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It’s no secret how much we love Josh Ritter around here – in fact, I can’t think of any other artist we plug more often or more emphatically than him. His record, So Runs The World Away, made the No. 2 spot in our Favorite Albums of 2010, and if we’d been writing this blog back in 2007, The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter would have topped that year’s list as well. On top of all that, his 2006 masterpiece The Animal Years continues to be one of my all-time favorite records (now on vinyl!).

One of my favorite things about Ritter’s music is the remarkable stories he tells through his songs – whether they be about cursed mummies, romantic cowboys, or repressed missile-silo operators – so it only seems natural that the gifted songwriter would try his hand at a different form of storytelling. Josh Ritter will be releasing his first novel, Bright’s Passage, on June 28th via Random House/Dial Press. I don’t know much about the book yet, except that the story originally grew out of a song (naturally), and that it follows a World War I veteran, Henry Bright, and his infant son, as they trek through the wooded hills of West Virginia. Below is a brief note from Josh about the book, and a link to download the first chapter for free!

“Hey All!

Here’s the first chapter to my first novel, Bright’s Passage.  Wow!  It makes me very proud to write that!  Right now I’m sitting on the floor in Penn Station in New York, waiting for a train to Philadelphia where I’m to play a solo show.  There are so many places a story can be told.  Over the past year and a half, in airport bars and laundromats, tour busses and kitchens I’ve been telling myself the story of Henry Bright and his world.  A story that started as a song is now a world inhabited by characters that are still surprising to me.  I’m so happy to begin to present that world to others.  Great thanks goes, as ever, to my family and my music family, my new friends at the Dial Press, and all of those whose generosity of will made this book possible.

Finally, thank all of you for your continued belief in my writing, whatever form it may take.  I never forget who it is that makes all of this possible in the end.

As ever, rock on!
Josh

Pre-order the book at Amazon and IndieBound.

And here are some examples of Josh’s fantastic storytelling at work:

mp3: Josh Ritter – Wings
from the album Hello Starling (buy it here)

mp3: Josh Ritter – Lillian, Egypt
from the album The Animal Years (buy it here)

mp3: Josh Ritter – The Temptation Of Adam
from the album The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter (buy it here)

mp3: Josh Ritter – Another New World
from the album So Runs The World Away (buy it here)

mp3: Josh Ritter – Galahad
from the EP To The Yet Unknowing World (buy it here)

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It’s a cold and icy day here in Indianapolis. So cold and icy, in fact, that they’ve canceled just about everything there is to cancel, including my classes. So I’m just sitting around here at home, enjoying not having anything to do but slide around on the frozen sidewalks, play cribbage with my wife, and punch ice sheets off our second-story windows. It’s been a pretty great day so far.

Adding to that great day vibe is the news that Josh Ritter’s near-flawless 2006 album The Animal Years is (finally!) getting the reissue treatment on CD and LP, just like Golden Age of Radio and Hello Starling have in the past couple years. Like those reissues, both the CD and LP will include a bonus disc of Josh performing the entire record solo and acoustic, plus four unreleased songs. The CD hits stores Feb 15th (including most online retailers), but the LP is available right now on Josh’s website and at your local indie record store.

The Animal Years is beautifully written and constructed from start to finish, and continues to be one of my very favorite records of all time, even five years later. Honestly, when I have to pick my Top Five Of All Time, this is definitely always in it. (Any guesses on the other four?) And I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited to listen to this beyond gorgeous album on my very own record player – I even asked Josh’s merch manager about it when we saw him in June, to which he said, “I KNOW! I’m working on it! I’ve even offered to do the design and layout!”

If you’ve forgotten how great this record is, here’s a couple highlights to refresh your memory, plus a link to download the new acoustic version of “Wolves”. Enjoy!

mp3: Josh Ritter – Wolves
from the album The Animal Years (buy it here)

mp3: Josh Ritter – Good Man
from the album The Animal Years (buy it here)

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Love this.

Josh & The Royal City Band are also holding a contest for whoever wants to make their own one-shot video for “Long Shadows” – check out the details HERE.

