Best of 2013

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best of

This year’s End of the Year list will look a little different from previous lists. For 2013, I’ve asked a few folks to contribute their lists, including Billboard Magazine’s Bill Werde and music technology pundit Jason Herskowitz. Included on this list are some close friends of mine including Mike Caroleo and Andrew Bodenbach.

Bill Werde

10.
Tegan and SaraHeartthrob
Buy It Stream it

9.
Nine Inch NailsHesitation Marks
Buy It Stream it

8.
Kasey MusgravesSame Trailer, Different Park
Buy It Stream it

7.
DisclosureSettle
Buy It Stream it

6.
Pearl JamLightning Bolt
Buy It Stream it

5.
Ashley MonroeLike A Rose
Buy It Stream it

4.
Capital CitiesIn a Tidal Wave of Mystery
Buy It Stream it

3.
Kanye WestYeezus
Buy It Stream it

2.
Davie BowieThe Next Day
Buy It Stream it

1.
LordePure Heroine
Buy It Stream it

Jason Herskowitz
In No Particular Order

Portugal. The ManEvil Friend
Buy It Stream It

Half Moon RunDark Eyes
Buy It Stream It

HousesA Quiet Darkness
Buy it Stream It

DaughterIf You Leave
Buy it Stream It

The NationalTrouble Will Find Me
Buy it Stream It

Volcano ChoirRepave
Buy it Stream It

The Head & The HeartLet’s Be Still
Buy it Stream It

Vampire WeekendModern Vampires of the City
Buy it Stream It

TyphoonWhite Lighter
Buy it Stream It

Lady Lamb the BeekeeperRipley Pine
Buy it Stream It

Mike Caroleo
These are in no particular order, with the exception of #1, which is listed last.

Vampire WeekendModern Vampires of the City
Buy it Stream It
I didnʼt catch on to this release until later in the year, but wow, it is solid. Ezra Koenig has many interesting things to say about God and religion here, and the music does a notably fantastic job of enhancing his lyrics. Excellent release that should not be looked over.

HaimDays Are Gone
Buy It Stream It
These three sisters from California have written an album that wouldʼve made Fleetwood Mac proud. Itʼs fun, infectious, refreshing indie pop. Iʼve tried turning this album off before, but it never really works because it never stops playing in my head. Haim will definitely be one to watch develop over the next few years.

Twenty One PilotsVessel
Buy It Stream it
As someone that was so utterly blown away by the single, “Holding On To You,” I was at first extremely disappointed by the full LP. After later seeing Tyler Joseph & Josh Dun perform these songs live however, my disappointment turned to toleration, and eventually, enthusiasm. With time, Iʼve come to really, really like this album, even if that single still overshadows it.

The Lone BellowThe Lone Bellow
Buy It Stream it
This Brooklyn-based three-pieceʼs debut is overflowing and exploding with raw talent. Iʼm going to carry a copy with me everywhere I go in 2014, just in case someone asks me to define the term “good music.” Seriously, if you donʼt know what Iʼm talking about, you need to stop what youʼre doing and listen.

Frightened RabbitPedestrian Verse
Buy It Stream it
Iʼve been a big fan of these Scotts since The Midnight Organ Fight, and theyʼve outdone themselves with this one. Being a Christian, it hurts to listen to the strong current of anti-Christianity that runs through this album, but Scott Hutchisonʼs genuine honesty and the bandʼs musical prowess remind me I donʼt need to agree with the subject to appreciate the art.

The Wonder YearsThe Greatest Generation
Buy It Stream it
Listen, ever since I “grew up” and got married, I havenʼt paid much attention to “the scene” that The Wonder Years represent. That said, I couldnʼt ignore this album. Itʼs an emotional monster, from the first song to the finale. The finale, by the way, is one of my favorite songs of the year because….well youʼll just have to listen for yourself. (Tip: Listen to album straight through for full effect)

The Front BottomsTalon of the Hawk
Buy It Stream it
Started listening to these guys when I saw they were opening for Manchester Orchestra. You wonʼt find any grand production or fancy marketing surrounding the bandʼs two members, but you will find some unique, raw songwriting on an album that pleasantly surprised me from first listen.

