Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Adele (A.K.A. Sia Winehouse)

At age 19, I was taking a break from college and working at Subway until I decided if I wanted to go back and for what. I can't say that I'd accomplished anything to write home about at that point. Adele Laurie Blue Adkins (who goes by simply Adele) has put together 19, her debut album, which blows anything I had created at that point in my life right out of the water.

Adele is another tasty import from the UK, and although still at a tender age, is making music beyond her years. I've been listening to her album a lot lately, but it only took me one listen to really get into it. My first impression / comparison was between her and Australian via UK singer Sia. She's got a strong soulful sound that at times also dips into Amy Winehouse territory (minus the car-wreck of a drinking problem and rough-around-the-edges vocabulary). For an example of the former, check out Chasing Pavements below; for the latter, try Right As Rain.

As is the usual case with those crazy Brits, the album is already circulating in the streets there. On this continent you can get it digitally though through Amazon or iTunes, but will have to wait until June 10th for the physical album. If you enjoy either of the previously mentioned artists, I'm almost positive that you'll enjoy Adele and her album.

Visit her website, her label Columbia Records, and become her friend on MySpace.


Zero 7 (Feat. Sia) - Distractions : Simple Things

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Piano, Take 2 - Mark Northfield

So after chatting about Jon Regen yesterday, I have another piano driven album for you, albeit one quiet different than Let It Go. Tonight's ebony and ivory album comes from Londoneer Mark Northfield and it's titled Ascendant. While the album is presented under Mark's name, its composition is somewhat unique in that although all the songs are written and arranged by him, all but one track are sung by nine other vocalists (the one track you can hear Mark's voice on, Zero, is below).

Mark labels his music Alt Classical, and while all of the compositions primarily balance around his piano and strings, I wouldn't pigeon-hole it under that genric title. The album starts with Waiting for Green, which although is sung by a man, very much reminds me of Tori Amos with its playful interplay between the piano and strings and its echoing flitting about. Following this is Resistance, which starts as if a slower tempo continuation of the first track (with a different vocalist), but quickly veers into new territory with the infusion of a saxophone punctuating and accentuating interludes about a third of the way through. From there, once again the scene shifts with The Calm, which opens with what sounds like monks or a choir, as if you had stepped from a jazz club into a cathedral.

And those are only the first three of nine tracks on the album. The unifying aspect which weaves itself through from beginning to end is the piano playing of Mark Northfield. Overall, the album paints a somewhat dark, melancholic, introspective picture (think a piano-hued version of This Mortal Coil's softer work) perhaps best enjoyed late at night with a fine glass of red wine (preferably not from a box). It's complexity and intricacies belie its use of few instruments, and Mark's choice of employing a diverse range of vocalists help add touches of uniqueness to each track.

Visit his website and become his friend on MySpace.


This Mortal Coil - Mr. Somewhere
: Blood

Monday, April 28, 2008

Jon Regen on the Piano

I've been listening to Jon Regen for a few weeks now, and every time I'd listen I'd scratch my head wondering who he sounded like. Try as I might, I just couldn't place my finger on it. My thought process went something like this: He plays piano. Who else plays piano? Billy Joel. No. Ben Folds. Nope. Elton John. Negative. Tori Amos. Definitely not. Mozart? (at this point I was clearly grasping at straws)

Until, that is, I read Andrew's thoughts on it over at Carry You Away. Of course - Marc Cohn! Good call Andrew. With the name came his big hit Walking In Memphis playing in my mind, and the connection became clear. In terms of style, both men have got that bluesy / jazzy feel to them that carries the tunes. Strong piano playing, both in terms of presence as well as prowess. Going beyond the choice of instruments, vocally they're quite similar as well. It's smooth as well, but not in the Kenny G sort of way.

The album's titled Let It Go. It's out now. Forget Mozart, and listen to the following.

Visit his website and become his friend on MySpace.