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Hey everyone! It’s hard to believe, but this is our 400th post here at WiAC. Kind of crazy, I know. And I couldn’t think of better news to grace this very historic post (not really), than the news that Josh Ritter just released a free song on his website – a cover of an old Hedy West song called “500 Miles” (no, not that 500 Miles). It’s pretty lo-fi, very pretty, and features Dawn Landes on vocals. Check it out:

Link: Josh Ritter & Dawn Landes – 500 Miles (Hedy West cover)

And because just a single link didn’t seem like a sufficient milestone post, here’s a few other Josh Ritter covers that I happen to love. Thanks for reading guys! Hope to see you all in 400 more!*

mp3: Josh Ritter – Blame It On The Tetons (Modest Mouse cover)

mp3: Josh Ritter – Mexican Home (John Prine cover)

mp3: Josh Ritter – Moon River (Johnny Mercer/Henry Mancini cover)

mp3: Josh Ritter & Sarah Harmer – Long May You Run (Neil Young cover)

mp3: Josh Ritter – Chelsea Hotel No. 2 (Leonard Cohen cover)

mp3: Josh Ritter – Daddy’s Little Pumpkin (John Prine cover) – live

mp3: Josh Ritter – The River (Bruce Springsteen cover) – live

mp3: Josh Ritter & Blake Hazard – Tonight You Belong to Me (Billy Rose/Lee David cover)

mp3: Bridget Matros & Josh Ritter – Angel From Montgomery (John Prine cover)

*actually “hope to see you” is pretty loose for “hope you’re still reading this little blog on the internet anonymously” – but that sounds a lot less pleasant…

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We recently received this from Josh Ritter’s mailing list, and it’s kind of great:

During Josh’s show at The Tarrytown Music Hall this past Saturday night, the audience had quite the surprise for Josh and the band. Thanks to an unknown fan (who are you?) who handed out glowsticks – with instructions – to the entire audience before the show, the performance of “Lantern” was a concert moment not to forget.

The sound isn’t incredible, but that’s not the point. Enjoy:

So great right? That kind of stuff just warms my heart. We saw Mr. Ritter in June and even though there weren’t any glowsticks, he was still all kinds of awesome – you can read about it HERE.

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Sorry about the lack of content lately… it’s just been way too summery around here to get any blogging done. You understand.

A few weeks ago now we had the great fortune to catch Josh Ritter in Hollywood at The Music Box – and he was, of course, fantastic. Opening was the Carolina Chocolate Drops, who are a sort of American Jug music-preservation group, playing things like fiddles, banjos, kazoos, whiskey jugs and the old bones. They were pretty dang fun, playing primarily ditties from the 20’s and 30’s with the exception of their closing number – a cover of Blu Cantrell’s “Hit ‘Em Up Style”, complete with beat-box and barn-burning vocals. Here’s the track and a video. Enjoy.

mp3: Carolina Chocolate Drops – Hit ‘Em Up Style
from the album Genuine Negro Jig (buy it here)

Video: Carolina Chocolate Drops – Hit ‘Em Up Style at WDVX’s Blue Plate Special

After that, Josh Ritter put on one of the absolute best rock and roll shows I have ever seen, no exaggeration. He’s always put on an energetic and heartfelt show, but somehow he’s gotten even more energetic and heartfelt, if that’s even possible. His songs continue to get better and better, and his band is getting tighter and tighter, and I just can’t imagine them doing anything better than they did that night – I’ve said it before and it’s still true: it’s obvious that Josh loves his band and his band loves him, and that translates to a great live presence.

Three highlights I’ll share: One, when the band picked up on “Kathleen” after Josh had started it out solo – they roared in after the interlude and positively sent chills down my spine. Two, during Josh’s solo set he had the house turn off all the lights and played “In The Dark” in pitch black, with the audience singing along on the “doo doo doo’s” – more chills down the spine. And three, at the end of the encore as Josh and his band sang “Wait for Love” in harmony with arms around each other, smiling and swaying back and forth, the whole crowd singing along. Of course, more chills. This is why I love music.

Pictures and setlist after the jump (below).

mp3: Josh Ritter – Lantern
from the album So Runs The World Away (buy it here)

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One thing’s for sure: Josh Ritter knows how to kick off a record. In 2006 he opened his fourth album, The Animal Years, with “Girl In The War” – the perfect introduction to the sepia-toned world of quiet desperation the characters of that album inhabited. A little over a year later the romping and ultra-literate “To The Dogs Or Whoever” set the pace for the beefier but equally affecting The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter. Both “Girl” and “Dogs” stand strong by themselves (“Girl In The War” remains one of my all-time favorite songs), but they’re even stronger as the thesis for what’s about to follow them – two strong records, each with a distinct vision and aesthetic.