LordePure Heroine
Buy It Stream it
Everyoneʼs heard her smash-hit single, “Royals.” Not as many have taken the time to listen to what is one of my favorite mainstream pop albums of the last 5 years. An album of this quality should never be written by someone so young. Itʼs not fair to everyone else.

The Get TogethersHome As In Houston
Buy It Stream it
Though theyʼve flown under the radar, The Get Togethers have gotten together 12 songs (one for each month) that really stand strong. And letʼs face it, not many girls that are in bands with their husband can come away with comparisons to Death Cab For Cutie after writing an album about the lesbian teacher-student affair they had in high school, am I right?

The 1975The 1975
Buy It Stream it
Iʼll say it: If I had to pick an album of the year, this is it. Iʼm not gonna lie to you and tell you I know what each songʼs about, or that I can even understand every word Matthew Healy sings, but wow. Every song is different from the next, while all still managing to entertain and provide a fresh combination of pop, R&B, 80ʼs rock, and nu gaze. Iʼve literally had to take this album out of my car so that I can listen to something else, but somehow it always finds its way back to my ears. Top to bottom, I absolutely love it.

Listen to Mike’s Favorite Songs of 2013 here.

Andrew Bodenbach

10.
Despicable Me 2
Because Minions.

9.
The Bling Ring
Because it’s beautifully shot (not to mention Emma Watson) and nails the moral and social depravity of this generation.

8.
The Place Beyond The Pines
Because for the first 2/3 it was what the perfect movie would look like.

7.
Frances Ha
Because it’s a great look at the anxiety of millenials and it’s very enjoyable to boot.

6.
Much Ado About Nothing
Because it’s Joss Whedon and Co. doing Shakespeare. What else do you need?

5.
The Counselor
Because it’s absurd and transcendent at once. And has the most unforgettable scene I’ve ever seen. (it’s not this one)

4.
All Is Lost
Because it’s Gravity, but on the ocean and it’s better.

3.
Gravity
Because I’m still in awe. It’s beyond comprehension. And also, Clooney’s voice.

2.
Inside Llewyn Davis
Because there is no one who is better at their craft than the Coen Brothers. And this might have been them at their best.

1.
Fast & Furious 6
Because how can it not be? But seriously, all the talk about movie in the films actually made you feel like you were a part of the family. Which makes the loss of Paul Walker feel like the loss of a real brother.

Matthew Moore
10.
The 1975The 1975
Buy It Stream it

9.
Andrew BelleBlack Bear
Buy It Stream It

8.
Tegan and SaraHeartthrob
Buy It Stream it

7.
Kacey MusgravesSame Trailer, Different Park
Buy It Stream it

6.
Kings of LeonMechanical Bull
Buy It Stream It

5.
Hillsong UnitedZion
Buy It Stream It

4.
The Civil WarsThe Civil Wars
Buy It Stream It

3.
The Lone BellowThe Lone Bellow
Buy It Stream it

2.
Vampire WeekendModern Vampires of the Modern City
Buy it Stream It

1.
Little CometsLife is Elsewhere
Buy It Stream It

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Album Review: The Civil Wars – The Civil Wars

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The Civil WarsThe Civil Wars
Columbia Records
August 6th 2013

Recommended if you like: Ingird Michaelson, Sleeping At Last, The Lumineers

Most people are a little disappointed when a band releases a self-titled album. The title of an album often provides an opportunity for the artist to give some added subtext, what best encapsulates the essence of what the album is really about. On the surface, some may see The Civil Wars’ new release as a self-titled album. At the core of it, however, this album title could not be more appropriate.

No one expected the immense amount of success The Civil Wars received with the release of their debut album Barton Hollow in early 2011. Except for maybe Charlie Peacock, way back in January 2010. Nevertheless, the simplistic music that consists almost exclusively of John Paul White’s guitar, Joy Williams’ piano, and their vocals makes for some of the most heart wrenching music your ears have ever had the luxury of hearing. In a matter of months, the duo exploded; on their first national tour they were playing 500 capacity venues, and in January of 2012 they sold out the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. Barton Hollow went on to make countless “Best of 2011” lists as well as winning two Grammy Awards for Best Folk Album and Best Country Duo/Group Performance.

