’m a fan of them as people as well. :)

On Friday, Frank Turner stopped by the station to talk with me and play a couple of songs off his new album. I had to force myself to limit my questions because I wanted to ask him a million things. I was super sad to miss his sold out show Friday night. Hopefully he’ll be back or I’ll get to see him again somewhere soon. I did see him in Boulder, so convinced myself I could survive with just that little taste of the awesome.

So why couldn’t I go see Frank Turner? I had to go to Columbus for the aforementioned whirlwind weekend with friends. But before I left, I romped to the House of Blues to catch up with a band that I am a mega fan of: The Wild Feathers. Hugs all around with them and then I sat down with Joel, Preston, and Ben for a quick interview. I’ll be editing that today and getting it up on the website. It was wonderful to see them and catch up. I’m looking forward to getting a second single off their yummy new album on WJCU (hint hint, Julie! *grin*)

We have two artists stopping by The Heights this week and both on Friday. First, Jillette Johnson in the morning to record an interview and then one of our favorite bands, Enter the Haggis, will be by in the afternoon. Our listeners love them (as do I). If you haven’t heard their album “The Modest Revolution”, you should. Really. It’s one of my favorites this year.

Me? I’m going to try to kick this cold and spend time doing family things. Concerts tonight, Wednesday, and Friday, then back to Columbus Saturday for a wedding. Busy me!

Adds this week:

*John Legend: The minute I heard this song I knew it was a hit. I listened to it over and over. I know the other formats will be all over this in a heartbeat but wanted to be the first in Cleveland to spin it because it’s that gorgeous.

*Lily Kershaw: The first time I heard the single I was in my car with Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi. They had decided to help me listen to new music as I drove them to the venue from our station. The first CD we put in was Lily’s and all three of us were incredibly impressed. Susan wrote down her name so she could make sure to get the CD. When Susan and Derek were digging an artist with me, how could I NOT add it?

*Matt Nathanson: I adore this man. I love his new album and I love this song. And I’m thrilled that he’ll be in Cleveland in less than a month!

*The Hoax: The first time I heard the single was when Serious Bob emailed me an mp3 to get my take. It was definitely a case of love at first listen. I had time this weekend to listen to the full album and was very impressed! Definitely a Cleveland sound (aka rock and blues) and is going to delight our listeners.

*Vienna Teng: If you read my email last week you’ll know what a huge fan I am of Vienna Teng. I’ve listened to the full new album and it’s beautiful. I love the direction she’s gone in with this one and know our listeners will love it too. So glad to have this song in rotation.

Have a wonderful week!