Friday, February 29, 2008

The new flavor of Goldfrapp

If you haven't heard, earlier this week Goldfrapp released their fourth album, Seventh Tree, something very unlike their previous work. So much so that I've seen scathing reviews and glorious praise rained down upon it, depending on who you're listening to. In fact, I think the last time I've seen such a divided camp about a band's change of direction was Rilo Kiley's release of Under The Blacklight last year (although I'd argue that Goldfrapp's new sound is a bolder step away from their previous work).

The enchanting Alison Goldfrapp is still at the helm for this go-around, but behind her is a panorama quite alien to what fans have come to expect from the band. Gone are the disco beats and driven electronica (although there are still some electronic effects present). Instead be prepared for acoustic guitars and strings that provide a warmer, more organic feeling sound which feels intimately epic in its sweeping movements as well in its stripped down confessions.

For previous fans, while there are some similarities between this and Felt Mountain, you'll really need to come to this album with a clean slate of expectations. If you're able to do that, I'm sure it will still comes as somewhat of a shock, but it will grow on you if you give it the chance.




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


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Catching The King Blues

"Growing up in punk, politics was always an accepted part of music. It was never a conscious thing. That said, we do have an agenda that's quite simple: we want to unite people. We see a lot of dividing and conquering going on in society and that's upsetting us. We're freedom fighters and activists. We want to cross all divisions."

No, the above quote doesn't come from Zack de la Rocha, it comes from Johnny "Itch" Fox, who sings vocals and plays ukulele for the Brit band The King Blues. The group originally formed in 2004, and then got into the big leagues in 2006 with the release of their debut album Under the Fog on the UK's biggest punk label, Household Name. It's done well enough on the other side of the Atlantic that it's getting an American release on March 3rd, and the single for the title track was available earlier this week (on the 25th).

What are those crazy Brits sending us now you might ask? Don't be expecting another Lily Allen or Amy Winehouse. Instead, be prepared for a band that's highly politically charged (listen to Intro below, which kicks off the album - there's no hedging bets here, the band is front and center with their message) at times, and just plain fun at others (Mr. Music Man, the title track - which is available as a single, which includes a remix by fellow UK Punk band Gallows). It's main vein is a laid back reggae groove with a pinch of ska (think Mighty Mighty Bosstones), working class folk protests (The Weavers anyone?), and some dub bass lines here and there to keep you awake and moving.

The boys just don't talk a good game either. They're fairly involved with a large number of community projects around London, hence the lead-off quote. After the US release of their debut, the band is planning on their second album coming out later this year. Check out the following tracks, and look for the album next week.



Visit their website, their label Field Recordings, and become their friend on MySpace

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Rage Against the Machine - Freedom (live) : Live At The Grand Olympic Auditorium

The Weavers - If I Had A Hammer : Vanguard Visionaries

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Taking off with the Flat Duo Jets

I'm going to be completely honest with you. I was completely unfamiliar with the Flat Duo Jets until the soundtrack for Two Headed Cow landed in front of me. Which is a crime, because it's freakin' insanely good. And when I say freakin' insanely good I mean why the heck didn't anyone I know tip me off about these guys until nine years after they broke-up???

The Flat Duo Jets are/were just that - a duo comprised of vocalist/guitarist Dexter Romweber and drummer Crow who joined together back in the mid 80's in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. But for just two guys, damn they rock. The pair churns out a smorgasbord of rockabilly, blues, and surf rock that hits hard and fast and's a kick in the balls. They released a handful of albums in the 90's but broke up in '99, with Romweber going on to form the Dexter Romweber Duo with his sister (who continue to release albums and perform live).

The movie that the soundtrack shares its title with covers the early years of the band and includes some original footage dating back to 1986 and the CD's eighteen tracks blaze through unreleased material recorded back in '86. It was released earlier this month on February 12th and I really can't recommend it enough.


Flat Duo Jets - Everybody's Movin (Glen Glenn cover) : Two Headed Cow

Flat Duo Jets - Rock House : Two Headed Cow


Visit their label Chicken Ranch Records and become their friend on MySpace.