Marc Cohn - Walking In Memphis : KBCO Studio C - Volume 10

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday Soul - Ain't No Sunshine

Ain't no sunshine when she's gone
It's not warm when she's away
Ain't no sunshine when she's gone
She's gone much too long
Any time she goes away

Ain't no sunshine when she's gone
Wonder if she's gone to stay
Ain't no sunshine when she's gone
And this house just ain't no home
Anytime she goes away

I know
She's gone to stay
It's breakin' me up
Anytime she goes away
Gotta leave the young thing alone
There ain't no sunshine when she's gone

Bill Withers - Ain't No Sunshine : Ain't No Sunshine 7"

Bill Withers - Harlem : Ain't No Sunshine 7" B-side

Get them both on Just As I Am

Isaac Hayes - Ain't No Sunshine : Live at the Sahara Tahoe

The Harlem Underground Band - Ain't No Sunshine : Harlem Underground

Sunday Spotlight - The Weepies

This week’s Sunday Spotlight shines on a couple that have been in the spotlight for the last few years with the release of their major label debut album Say I Am You back in 2005. Since then Deb Talan and Steve Tannen (a.k.a. The Weepies) have toured incessantly, been featured on commercials and TV shows across the networks, married, and gave birth to Theo, perhaps the biggest cause for celebration. Oh yea, and somehow they managed to lay down fourteen tracks for their new album Hideaway.

In between changing diapers and reading bedtime stories, Deb and Steve took the time to tell me about Hideaway, the title track and the third track on the album. As always, text in red is theirs, and questions in black are mine.

The Weepies - Hideaway : Hideaway


We had been listening to a lot of old blues songs, where the guitar playing often plays the main melody along with the singer. A lot of acoustic guitar playing is simply chords, over which the melody is sung; we wanted to do that thing where the guitar plays the same notes as the singer sings, so they're both doing it at the same time. The lyrics came out of our experiences of needing some time to hide!

The recording was a real collaboration. We recorded the acoustic guitar and Deb's lead vocal first at home in our living room. Frank Lenz came up with a classic rhythm pattern that worked, and then we sent that whole track via email to bassist Whynot Jansveld in NYC (we were in LA). Whynot came up with a really fun bottom end, and sent it back to Meg Toohey in LA. Meg's electric guitar is the groovy "chunk-a-chunk" you hear that's WAY back off the beat, almost in the previous bar every time. Then we took all those pieces, added those 60's harmonies and some organ to fill it out. It was the last track to make it onto the record.

1.) With the overwhelming popularity and visibility of its songs in movies, TV, etc..., and the hectic schedule you ran supporting it, is there a tiny part of you that hopes this album doesn't break as big?

Nah. It beats waiting tables.

2.) Do you foresee an album of children’s music in the near future?

We certainly have some very silly new songs, but we're a little afraid of kids' albums, given the amount of terrible kids' music that's out there. If we did one, it would have to be something that *we* loved too - no talking down to the kids or oversimplification of the music. Interesting idea though.

3.) You mentioned that you’ve been listening to a lot of blues music lately. Any style in particular that you’re fans of – Delta Blues, Chicago, the 60’s electric revival? Any certain musicians you’ve been keen on?

Robert Johnson is Theo's favorite (and ours too). You can't beat those early Delta blues guys. We also love Son House and Charley Patton. But Theo likes Robert Johnson's voice best - that high keening quality can stop Theo in his tracks whatever he's doing.

Robert Johnson - They're Red Hot : The Complete Recordings [Box Set]

Son House - County Farm Blues : Classic Blues from Smithsonian Folkways


The album title probably stems from the fact that the couple hasn’t had a chance to breathe or relax since releasing their big league debut as The Weepies together. Deb says, “We were empty. We both felt dark after being in the bright lights for a year. We were looking to reconnect with what moved us about music in the first place. We needed to hide out and write.” As a whole, it still retains a wistful playfulness, but it’s a little toned down compared to the last album, dark almost when compared to what you might be used to from them. Still present though is the beautiful interplay between the two, which is the magic which makes the couple’s music so attractive to listeners I think. The album hit shelves on the 22nd, and is available digitally as well of course.

The Weepies - Hideaway : Hideaway

And here are some live tracks:

The Weepies - World Spins Madly On : Live from the World Cafe (from Say I Am You)

The Weepies - Gotta Have You : Live from the World Cafe (from Say I Am You)

The Weepies - Rocks & Water : Live from the World Cafe (from Deb Talan's album A Bird Flies Out)

The Weepies - Somebody Loved : Live from the World Cafe (from Happiness)

Visit their website, their label Nettwerk Records, and become their friend on MySpace.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Leave the Lights On

tuck me in babe
just like you always do
tuck me in babe
so tight and close to you
cuz i get cold in my dreams at night
and I'm reaching out for you
so tuck me in
baby, do

Visit her label Blue Note and become her friend on MySpace.