All of this success came at a price, however. In November 2012, the duo announced they would be taking a hiatus due to “internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition.” Mourning quickly ensued as droves of fans worried that The Civil Wars were finished forever. Yet despite all the uncertainty of the future of the band, a new single was released and hopes were once again raised that all was well with Williams and White.

In an interview by the Associated Press, we hear from Joy Williams that she and John Paul are not speaking and that producer Charlie Peacock spoke loosely on his behalf for the interview. With all of this in mind, the songs provide a deeper meaning into the songwriting and singing that came together for this new album.

You can feel a sense of regret and hurt in Williams’ voice that sets the tone for the entire record when she opens with the lyrics, “I never meant to get us in this deep, I never meant for this to mean a thing. I wish you were the one, wish you were the one that got away.” The same intensity is felt in the lyrics of “Same Old Same Old” as the duo harmoniously sings, “I wanna miss this, I want a heartache. I wanna run away, but I won’t. ‘Do I love you? Oh, I do. And I’m going to ‘til I’m gone. But if you think that I can stay in this same old, same old, well, I don’t. Oh I don’t wanna fight, but I’ll fight with you, If I have to.”

From a musical standpoint, you will definitely notice the additional instrumentation such as drums, electric guitar, mandolin, and even some sampled beats. In the stand out song “Dust to Dust,” the sampled drums and bass line help to drive the song and seem to bring a new spark to the band’s sound. The electric guitar in “I Had Me A Girl” and “Oh Henry” provide a strong backbone to Williams and Jones’ otherwise bare vocals.

While the album is loaded with strong songs like “The One That Got Away,” “From This Valley,” and “Tell Mama,” the two final songs seem to bring out a different tone. “Sacred Heart” is sung entirely in French, and although it is a gorgeous song, its joyous sound seems to stick out on a record filled with dark and heartbreaking songs. “D’Arline” feels like a bit of an afterthought thrown on last minute with its production feeling a little off and the guitar playing is fairly distracting.

At the end of the day, it’s hard to know whether this album will be given the opportunity to be performed live, or if there will ever be a follow up. Williams sums up her feelings on the state of the duo quite well as she says in her interview, “What I’ve noticed is people may be curious about it, but once they listen to it, they are hooked. … It’s so honest and it’s so rich and, not to toot my own horn, I’m just really proud of what we created together. And we created it together — we just happened to be in a bit of a civil war ourselves.”

You can stream the album for free starting today via iTunes. You can order the album on Amazon and iTunes. You can also like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

Album Review: The Lone Bellow – The Lone Bellow

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The Lone BellowThe Lone Bellow
Descendant Records
Release Date – January 22, 2012

Recommended if you like: The Civil Wars, The Lumineers, Dawes

Some of you may have heard from prior sources like Billboard and NPR, but The Lone Bellow has the potential to be the next breakout artist in 2013. What you may not heard about is the catastrophic road that lead to lead singer Zach Williams’ singing career. Several years ago, Williams’ wife was in a near-fatal horse riding accident which left her a quadriplegic. In a desperate attempt to cope with the situation, Williams began writing entries in his journal. After sharing his entries with some friends, they encouraged him to put music to these poignant entries and sing them at a local open mic. Shortly thereafter, his wife miraculously recovered and they decided to move New York City so he could try his hand at music. Now joined by mandolin player Kanene Pipkin and guitarist Brian Elmquist, The Lone Bellow are on their way to becoming the new indie darlings of the music world. With the help of legendary producer Charlie Peacock (The Civil Wars, Jon Foreman), this is definitely an album that will be on countless “Top Albums of 2013” lists.

From the opening notes of “Green Eyes And A Heart Of Gold,” the three part harmonies hit you in a way most modern music cannot. When the first verse arrives, Williams’ voice breaks into the forefront and belts out the lyrics behind a bed of lap steel guitar, rolling bass notes, and the drum kit pounding like a roaring train. “Two Sides Of Lonely” is a heart wrenching song about betrayal and tragedy. The ebb and flow of the song makes the song so much more powerful, with the soft intro, the heavy middle, and the soft outro.

