DJ Harrison

Yesterday may have been Jerry Garcia’s 75th birthday, and it certainly was a watershed musical moment… but not because of Garcia. I’ll remember August 1, 2017 as the day Devonne Harris dominated my Twitter feed. (And I’m not the only one.)

Not sure which I saw first, but two big-deal things were signal boosted all day:

  • Style Weekly published a detailed profile of Harris and included his photo on the cover of this week’s print edition. I can’t recommend the article highly enough — it’s a panoramic view of a musician whose sweeping talents and growing influence are simply a wonder to behold.
  • Jack White’s Third Man Records label tweeted a picture of White alongside the folks who have been helping him record his new album… and there was Harris, standing to White’s left. Mind blown. I had no words. The best I could do was tweet out the siren emoji. I can’t wait to hear what he and White made together.

These are both wildly exciting developments — when combined with the vinyl release of his HazyMoods album as DJ Harrison, Harris is poised to reach more ears than ever. And seeing the Richmond community collectively celebrate yesterday was thrilling. Long live Devonne Harris Day.

Here’s one of my favorite cuts from HazyMoods, entitled “ProcessFresh.”

DJ Harrison — “ProcessFresh” [Spotify/Bandcamp]

2016 in Review: Blasts from the Past

Easing into the numbered lists with Blasts from the Past — the reissues and archival releases I had the most fun with this year.

1. John Prine — In Spite of Ourselves


I once found myself outside a recording studio talking to a very large and friendly stranger about how much we both loved “In Spite Of Ourselves,” trading the verses we could remember off the tops of our heads and laughing hysterically. The power of John Prine’s songwriting, y’all. I think about that dude every time I hear the song. I think about you too, Mrs. YHT, just [adjusts collar nervously] not just you. I’m going to stop typing about this now.

John Prine — “In Spite Of Ourselves” [Spotify/iTunes]

2. Allen Toussaint — Live In Philadelphia 1975

Allen Toussaint

The Last Waltz introduced me to Allen Toussaint The Arranger, and Matthew E. White’s interviews and Spotify listening feed helped me get to know Allen Toussaint The Influence, but I hadn’t really met Allen Toussaint The Performer until Record Store Day, when this live set was reissued. Predictably, that part of his personality is like the other parts — charming, entertaining, and close enough to flawless that you find yourself wondering if he ever makes mistakes. (Just a few months later, when I grabbed a copy of American Tunes while in Chicago for a wedding, I got to meet Allen Toussaint The Technician-Historian — he’s pretty great, too.)

Allen Toussaint — “Last Train” (live) [Discogs]

3. Gillian Welch — Boots No. 1: The Official Revival Bootleg


If you buy into the Gillian-Welch-as-self-styled-Southern-person narrative, you’d probably call this album evidence of a crucial turning point in her persona definition. I tend to think we’re all constructs of the people we want to be, with varying degrees of consciousness about the whole deal. Having grown up in Norfolk — large military presence, friends’ families moving away and moving back, not all that rednecky but right near the North Carolina border — I understand how it feels to embrace Southern-ness consciously, selectively, and gradually, and I tend to feel a little defensive when people talk/write about her origin story. It’s weird, and I can’t tell whether I like this Boots album because of or in spite of that defensiveness. Probably a little of both.

Gillian Welch — “Dry Town” (demo) [Spotify/iTunes]

4. Various — Why the Mountains Are Black – Primeval Greek Village Music: 1907-1960


Spooky tunes compiled and analyzed by legendary 78’s collector Chris King? Check. Cover art by R. Crumb? Check. Release party at Steady Sounds with King spinning 78’s from the second floor? Check. Something to play whenever we want to make Greek food and/or remember our trip there? Check.

Kalamatianos” (“Dance of Kalamata”) [Spotify/iTunes]

5. Jack White — Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016


[knock, knock, knock] “Hi, I’m here for the alternate version of ‘Carolina Drama,’ and I’m not leaving until I understand the critical plot points.”