Nine Inch Nails

"I've been considering and wanting to make this kind of record for years, but by its very nature it wouldn't have made sense until this point. This collection of music is the result of working from a very visual perspective - dressing imagined locations and scenarios with sound and texture; a soundtrack for daydreams."
-Trent Reznor

I first listened to Pretty Hate Machine in 1991 during my Freshman year at college. More important that my engineering classes was the musical awakening I undertook through new friends from far off lands (New Jersey). PHM was different from anything I had yet encountered in my life up to that point and I was enthralled by it. In those pre-wikipedia days, information on bands was hard to find, and the liner notes to the album offered little more than the lyrics.

In 1992, I remember buying Broken the day it came out (the version with the 3" mini-disc), going home, playing it, and being blown away. Absolutely blown away. To this day, Broken epitomizes Trent Reznor for me.

I can remember getting the single for March of the Pigs the day before The Downward Spiral was released, and then going back the next day to pick up the album. Once again, NIN had re-imagined itself and put together an album completely unexpected.

NIN fell of my radar screen after The Downward Spiral with the five years elapsing before The Fragile came out and it wasn't until With Teeth was released that I revisited them. I guess my point in taking the trip down memory lane is to illustrate the point that Trent has never grown stagnant in the close to 20 years he's been creating under the moniker Nine Inch Nails. With the release of Ghosts I-IV last month, he continues with his evolution.

Two discs. Two "Ghosts" on each disc. Nine tracks in each ghost. "A soundtrack for daydreams," he calls it. Completely instrumental. Who saw that coming? Surely he's played with instrumental tracks before, but in the manner of transitions. Songs to move you from one place to the next on the album. Here, the instrumentals are the place. Some are hazy and indefinite. Some are throbbing industrialism. Others cold electronica. Others...

Even without lyrics, it still feels like Trent. It's not created to listen to at one sitting though, at least not with you intently focusing on it. I'm guessing Trent has divided up into the four sections to represent them as four separate entities, although I'd be hard pressed to figure out how/why the tracks were divided up into the four Ghosts they way they are. That being said, the two tracks are I picked out below are somewhat arbitrary are by no means able to represent the Ghosts they come from, the discs they're on, or the album as a whole. They're simply tracks that I particularly enjoyed for themselves.

You can either purchase the two discs physically for fairly cheap, or you can download them all digitally for the insanely cheap price of $5 from Amazon. $5 doesn't get you much now-a-days. It will get you these 36 tracks though. Plan on listening to it when you can completely focus on it though for you to really hear it. Be prepared for something different, again.

Visit his website and become his friend on MySpace.


1000 Homo DJs - Supernaut
: Black Box: Wax Trax! Records, The First 13 Years

Friday, April 25, 2008

Costa Music

Joseph Costa, formerly of L'altra, has delved out on his own to put together Lighter Subects, a nine track affair that he's released under the name Costa Music. It's a collection of mesmerizing electronic chamber soundscapes that drift along dreamily, taking the listener with it. As the title (and the cover) suggests, although primarily electronic, there are no thumping bass lines here or endless looping sound bites, just soaring instrumentals that are easy to get lost in. Several times I've played this album and have been surprised that it's over and I'm not sure where the last 40 minutes went to.

Besides expressing himself musically, Joseph is also a photographer, and you can see some of his work here. Experience the following tracks to taste the floating feeling of his audible work.

Visit his website, his label Still Records, and become his friend on MySpace.


L'altra - It Follows Me Around : Different Days

Frank Sinatra, the Actor

So you know the question that goes something like this: If you could be anyone else in the world, who would it be? Well if you limited it to musicians, my choice would be Frank Sinatra, any day of the week, without a second thought. In terms of his music, in terms of his legacy, in terms of his appreciation of life and living it to the fullest, no one beat Frank. No one.

Long before Elvis hit the big screen, Sinatra was doing films for Hollywood. Starting in 1941 with an uncredited appearance as part of Tommy Dorsey's band in the film Las Vegas Nights (quiet appropriate really when one thinks about how he later came to dominate Sin City), then in 1943 his first credited role playing a character named Frank in Higher and Higher, Sinatra appeared in dozens and dozens of movies over the course of about 30 years, and then later in life, television shows (including Magnum P.I. for those of you who might remember Tom Selleck and the bright red Ferrari). For many of the films, Sinatra not only acted, but also recorded theme songs and other tracks that appeared in the movies.