Well once again Josh has captured the entire spirit of his record in a single song, “Change of Time“. It opens So Runs The World Away with the lines, “I had a dream last night/I dreamt that I was swimming/And the stars up above/Directionless and drifting” – introducing us to the wistful and dreamlike air that permeates this album, right from the ambient electric guitar intro to the twilight melodies of the closing track “Long Shadows”. In between are Josh’s most fleshed out and fully realized songs ever, both lyrically and sonically, woven together to create a complex and beautiful record.

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My dear friend Alison just sent me this little link:

Josh Ritter: World Cafe Live

According to Alison, Josh sings six new songs from his forthcoming album. Why ‘according to Alison’ and not ‘according to Logan?’

Cause I’m only about three songs deep but got so excited that I had to post this immediately.

The few new songs I’ve heard from this recording are just amazing. But what else do we expect when it comes to Mr. Ritter?

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Holy happy Monday! I woke up this morning to an email with some fantastic news:

Josh Ritter’s new record now has a name, So Runs the World Away, AND a free mp3, “Change of Time”!!

Get it for only the price of an email HERE.

And if you’re not familiar with Josh Ritter by now, here’s some past tracks to catch you up:

mp3: Josh Ritter – Me & Jiggs
from the album Golden Age of Radio (Amazon/iTunes)

mp3: Josh Ritter – Snow Is Gone
from the album Hello Starling (Amazon/iTunes)

mp3: Josh Ritter – Good Man
from the album The Animal Years (Amazon/iTunes)

mp3: Josh Ritter – To The Dogs Or Whoever
from the album The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter (Amazon/iTunes)

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Wow. We dropped the ball on this one guys. It’s no secret that we here at WiAC have a considerable man-crush on the Idahoan balladier, Josh Ritter – and we’d usually like to consider ourselves on top of any news Ritter-related. But alas, this news is about 3 weeks late. Sorry about that guys. Anyways. Here’s the details:

Josh is re-releasing his fantastic 2002 album, Golden Age of Radio, which includes a second disc of recently recorded acoustic versions of the entire album, plus 2 b-sides, plus 2 remixes by The Submarines Jason Dragonetti (these are especially good), PLUS a full color booklet and 2 homevideos, including one of Glen Hansard performing “Me & Jiggs”. So basically, this isn’t your typical slapped together “not-so-deluxe deluxe edition” scam. This is something I’m going to buy. And you should too.

You can stream the entire thing for free HERE, as well as grab a free mp3 of the title track. And to make up for our slacking, here’s some Josh Ritter tracks that I sort of adore. Enjoy!

mp3: Josh Ritter – Rumors (Off-Broadway Remix by Jason Dragonetti)

mp3: Josh Ritter – Vapour Trail
from the album The Cake Sale (Amazon/iTunes)

Last June, Josh Ritter played a show in MA with The Boston Pops that was supposed to be incredible. He followed up with two sold-out shows at Vicar Street in Dublin with a full orchestra, and is now planning to do the same in Cork, Ireland this coming July. All I can say is that I’d give anything to be in Cork that night.

Well, for all of us un-lucky folks who have yet to see Mr. Ritter with a full 24-piece orchestra behind him, he’s given us a little treat. In December he went into a studio in Dublin with a small string quartet (made up of Kenneth Rice and Lynda O’Connor on violin, Cian O’Duill on viola, and Kate Ellis on cello), and came out with two beautiful versions of two already beautiful songs. Check them out below.

Also, if you’re lucky you can catch Josh on his ‘Teeny Tiny Spring Tour’ starting in March – check here for dates.

Josh Ritter – Girl in the War (w/ String Quartet)
originally from the album The Animal Years (Amazon/iTunes)

Josh Ritter – Empty Hearts (w/ String Quartet)
originally from the album The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter (Amazon/iTunes)

Really, truly, I think Josh Ritter is the most talented singer/songwriter out there. I just love this guy.

2015 Songs Header

Here’s another late addition to our favorite music of 2015–this time it’s our favorite songs. You’ll find Logan’s favorites first, then Chris’s, each in alphabetical order.

And if you have any interest, here’s a link to a Spotify playlist with most of the songs below–enjoy!

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