Jack White — “Carolina Drama (Acoustic Mix)” [Spotify/iTunes]

BONUS: Bob Dylan — The Real Royal Albert Hall 1966 Concert


I hadn’t planned on buying this, but that giant 1966 box set has been looking more interesting by the day, and a used copy popped up on BK Music’s Instagram feed. I figure this’ll keep the box set at bay. For now.

Bob Dylan — “Tell Me, Momma” (live) [Spotify/iTunes]

Top 10 Albums of 2014

Parks and Rec

Fun fact: When you wait until December 31 to finish your top 10 albums of the year post, your top 10 albums of the year post becomes, by default, your New Year’s Eve post! Before getting to the list, I just want to thank everyone who takes the time to read this blog, whether it’s once a week, once a month, or just this once. It’s such a gift thinking/knowing/believing that there are people out there who share your enthusiasms, and to everyone who left comments, retweeted links, reblogged posts, did guest posts, invited me to do guests posts, or interacted with YHT in any other way, thank you for being such awesome Internet buds.

Now for the 10 albums that meant the most to me in 2014:

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Y’all see this?

If not, the long and the short of it is that if you agree to buy a vinyl copy of Spoon’s soon-to-be-released (8/5, to be exact) They Want My Soul album from a participating, locally-owned store, you get to take home a 10-inch record with three of the album’s songs on it. They’re calling it Vinyl Gratification. The offer went into effect this Tuesday, and I’m not sure how many each store got, but you can click here to find a participating location — they may still have copies of the above-pictured 10-inch.

I got mine at BK Music on Tuesday, and I was pleased to find that the two They Want My Soul tracks I’d heard and fallen madly for — “The Rent I Pay” and “Do You” — were both on it, but I’m even more pleased by the Vinyl Gratification idea in general. Offering perks for pre-ordering albums isn’t new, but this initiative has a wonderfully collaborative feel to it. Just read the open letter Spoon frontman Britt Daniel wrote to introduce the promotion. There’s a palpable sincerity there, and an understanding that correcting the imbalance that currently exists between the amount of music people consume and the amount of money that music-makers make will involve bringing all the stakeholders together. The fix, as it almost always does, requires us to work together.

The majority of bands obviously can’t afford to offer free 10-inch records when you pre-order their albums (pressing an LP to vinyl is an expensive undertaking to begin with), but part of the reason I love what Spoon’s doing is that the idea has a bit of the same spirit that Jack White’s recent efforts have had. I haven’t said much about Lazaretto — I’m pretty sure it’s falling into the same “I like it so much that I have no desire to write about it” category that Modern Vampires of the City occupied last year — but I will say that the ultra LP created a genuine moment.

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John Vanderslice

Putting a face to a name is always nice, and I’m thrilled to finally have a set of images to associate with the words “Tiny Telephone.”

I can’t remember how I first heard about John Vanderslice’s Mission District-situated studio, nor have I ever been there, but in the last few years, it’s been built up in my mind to the point where it’s become a place of real significance to me — a pulsing, glowing thing on the other side of the country, where special stuff is made with analog equipment and integrity.

Much of that building-up came from a pair of conversations I had with the gents from Pretty & Nice. All the way back in April of 2011, I was talking to the Boston-based group about this awesome place in San Francisco where they were going to mix their next album, and they sang the studio’s praises again when I interviewed them last month, a short time after that (spectacular) album finally saw the light of day. On both occasions, when they spoke about Tiny Telephone, there was something elevated about their speech, like they enjoyed the taste its name made each time they said it. If I were to extrapolate a bit, I’d guess that enjoyment came not from delight in name-dropping but from a genuine sense of pride at being associated with a place that shares their values. Attention to detail. Respect for good equipment. Love of analog.

As for me, I’d guess that the enjoyment I get from saying/typing “Tiny Telephone” comes from a different place, though I think it reflects just as well on the studio.

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Bryn Davies

So the Grammys were this weekend…

I know, I know.

A sizable percentage of you are probably groaning, closing this tab of your browser and saying something like, “Ugh, I can’t stand hearing about those self-congratulating millionaires and the mass-marketed, radio-friendly, auto-tuned crap they give each other awards for making.” Maybe a few of you even added air quotes when you said “making” to drive the point home. Would have been a nice touch.

