Scarlet Tanager
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Scarlet Tanager

St. Louis, Missouri, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | SELF

St. Louis, Missouri, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2011
Band Alternative Pop





As usual, we will be bringing you a recap of the best live performances every day of SXSW, along with music recommendations and savory images captured by our brave and talented photographer Christopher Chan. With that being said, Day one of SXSW 2015 was everything we expected. The threat of rain hanging over Austin, Texas had no effect on the night’s events. The streets were overflowing with musicians, music lovers, press, and food. From surprise acts like Scarlet Tanager to a well worth staying up for Spoon performance, here are the 10 Best Indie Artists of SXSW that we saw day one.

scarlet tanager

Chris Chan just so happened to make his way into Cheer Up Charlie’s early enough to beat the crowd that was soon to make its way into the venue and what he heard from Scarlet Tanager was an absolute surprise. The six piece indie pop band from St. Louis sounded really good. Within a few seconds into their set we were clapping along to their light hearted delightful sound. - bitcandy

"Ten St. Louis Acts That Deserve To Be Famous Now"

Put simply, Scarlet Tanager's songs are tailor-made for soundtracks. Just imagine "The Birds of the Dawn" accompanying a marriage proposal in a romantic comedy starring Emma Stone, or "Knives and Swords" backing a scene where Notting Hill-era Hugh Grant spends a bus ride regretting his stupidity. Brilliant songwriting, layered vocals and whimsical sounds all heighten storytelling, and it happens for Scarlet Tanager on its album American Songbird as well as onstage. The band already has tasted fame, with "Tumbleweed" appearing in a Nickelodeon commercial and "Zipcode" turning in MTV's The Real World. Let's hope the trend continues. - Riverfront Times

"Jam of the Day | Scarlet Tanager - Tumbleweed"

Scarlet Tanager burst onto the local scene in a tornado of cute. I know that particular adjective has been frequently used when describing the Saint Louis six-piece, but GD if it ain't totally accurate. And, I mean that in the best sense possible, nowhere near a patronizing connotation.

About four or five years ago, a gal like me could easily slap the sunshine right out of the sky with a feisty, tongue-in-cheek track like Kate Nash's "Foundations" or a girly, reggae-tinged pop jam like Lily Allen's "LDN." It seems that everywhere I turned, I had a new batch of insta-hit puppy dog and rainbows tunes for the optimist in me. And they were all carried by female voices.

But, where have all the cowgirls gone?

Luckily, today's Jam of the Day, "Tumbleweed," recalls Regina Spektor's quirky piano-pop and Feist's playful lyric delivery (think especially: "Mushaboom"). So, it's no surprise that lead singer, Susan Logsdon, cites both of these female songwriters as influences. It's an instantly likeable, most refreshing few minutes of indie-pop bliss.

Scarlet Tanager - Tumbleweed

The band's debut album, American Songbird, is available now. Pick it up here. And, please for the love of all things holy, watch the crazily entertaining puppet video below. - Speakers in Code


Sincere moments just happen to be what a Scarlet Tanager show is made of. Each song overflowing with sincerity. Sometimes stripped to it's core, letting the air breathe between verses and marital banter. Susan's voice singing those lyrics demands an emotional connection, all while being jovial and at tender ease. Her husband Michael accompanies with vocals, guitar, trumpet, marching band drum, and foot. The stompin' foot, that is. It doesn't end there. But for the sake of brevity, let's just say the guy can play some instruments. And each song, as sincere as they may all be, are completely their own thing. It's a recipe perfect for soothing the audience into reflection. Some folks danced, some gawked, and many sang along while swaying heel to toe.

The originals paused for a more traditional cover. Susan addressed the present Beth Bombara and then proceeded to sing along with the crowd as they wished this fellow St. Louis musician and Chevy Music Showcase featured artist a happy birthday. Another sincere moment.

