AuthorMatthew Taylor

The Milk Carton Kids

I’m in awe of many performers and song writers, but few more than The Milk Carton Kids. Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale have produced a large catalog of music, and the number of live performances on YouTube fills a lifetime, but this one is my favorite.

When you first watch TMCK for the first time, you can’t help but notice Ken Pattengale’s guitar playing. It’s both beautiful and persistent. It’s also a visual roller coaster ride. One YouTube commenter suggested that Ken Pattengale holds his guitar like he’s holding someone else’s baby in church. Smile. But if you listen long enough, you will begin to appreciate what an amazing singer Joey Ryan is. These two guitars and two voices make an impressive four-piece band.

This video shows a live performance of three songs. I’m not going to review them individually, but I will say that I have enjoyed this video many times, and it never gets old. I appreciate (always) the vocal harmony, but I am more impressed with how they arrange for the two guitars. The guitars serve as contrasting elements in a single coherent design. Oh, and when you get done with this video, go watch their Tiny Desk Concert. You’re welcome.

La Pistola y El Corazon

It’s a ton of fun to discover a video capturing a very authentic moment from a talented performer. You can find recordings and videos of this song performed with all of Los Lobos, but I really like this duet. This performance feels very personal.

It’s always difficult for me to define the genre I write in. Some of my music sounds classical or baroque. Some sounds Latin. In the end, I think I just write music for guitar. I also think it tempting to classify Los Lobos’ music as Latin or some descendent of that tradition. In the end, I just like what I hear, and I appreciate their attention to detail. I hope that their style has crept into my writing vocabulary, and maybe someday I will craft a song as amazing as this one.

I don’t think you can listen to this song without noticing the rhythms. There’s a lot going on here. Not just the obvious stuff, but the subtle stuff too. It’s enough to consider what it would take to learn and play this song on guitar, but to sing at the same time has to be the proverbial rubbing of the belly and patting of the head. Amazing.

World Without You

There aren’t a ton of examples of guitar duets on the Internet, at least with just two guitars. But, this is nice guitar duet with three voice harmony.

I first discovered Hudson-Taylor from watching Orla Gartland videos. I’ll blog about Orla and many more of her friends in the future. Both Hudson-Taylor brothers have amazing voices and a great musical sense. Their musicianship comes through in their performances, but more so in their songs and melodies. This particular video was taken down at one point (I believe this was just part of their YouTube channel rebuild), but to our great fortune, has resurfaced.

There are a number of elements in this song worthy of mention, but more than anything for me is the overall construction of the song. A simple introduction, building to a crescendo, then drawing back to a simple ending. There is also a nice blend of strumming and high arpeggios on the guitars. This is a great song, as are many others by Hudson-Taylor.

Innocent Son

This blog will not always highlight famous performers, but I wanted to start with the absolute best performances I think are a little off the beaten path and focus on guitar (and likely voice). In the future, you may see footage of lesser known artists playing all types of instruments and music.

This video is a great example of why Robin Pecknold is so amazing. Let’s start with the guitar. Most people are drawn to virtuosity, but simplicity often creates a much more intense and dramatic effect. This guitar work shows how subtle contrasts keep you riveted to what he’s doing. Add to that, his vocal performance (like every one I’ve seen him give) is authentic and fearless. The two criteria I hold for all vocal performances.

Finally, the song itself. Pecknold’s lyrics play in my mind in ways that very few songwriters do. Not only does he leave the song up for each listener to interpret, but he creates scenes that could easily carry an entire full-length feature film. I would cast him as one of the very best songwriters of this century.

Can’t Find My Way Home

There are too many good things to say about this video. First, I have loved this song since the album came out in 1969. I remember dragging my mother to a record store in Montrose, California to buy the album: Blind Faith. I think it cost me close to 4 bucks. I’m quite sure that was all I had and plunged me into bankruptcy at the age of 10.

Despite the fact that every song on that album was great, this song always stood out to me, and when I found this video I flipped. First, the original recording used more than one guitar. But this solo loses none of the original feeling. And Steve Winwood’s voice. I can’t help but think of the 1960s. His voice perfectly represents music of that time, but sounds even better in this video.

MJTaylor Music Blog

This blog is no more than my attempt to share music performances that inspire me. Stay tuned for some great videos and cheesy commentary.

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