And now, getting to today's post's point, Capitol Records has put together a collection of twenty tracks from various films in which he appeared. Some are quite well known and are some of Frank's signature songs (Chicago, The Lady Is A Tramp, (Love Is) The Tender Trap, and All the Way to name a few), and some might not be familiar to those who've only heard his greatest hits collections.

Somewhat coinciding with the album's release this month, in May the post office will be releasing a commemorative stamp, and throughout May Turner Classic Movies will be playing more than thirty of his films and four of his television specials. So while you're waiting to catch all of his movies that you missed (I know you've seen The Cannonball Run already), enjoy the following tracks, and check out the album.

Visit his website, the album's offical website, and his label Capitol Records.


Frank Sinatra - High Hopes : JFK Campaign version

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Lykke Li

Once some time passes, I think people are going to look back at the last 6 or 8 years as the Swedish Invasion. Artists have been coming over in droves recently, and I'm not talking just Scandinavian Death Metal. Off the top of my head I can think of Jens Lekman, Peter Bjorn and John, Kristoffer Ragnstam, Johnossi, Mando Diao, José González, and Loney, Dear. I'm sure there are lots more out there that are making international waves.

One more name that I can add to the list is Lykke Li. Lykke (don't ask me how to pronounce it) just released her debut album in her home country, and although it's not available on this side of the Atlantic yet (look for it later this year), you can grab an EP appropriately titled the Little Bit EP. It contains three tracks from the LP, plus an additional track, Everybody But Me. You can purchase the songs digitally already; look for the hard-copy on May 6th.

The four tracks are very airy and delicate sounding, and on top of it all is Lykke's voice, very distinct and delicate itself. Even on Dance Dance Dance, which as the title suggests gets its groove on, there's not a lot going on, but what is there pieces together nicely and musically is quite pleasing.

Visit her website and become her friend on MySpace.

Upcoming tour dates

05.06.08 - Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda's
05.07.08 - New York, NY - Joe’s Pub
05.08.08 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
05.09.08 - Boston, MA - Middle East
05.10.08 - Montreal, QUE - Lambi
05.11.08 - Toronto, ON - Mod Club
05.12.08 - Chicago, IL - Shuba’s
05.14.08 - Vancouver, BC - Red Room
05.15.08 - Seattle, WA - Triple Door
05.16.08 - Portland, OR - Doug Fir
05.18.08 - San Francisco, CA - Bimbo’s
05.19.08 - Los Angeles, CA - El Rey Theatre

Hello Tristan Prettyman

You might remember me posting up the video for Madly, the first single off of Tristan Prettyman's sophomore release Hello. Well I finally got a copy of the entire album, and I'm absolutely lovin' it as much as her last album! Tristan has put together twelve new tracks that focus on what she does best singing about - love. Only this time, instead of the demure sweet voiced, soft-spoken, doe-eyed Tristan we met on Twentythree, she's got a little more spunk and sass (try California Girl below for a taste).

That's not to say she's turned into an Alanis Morissette for the 2000's. Her voice still runs the gamut from alluringly smoky to honey tinged and this time around her music has got a more pronounced bluesy feel to it (think Please from her last album) - maybe she's been hanging around G. Love too much.

Over the last week it's been out, the album has shot up the iTunes sales charts, which bodes well for Tristan. It opens up with the title track, which you can hear below, which most certainly feels like a transition from the first album. It easily could have fit on Twentythree as well as it does here. From there, the album smoothly moves forward, developing Tristan's sound beyond her previous work. I hesitate to say she's matured and give the impression that she's making music for your parents, but there's a definite progression in her sound and in her tone. There's much more wisdom and experience displayed in her lyrics - almost to the point that you'd think she's had a bad relationship in the last year or two that's she's gotten over.

I eagerly anticipated the arrival of this album, and I haven't been disappointed. It's been in my ears fairly constantly for the last week and I'm not getting tired of it yet. With now two albums of solid material packed away, I'm now eager to catch her tour in support of the album. And who knows, maybe G. Love will show up, too!

Tristan Prettyman - Hello : Hello

Tristan Prettyman - California Girl
: Hello

and one from her debut:

Tristan Prettyman - Simple As It Should Be : Twentythree

Visit her website, her label Virgin Records, and become her friend on MySpace.


G. Love and Tristan Prettyman - Beautiful, Beautiful : Live at the Catalyst, Santa Cruz 10.8.04

Tristan Prettyman - Shy That Way (w/ Jason Mraz) : Live In Jacksonville, FL 11-28-03

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Spring Flower

open up your love
like a spring flower
share this river
and revel in its power
take me as a friend
take me as a lover
and open up your love
like a spring flower

Just because it's that time of year, it's absolutely beautiful out, and it's a beautiful song.