Here's a few songs from their American Songbird record:

"Knives and Swords"

"The Birds of the Dawn"

"Zipcode (Version 2)"

Scarlet Tanager's song "Zipcode" is a shining example of all of this aforementioned sincerity. It's a heartfelt song about having to part ways at the end of the night with the one you love. This can be as simplistic or as metaphorical as one would like to make it. But it's something we all know, regardless of complexity or lack thereof. Scarlet is a declaration to all that a band doesn't need highly technical players to move a crowd. Relatable songs with a great voice will do just fine. As long as it's with a six-piece foot stompin' band, with the occasional marching band drum.

Of the three bands that played this night, Middle Class Fashion was the lone St. Louis band that was also a featured Chevy Music Showcase artist. Brian McClelland (also in both Middle Class Fashion and Tight Pants Syndrome) suggested Scarlet Tanager to Cam, who fell in love immediately. These Chevy business types have feelings too, ya know.

Sure, at first glance it's easy to assume that Chevy is simply trying to brand themselves amongst the local music loving to grow sales in a very targeted demographic. And yeah, that's how it was pitched to Chevy bigwigs. But are their car sales really jumping through the roof because of this new branding venture? Probably not. But we hope that they are. Enough so as to keep this good thing going, anyway. Because more than anything else, Chevy is helping independent musicians get exposure in their respective cities and beyond. This is helping bands more than exploiting them. You can bank on that.

- Arch City Radio

"Scarlet Tanager"

Typically, perusing the ‘St Louis’ tag within the halls of Bandcamp is an exercise in futility, something I’d only recommend to those who’d like to be reminded that the music scene in Missouri is relegated to horrible electronica and country jams, for the most part. But every now and then, once in a good great while, one is surprised. The odds are low that you’ll encounter anything worth your time in those aforementioned halls but when you stumble upon something as great as Scarlet Tanager, those sad odds become worth enduring.

Normally a lady’s voice doesn’t float my proverbial boat but the vocals and lyrics of Scarlet Tanager’s Susan Logsdon raise the waters and lift the canoe off the bank. ’Tumbleweed’ is a lighthearted sing along, one of those songs that grabs your attention and frankly I wouldn’t be surprised to see it sent up to the Apple Gods and narrating an iPad commercial in the future. But to glorify the adorableness of that jam and that jam alone would be to discount the rest of the album and that would be a travesty. From the opening track, ‘The Birds of the Dawn’, to the closing lines of ‘Zipcode (Version II)’, I was captivated by the wholeness of this band and the resounding sound of a group that puts real thought and work into an album that impresses quiet a bit on first listen and even more so on subsequent spins.

In short, Scarlet Tanager gives me great hope for this goddamn state. Turns out, it’s not all Jason Aldean up in here. There are real musicians lurking in the corners of our geography, if you’ll dig for them… - FOLKHIVE

"Take a Walk Down Memory Lane with Scarlet Tanager"

Scarlet Tanager, rightfully named after the songbird, is a six-piece band dedicated to the articulation of life, love and the memories that stem from them. Their sound is deeply rooted in the grounds of indie pop with lyrics staying true to the melodies that they are laid on top of. But above all, it is their passion for artistic expression through song that brings their music to life

Their talent has not gone unnoticed and they recently have been nominated in the Chamber Pop category for the RFT music awards. Scarlet Tanager has also gained a large fan following as they perform at a variety of venues occasionally running into the wonderful problem of selling out of their CDs and having to direct loyal fans to their site ( where you can download or order a copy of their 12-track album American Songbird. This album includes hits such as “The Little White Door” and “Tumbleweed” being comparable to the sounds of Zooey Deschanel with an original flare unmatched by any other artist.

If you have not had the benefit of hearing the illustrious songs of Scarlet Tanager, be prepared to be taken back to the innocent times of nostalgic love that can never be tainted, in their first completely homemade puppet music video, “Tumbleweed.” And if you are in the area be sure to catch their next performance tomorrow night May 5th at Off Broadway in St. Louis, MO at 9pm.

For more information on Scarlet Tanager visit - Musicians at Heart/LAFAMOUS


Kimberly Dupuis August 17, 2011

I fell in love with American Songbird, the debut from St. Louis-based Scarlet Tanager (@scarletanager), almost instantaneously. Rapturous in nature, this indie-pop album contains elements of thoughtfully placed polyphonies, memorable choruses, and highly organic instrumentation. Most of the tracks are fairly upbeat, but even the more mellow elements exude brightness. American Songbird is both eclectic and unified, which is admirable in any album and even more so in a debut.