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More Rockabilly fun

Charlie Feathers - Corrina, Corrina : Sun Recordings

Glen Glenn - Jack & Jill Boogie : Missouri Rockabilly 1955-1965

Billy Lee Riley - Red Hot : Red-Hot Rockabilly - The Rock 'n' Roll Era

Carl Perkins - Boppin' the Blues
: Sun Recordings

Eddie Bond - Rockin' Daddy : Memphis Rockabilly King

The Jiants - Tornado
: Rockabilly Gold, Vol. 6

Monday, February 25, 2008

The two sides of Sara Melson

Just because she's reclining both in the picture above and the cover below of her debut album Dirty Mind, don't get the idea that singer-songwriter Sara Melson isn't on the move. It might have taken her a few years to lay down the twelve tracks on this self-produced album, but it's because she created it while also working as a kids' music teacher and a yoga instructor.

I've been listening to this lately in tandem with Jaymay's album Autumn Fallin' (which I wrote about yesterday) and in some ways they offer balance to each other. As with Jaymay's album, Sara focuses a lot on grappling with life, including relationships. In many of Sara's songs, the connection with that other person is made through the eyes (ironically enough as she singing about it with words) and where as ultimately the outlook on Jaymay's album was rather dismal, with Sara it's up and down, but mostly up...with optimism shining through (try Anywhere Anytime below). I'm not sure if it's a result of the tracks being recorded over such a long length of time, but even Sara's voice, which delivers lyrics in a raspy thoughtful way, seems to evolve between tracks as well.

As far as the album title goes, Sara has this to say about it: "The fact is, I do have a dirty mind, while at the same time I have a very active spiritual life. I celebrate both." This duality in Sara's nature comes through on a few of the tracks. On the title track (which you can listen to below), she sings,
Summer's getting hotter
and winter's growing colder
And everybody's turning another year older
I wonder when I'll be lying head to toe again
With you my friend
And time will stop and space will bend
Obviously this isn't dirt on the level of someone like Peaches, but instead it's something much more sensual and intimate. In terms of that spiritual connection Sara mentions, you can see that in several songs with her appealing to a higher power, not necessarily a specific God, to help her deal with this world. In the album's closer (not counting an acoustic version of an earlier track) titled Birthday Wish,
Please God, take care of me,
Enter me so I may be free
Help me breathe in slowly, without fear
Why can't I accept the truth
Even I will lose my youth
I'd better learn this lesson while I'm here
It's a fairly powerful plea, especially coming from one so young, someone with their whole life ahead of them. It also shows wisdom seldom seen (or heard) in much of today's music.

Songs from the album have already appeared on several TV shows (which seem to be the latest and greatest marketing thrust) including Grey’s Anatomy and Men In Trees. It comes out tomorrow, but here are a few tracks to listen to tonight to convince you to order it in the morning.





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


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sunday Soul - Irish Soul

Something a little different for this week's edition of Sunday Soul. To make a long story short - I'm taking a Film and Literature Graduate course and had to read / watch The Commitments this past week. If you haven't read it, it's a killer book about a bunch of blokes putting together a soul band in Dublin. The movie...I'll go easy and call it so-so. In the + column, it does have Glen Hansard in it (although he looks a lot like Weird Al Yankovic), and it has some classic songs, but the music loses most of the soul and gains an 80's pop feel to it (even though the movie came out at the turn of the 90's). Anyway, here are a couple tracks that come up in one, the other, or both.


Al Green - Take Me To The River : Al Green Explores Your Mind

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - The Tracks Of My Tears : Going to a Go-Go

James Brown - Night Train : 20 All Time Greatest Hits!

Jaymay's story

Autumn Fallin' is the death of a relationship and the death of a friend. It’s about Autumn turning into Winter. The songs come from seven months of life and relationships in New York. But there’s hope there in the songs too. If you think of the first song, Gray or Blue, and the last song, You Are The Only One I Love, as bookends you can read a story.”

-Jaymay

I've been listening to some really great music lately. Don't get me wrong, I find good new music all the time, but lately I've come across some really brilliant stuff. Jaymay's debut album Autumn Fallin' falls into this category. As her quote above suggests, the album is an autobiographical expression of her experiences living in New York City. A lot of artists write songs saying "woe is me" in their own way. Some of them are believable, some are not. Jaymay's personal idiom is absolutely heart-wrenching while still managing to avoid heavy-handed dramatics. The instrumentation is oftentimes morose, although not always - but the lyrics, that's where the weight lies, in the lyrics.

The album comes out March 11th, but you can buy it digitally now. Here are a few tracks to give you an idea of the beauty of her work.




