Thao Nguyen and a birthday request


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It’s my birthday this weekend (a big one) and we’re having a party out at a farm on Saturday night! I can’t wait to celebrate with friends!

I want to make a playlist to bring along, but I could use some help with the music. Lately, I’ve been loving this first/title track on Thao Nguyen’s new album, We The Common—such a great beat and I love the mix of folk and country twang with indie rock.

I’d love to learn about more artists with songs that bridge some of the folk and rock traditions, artist who (you’d imagine) when asked about musicians they admire might name Johnny Cash or Wille Nelson among them. From Gillian Welch to Phosphorescent, from Mumford and Sons to the Lumineers, who would you add?

And even if they don’t fit that query, what are you listening to and loving lately? Come on… it’s my birthday request!

P.S. My favorite Pandora stations tends to be Andrew Bird and Fun these days. Also, a friend’s great site for discovering music.

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Let’s Discuss

  1. Jenny

    You might try Pickwick and Moondoggies – local Seattle bands. Start with Red Eye and Pride (moondoggies) and Hacienda Motel, Lady Luck, and Halls of Columbia (pickwick)

  2. Jennifer

    Well Happy Birthday! I’ve love your site–it’s a daily read for me.

    As far as song recs, I don’t have a specific one. But if you’re looking to expand your music, look into the Songza app– you can also access through your computer. It’s like Pandora but better curated and they have a great collection of great music depending on your mood, the genre, what activity your’re doing, etc. It has changed my life. and i love their alt country playlists. I swear I’m not a Songza rep! Ha! But when I’m stuck in a music rut, I go there. Good luck!

    • Ashley

      Thank you! That’s so nice to hear! Another friend just mentioned Songza, so I’ll have to check it out immediately. Can you download the playlists or stream only? Not sure the reception on the farm is good enough for streaming this weekend… but I could always still use it for inspiration (which I sorely need)!

  3. Kristin

    Happy Birthday! I’ve always been a big Bob Dylan fan and I think you’d really enjoy his latest album, Tempest, for the big celebration.

  4. Margaret

    I’m totally biased on this one; 1) because my brother in law plays in his band pretty regularly and 2) because he’s from Texas (my home state), but I really think Hayes Carll is a great. He totally fits the americana/folk/rock vibe. Every song kind of leans a different direction. Also, he does an amazing show. He is hilarious; tells great stories, and is just a good time in general. I’m also in Davis and Hayes comes to the Winters Playhouse pretty regularly and I always like an artist I can go see at a great venue near my house!

  5. Have you heard of Thao Nguyen’s other project, Thao + Mirah? Slightly obsessed and my fingers are crossed that they make another album. Another folk/rock/girl power artist to try is Nekko Case. Her new album came out this week.

  6. Emily R.

    Happy birthday! Recent favorites include: Lissie, JD McPherson, Jake Bugg (Lightning Bolt is my favorite!), Grizzly Bear, and Tame Impala.

    I love new music — I can’t wait to see what everyone else is listening to these days!

  7. Natalie

    Dawes! They’ve toured with Jackson Browne, Brett Dennen, and Bob Dylan — I think they’re JUST what you’re looking for. Happy Birthday!

  8. Happy Birthday Ashley! I haven’t listened to anyone new in awhile, but always obsessed with Sam Cooke (our son Atticus’s middle name is even Cooke), the Shins and Paul Simon.

  9. Rhiannon G.

    Can’t wait to celebrate with you!
    I’m listening to a lot of my old favorites right now: First Aid Kit, Fleet Foxes, Alexander, Best Coast, The National( Me and D love the new album) Noah and the Whale and of course Yo La Tengo.

  10. Emily

    you’ve got to check out The Lone Bellow. self-described as “Brooklyn Country”, they’re a perfect mix of folk and rock. and they give a live performance like none other. happy birthday!

  11. Amanda

    Thanks so much for the introduction to that song. I loved it! Two of the people on my current playlist are good friends of mine and awesome musicians: Kelley McRae (she has a song titled Johnny Cash) and Sanders Bohlke. You should definitely check them out! Hope you have an amazing birthday weekend!