Incorporating plenty of snaps, handclaps, whistles, stomps, yells and choir-inspired harmonies, American Songbird delivers an impromptu, casual kind of vibe. The use of trumpet, toy piano, marching band drums and organs contribute a ton of flavour to the music as well. Add soulfully carefree vocals to the stack and you have the culmination of something blissfully unique.

The album opens with an ideal trinity of tunes. My favourite track is the opener, “Love Birds of the Dawn”, a light-hearted song that is sweet enough to induce a sugar high sans the sucrose. Rolling next into “Flags in the Parade” via an adolescent love chant, lead singer Susan Logsdon’s vocal strength is highlighted beautifully along a foundation of clapping rhythm, drums and trumpet. The following song, “Tumbleweed”, is another favourite of mine, namely for it’s memorable staccato melody, full-bodied chorus, and wide vocal ranges.

“Zipcode”, “Bum Bum Bum”, as well as a few others, carry on that energetic live gig feel that Scarlet Tanager skillfully executes, while songs like the graceful “Knives and Swords” and evocative “Baby Bunting” slow things down a bit, providing balance to the lighter songs. All in all, American Songbird proves to be a solid album from a band with incredible potential.
- The Wild Honey Pie

"Scarlet Tanager @ Old Rock House } 01.29.12"

A few months back, Jason of raved on Twitter about Scarlet Tanager’s debut album, American Songbird, and after deciding to pick it up it didn’t take long before I was raving about it too. Seeing the six-piece group in person certainly was a treat too, coming off like the Arcade Fire and Rilo Kiley embodied with the spirit of childhood fairy tales.

With the band seemingly showing up more and more on concert lineups around town, make sure you have a chance to catch this local gem.

Random Notes:

-Had to pass on shooting He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister to go take care of my sick wife. Enjoy some shots of them from their previous visit with The Blow.

-Scarlet Tanager’s puppet dominated video for “Tumbleweed.” If you don’t think it’s adorable, you have no soul. -

"Concert Review: He’s My Brother She’s My Sister at Old Rock House (St. Louis)"

Scarlet Tanager (St. Louis, MO) and He’s My Brother She’s My Sister (Los Angeles, CA)
January 29th, 2012
Old Rock House in St. Louis, Missouri

8:00 PM; St. Louis, MO; Old Rock House; Basil Hayden, neat.

After some illegal turns down the labyrinthine one-ways of downtown St. Louis, I reach the Old Rock House, a venue that claims, “Our customers are able to come here right from the office or right off their couch, any night of the week, and get great music, great drinks, and a great meal. Ultimately, they create their own experience; the energy and the very nature of this venue allows people to do just that.” Given the ludicrously low turnout for He’s My Brother She’s My Sister, this adage has never been truer.

8:04 PM; Scarlet Tanager

When the opening act, Scarlet Tanager, takes the stage, the staggering crowd of 30+ hardly moves a muscle, excepting a teenaged hippie who wouldn’t stop staring at my yellow legal pad. Then, they begin to play. What emanates is a culinary baroque-folk pop for which Arcade Fire would slaughter rabbits. The gentle childish vocals of their stunningly-blonde front woman, Susan Logsdon, rests easily on eclectic instrumentation as they break into their lullaby, “Baby Bunting.” They appear to have a nuanced sense of musical humor, as well, placing a power-ballad, hair metal solo smack dab in the middle of the song; as if it wasn’t sappy enough. They are delightfully awkward, lacking any talent for banter, clumsily segueing between their beautiful songs. Still, Susan and the band seem to have a talent for making you enamored with them; like the type of band with whom you wouldn’t be afraid to lose your virginity. At this point, I realized I hadn’t taken my eyes off of Susan the entire time. Feeling like a creep-stain, I took notice of the talent surrounding her, especially multi-instrumentalist Michael Logsdon. It’s just not a folk-rock show until someone uses a toy piano as a drunken percussion instrument (Bukowski would be proud).