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


Saturday, February 23, 2008

the buzz on the bird & the bee

You might recall me writing about the bird & the bee's debut self titled album a little less than a year ago back here. Since then, they've been busy little bees...and birds for that matter...releasing two EP's. The first, Please Clap Your Hands, came out a while back and had a killer cover of the Bee Gees' How Deep Is Your Love (which you can hear below if you haven't heard it already). The second, One Too Many Hearts, just came out on February 12th and I've been completely digging it (much like I dug their album). Quite appropriately for Valentine's Day, this short 4 song EP focuses on what the pair loves to sing about: love. If you've loved their previous stuff, this EP will add four more songs to your bird & bee playlist for you to enjoy. If you haven't checked them out yet, what are you waiting for?


the bird & the bee - Birthday : One Too Many Hearts EP

one from their last EP:

the bird & the bee - How Deep Is Your Love (Bee Gees Cover) : Please Clap Your Hands EP

and one from their debut album:

the bird & the bee - Fucking Boyfriend : the bird & the bee


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


Friday, February 22, 2008

The halo of Haale

Haale released two EPs (Morning and Paratrooper) last year, so if her name sounds familiar that might be why. On the other hand, you could be scratching your head right now asking, "Who?" If that's the case, here's the 4-1-1 on her.

Haale (whose names means "the halo around the moon") currently resides in New York but is of Iranian descent. That part is important, because as you listen to No Ceiling, her debut full-length album, there are clearly some Persian influences that weave themselves in and out of the music, both in terms of instrumentation, as well as in the lyrics. As a counterpoint to this Middle Eastern influence, Haale also draws on her love of 60's psychedelia. "I felt there was a connection between the psychedelic rock music I was listening to and the Sufi music and poetry I was getting into."

Put those two very diverse musical heritages together and obviously you get some quite different. Something that begs to be listened to and appreciated. The album doesn't come out until March 18th, but check out the following two songs to get a feel for the unique sound Haale produces.



Haale - Middle of Fire : No Ceiling

Haale - Off Duty Fortune Teller : No Ceiling


and a track from last year

Haale - Morning : Morning EP

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

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Tour Dates

March 13 SXSW Showcase Austin TX
March 15 Low Key Arts Building Hot Springs AK
March 19 Univ. of North Carolina ~ Memorial Hall Chapel Hill NC
March 20 IOTA Café Arlington VA
March 21 Tin Angel Philadelphia PA
March 22 Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Brooklyn NY
March 23 Drom New York NY
March 26 Brubaker Auditorium – Messiah College Grantham PA
March 28 Beachland Tavern Cleveland OH
March 29 Kinetic Playground Chicago IL
March 30 Highdive Champaign IL
April 01 Shank Hall Milwaukee WI
April 02 Cedar Cultural Center Minneapolis MN
April 03 The Pike Room Detroit MI
April 04 Lula Lounge Toronto ON
April 05 Bellows Falls Opera House Bellows Falls VT
April 06 The Paradise Rock Club Boston MA
April 11 The Tralf Buffalo NY
April 12 Cornell University – Risley Hall Ithaca NY
June 12 Flushing Town Hall Flushing NY

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Strummin' along with Reed KD

I've really been enjoying the mellowed out energy of Reed KD lately. It's got a quiet spirit to it that has just been taking me for a ride. Imagine the honey harmonizing of Simon and Garfunkel, take Garfunkel out of the picture and add a second Simon, spice it up with some bluegrass instrumentation such as accordion and harmonica (think Dylan here), and the result is an indie-folk medley which reminds me of another singer I've been listening to for a few years now named Aaron Schroeder and his earlier work (read about him here and here), albeit a little more on the mellower side

Reed put together The Ashes Bloom, his first album, in 2006, and finally let it loose on the public earlier this month. If the above paragraph didn't make any sense to you, listen to the following tracks to see what I meant, and then pick up the album.


Reed KD - Empty Bottles
: The Ashes Bloom

Reed KD - Even If I
: The Ashes Bloom


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


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Simon & Garfunkel - A Poem On The Underground Wall (live) : Old Friends

Bob Dylan - It Takes A Lot to Laugh, It Takes A Train to Cry : Highway 61 Revisited

Aaron Schroeder - Emmylou : Black & Gold

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

New Static of the Gods

You might remember me talking about Boston based band Static of the Gods back here. If not, they're a group that carries on the Boston indie tradition started back in the days of the Fort Apache recording studio with bands like Throwing Muses, Belly, Juliana Hatfield, and others. Anyway, this post isn't about the past, it's about the present. Static of the Gods just released a new video for a new track, Peluche. Check out both the audio and the video below.