  12. Katie M

    Happy Birthday !
    Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes, Old Crow Medicine Show and The Band of Heathens are a few of my faves!

  13. Brandy

    Check out Houndmouth, they’re this great young, folksy Americana-ish band. The new Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros album is totally amazing and life-affirming also. Alexander is the solo project of their lead singer.

    Happy birthday – love the blog!

  14. In the past month or so, I’ve discovered Bastille’s new song Pompeii, Lorde, and Lucy Rose. Not exactly in the genre you mentioned, but I also love Hot Bijouxx, which is a local band for me.

    Have a happy day! I hope it’s an amazing party and a wonderful start to a fantastic year!

  15. Jess

    Happy birthday from Toronto!

    Here are a few Canadian acts you might enjoy: Jasom Collett, the Great Lake Swimmers, Bahamas, Wintersleep, Cuff the Duke, Rural Alberta Advanatge.

  16. Happy Birthday, Ashley! Your celebration plans sound like so much fun. Music…Fleet Foxes, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, The Tallest Man on Earth, the Dirty Projectors. Going back up to get some suggestions from the other comments now :)

  17. Happy birthday! I have been really into The Black Keys lately, ever since noticing that some of my favorite restaurants were playing their music. They’d be good for any party.

  18. Laura

    The Avett Brothers. No matter the mood or occasion, you can find a song of theirs that fits.

    Happy birthday. :)

  19. Alida

    Two wonderful female singer/songwriters are Jessica Lea Mayfield and Neko Case (I love her older stuff but haven’t listened to her new album yet)…. the perfect music when it’s raining and you’re curled up with some warm, creamy tea and honey toast.

    For less mellow stuff I like Of Monsters and Men, The Black keys, Arcade fire -especial their album The Suburbs

  20. Lauren

    Passenger is great – reminds me a lot of The Lumineers. Trampled By Turtles and Steppin In It are both good too if you like bluegrass. They’re more rock, but Leagues is another great one.


  21. Nan

    I didn’t read all the comments, did anyone say Sarah Jarosz yet? If you like Gillian Welch, yup, you will like her too! Happy Birthday!

  22. carrie

    Happy Birthday!
    Some of my recent favorites:
    Real Estate: Its Real
    Cat Power: Manhattan
    Guards: Ready to Go
    Caveman: In The City
    And songs I think you would like (a little bit of a “country” / simplicity vibe)
    Chelsea Wolf: Flatlands
    Taken By Trees: My Boys

    I also really like Here We Go Magic, Devendra Banhart, Rhye, Little Joy, …and of course Andrew Bird. I find new music via Brooklyn Vegan, NPR – first listen and all songs considered, and playlists on blogs like Miss Moss, For Me For You, and….

  23. Goober

    Happy Birthday, Ashley!! I’m obsessed with Thao- I think I listened to We The Common about 1,000 times this summer. The part in the video where they walk around a hill at dusk wearing white and carrying sparklers was filmed in my neighborhood. I’m also obsessed with Neko Case so I have to second (or third? Or fourth?) that recommendation. :)

  24. Jay

    From Canada: Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Serena Ryder, Sarah Slean, Whitehorse (husband and wife duo Luke Doucet and Melissa McLelland), Jill Barber, Kathleen Edwards, Sarah Harmer, Coeur de Pirate (stage name of Beatrice Martin, a francophone), and the list goes on….

  25. Anne Marie

    Happy Birthday, Ashley. It was my birthday last week, too. I was at a work conference all week, so I’m super jealous of your fabulous looking dinner. I think I’ll have to plan in advance for something like that next year. :)

    Has anyone mentioned Goat Rodeo? I just saw them perform a few weeks ago and cannot get over how much I enjoyed the music. As a group, they really seemed to enjoy each other’s company and seemed very in synch. Plus, it was such a treat to see Yo-Yo Ma in person. The mandolinist, Chris Thile, has some great albums I would absolutely recommend checking out. He’s definitely a new favorite.