8:47 PM; Jameson and Coke.

“Maps” comes on the stereo. Several teenagers squeal. A woman comments, “It’s so empty.”

9:01 PM; He’s My Brother She’s My Sister

A tap dancer in a short jumper stands atop a bass drum with an apprehensive gaze. A janitorial, purple-pants-clad Keith Richards gawks at the audience with a toothy grin. In the back, a fat Ryan Gosling prepares his pedal rig with quiet precision. Finally, the cool kids arrive on stage, clad in striped pants, (Brother), and a low-V blouse (Sister); the glittering red Epiphone is just a bonus. The tiny audience, made up mostly comped tickets, assembles. With folksy fury, they tear into “Crazy as Hell.” An electric magic lies somewhere between the incestuous harmonies, gently intense percussion, and loosely strummed arrangements. A young photographer in skinny jeans and Adidas stumbles into me, spilling my whiskey in the process. I find myself particularly enamored with the tap dancer, eagerly tip-toeing rhythms below while carefully smashing a bass and snare drum with timpani mallets, occasionally relishing in a cacophonous cymbal crash. Her expression is that of a child, delighted and frightened that she has been allowed to make this much noise. The guitarist seems equally entranced, occasionally breaking his deadpan stare with the audience to steal a glance.
After a thunderous round of songs, (Sister) closes off her introduction of the band with,

SISTER: “…and we are a family.”
BROTHER: “Some of the time.”
SISTER: “All of the time.”
BROTHER: “Oh yea. Forgot.”

The effortless humor continues as middle-aged man, Dave, clad in Levis and a tucked-in black dress shirt is encouraged to dance on stage with an LED hula-hoop.

BROTHER: “Don’t worry. Come on up. We’re all accepting. Just don’t fuck up.”

It becomes very clear just how casual this show has become without the pressure of a large adoring fan-base. Still, when they reached the near silent breakdown of “How’m I gonna get back home,” the crowd is hanging on their every note, erupting in catharsis when the percussion kicks back to eleven.

The night comes to a close as they introduce their last song, “Tales that I Tell.” An older gentlemen in a plaid shirt yells out, “I’ve heard it,” his long, gray locks shaking in excitement.

BROTHER: “Somebody has heard it. That’s a good sign. (sigh) That’s a start.”

(Brother) proceeds to take a long swig of whiskey, clumsily knocking the glass as he attempts to set it back down on the amp.

SISTER: “You ready, Rob?”
BROTHER: “I just spilled whiskey all over my guitar.”
SISTER: “You’re drunk.”

At the end of night, I am left with a bittersweet feeling of melancholy over HMBSMS. There’s an effortlessness and sincerity to their songwriting that is simply sublime, a rare trait among 20-something folk musicians. A band so musically tight and visually interesting should have no trouble selling out a midrange venue in the Midwest. I log onto Facebook to find 20-somethings posting raving posts about finally watching “Never Say Never” on Netflix.

And HMBSMS can’t afford a tour bus.

Buy their album. See them live. They deserve it. YOU deserve it. We need it. -

"Scarlet Tanager - Sunday, 25 September 2011"

The six-member brigade is a tangled family tree of assorted siblings and newlyweds, all singing about riding bikes and going on picnics. Dubbed "St. Louis's Most Adorable New Band" by the Riverfront Times, Scarlet Tanager's twee sensibility is offset by plenty of exuberant quirk -- for starters, check out the handmade puppets and sets for their video "Tumbleweed."

On their debut album, "American Songbird," the multi-instrumental sound and upbeat, campfire singalong vibe is reminiscent of the Danielson Famile, but Susan Logsdon's nymphet vocals draw a better comparison to groups like A Smile and A Ribbon or Thao & Mirah. Their repertoire features toy pianos, call-and-response, handclaps and marching band rhythms courtesy of its creatively inclined membership. Lyrics range from the sugary ("I want to kiss the words off your lips," from "The Birds of the Dawn") to the extremely sugary ("We can rest our heads on the same pillow/When we live in the same zipcode," from "Zipcode").