Visit their website and become their friend on MySpace.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Bite into Mike Doughty

Almost a month ago now TOMORROW, former Soul Coughing member Mike Doughty will be releasing his latest album, titled Golden Delicious. Depending on what you're bringing to the table upon listening though, it might just taste like a poison apple. If you're a long time listener, this newest creation, released on Dave Matthews' label ATO Records, might come as something to a shock to the system. It's decidedly different than his previous work, and I've seen at least one scathing review of it as a result.

If Mike is new to your ears, or if you have a little bit more open a mind, Golden Delicious is going to come across as a more upbeat, even sun-shiney hook-laden collection of tracks that will get you humming along rather quickly.


stream Mike Doughty - 27 Jennifers : Golden Delicious

and some older ones...

Mike Doughty - Real Love / It's Only Life : Skittish / Rockity Roll

Mike Doughty - Looking At The World From The Bottom Of A Well : Haughty Melodic


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


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sunday Soul - Smooth love



In honor of Valentine's day, some appropriate A-sides (with their shadows), from my jukebox to yours...



Aretha Franklin - Baby I Love You : Baby I Love You 7"

Aretha Franklin - Going Down Slow : Baby I Love You 7" B-side



The Soul Children - Love Makes It Right : Love Makes It Right 7"

The Soul Children - Love Makes It Right (Monologue) : Love Makes It Right 7" B-side

Get two for one (including the above song) with Genesis / Friction for more of the Children.


The Delfonics - La - La - Means I Love You
: La - La - Means I Love You 7"

The Delfonics - Can't Get Over Losing You : La - La - Means I Love You 7" B-side

Spin La La Means I Love You: The Definitive Collection to get your Philly groove on.


The Staple Singers - Love Is Plentiful : Love Is Plentiful 7"

The Staple Singers - Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom Boom)
: Love Is Plentiful 7" B-side

Try Mavis Staple's latest album We'll Never Turn Back.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Spymaster Ann Vriend

With the upcoming release of her third full length album (titled When We Were Spies) next month on March 11th, Canadian Ann Vriend is trying to break into the public's eye. Her previous work has been hailed internationally but acclaim has been less forthcoming here in North America. She's hoping to change that with this release, and in fact one of the songs from the album and the first single, St. Paul (listen to it below), has already drawn praise and play north of the border.

My first impression upon hearing the album was surprise. Looking at the cover, and the title, I was expecting something slinky, something Casablanca-ish. Instead, be ready for something Rhinestone-ish. That's not necessarily a bad thing - so long as you're ready for it! Ann's got a great voice and cinematic style that reminds me of a cross between Brandi Carlile and Dolly Parton: a little twangy at times, but still toeing that alt-country / Americana line. The one low point in the album happens when Ann covers Neil Young's Rockin' In the Free World. I know covers are supposed to be about putting your own spin on other people's tracks, but in this case it just doesn't work. I very much prefer Ann's own songs. Try out the two below and see for yourself.


Ann Vriend - Central Park Monday
: When We Were Spies

Ann Vriend - St. Paul : When We Were Spies


Visit her website and become her friend on MySpace.

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Brandi Carlile - Throw It All Away : Brandi Carlile

Dolly Parton - 9 To 5 : 9 To 5 and Odd Jobs

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Yea, it's that day



Ten years ago
I fell in love with an Irish girl
She took my heart

But she went and screwed some guy that she knew
and now I'm in Dublin with a broken heart

Oh broken hearted Hoover fixer sucker guy
Oh broken hearted Hoover fixer sucker, sucker guy

Oh, one day I'll go there and win her once again
but until then I'm just a sucker of a guy




Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Bob Mould

Although I'm guessing that the majority of people you might poll on the street have no idea who Bob Mould is, it's impossible to follow the development of indie and alternative music in the 80's and 90's without his name coming into the picture. At the turn of the 80's Mould was involved with what was then a hardcore punk band, Husker Du, which would later turn a little easier (don't most of us in old age?) and melodic as their art evolved. The band was one of the first underground band to sign on to a major label (beginning what now feels like that age old debate over selling out), although they never enjoyed any real commercial stardom. The band's influence has always belied record sales though.