Visit their website, their label DDG Records, and become their friend on MySpace.

Old Man Luedecke

If you're not familiar with the Black Hen Music label from up north of the border (Canada for those of you who are geographically illiterate), you're missing some really solid and diverse music that digs to the roots. It's run by a man of the name Steve Dawson who, when not recording his own albums, pulls together some great talent. His latest release comes from Old Man Luedecke, who's put together his second album, titled Proof of Love.

If I didn't know the Old Man came from Nova Scotia, I'd swear that he grew up in the Appalachians somewhere down south. His music fully revolves around his banjo playing, at times plucking out distinct and raucous notes, and at others walking a rhythm that flows through the songs mournfully. If you at all enjoy the distinct sound of a banjo, you'll appreciate what the Old Man does with it. Behind him, he's gathered a few friends from the label to help out. The before-mentioned Steve Dawson contributes quite liberally, and The Sojourners (a gospel group - read about them here) provide some guest vocals on one of the tracks as well.

All told, the album's a fine slice of folksy Americana.

Visit his website, his label Black Hen Music, and become his friend on MySpace.


The Sojourners - Jesus Hits Like The Atom Bomb : Hold On

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Out Today - The Weepies

The Weepies released their follow-up to Say I Am You today. Check back Sunday to see what Deb and Steve had to say about the title track, Hideaway, in the Sunday Spotlight!

Visit their website, their label Nettwerk Records, and become their friend on MySpace.

Does It Offend You, Yeah?

I know it's hard to dream up with a band name nowadays. It's too easy to come up with The ______ (fill in the blank with your favorite inanimate object or animal) and leave it at that. So when you come across Does It Offend you, Yeah?, it really makes a statement. It's kind of hard to spit out though. Doesn't quite roll off your tongue like The Platypuses.

Putting that all aside though, DIOY,Y? (even the acronym requires some thought to type) is a group of four blokes from the UK who released their debut album last week. Beings guys who like long multi-word titles, they've of course titled their album You Have No Idea What You're Getting Yourself Into. The first single off the album is We Are Rockstars, which is a track that's straight out of the 80's - think Rockwell meets Prodigy (listen to it below). In fact, much of the album has that updated retro synth-pop feel to it that just seems like it would be fun to get down and do the Sprinkler to.

To further prove these guys spend way too much time coming up with catchy titles, there's track six on the album, Attack of the 60 Ft Lesbian Octopus. I've never encountered a 60 Ft octopus, nevermind one that was a lesbian, but the frantic beat in this track gets my heart rate pumping. Then there's Being Bad Feels Pretty Good, yet another title that invites attention, and the song itself will give you flashbacks to Robert Smith and The Cure.

Seriously, if these guys fail in the music department (and that's probably not likely if they keep churning out music like this), I think they could have a career in coming up with titles for pulp fiction paperbacks.

Visit their website, their label Almost Gold Recordings, and become their friend on MySpace.


Rockwell - Somebody's Watching Me : 100% Motown: '80s

Upcoming Tour Dates

4/26 Indio , CA Coachella
4/30 San Diego , CA Casbah
5/1 Los Angeles , CA El Rey Theater
5/2 Pomona , CA Glasshouse
5/3 San Francisco , CA Slim’s
5/5 Portland , OR Hippodrome
5/6 Seattle , WA Neumo’s
5/7 Vancouver , BC Richard’s on Richards
5/9 Salt Lake City , UT Urban Lounge
5/10 Denver , CO Bluebird
5/12 Minneapolis , MN First Ave.
5/13 Chicago , IL Mansion
5/14 Cleveland Grog Shop
5/15 Philadelphia , PA Johnny Brenda’s
5/16 New York , NY Highline Theater
5/17 Brooklyn , NY Southpaw

Monday, April 21, 2008

Freddie Stevenson

Just a quick track for you that I've really been enjoying as of late. It's from Scottish artist Freddie Stevenson and it's off his second album, All My Strange Companions, which came out earlier this month. It's the lead off track, titled Easy Now, and the guitar riff completely reminds me of something The Clash would be rocking. And what might just top off the track and seal the deal is he name checks JK Rowling. Damn!

As an album, it has a few acoustic-punk numbers like this one, but it's not completely there for the duration. I completely recommend downloading this track, then stream the rest of the album HERE.