Yet this band's camaraderie is infectious; listening to these Live at KDHX tracks, it's clear they're all having a blast singing and playing together. "The duty, winged flame of spring/ Is but to fly and love and sing," said James Russell Lowell -- a quote from "The Nest" that's plastered all over the band's various networking sites. Scarlet Tanager's youthful joy soars above the poet's words. Best listened to on a picnic blanket spread under a shady tree with the person you've had a crush on since grade school.

"Scarlet Tanager"

Possessing the same whimsical, upbeat attitude as The Oh Wells, Scarlet Tanager’s music will put you in a positive mood and make your ears happy all at once. The six members of this band showcase how truly in sync a group of people can be. The music is tight, the songs are well crafted, the rhythms are exhilarating, and the melodies are the icing on the cake.

photo courtesy of Duane Clawson

Taking a page from many Punk bands, Scarlet Tanager does a lot of group shouts and chants in their music that immediately grab your attention. This dynamic group has so many tools at their disposal which is wildly evident in each and every song. They have fast songs, slow songs, songs that will make you stop and think, and songs that will make you get up and dance.

To top it all off, Scarlet Tanager creates some sensational harmonies. There is so much to like about this band, you will be very glad to have heard their music. Being in a band is tough stuff. Being in a band with as many people as Scarlet Tanager has is even tougher. The fact that they have been able to do what they have while making it sound so easy is a testament to how close this group is.

To get you started, some of my favorite songs from below are Bum Bum Bum, Zipcode (version II), and Tumbleweed. Oh, and The Gold Couch is pretty good too. They’re all good, listen to them all! -

"Quickie Q&A: Scarlet Tanager"

Scarlet Tanager are: Susan Logsdon, Michael Logsdon, Josh Shepherd, Jordan Shepherd, Matt Davidson, Dustin Kent
Hometown: St. Louis
Latest projects: "Tumbleweed" puppet music video -- see below
Genre: Indie pop
Official Web site:,, or

How did Scarlet Tanager come together?
Scarlet Tanager was formed in early 2010. Michael and I got married about 2 years ago and had been talking about putting a band together for a while. I had been doing the singer/songwriter thing on my own and we had always talked about how cool it would be to have a band. We started jamming with a drummer friend of ours, Matt Davidson, and then soon asked my brother, Josh, to be in the band. He was an obvious choice being that we get along so well, and he is an amazing musician. We knew Dustin, our bass player, from college. He was in a band with Michael when I first met them back in 2006. Our first show as Scarlet Tanager was last May. At the time, Josh was just first dating Jordan. We didn't want to risk things getting weird and held off asking her to be in the band until they got engaged later in the year. She plays keys and sings background vocals which I think is a great addition to the band.

What's the meaning behind your name?
A scarlet tanager is a bird. I first heard about a scarlet tanager when I was in grade school from my older sister, Mindy. She is an amazing writer, poet and actress. She told me that a scarlet tanager will perch itself out on a little branch and, even in the midst of the wind and rain of a great storm, it will sit out that little branch and sing. I loved this little story and it stuck with me all these years. When it came time to find a band name it just felt right.

What is it like having two married couples and siblings in the band?
I think it makes it easier. We all get along so well and are really honest with each other. Since most of the songs are written either about Michael or growing up, I think there is something special brought to the music by having both my brother and Michael in the band.

What is the idea behind the Tumbleweed video?
We are all really creative people and we were all itching to do some big creative project together. We wanted to build something or make something with our hands. We really just wanted to do it for fun and had talked through a lot of different ideas. Michael was listening to some rough mixes of our recordings one day and Tumbleweed came on. He had this idea for a music video...with puppets. The two of us sat down and made a storyboard for the song including 5 different scenes, different outfits and lots of homemade props. We brought it all to the band and they were all really excited and had awesome ideas of stuff to add and how we could make it all come together.