When they band dissolved over internal issues, Mould went on to record some solo work, form the clearly alternative band Sugar, return to performing solo work, take a spin at electronica in the late 90's, and then return to solo work more reminiscent of his earlier material. Which brings us up to the present day. Or should I say the present day about a week ago, when Mould released his latest album, District Line, on February 5th.

The album cuts a clear path back to Mould's classic sound. Present, of course, is his distinctive voice - seemingly out of tone at points, yet still harmoniously flowing with the music. The album carries hints of that also just as distinctive 90's alternative sound, almost a reprise of sorts of his material from that period. I'll be honest with you - there's nothing really new here. What there is is an album of solid material which will prove Mould's experience, remind you of his craftsmanship, and show you one of the many stepping stones today's music has taken to get here.


Bob Mould - Again and Again : District Line

Bob Mould - The Silence Between Us : District Line


Visit his website, his label Anti-, and become his friend on MySpace.

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Bob Mould - Can't Fight It : No Alternative

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Tour Dates

5 March Minneapolis MN First Ave
6 March Milwaukee MN Shank Hall
7 March Chicago IL Metro
8 March Cleveland OH Grog
10 March Toronto ON Mod Club
12 March Boston MA Paradise
13 March New York City NY Fillmore
14 March Philadelphia PA Trocadero
15 March Washington DC 9:30 Club
17 March Charlotte, NC Visulite Theatre
18 March Atlanta GA Variety
20 March Austin TX Antone's
22 March Boulder CO Fox Theatre
24 March San Diego CA Belly Up
25 March Los Angeles CA El Rey
26 March San Francisco CA Great American Music Hall
28 March Portland OR Doug Fir
29 March Seattle WA Neumo's
30 March Vancouver BC Richard's

Monday, February 11, 2008

Rave on Raveonettes

It really should come as no surprise that I was super-stoked to get my hands on a copy of The Raveonettes newest project, Lust Lust Lust, which is coming out on the 19th. Considering the fact that just in the last few months I've compared other bands to them here and here and love to post tunes from them whenever I have a good excuse, posting on their newest release was a given.

LustX3 is another filling helping of that dark drenched retro reverbed sound which we've all come to love from Sune and Sharin. There's no reason to re-invent the wheel when it spins this good. And there's still no question that they're the best thing to come out of Denmark since the breakfast danish.

Completely unconnected to MISB, you can have a chance to win an autographed guitar from the band over here.


(watch the video)

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

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The Raveonettes - I Wanna Be Taken : Pretty In Black (Import)


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Upcoming Tour Dates

02-29 San Diego, CA @ The Casbah
03-01 Pomona, CA @ Glasshouse
03-02 Costa Mesa, CA @ Detroit Bar
03-04 LA, CA @ El Rey Theatre
03-05 San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
03-07 Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge
03-08 Vancouver, BC, CAN @ The Plaza Niteclub
03-09 Seattle, WA @ Neumos
03-12 - 03-16 Austin, TX @ SXSW
03-17 Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
03-18 Chicago, IL @ Double Door
03-19 Detroit, MI @ Magic Stick
03-21 Toroto, ON, CAN @ Opera House
03-22 Montreal, QC, CAN @ Les Saint
03-23 Hoboken, NJ @ Maxwell’s
03-24 Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
03-27 Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s
03-28 Baltimore, MD @ The Ottobar
03-29 Washington, DC @ Black Cat

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sunday Soul - Stax singles

If you haven't entered my contest for a copy of Angie Stone's latest album The Art of Love & War (on Stax records coincidentally!), head here and enter now.

Here's a couple various older Stax singles for you to enjoy. From my jukebox to yours...


Eddie Floyd - On A Saturday Night : On A Saturday Night 7"

Eddie Floyd - Under My Nose : On A Saturday Night 7" B-side


Johnnie Taylor - Who's Makin' Love : Who's Makin' Love 7"

Johnnie Taylor - Take Care of Your Homework : Who's Makin' Love 7" B-side


Sam & Dave - Soul Man : Soul Man 7"

Sam & Dave - May I Baby : Soul Man 7" B-side


Get all the Stax singles in The Complete Stax/Volt Singles: Vol. 1: 1959-1968, Vol. 2: 1968-1971, and Vol. 3: 1972-1975 box sets.

