Tag Archives: Kevin Devine

Kevin Devine Celebrates 10 Years of Music

Kevin Devine at Webster Hall

Kevin Devine at Webster Hall

Ten years of music, six albums, tireless touring, and thousands of devoted fans–all celebrated in one beautiful, sublime evening.  I could probably write a novella in this post, but I’ll not to be too verbose (no promises).  Saturday night, December 1, 2012, was Kevin Devine’s 10th anniversary show, offically titled Write Your Story Now: Celebrating 10 Years of Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band(s).  A celebration of the tenth birthday of his first solo album and the advent of his solo career, Kevin Devine performed three of his six full-length albums: his first album, 2002’s Circle Gets the Square; his most recent album, 2011’s Between the Concrete and the Clouds; and his 2005 release, the recently reissued, Split the Country, Split the Street.  Over 1,000 tickets were sold to the event which was held at Webster Hall in New York City

The show was announced a few months before, and I immediately knew I had to go.  This wasn’t any show.  This was a once in a lifetime event.  It wasn’t something that was going to happen again.  My friend bought us tickets as a birthday gift to me, the show falling pretty close to my 23rd birthday.  We took a car, and a ferry, a cab, and walked a whole lot.  We shelled out money we didn’t have, but it was worth every penny and then some. Continue reading


Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum: an indie rock legend returns

Jeff Mangum, source unknown.

Jeff Mangum, lead singer and songwriter for the 90s indie rock band, Neutral Milk Hotel, is quite an enigmatic figure.  He hasn’t released any new music under the Neutral Milk Hotel moniker since 1998.   No one knows if he’s written anything since that point, that he’s like the Salinger of indie rock, leading a quiet life writing music only for himself, or if he’s totally dried up and incapable of writing anything.  It’s likely somewhere in between–in a 2002 interview with Pitchfork, Mangum said he hadn’t written in a while, but also said he writes songs and being unsatisfied with them, throws them out.  With his recent triumphant return to the music scene years after that interview, perhaps new material will be released at some point.  Mangum is a man shrouded in mystery to most.  For the decade since his band Neutral Milk Hotel’s critically acclaimed album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea was released, little is publicly known about Mangum’s life. Forget what he’s been doing with his time, few sources agree on where he’s been for the bulk of the past 13 years.  Some say he’s been living quietly in Athens, Georgia, others that he’s traveled all over, hopping from friend’s house to friend’s house.  It’s a mystery created out of hearsay and the rampant curiosity of fans and journalists who starve for answers.  The truth is, it doesn’t really matter where Mangum’s been–what matters is that Mangum’s returned.

Despite the following of devoted fans, and the accolades from publications, musicians, and Stephen Colbert, you may not know who Jeff Mangum even is.  You may have never heard of Neutral Milk Hotel, so back to the beginning, back to the roots of what made Mangum the icon he is today.  Neutral Milk Hotel was the name Mangum began using for his recordings in the early 1990’s.  For years, Neutral Milk Hotel wasn’t really a band as much as simply Mangum and whoever felt like playing with him at any given moment.  After releasing his first full-length album as Neutral Milk Hotel in 1996, On Avery Island, Mangum was joined by Julian Koster, Jeremy Barnes, and Scott Spillane for touring, and Neutral Milk Hotel as it is commonly viewed was formed.  Two years later, Neutral Milk Hotel released their second and final album, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, an album that continues to sell and gain the band new fans today.  Listed as one of the greatest albums of all time by more than one source, it’s now heralded as genius and revolutionary by many.  Less than a year after its release, after Neutral Milk Hotel started to create some buzz in the indie rock scene, they disappeared.  The band broke up, went on hiatus, whatever you want to call it.  Mangum disappeared, popping up here and there, but only playing Neutral Milk Hotel songs a few times over the next decade.  Recently though, Mangum has returned to playing shows and playing Neutral Milk Hotel songs.  After all these years, why is Mangum still relevant, and not just relevant, but able to sell out shows in seconds?  How did In the Aeroplane Over the Sea manage to be the sixth best-selling vinyl in 2008, when it was 10 years old and still rather obscure? Continue reading


Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band put on a damn good show at the North Star Bar

As I sit here typing this, my ears are still ringing a constant high-pitched buzz, but I don’t mind.  Any discomfort is well worth it after the mind-blowing night I just had.  I saw Kevin Devine for the fourth time, this time at the North Star Bar, and was again blown away.  It’s not just his consistently top-notch performances that left me in awe–the crowd presence was phenomenal.  I’ve seen Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band before, but never headlining, and never at a small venue.  When I saw them open for Thrice and Brand New on previous occasions, I was really into the performance, but not everyone was.  This was different.  In this tiny room that can’t hold more than a couple hundred people, every single person was there for the same reason–to see Kevin and his band play.

If you don’t know anything about Kevin Devine, he started out as more or less a solo act.  Just a guy and his acoustic guitar, but over the course of six full length albums his music has evolved into a full band endeavor.  His most recent album, released last month, Between the Concrete and Clouds, is the first album that features the band on every song.  For the first time in his career, there’s not a single song with just Kevin and his acoustic guitar.  In my opinion, Kevin Devine is one of today’s most underrated songwriters.  His musical catalog spans genres from the acoustic folk that dominated his 2006 album, Put Your Ghost to Rest, to the full band catchy indie rock of his latest release.  His introspective, sometimes political, and richly poetic lyrics are really what made me fall in love with his music.  The literary qualities his lyrics have are hard to come by, and as a lover of literature and words, I was hooked after the first song I heard, “No Time Flat,” which he opened his set with last night.  Generally ignored by the mainstream music media, Kevin has built his fan base without much help besides his relentless touring schedule and opening for much bigger acts like Brand New, Thrice, Nada Surf, and Manchester Orchestra.  Although it’s relatively small, Kevin has an extremely dedicated fan base, as I saw first hand last night. Continue reading