The first single from the album, “You Never Need Nobody,” is a great selection and arguably the most accessible song on the debut. A song about love and rejection, the chorus sings out “You never need nobody, you never been alone. And I try to get your affection, and all I ever do is wrong.” The song certainly reminds you of the country your grandparents listened to, with a modern spin put on it. The final chorus with the banjo, piano, and guitar ringing out chords while the trio cries out in perfect harmony with a sound that is sure to give you chills. The rest of the album is filled with one tremendous song after another, ranging from the next great country hit “You Don’t Love Me Like You Used To,” to the incredibly catchy “Bleeding Out,” to the rock and roll tune “The One You Should’ve Let Go.”

The story of The Lone Bellow is one that every aspiring independent artists is dying to have written about them, and it’s wonderful to see another great band seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. We can only hope that many other great artists like The Lone Bellow will have their day in 2013.

Rating: 9.0/10

You can listen to the entire album streaming on NPR’s website and you can pre-order the album on Amazon and iTunes. You can also like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

Top 11 of ’11

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Another year in the books, another year of incredible music releases. So many, in fact, that I had trouble cutting it down to just 10. That being said, I decided I would go with a top 11 albums for the year 2011, including 4 honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions (In Alphabetical Order)


ColdplayMylo Xyloto
Capitol Records

Favorite Tracks – Hurts Like Heaven and Charlie Brown


FeistMetals
Interscope Records

Favorite Tracks: A Commotion and The Circle Married The Line


Run Kid RunPatterns
Tooth & Nail Records

Favorite Tracks: Daylight and My King


William FitzsimmonsGold In The Shadow
Nettwerk Records

Favorite Tracks – The Tide Pulls From The Moon and Fade and Then Return

#11


The Dangerous SummerWar Paint
Hopeless Records

It was my Freshman year of college when I first heard about The Dangerous Summer. I fell in love with their debut LP Reach For The Sun and their song The Permanent Rain became one of my favorite songs of all time. When I heard that they were coming out with a new album, I was a little afraid that it would not meet the high expectations I had for a follow up album. After giving the new album a few listens, it occurred to me that you could not legitimately compare the two albums. War Paint is a much more mature album, both lyrically and musically. One of my favorite lines comes from the song Siren:

Are you lying on your back?
Are you lying?
Why are you settling again?
Cause I’m not silenced

#10


MUTEMATHOdd Soul
Warner Bros. Records

On my first listen to this whole album, I knew something was different. I wasn’t a huge fan the first time, but I knew that if I gave it a few more listens, it would really grow on me. And that assumption was correct. This album is one that I quickly grew to love. With songs like Prytania and Blood Pressure, this album had some great and easy to catch on songs. But my personal favorite on the album is In No Time, especially after seeing the Relevant Magazine Live Version of it. Be sure to go watch that.

#9


Foo FightersWasting Light
RCA Records

I’ve said it before, but the Foo Fighters are seriously one of the best rock bands of all time. Songs like Everlong, The Pretender, Monkey Wrench, Big Me, Best Of You, Learn To Fly, Hero, and countless other amazing hits are scattered among their discography. And Wasting Light will gladly add to the collection. Minus White Limo, which I’m not a huge fan of, every single song on this album is baller. In very Foo Fighter fashion. Seriously. Go listen to this album now.

#8


NeedtobreatheThe Reckoning
Atlantic Records

I remember when Needtobreathe’s first album came out. I was still in high school and it had a very cool U2ish kind of sound to it. I really liked that album, but didn’t really keep up with their music. Fast forward to 2010/2011. I found out that A)they are still a band and B)they no longer sound anything like U2. They’re actually kind of country. At first, I didn’t really care for it. I was used to songs like Haley and You Are Here from their first album, and not songs like The Outsiders or Lay ‘Em Down. I didn’t truly become a fan again until I heard them live at AgapeFest. I was blown away by their great crew, their great personalities, and their absolutely killer live show. When this album came out, it really sealed the deal for me. I fell in love with songs like Slumber and Drive All Night and grew to love the whole album.