Visit his website, his label Juicy Musical Creations, and become his friend on MySpace.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sunday Spotlight - Bess Rogers

This week brings the solo debut from Bess Rogers to the Sunday Spotlight. If you’re not familiar with Bess’ name, she’s a consummate performer who’s been involved with music since she was a little child, listening to her mother playing harpsichords that her father built, and learning to play them herself at age 6. As she hit her early teens, Bess started writing her own songs, and then went on to study music at SUNY’s Conservatory of Music.

Since then, she’s played guitar for artists such as Jenny Owen Youngs and Ingrid Michaelson, and is a member of the synth-pop band The Age of Rockets. Although she clearly has loads of experience under her belt, Decisions Based on Information is her debut solo work and just came out earlier this month. Its recording started back in 2006 and has continued here and there amongst her other projects.

Bess was kind enough to take the time to talk about Only One, the sixth track on the album. As usual, writing in red is hers and questions in black are mine.


Only One was one of the first songs on my record to be recorded and actually the last to be finished writing-wise. I had written the chords and melody and had the line "see you're the only one like me", but for the duration of the recording process my producer and I had to listen to most of the song with "doo doo doo's" instead of lyrics. Those "doo doo doo's" actually hold a very special place in my heart. When we were flushing out the song, I recorded scratch guitar and vocals to use as a reference. But when we went back to it a few days later, something got messed up with the sampling rate. The result was that my vocals remained the same in speed and pitch but the sound of my voice was dramatically lowered so I sounded like a drunk transvestite singing these bizarre sultry "doo doo doo's". It was hilarious! And it stayed that way until we recorded final vocals, almost a year later. We both became so attached to them that we even considered, for a brief second, leaving it that way. Then, luckily, we realized we had been in the studio for way too long and were probably just going insane.

But on a serious note, this song is one of my favorites on the record and was really fun to record. The melatron sound in the beginning of the song is actually me playing the flute. I have been playing the flute since 4th grade and to Dan Romer's (producer) and my delight, I have not gotten much better since then. The result is that when quadrupled and low-fi'd, my flute playing sounds a lot like a melatron (that Strawberry Fields sound) but somehow different. The part that the flutes are playing is basically exactly what I was playing on guitar. We transcribed it all and I played each note individually and on separate tracks so it would have more of a carnival calliope sound to it.

I got the idea of the song from something that I think about quite often and it always boggles my mind a bit: the fact that when I and someone else are looking at the color red, I really have no idea and never will have any idea whether or not that person is seeing the same red as me. Or whether I see a completely different color than the rest of the world does. You can pretty much apply that to everything, including relationships with people and that's what this song is about. There's a bit of denial involved when you say that you've found someone who is exactly like you, because you can never get completely into someone else's head. That's where lines like, "bending my mind to see you're the only one like me" came from. You have to play pretend a little bit and you're probably better off for it in the end.

And now for a few questions for Bess:

1.) Is this song (Only One) biographical at all? Is there a particular person you are thinking of when singing about "bending your mind?"

This song wasn't written about a specific person - but it does deal with a specific feeling that I have experienced in my life. I think, at times, everyone has that sinking feeling that they are essentially alone in life and I wanted to express that in a way that other people could relate to. Expressing that theme through a relationship allows the listener to put themselves in those shoes... I hope!

2.) This album was put together over the last few years in pieces when you were able to get into the studio. Do you see yourself shifting your focus to your solo career with this album under your belt or will you continue to primarily work with your band (The Age of Rockets) and other artists?

My focus has always been my solo career and will continue to be. I play seriously in 3 other bands aside from my own and they are all very important to me. But the thing I work the hardest on and consider the most vital is my own music/career. I really enjoy playing in all of the bands that I do and would love to multi-task like this forever, although I think it will eventually become impossible. I'm just doing my best not to think about that right now and enjoy the ride.

3.) Visually speaking, the packaging of the album and your picture on the front is very librarianish. Should we assume that you’re an avid reader as well as music-maker? What’s next to your bed right now that you’re reading?

I would really like to answer that question in the affirmative... but unfortunately I can't consider myself an avid reader. I love to read but I just find I don't have enough time in the day to do it as much as I'd like to. The only time I really have to read is on the subway. (If I read on the road I will throw up in the car!) But right now I am (slowly) reading South of the Border, West of the Sun by Murakami.