As much as I enjoy and care about the Grammys, I can’t blame people for detecting, and reacting to, a degree of fakeness. Sunday’s broadcast certainly had its share of artifice, with a Maroon 5/Alicia Keys duet that perfectly embodied pop music’s insider culture and a Bob Marley tribute that hit so far off the mark it seemed genuinely bizarre. (Speaking of which, I made a note a little while ago to write a post about how Bruno Mars might not be human. He’s too good. His voice, stage presence and skin are all unreasonably perfect, and he has this general aura of unreality about him. I’m starting to think that birthers have been rooting around for the wrong Hawaii birth certificate…)

But here’s the thing. There are real people at the Grammys, too. Actual human beings who buy garlic and orange juice at the grocery store and make music that finds success on its own terms. I thought I’d use today’s post to tell you about one of those people, someone whose appearance on the TV screen during Sunday’s ceremony made me cheer out loud as reflexively as I would have if someone had told me that Chris Brown was stuck in an airport somewhere and wouldn’t be available for reaction shots. That someone is Bryn Davies.

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5×5, Part 5: Albums

5x5, Part 5 - Albums

(Click here for Part 1 – Songshere for Part 2 – Collaborations, here for Part 3 – Late Breakers, and here for Part 4: RVA Long Plays.)

Before I get started with my fifth and final list, I want to take this opportunity to say thanks to all you awesome people who visited You Hear That, left a comment, wrote a guest post, or shared a recommendation over the course of the past year. This here blog means a great deal to me, and whether we know each other in real life or in 1’s and 0’s, I’m tremendously thankful for all the support and feedback you’ve provided, and I’d hug every single one of you if it were physically possible and/or in keeping with your particular feelings about boundaries and personal space and stuff.

It’s getting a little misty up in here, so let’s get on with the matter at hand — the 5 albums that rocked my socks off in 2012.

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The Dead Weather


I rolled up last Thursday’s Jack White show at the Charlottesville Pavilion in full freak-out mode. Various stressors had gotten the best of me, and I actually brought the idea of leaving up to Mrs. You Hear That while the stage was being prepped for Mr. White. Thankfully we stayed, and the more I think about it, freak-out mode might have been the best possible mindset for my first time seeing Jack White perform.

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Animal Collective


I have a few more things to share about my trip to Nashville (I promise they don’t involve vomit or Jack White), but I have to butt in and right a writing wrong that I, myself, have perpetrated. It’s been 302 days since I last wrote about Animal Collective. How the hell did this happen? AC and I certainly aren’t feuding or anything. As Big Boi once said of his distinguished colleague, André 3000, “Not clashing, not at all.”

I guess one reason might be that they haven’t released a conventional* LP since Merriweather Post Pavilion, but that wasn’t that long ago, right? Let me just check Wikipedia and find out when that wa… January of 2009? WTF?!? There’s no way 40 months have passed since that album came out. It just can’t be true. The songs still feel fresh, despite the fact that I’ve heard them god knows how many times over the past few years. In fact, I’m pretty sure the album hasn’t left my phone’s iPod, and I’ve had at least two phones since January of 2009. The more I think about it, the more it seems like this is a major indicator of an album’s greatness — the amount of time after its release that it stays in the front of your mind (and on the smaller hard drive of your primary listening device).

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First Aid Kit

Universal Soldier

Another good reason I didn’t puke when I saw Jack White in the Third Man Records parking lot in Nashville, TN (aside from maintaining my self-image as super-cool under pressure) is that some very precious cargo was riding in the black shopping bag at my side. Nestled next to a copy of Drive-By Truckers’ Live at Third Man was First Aid Kit’s entry in the label’s Blue Series. I’ll be frank; I knew I was leaving with this 7-inch record the moment I saw it, regardless of which songs were on there. My love for First Aid Kit has grown by leaps and bounds since I first professed it in February, and whatever they’re sellin’… I’m buyin’.

What I didn’t know was that I’d share an eerie connection with the cover song that graces the record’s A-side.

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