The Devil Whale


I had a weird realization while having drinks with a friend a few nights ago. I don’t have a single active concert ticket right now. Not a one. No PDF printouts waiting to be scanned, no tickets sitting at will call… nuthin’.

How did this come to pass? Summer concert burnout is partly to blame, not that I have anything to complain about. The stack of yet-to-be-used tickets that usually lives on my wife’s desk at home got plenty thick during the past few months, and seeing Radiohead, tUnE-yArDs and Neko Case, each for the first time, The Alabama Shakes for the second time, Justin Townes Earle for the fourth, Old Crow Medicine Show twice and The Lumineers three times is pretty damn good way to spend the summer, if you ask me.

But looking forward with a clean slate is exhilarating, and it didn’t take long to find a show that has me excited to start chalking it up all over again.

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Shovels & Rope

O' Be Joyful

If you happened to catch the musical away message I put up on Saturday morning, you already know I spent the long weekend on Chincoteague Island, which is located at the very top of Virginia’s Eastern Shore. It offers a beautiful strip of coastline, notable for its status as a National Wildlife Refuge, the wild horses that roam its dunes, and the freedom to drive your Ford F150 up and down the beach in search of the perfect fishing spot.

Having taken a few of these pickup-truckin’ trips over the sands of Chincoteague, I can report that it’s an incredible way to enjoy a day at the beach. There’s seclusion, stunning views of the ocean and bay at the same time, tasty fish waiting to gobble up the bait you throw at them… what more could you want? But this kind of freedom comes with prerequisites, and my F150-owning friend Keith mentioned two of them on our way onto the beach this past Saturday — a shovel and rope. I didn’t know this until he said something, but apparently, they’re required by law if you plan to take your 4WD vehicle on the sand, in case you forget to deflate your tires to the recommended 20 psi and end up getting stuck.

So imagine my creepedoutedness upon discovering a band yesterday, on my first full day back from the beach, called Shovels & Rope. An awesome band. A country-rocking duo of drum- and guitar-trading South Carolinians. A pair I would have been excited about regardless of what they were called. It’s super weird, and while coincidence doesn’t itself imbue meaning, this lucky bit of timing afforded instant insight into what the band’s name represents — call it a serendipitous symbolic shortcut.

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Molly Wagger

A band for all seasons

(especially the cold, hot, wet, dry ones)

By Greg A. Lohr

Last fall, in an article lamenting the “lean times” for modern music critics, The Guardian suggested that album reviews have been made unnecessary by the ease and speed of illegal downloading. Who needs a review? “If you want to know what an album’s like before release, you can probably find out for yourself.”

With a blend of chagrin and nostalgia, I’d tend to agree. Grooveshark, Youtube, Pandora, Spotify … take your pick of music purveyors. Hate the ads? Pay the fees, and the end result’s the same: You can have the tunes you want, anytime. All the time.

And yet … Easy access may have granted reviews more power, rendered them more personal. Written well, they’re a friendly introduction, a vouching-for in mafia style. “Dear readers, I’d like you to meet [so-and-so band]. I stamp my approval. I think you’ll agree.”

So it is in this spirit that I introduce you to Molly Wagger, a band of Scots. They got stuck in my head. They’re my most recent crush.

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