#7


ParachuteThe Way It Was
Mercury Records

My first introduction to Parachute was my freshman year of college when I heard the two songs She Is Love and Under Control. I really liked those songs, but the album as a whole didn’t really appeal to me all that much. I had honestly forgotten about them for the most part until one night when a group of friends and I decided to go pull an all-nighter at Coffee Cartel and a girl from the back seat said “Have you heard Parachute’s new album?” We put it in the CD player and I instantly fell in love. Every song, from White Dress all the way through Philadelphia just had this really solid pop rock feel to it that made me tap my foot. Whether you’re looking for some sweet baritone sax like in Something To Believe In, a radio friendly hit like Kiss Me Slowly, or a great album closer like Philadelphia, odds are this album has a song (or nine) for you to fall in love with.

#6


The Civil WarsBarton Hollow
Unsigned

This album is what makes the music industry something to pursue a career in. The duo met during a songwriting session in Nashville, was recorded by Charlie Peacock, and the rest is history. This incredible duo is not signed to a major record label, does their distribution through TuneCore, and is selling out concerts all over the US and Europe. And it helps that their record is amazing, too. The songwriting is incredible and the harmonies are to die for. My personal favorites include 20 Years, I’ve Got This Friend, and Poison and Wine.

#5


Mat KearneyYoung Love
Universal Republic Records

Mat Kearney has always been one of my favorite artists. In fact, his last album, City of Black and White, made my Top 10 Albums of 2009. If you are a Mat Kearney fan at all, you’ll know that his LP Nothing Left To Lose was very pseudo-rap heavy. His next one, City of Black and White, was absent of all of that. In my opinion, Young Love was a perfect mix of both. A great example of this is Ships In The Night. This is definitely the fan favorite song with its great mix of singing and rapping. While this album is much more upbeat than his last two, Young Love ends on a wonderful ballad about his father called Rochester. This album doesn’t miss a beat.

#4


Foster The PeopleTorches
Columbia Records

The first time I heard about Foster The People was via Andy Barron over the summer. The first song I listened to was Pumped Up Kicks and I knew I was really going to like these guys. It felt like every song was just as catchy, if not catchier, than the song prior. The more I listened to it, the more I fell in love. Songs like Call It What You Want, Houdini, and Warrant top my list of favorites on the album, but one of my underdog favorites is I Would Do Anything For You. Some might say “Matthew, you’re such a poser for liking this album. Everyone likes this album!” But you know what? I don’t care. It’s a hella good album. I’m glad everyone likes it, it deserves to be liked.

#3


Bon IverBon Iver
Jagjaguwar Records

The first time I listened to this album, I hated it. I got For Emma, Forever Ago on vinyl for Christmas and have since been in love with the story behind the album and the simplicity of its musicality and its poignant lyrics. When I first heard Perth and heard that electric guitar intro, I was pissed. “Bon Iver doesn’t use electric guitars! He plays on ratty acoustic guitars and plays them in a cabin in the woods.” But at some point this summer, I decided to give the whole album a listen. I immediately took back the means things I said about his electric guitars. Bon Iver took that ethereal foundation he laid with For Emma, Forever Ago and continued it with his self-titled album so beautifully. With wonderful songs like Holocone, Wash., and Beth/Rest, this album was chocked full of melodies that are ingrained in your memory for days on end.

#2


SwitchfootVice Verses
lowercase people Records

If you know anything about me, you know that I’m a big Switchfoot fan. I first discovered them in junior high when I saw their music video Meant To Live on Fuse one night. I was nearly asleep, but upon hearing that song I immediately grabbed my notebook that was laying nearby and wrote down “Meant To Live. Switchfoot. Look them up on Myspace.” And, well, the rest is history. Every album Switchfoot has put out since then has exceeded my expectations significantly, including Jon’s solo EPs. And Vice Verses was certainly no exception. With Hello Hurricane I made a point to try and listen to every leak of every song released, but with this one I wanted to try and wait to hear the album in its entirety. I’m pretty glad I did, too. It was very refreshing to sit back and hear each song fresh and with so much anticipation. Switchfoot has been known to bring in a new sound with the release of every new album, and Vice Verses provided several examples of that. My favorite description of a new Switchfoot song is Nicole describing The War Inside as “a swagger rock song.” With Selling The News, Switchfoot throws out some rap verses, and with The Original, they mash surf rock guitar riffs, dirty bass tones, and a little punk rock. To bring the album to a perfect completion, Where I Belong clocks in at 6:52 (their longest [and most epic] song on any release) and brings Vice Verses to complete closure. A pattern they started with their last album, they included lyrics from the first song on the album into the last song of the album; Jon sings out:

