Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Premiere: Big Little Lions’ “Do Better” video

April 10, 2018

Big Little Lions‘ “Do Better” clip is a beautiful time-lapse of a road trip through the mountains of British Columbia. The easy-going, open-hearted, aspirational bent of the folk-pop tune that accompanies the video matches perfectly with the visuals of open sky, soaring mountains, and endless forests. I love a good video of beautiful scenery, and this one hits the spot.

The song itself is a lovely folk-pop song. Lyrically, it’s a plea for us to “do better”–be more compassionate, less judgmental, and more aware of beauty all around. Sonically, it’s got gently rumbling bass and percussion, cheery handclaps, subtle accordion and piano, and suitably big melodies.

If you’re looking for a pick-me-up on a tough week/month/year/etc., this track has a lot to offer. If you crossed the Lumineers with the Low Anthem, you might end up with something like this tune. Definitely a winner.

“Do Better” comes from Alive and Well, which came out February 23 on Far Flung. You can catch Big Little Lions on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Spotify. They’re going on tour starting tomorrow, so if you’re on the East side of the country you can see them in action very soon:

4/11/2018 – Nashville, TN / Tin Roof Broadway
4/13/2018 – Roswell, GA / The BZC (info)
4/14/2018 – Birmingham, AL / The Shed Series house concert (info and info)
4/15/2018 – Orlando, FL / house concert
4/18/2018 – Palm Harbor, FL / house concert (info)
4/19/2018 – St. Petersburg, FL / house concert (info)
4/20/2018 – St. Petersburg, FL / Listening Room Festival, Palladium Theatre (info and tickets)
4/21/2018 – St. Petersburg, FL / house concert (info)
4/22/2018 – Gulfport, FL / house concert (info)
4/24/2018 – Nashville, TN / The Local
4/25/2018 – Mills River, NC / house concert (info)
4/27/2018 – Springboro, OH / house concert (for more info, email info@biglittlelions.com)
4/28/2018 – Cincinnati, OH / house concert (for more info, email info@biglittlelions.com)

May Singles: Acoustic, pt. 1

May 2, 2016

1. “Where Are You Running Now” – Ivory Tusk. If you weren’t into The Tallest Man on Earth because of the vocals, check out Ivory Tusk instead: the same sort of complex melodic fingerpicking, similarly poetic lyrics, but a much less grating (I say this lovingly, Tallest Man, really) voice. All the upsides, and none of the down. It’s a beautiful, remarkable song.

2. “Sound It Out” – The Hasslers. Pickin’ and grinnin’ meets New Orleans horns and organ for a full-band acoustic tune that’s fun in lots of ways; even the down-on-my-luck lyrics have wry enjoyment running their delivery.

3. “Intention of Flying” – Jon Arckey. Everything meshes perfectly here: Arckey’s vibrato-laden tenor (reminiscent of a lower Brett Dennen), gentle fingerpicking, excellently arranged and recorded drums, ghostly background vocals, and even a guitar solo. This beautiful acoustic tune just nails everything.

4. “I Feel a Light” – Aaron Kaufman. Starts off like a solid acoustic tune, then bursts into an unexpected chorus that grabbed my attention. The inclusion of gong and various melodic percussion instruments develop the tune and stick in my mind.

5. “False Flag” – Vice-President. Starts out a weighty singer/songwriter tune, turns into an alt-country song, then ratchets up to a towering conclusion. The lyrics are socially and politically minded, which fits perfectly with the serious vibe of the whole work. Yet, the song remains engaging to listen to; don’t get scared off.

6. “Beautiful World” – David Trull. Jason Isbell fans, take note: Trull’s Southern-steeped acoustic troubadour work is in the same vein as the work that Isbell is currently making hay with.

7. “Blue Whales” – Ulli Matsson. The staccato guitar playing here is almost percussive, playing against Matsson’s legato vocal lines. A mysterious, haunting vibe ensues.

8. “Like a Funeral” – Erik Jonasson. Jonasson puts the focus squarely on his vocals with this minimalist, stark ballad, and they hold up to the scrutiny. The tenor tone is beautiful, and there’s a lot of nuance in his performance. By the end it’s grown and shifted to a Sigur Ros-esque vibe, which is always great.

9. “Loves Company” – The Hasslers. In stark contrast to their joyful tune above, this banjo-led ballad is a deeply sad tale (complete with weeping pedal steel). The hooks and the engaging vocal delivery are still there, but this definitely shows a different side of the Hasslers.

10. “Blind” – Raquelle Langlinais. If Regina Spektor, The Jayhawks, and Jenny and Tyler got together for a jam session, something like this perky alt-country tune anchored by charming female vocals might appear as a result. Everything about this is just infectiously fun, from the drums and bass to the guitars to the vocals.

11. “What If” – Big Little Lions. Here’s some soaring folk-pop with an epic bent and giant choruses, similar to Of Monsters and Men or Fleet Foxes.

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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