I think what I love most about this song, and the album in general is its philosophical turning of the world on its side, its approach to such common subjects as love in a manner quite out of the ordinary. As a whole, the album covers a wide range of musical ground, and one gets the feeling that Bess perhaps is trying to define her work as her own, as opposed to the music she’s been a part of working with others.

Although a guitarist, this album is certainly not an album revolving around her guitar playing. There’s an eclectic exploration here of sounds employing a wide range of instruments, but never are they the centerpiece of the songs. Instead, you’ll find yourself focusing on Bess’ voice and lyrics. Even the style and feel of the songs varies from alt-country to alt-waltz, and everything in between.

Bess Rogers - I Would Never : Decisions Based On Information

Bess Rogers - Only One : Decisions Based On Information

Visit her website and become her friend on MySpace.

Upcoming tour dates

04/22 Somerville, MA @ Johnny D’s
04/24 New York, NY @ National Underground
05/06 Brooklyn, New York @ Luna Lounge
06/13 Providence, RI @ Brooklyn Tea and Coffee


Ingrid Michaelson - The Way I Am : Girls and Boys

Jenny Owen Youngs - Drinking Song : Batten the Hatches

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Happy Merry Passover!

"Jewmongous is really just an extension of my bar mitzvah, simultaneously embracing and rebelling against my heritage."
-Sean Altman

Sean Altman, half of the now defunct comedy duo What I Like About Jew, is back, and although this time performing under the name Jewmongous, he's still having fun with his religion. And as his website proclaims, he's here to play unkosher comedy songs, and you'll find plenty of them on the album. You'll find bubble-gum rock, circus waltzes, an Irish shanty, big band swing, a jazz ballad, blues, a klezmer cover of the Ramones' I Wanna Be Sedated, and so on and so on. There is something here for everyone (so long as they can laugh a little).

And for today, Sean has cooked up They Tried to Kill Us (We Survived, Let's Eat) in the spirit of Passover! Think of Jewish version of They Might be Giants set to every imaginable musical genre available and you'll come close to Taller Than Jesus, this outrageous collection of 15 tracks

Visit his website and become his friend on MySpace.

Chillin' with Mohanski

I really know next to nothing about Mohanski. Let me sum it up:

Fact #1 = I do know they're from England.
Fact #2 = They're re-releasing their oddly titled debut album Hotdog Chihuahua on April 29th.
Fact #3 = Said debut album has a cleverly designed cover that I dig (but strangely enough, lacking canines of any breed) .

And now for the conjecture:

Guess #1 = Based on their pics, I'd guess they're a 4 piece band, but in reality they have five members - Perhaps the fifth member is taking the picture?.
Guess #2 = They've obviously watched a lot of westerns because they know to have the sun at their back.

That's it. That's all I got. That being said, I suppose I should talk about the album now, and not them. It's totally got a laid back chill groove to it with organs funking and tambourines shaking. Imagine The Doors meet The Beach Boys, mixed up with your favorite jam band, Brit-pop-icize it (think Beta Band - try Airwolf below if you don't believe me), and then plug them in with some electronic exclamations snuck in between. It's completely an album to kick back with and contemplate the atomic weight of air.

Mohanski - Airwolf : Hotdog Chihuahua

Mohanski - I've Been Sold : Hotdog Chihuahua

Visit their website, their label Ugly Nephew Records, and become their friend on MySpace.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Record Store Day

So tomorrow is Record Store Day. What does that mean? It means you should get off you lazy, iTunes downloadin' arse and walk/bike/ride a horse/skydive/teleport yourself to your local small time music retailer and buy some music. Not just mp3's, but real solid honest-to-goodness music. Cassette, vinyl, CD, 8-track, I don't care what it is, just buy it. Lots of it. And before you do, talk to the guy or gal behind the counter and ask them what they recommend, because they love music even more than you do and might just have some suggestions that I might fail to make here on MISB.

Want to know more about it? Head over to the official Record Store Day Website where you can see if your local music dealer is in on the buzz. And while you're waiting for tomorrow to come, here is an mp3 for you to listen to!

Think of One

There is a lot of really good music out there, and when I say out there, I don’t mean in Los Angeles (or Canada for that matter). If you think about it, most Americans stick to American music, or every so often get crazy when there’s a new British Invasion. It’s a shame really, as there a lot of different traditions out there that could add to our musical palette. In face, if you look back in history you’ll realize that other countries have been much more accepting of our music than we have been of theirs. For example, think of the massive exodus of jazz greats to Europe. Then again, we do listen to Irish drinking songs on St. Patrick’s Day.