I still believe we can live forever
You and I, we begin forever now
Forever now
Forever
I still believe in us together
You and I, we’re here together now
Together now

#1


Andy ZipfJealous Hands
Unsigned

I first heard about Andy Zipf when I found out about P Is For Panda. I found some of his tunes on NoiseTrade, and I had heard a lot about a new album that would be coming out called Jealous Hands and how excited they were about it. But then in January, P Is For Panda called it quits. Obviously this raised concern as to whether or not Jealous Hands would be released. I didn’t hear much word about it until all of a sudden I saw a tweet that said “Jealous Hands is streaming on Paste Magazine, and available for next week!” From the very first song, I was blown away. It was incredibly produced, beautifully written, and lyrics were straight from the heart. I anxiously waited next week to find it available for download when I saw on his website that he was offering it for free. The link only offered a few words: “Whether you are a new pfriend, or old – I don’t want you to pass this one by. Download, listen and share. Thank you.” Once I downloaded it, I was instantly on board to help share the word about #JealousHands. With an album so beautifully written and the fact that it was free, why not help other people hear it? I think in the end, I convinced around 15-20 people to go download the album, and everybody who I suggested it to has made a point to let me know how much they really loved the album. And how could they not? Zipf’s incredible voice, his catchy melodies, his simple but effective guitar playing, and the overall arrangements of each tune offer some of the best songs I’ve heard in the last 5 years. The songs Promise & Purpose and Run Away, Little Sister are both inspired by the nonprofit organization To Write Love On Her Arms with whom he toured with in 2010. Other favorites of mine include Reach Is Wide, Find You, What More Can I Say, and the closer Taking Risk. I could honestly spend about 6 paragraphs writing about how great Andy Zipf’s record is, but I really think the only way is to find out for yourself. If you haven’t done so yet, do yourself a favor and download his album here.

Thank you all for going through this post, I hope you discovered some music you hadn’t tried out yet, gave some old tunes another spin, and maybe even got pissed at my list. Whatever the case, share your thoughts!

-matthew
12:00 pm

Top Albums of 2011 Contenders

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2011 has been a tremendous year for music. I looked through my “2011 albums” playlist last night and had almost 50 to choose from that I had on my iTunes. There is still at least one album coming out this year that I want to hear before I make my final decision, but these are the albums currently in the running:


21Adele
Facebook


Jealous HandsAndy Zipf
Spotify


Bon IverBon Iver
Spotify


Little HellCity And Colour
Spotify


Barton HollowThe Civil Wars
Spotify


War PaintThe Dangerous Summer
Spotify


Deas VailDeas Vail
Spotify


MetalsFeist
Spotify


Wasting LightFoo Fighters
Spotify


TorchesFoster The People
Spotify


The LovesickJason Reeves
Spotify


Young LoveKye Kye
Facebook


LasersLupe Fiasco
Spotify


Young LoveMat Kearney
Spotify


Weights & WingsMatt Wertz
Spotify


Odd SoulMUTEMATH
Spotify


The ReckoningNEEDTOBREATHE
Spotify


The Way It WasParachute
Spotify


Vice VersesSwitchfoot
Spotify


SouthernerTrent Dabbs
Spotify


Gold In The ShadowWilliam Fitzsimmons
Spotify

What are your favorites from 2011 so far?

-matthew

2011 Concerts to Attend

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Here is a list of concerts I would love to go to this year:


Photo Credit: Riverfront Times

Menomena – 3/10, The Gargoyle, St. Louis MO (Tickets)
Ra Ra Riot – 3/15, The Firebird, St. Louis MO (Tickets
Explosions In The Sky – 4/10, The Blue Note, Columbia MO (Tickets)
The Civil Wars – 4/23, The Old Rock House, St. Louis MO (Tickets)
Brooke Fraser – 6/20, House of Blues, Chicago IL (Tickets)

If anyone wants to donate to the “Send Matthew To All These Concerts” fund, I will gladly accept your money.

-matthew