All Spots to Black: In Plain Sight

Posted by on Apr 15, 2012 in Folk-Rock, Music | Comments Off


For as long as I knew I wanted to start a music publication, I knew that I wanted this song to be the feature of my first public post. For those many months, I’ve been writing the accompanying text in my head, and somehow today as I type this out, all of the drafted thoughts feel wrong. Something about flickering piano keys, about a mournful, sliding guitar line, about the exquisite contemplation that sweeps through me every time I listen, an ode to the life and presence of every note. However, ultimately, this is a song about absence. It’s about desperate blank canvases and longing for something untouchable, even if it’s right in front of you.

It is human nature to fill— our calendars, our homes, our planet, our bank accounts, our bellies, our ears, our hearts. Emptiness is uncomfortable, even in quarter-note stretches. When forced into silence, our ears feel as though they’ve been tossed from the highest circus pole and are free falling, waiting for something trusty to grab onto. Even when we are as sure of what the next note will be as we are of what the ground will feel like to our plummeting feet — we need.

Between the perfect words, between the electric surges and each dripping melody, this song is rife with empty spaces. It is rife with the joke of pulling something flawless from just beyond one’s grasp: the beat, the lyric and the girl. 

There is magic in hearing a song and saying to yourself, with absolute certainty “there is no other way that this could have been made. It must be exactly as it is.” “In Plain Sight” is one of the best examples of this feeling. There is no other way to feel the starkness of separation than to fall in love with something and then listen as it disappears. A flash of beauty and bewilderment, and again please.




“Her eyes dodge, they’re so big.
One look and you’ve lost the night
But you can’t touch and you can’t reach
She’s there, in plain sight

And she’s too fluid, she’s too fast
How can you capture that?
You never had a chance
In hindsight”


All Spots to Black is a Los Angeles-based project led by Phil Krohnengold, with the lovely and brilliant support of Lucas Cheadle (Lucinda Williams, Michelle Shocked), drummer Al Sgro (Gary Jules, Alexi Murdoch) and the incredible singer / songwriter Holly Conlan.




Strand of Oaks: A New Vision & Sonic Atmosphere

Posted by on Mar 9, 2012 in Folk-Rock, Music, Music Videos | Comments Off


Timothy Showalter, aka: Strand of Oaks, released Pope Kildragon, one of my favorite records of 2011, and how he has returned with folk-rock stunner Spacestations. Recorded by the Philadelphia-based WXPN series Shaking Through, the song marks a sonic departure for Strand of Oaks’ last record, with its acoustic, slow-wrenching storytelling and sparse instrumentals. On Spacestations, Showalter bares his early techno influences and introduces listeners to a whole new sonic vocabulary; using synthesizers to build a beautiful, growing landscape for his words to float on, as he stands, stranded and isolated on the earth—waiting for someone to return for him.


welcome to my new spacestation
staying as long as you’d like is a sad vocation
you leave me standing alone on the earth
I realize that it just won’t work
you leave me standing alone in the cold
telling everybody that I just don’t know
and you wait just a little, you wait just a little too long
why you gotta leave me stranded up here
why you gotta leave me stranded up here
why you gotta leave me stranded up here
when the sunlight chased away
when the sunlight chased away
when the sunlight chased away 

welcome to my next big decision
welcome to my next big decision
welcome to my next big decision 



Shaking Through: Strand of Oaks from Weathervane Music on Vimeo.


The song Spacestations was produced by Brian McTear and engineered by Jonathan Low at Miner Street Recordings in Philadelphia. This episode of Shaking Through was conceptualized by Chris Ward of Johnny Brenda’s (one of my favorite Philadelphia music cafes), recorded on December 28-29, 2012, produced by Peter English, filmed by Peter English, and edited by J. DeVirgilis. Additional photo and video by Larry DeMark. To see other episodes, please visit