At the turn of the month, Belgium collective Think Of One released their latest creation, Camping Shaâbi. The group is organized around leader and composer David Bovee, and whereas their last album was flavored with Brazilian music, this album circles around a collective love of Moroccan shaâbi. If you’re not familiar with shaâbi (and I wasn’t before hearing this album), it’s a modern day popular style of music that’s derived from traditional Berber music. To imbue it with a sense of authenticity, the group has brought five Moroccan musicians into the fold to collaborate with.

The product has an exotic flair to it that refreshingly feels most definitely UN-American. Instead of just copying a cultural tradition though and recording it as their own, Think Of One mixes in other diverse elements to claim it as their own. There are jazzy horns here and there to make exclamations, note altering electronica, and dub and hip-hop influences as well. On top of it all are vocals sung in Flemish, Arabic, French, and some English here and there (try below). If you’re at all familiar with OppressorZap Mama (who coincidentally is also Belgian), Think Of One is working of the same page.

Visit their website, their label Crammed Discs, and become their friend on MySpace.


Zap Mama - Yelling Away : Ancestry In Progress

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Soul of Danielia Cotton

You know how usually most albums are somewhat top heavy? Typically the first few tracks are the ones that stick with you the most, and as you get deeper into the album, especially at the end, it often feels like filler. When I first played Rare Child, the second album from Danielia Cotton, the first few songs struck me as good, but didn’t really completely grab me. It wasn’t until I got into the middle of the album that my ears really started perking up and paying total attention.

There are two things I take away from listening to the album in its entirety. First, and foremost, is Cotton’s voice. It’s the kind of voice that seems like would easily overwhelm a microphone if the singer really got up on it. It’s full, it’s powerful, but it still is graceful and feminine. It’s the kind of voice that I could picture singing gospel solos sans mic and still completely filling a room. Don’t think I’m simply suggesting it’s loud; that’s most definitely not the case. Even with its intensity, it still carries rich emotions and shades of subtlety.

The second aspect of the album which I enjoy, and which complements and even lifts Cotton’s vocals, is the blues tainted soul sounds that the music carries. While some of the tracks rock nice and loud, others convey a hushed intimateness. Regardless, both tones feel equally familiar with Cotton’s spirit.

Returning to my original observations about Danielia’s voice, she was raised listening to the jazz and gospel music that her mother and aunts sang, which could account for that strong presence her voice carries. The album is the follow-up to her debut, Small White Town, which came out back in 2005, and hits shelves on May 20th.

Visit her website, her label , and become her friend on MySpace.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mainstream turns TWO!

(looking in the mirror and practicing...)

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my mom, my great-great-grandfather, Benjamin Franklin, the four great artists in my brand new banner (especially Vanilla Ice for proving a white man really can roll in a 5.0), all Harlem Globetrotters (past and present...and future while I'm at it), the Dalai Lama (I'm not buying all that hype China's trying to sell us), Soul Train...

But seriously, it's really hard to believe that this party has been rolling along for two years now. This here is post # 537! Along the way I've told you about my first concert (Motley Crue - who coincidentally is coming around for Crue Fest 2008 this summer - anyone want to go?), confessed I love romantic comedies, and shared a whole boatload of music. I'm not going to get all gushy with you - that's not how I roll here at MISB. Instead I'll just thank you all for swingin' through.

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - 2:22 : Nothing But the Water

Belle & Sebastian - Dirty Dream Number Two
: The Boy with the Arab Strap

Bruce Springsteen - Two Hearts : The River

Wally Pleasant - Two For One Coupon : Hoedown

Page France - We Remain as Two : Come, I'm a Lion!

Ben Lee - 2 Sisters : Something to Remember Me By

Tricky - Carriage For Two : Angels With Dirty Faces

Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock - It Takes Two : Profilin' the Hits

Johnny Cash - Two Timin' Woman : Unearthed I: Who's Gonna Cry

William Bell - Tryin' To Love Two : Tryin' To Love Two 7" (get it on Greatest Hits, Vol. 1)

Bitter:Sweet - Take 2 Blue : The Mating Game

Elvis Perkins - Moon Woman 2 : Ash Wednesday

Gemma Hayes - Two Steps : The Roads Don't Love You

The Fiery Furnaces - Two Fat Feet : Gallowsbird's Bark