Sunday Spotlight - Miwa Gemini

Welcome to the newest volume in the Sunday Spotlight series. Today it is my pleasure to introduce Japanese born Miwa Gemini, who's set to release her second full length album, This Is How I Found You, here in the States. Besides adding her lovely voice to the nine songs on the album, she also plays banjo, mandolin, and piano (which she was originally classically trained to play). She just hit the road last week in support of it but was kind enough in between packing her bags to talk with me about the third cut, Something Ordinary.


Text in red is hers, questions in black are mine.

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Here we go, here's something about something ordinary :)

The story begins like this: a girl was in love with a boy, but the boy had another girl, then another girl, then another girl...

Many songs were written by the girl about her misery. Well one gets tired of it eventually, if one was lucky. I guess I was a lucky one, for I did get tired of it, the sad songs and my broken heart. I was so bored of writing depressing songs that I decided I just about had enough - I said to myself, "So be it, I might be as far away from being happily in love, but at least I will be in one in my songs!"

As I was began thinking about what makes me happy, I realized I was done with all those high drama love affairs, that all I wanted was, well to put it plainly "something ordinary." The kind of love affair that will make the most boring movie ever - "a boy meets a girl and they lived happily ever after." It takes only one person to say "no" but it takes two people to say "yes." And if two people says "yes" without any negotiation or compromises, you begin to see how extraordinary that ordinary is.

One of my friend used to say "if you want something, put it out there." I guess I did that by singing this song and you know, it worked. I have a wonderful friend now that I can talk to about anything or be comfortably silent together. I can laugh with him and if I cry, he doesn't get scared and run away. I call him my husband now. (Of course, being a typical woman, I demand champagne and flowers occasionally though I said in the song I didn't want them.)

So now that my happily-ever-after state achieved I wonder what's next - then I think of what my friend's mother said to us once, "After marriage, that's when the real work begins, girls remember that." And the wise words of Dolly Parton assures me also. Asked about what she thought of gay marriage issue, Ms. Parton smiled and said "Why shouldn't they be allowed to suffer like we do?!"

Looks like there will be plenty to write about happy or otherwise!


And to further plumb Miwa's mind:

1.) Originally you trained as a classical pianist. What made you make the leap from there to the music you perform now?

Erik Satie and The Carpenters!!! Memories of my childhood. Well what I want to say is that I wanted to write my own music. I wanted to create something strange and beautiful.


2.) When I first visited your website and looked at the "words" page, I thought I was looking at poetry you had written, but then realized they were the lyrics to some of your songs. Are you a reader of poetry and how do you approach writing the lyrics to your songs? Do they come first or the instrumental parts?

I usually write music part first and wait for its story to show up. Sounds kind of funny if put that way, I just realized...
I appreciate poetry and of course I read fair share of Beaudlaire, W.H. Auden and Elizabeth Browning but really I love Edward Gorey. Especially his alphabetical one liners give me an infinite pleasure!

3.) Similarly, under "her story" on your website, I was absolutely struck at the fancifulness and creativity of your writing. It has almost a Alice In Wonderland feel to it. Outside of your music, are you a writer as well?

I would love to publish a book of my short stories illustrated by my drawings one day - hopefully in a style of Andersen or Washington Irving. I have a Rip Van Winkle book illustrated by Arthur Rackham, and it's absolutely wonderful. Rackham also illustrated Alice in Wonderland, too.
I say Through the Looking Glass is still one of my favorite book. I love the imagery and humor in it.

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Hopefully Miwas will be remain happy in her happily-ever-after state! As you can tell, Miwa is brimming with artistic creativity that flows freely in all nine tracks of the album. The US release of the album is scheduled for March 18th, but you can download it now or buy the import.




and one from her first album:



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


Saturday, February 09, 2008

Canadian Kara Keith

Today I present to you Kara Keith, a singer / songwriter hailing from Calgary, Alberta who put out a self-titled EP, her fourth CD, at the beginning of last month that's just dynamite. She was formerly the front-woman for another Canadian band, Falconhawk, and she's got a voice and style that instantly reminded of Liz Phair's older work (especially the opening track, Gorgeous Gets The Gold, circa Exile in Guyville era) mixed with Au Revoir Simone's newer work. The five tracks on the EP go by way too quickly, but they're good enough to listen to several times through on repeat. Try the second track below and then buy the whole kit-n-caboodle.


Kara Keith - Kick This City : Kara Keith EP



Visit her website, her label Saved By Radio, and become her friend on MySpace.