What all went into preparing for and filming the video?
Well we all talked through the idea and thought we could get it all put together and filmed in one week. We spent every single night working tirelessly on it. Jordan and I focused on making the puppets, props and clothing. The guys built the sets. At the end of the gruesome week we all realized that we were nowhere close to being ready to film. It probably took about 2 more weeks of working almost every night and through the weekends until we were ready to film. Shooting it all took another 3 weeks and then editing took about that long. We grossly underestimated the amount of time and effort it would take! Everything in the video is handmade by us mostly using materials we had lying around. Lots of cardboard, fabric, paint and popsicle sticks. We all joke that we do not want to see a hot glue gun for a very, very long time!

Do you have any plans for another video?
We definitely want to make another music video. It probably won't include the puppets though! Whatever it is we are sure it will be very homemade using stuff we already have lying around in creative ways.

Where can people go to see Scarlet Tanager perform?
We love playing around St. Louis. We have previously played at places like Cicero's, The Heavy Anchor, Lemmons and Off Broadway. We have a show August 19 at the Firebird. We also have another show set up with Off Broadway on September 22. We are adding new shows soon and they can be found on our facebook event page or our website.

Where would you like to see the band in the next five years? Ten years?
I want to give this everything I have and I think the rest of the band feels the same way. We all just want to take it as far as we can! I think that being able to make a living playing music would be the dream. - Metromix St. Louis

"Concert review: Pretty Little Empire, Scarlet Tanager and Thankful Tree serve up impeccable three-course audio feast at Off Broadway, Saturday, May 5"

The lone-man outfit Thankful Tree took the Off Broadway stage after 9 p.m. with looping swells of guitar and brash puffs of harmonica to build the sonic backbones.

On top of that sound he plucked away on guitar and laid down soft vocals. People dressed in attire from different time periods and cultures drifted in and out through his songs’ melodies.

Scarlet Tanager jumped up on stage shortly thereafter and kicked the show up two gears. For the uninitiated, Scarlet bring a brand of rock that inspire you to lift your wine glass in the air to good and missed fortunes while a dress or suit of white. The crowd shouted the refrains back at the band after the songs had finished. It would be hard to imagine a better stage warmer. Scarlet brought the intense energy but piped it through a completely different filter than the headliner.

Pretty Little Empire opened with the crisply-new “Out of Control.” The soft opening of the song gives way to torrents of guitar. There was no looking back from there. Joined by the masterful David Beeman, Pretty Little Empire proceeded to kill it. Then resurrect it. Then kill it again.

The usual St. Louis show protocol is to vacate the premises immediately following the last song. Despite this — and despite the fact that much of the crowd had earlier attended either Kentucky Derby or Cinco de Mayo festivities — people hung around until close basking in the glow of a stellar show. Outside on the yellow-lit veranda, beer cans were clinked and dropped well into Seis de Mayo. - KDHX Blog

"Concert review: Elsinore (with Scarlet Tanager and Santah) charge through the Firebird, Friday, August 19"

Even though the door was closed to the Firebird when I arrived Friday night, I could hear the excitement as St. Louis' Scarlet Tanager took the stage.

My introduction to the band was watching their off-the-wall puppet video for their bouncy single, "Tumbleweed." I was surprised when I saw actual people playing on stage and not the cast of some defunct "Nick Jr." show. The six-piece band had the presence of a self-possessed posse, with lead vocalist Susan Logsdon as the gang's leader. Logsdon chirped in front of an animated band that backed her with jubilant exclamations and harmonies.

I was impressed by the band's chemistry; they threw curveballs with their percussion, notably a marching band bass drum that formed the centerpiece for at least half the set. The music, with its twee-pop sensibilities, was full of energy, and by the end of a Patsy Cline cover (which reminded me of my own adventures at Twangfest 2011), Logsdon bashfully admitted, "That one always takes my breath away."

Chicago's Santah had one of the better light shows I've seen at the Firebird. Not that anything special was added to the venue's array of colored lights hanging behind the band. The colors just seemed to fade in and out at the right times while the five-piece navigated through their songs. The lights shone brightest when the two guitarists, vocalists and siblings, Stanton and Vivian McConnell, blended their voices in an elegant, off-kilter manner, sounding like a soulful country duo. Stanton assumed frontman duties; his wildness came through during the jams as he turned to face drummer Steve Plock.