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Liz Phair - Mesmerizing : Exile in Guyville

Friday, February 08, 2008

Angie Stone Contest

In December of 2006, after being acquired by the Concord Music Group through its purchase of its parent company Fantasy Records, the legendary southern soul label Stax was re-launched. Soon after it's return, they signed two major artists: Isaac Hayes (yes, that one who was so instrumental in Stax's early success) and Angie Stone, who released a new album in October of last year.

I recently got my hands on that album, The Art Of Love & War, and I'll tell you right off, it just pops right out of the gate. Although I'll admit I am a little prejudice based on my love of the original Stax and its catalog of incredible depth, this album is something completely new, something completely fresh, something that deserves to have the legendary Stax logo on it while still bringing something original to the table.

Angie's story doesn't start with Stax though. She's been performing music since she was 8 way back when performing gospel at First Nazareth Baptist Church in South Carolina. From there she formed a rap trio and eventually started her solo career in the late 90's, delivering music that hearkened back to memories of Aretha Franklin in the classic soul tradition.

Her Stax debut is actually her third solo LP, and it's absolutely incredible. Although the classic soul influences are indelibly clear, Angie mixes in some strong hip-hop beats backing her on some tracks (try Baby below, which features Angie working with another soul legend, Betty Wright), smooth R&B grooves on others, and of course songs that do the classic Stax label proud (My People below - which feels like it could have come from The Staple Singers' catalog).

Now that I've talked enough about how much I love this disc, and hopefully some of that excitement has infected you, I'm going to give you a chance to win a copy for yourself. All you need to do is leave a comment (or e-mail me) with you name, e-mail address, and the name of your favorite performer or band that has produced something under the Stax logo anytime in its long, storied history and you'll be in the running. I'll pick a winner next Fridayish and notify them via e-mail.

While you're waiting to see if you won, check out the following two tracks from the album, and a cover of an Earth, Wind & Fire song that Angie performed for Interpretations: Celebrating the Music of Earth, Wind & Fire, coincidentally, the first album of all new material released by the newly formed Stax label March of last year.




and one contributed to a previous compilation:

Angie Stone - Be Ever Wonderful (Earth, Wind & Fire cover) : Interpretations: Celebrating The Music Of Earth, Wind & Fire


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

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Betty Wright - Clean Up Woman : Atlantic Gold-75 Soul Classics From The Atlantic Vaults (Disc 3)

Isaac Hayes - Ain't No Sunshine (live) : Wattstax: The Living Word (Album 2)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Aster

For some reason life has been busier than normal lately, with no apparent reason. It almost feels as if someone, somehow, took a few hours out of each day without notifying me. So for today, no fancy write-up. Just some good music that you can listen to and explore on your own. Hopefully you have more time than I do at the moment to do so. Aster is a two man music machine with a much more filling sound than you might guess. Their debut LP, Some Things Seldom Heard Of, came out last month. It's lush. It's jingle-jangly. It tends to float up high in the atmosphere. It's below for you to listen to.


(watch the video)


Visit their website and become their friend on MySpace.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Visit the Hinterland

Hinterland is a Vancouver based five-some who are set to release their third album, Pan Pan Medico, later on this month (the 19th to be precise). If you haven't heard of them before, that's OK - I hadn't either before checking out the album. If you're a big fan of the Moog, I'm guessing that you'll be a fan of Hinterland and might want to check them out. They bring together a synth-rock concoction of new wave and dream-pop mixed with a futuristic distorted jolt that will leave you wondering how it all came together. Behind it all are the vocals of Michaela Galloway whose voice sometimes flows like honey and at other times soars high.

What I find most interesting and ultimately most enjoyable about the album is the subtle shift from style to style. The starting point of the album, very synthesized and driven (try Detwiller Pavilion below), feels very different from the ending point in the twelfth track. The change starts around the fifth track, Future Ghost, which is a quiet, delicate, lush piece - quite a stark change from the first four tracks. After that things pick up a bit but never return to the electronic intensity of the first third of the album, instead shifting to a more new wave indie pop feel very reminiscent of the furor of Boston based bands in the 90's (Throwing Muses, Belly, more recently Static of the Gods, etc...).

The album comes out in a few weeks. In the meantime, enjoy the following:



and one from their last album:



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


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Sunday Soul - Soulful Instrumentals

From my jukebox to yours...here are some instrumentals to help you put some pep in your step.