Certain aspects of the set, however, came off listless and contrived: A few songs sent some of the crowd off the floor, and in the middle of "Neighbors and Cousins" Stanton gave a cringe-worthy sermon about having nothing to lose vs. having something to lose. But the best moments came when the band was locked in on brief yet punctuating guitar solos by Stanton; those brought some welcome rock catharsis.

After Elsinore's first song, "Chemicals," I was pissed. The Champagne-Urbana quartet had the audacity to open with one of its catchiest tunes. I had the chorus stuck in my head the rest of the show. Elsinore managed that trick again as they closed with their ultimate sing-a-long, "Yes Yes Yes."

Guitarist and lead vocalist Ryan Groff is among the better singers I've seen live. The dude has a range that vacillates between choirboy to coffee-shop crooner. He even did a decent Ian Curtis impression during the first verse of "Love Will Tear Us Apart (Elsinore Remix)." My suspicion that he could make it as a solo artist was affirmed when a friend said, "I don't see the band, I only see the singer." Not that the other members in Elsinore weren't talented; Groff just has the kind of voice that displaces everything else. At times, such as the slow-spin breakdown during "The General," I felt like I was watching Groff sing at a temple rather than a bar. It's rare to see performances by rock bands where the singer sounds as good as the recorded versions of their songs, and sometimes even better.

The other notable part of Elsinore's set was how beautifully each song took off galloping during the catchiest bits, then, led by drummer David Pride, the songs would almost completely disintegrate before building back up to the hammering choruses.

At the conclusion of Elsinore's affirmation anthem (and the soundtrack to Kohl's latest commercial), the crowd, led by spirited dancers that had been trying to upstage the band all night, was chanting, "Yes!"

The crowd wanted an encore; the band might not have been prepared for it. Elsinore sheepishly waved to the crowd and headed to their merch table. For me, this simple denial was another highlight. I was able to drive home and begin the process of getting the chorus to "Chemicals" out of my head. Maybe some dubstep would cure me.

"Meet Scarlet Tanager, St. Louis' Most Adorable New Band"

In this past week's Homespun column, we spent some time with Scarlet Tanager's American Songbird, an album of sweetly sung, enthusiastically performed pop songs. The band also put together an unforgettable video for the song "Tumbleweed," which you can peep below.

We caught up with lead singer and songwriter Susan Logsdon over email to learn more about this young band's tangled family tree and to uncover the secrets of wrangling all those puppets.

Christian Schaeffer: Tell us a little bit of how the band got together. There appears to be a lot of overlap between family members and romantic partners in this band.

Scarlet Tanager was formed in the Spring of 2010. I had been doing the singer/songwriter thing by myself all through college. After graduating, getting married, and moving to St. Louis in 2009, my husband, Michael, and I started trying to put together a band. We first met our drummer, Matt through some friends at church. My brother Josh was a natural choice for the band. We have played and recorded a lot together, and he has seen my music from the very first songs written on our dad's old Yamaha guitar in my pink bedroom growing up to where it is today which is pretty cool. We then called on our friend Dustin, our bass player.

Dustin and Michael were in a band together when I first met them in 2006, so they go way back. We played our first few shows as a five-piece. Josh was dating Jordan at that time, and we had talked about her being in the band to play keys and sing backup but were hesitant because she and Josh were newly dating and didn't want to get into anything that could get weird. When they got engaged last July we asked her to join the band! They got married in January.

I think it's really cool having such overlap between family members and spouses in the band, but not in a Partridge Family kind of way. I just think it helps make the songs seem so real. A lot of the songs on American Songbird are about either Michael or my family, and having both on stage while we play gives it a depth that is otherwise hard to achieve.

How did the video for "Tumbleweed" come together? It's certainly an ambitious calling card for a new band.

At the beginning of this year Josh, Jordan, Michael and I had been talking a lot about doing some kind of creative project together. We didn't know what it would be, but we thought it would be cool to work on a big, elaborate, creative project just for fun. We threw around a lot of ideas including some kind of large scale installation art and short film ideas ranging from stop animation, claymation to puppetry. Michael was listening to some rough mixes of our recordings in the car one day and "Tumbleweed" came on.

He could envision a little puppet hand hitting the tiny piano keys, the puppet head bobbing to the beat, the miniature garage, and a tin foil rocket ship. He came home and told me about this idea, and we sat down and listened to the song and came up with a storyboard. We brought it to the rest of the band, and they were super excited and had some great ideas for things we could add and how things could actually work. We then set a deadline of two weeks to get everything built and filmed. We worked every single night on it. The guys focused on the sets-the miniature garage which ended up being about 6 feet tall and 12 feet wide, the tree-horses (the apparatus Josh came up with for the paper trees on a conveyor belt of sorts), the western town, etc. Jordan and I made all six puppets, over 30 outfits and tons of props ranging from instruments to paper trees to glittery stars. At the end of the two weeks, it became very clear we were not ready to film.

It ended up taking about a month and a half of almost every night and weekend. After we wrapped up the filming--it took about a month for Michael to sort through the footage and edit it all together.

American Songbird pulls a lot from indie pop and some bright twee moments. Musically, what are some influences or touchstones for the band?

Being from a singer-songwriter background, I am personally influenced by Patty Griffin, Regina Spektor, Feist, Rilo Kiley and Patsy Cline to name just a few. As a band I think our influences broaden a bit because there are six of us but definitely include Los Campesinos, Feist, The Beach Boys, I'm From Barcelona, Fleet Foxes, any pop from the '50s and '60s. Everyone in the band has their own influences, and those influences can find their way into the songs, but we work really hard to try and keep the sound from straying too far from who we are.

The song lyrics vacillate between childhood innocence and more grown-up concerns. What types of stories or emotions do you hope to get across in these songs?

I hope to convey the general emotion of growing up with this album. For me, this album tells the story of leaving home, falling in love, and moving on. Being that this is the first recording that I have ever released, it really is a 'best of' album of the past six years. These were years of great transition for me leaving my home in Florida and moving 1,000 miles away to go to school in Illinois. I think in everyone there is a deep sadness or a longing for your childhood. I think that's just part of growing up. I hope to convey some of that longing on the album.

I think the album also gives the listener a window into the excitement of falling in love as a lot the songs were written when I first met my husband. I wanted the album to reflect the almost childish excitement and feeling of being smitten when you first fall in love with someone. I think when the band got added to these songs, it really did help find that sound that would represent that emotion. When you look one of the latest songs I've written, "Baby Bunting," you can kind of see the maturing of our love and our relationship. One neat thing I like about the song order on the album is that the very first song on the album, "Birds of the Dawn," was the song that I wrote and surprised Michael with by singing it to him at our wedding reception. It is immediately followed by "The Flags in the Parade" which was the very first song I ever wrote for him right after our first date.

What's next for the band? Are there any plans of future tours or recording?

I am really excited about the next album. I can't wait to record. We have talked about doing some touring, but we're always waiting to finish the album. Now that it is done we might have to! We really want to get out there and meet new people and bands more than anything. - The River Front Times

"Movie and Television Licensing Deals Provide Exposure for Bands in St. Louis and Beyond"

Vocalist and songwriter Susan Logsdon says that because of the band's deal with Extreme Media (which originated at MTV but whose name and ownership has changed over the years), Scarlet Tanager's music has been featured on The Real World, Dance Moms, Catfish and, most recently, a commercial for GoPro cameras. - Riverfront Times


Let's Love 2014

American Songbird 2011



Scarlet Tanager is a six-piece band from St. Louis made up of husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, and friends. Led by Susan Logsdon, Scarlet Tanager reminds us of the best parts of love, being young, and growing up. In just a short amount of time, Scarlet Tanager has captured the hearts of the Midwest with their multi-instrumental, catchy riffs surrounding Susan's rich, "from-a-better-era" voice singing brutally honest lyrics about nostalgia, love, and home. If you don't feel the urge to sing along with the shouted gang vocals on American Songbird, we suggest you check your pulse. The melodies are infectious, and consider yourself warned, you will be humming these colorful tunes the rest of your day. Now come sing along.

Band Members