The Mar-Keys - Last Night : Last Night 7"

The Mar-Keys - Night Before : Last Night 7" B-side


Booker T. & The MG's - Something (Beatles cover) : Something 7"

Booker T. & The MG's - Sunday Sermon : Something 7" B-side


James Brown - Soul Pride Part 1 : Soul Pride 7"

James Brown - Soul Pride Part 2 : Soul Pride 7" B-side


Young-Holt Unlimited - Soulful Strut : Soulful Strut 7"

Young-Holt Unlimited - Country Slicker Joe : Soulful Strut 7" B-side
(this one's not really an instrumental, but we'll let it slide)


Sunday Spotlight - Dreaming with Kaki King

Kaki King is back with her latest effort, titled Dreaming of Revenge. As she's done with her previous three albums, King's music has continued to evolve, with numerous tracks featuring her voice delivering vocals alongside her accomplished guitar work. Recently she's worked on Tegan & Sara's latest album The Con, as well as with Eddie Vedder on the Golden Globe nominated soundtrack for Into the Wild. Somehow in the middle of all that, she's put together eleven tracks for this, her fourth album.

Kaki took the time to tell me about one of the tracks from the album, Life Being What It Is. Questions in black are mine, text in red is Kaki. Enjoy the track, while reading about its creation.


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1.) What was the original inspiration for the song? Is there a personal story behind it?

That's a simple question to answer. It's a song about a recent breakup.

2.) How was the song given birth? Did the lyrics come first? The instrumentation? How did the recording process evolve?

I found this great tuning and was messing around playing a John Butler Trio song called Peaches and Cream in the tuning. Leaving that structure and experimenting with a new form of fingerpicking, the chords and structure wrote themselves.


3.) Are there any particular lyrics in the song that stand out as central to you or have a particular personal meaning that listeners might not pick up on?

"Life being what it is, we all dream of revenge" is actually a quote from Gauguin. (I believe the original quote reads "one dreams of revenge.") I know it sounds very serious, but I actually laugh when I hear it. For me it's meant to be somewhat tounge in cheek, like a cynical yet funny Morrissey lyric. I took the first part of the quote and named the song, and took the second part of the quote to name the album.

And some general questions:

1.) You've really made an indelible impression with your music about what can be done with an acoustic guitar. Are there any other guitar players (past or present) who you've respected, emulated, fell in love with?

Hmm. I've answered this question so many times, so I decided to look in my iTunes to see what guitarists or music I've really been listening to lately. My top three most listened to itunes right now are Smalltown Boy by Bronski Beat, Ca Me Vexe by Mademoiselle K. (who is actually a great guitarist), and Osten Währt am Längsten by D.a.F.. I'm in an overseas electronica/dance rut right now. It must influence my guitar playing somehow, you just need a musical microscope to see the results.

Jose Gonzalez - Smalltown Boy (live Bronski Beat cover) : Live at the 9:30 Club 10-2-07

Mademoiselle K - Ca Me Vexe : Et Si On Arretait D'ecouter De La Soupe 2007

2.) This is your first album with lyrics playing a vital and central role in some of the songs. That element has slowly evolved over the course of your last few albums, but how did it feel to make the leap to an album that tells a story with instruments and words? What were some of the challenges you faced doing so?

The words were easy. They all came from real life events. The only challenge I had was writing the proper melody for the 'chorus' of the song 2 o'clock. I also wanted a particular rhyme scheme in the words. But once I had written a melody that fit the chords writing the words was easy.

3.) So as an artist, how do you approach naming your instrumental tracks? I absolutely love names like Can Anyone Who Has Heard This Music Really Be A Bad Person? (listen to it below), but HOW did you name it? How does that instrumental story convert to a title with words?

They may seem arbitrary but all my song titles relate to something that's happened to me or some idea that's based in my reality. The above mentioned song is another quote, this one from the German movie The Lives of Others. I wont go into too much detail or give away too much plot, but I will say that this movie affected me profoundly, and I wrote the song after seeing it 4 or 5 times. The quote comes from the moment in the film that is the ultimate emotional turning point for one of the characters, and it comes after he hears a particular piece of music. It seemed like the only title that would make sense for the song.

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The album comes out March 11th, so you still have some time to wait to hear it. In the meantime, enjoy the following few tracks.



Kaki King - Life Being What It Is : Dreaming Of Revenge


Kaki King - Can Anyone Who Has Heard This Music Really Be A Bad Person? : Dreaming Of Revenge


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