If you know me (I’ll assume you don’t), you’ll know that I’m not much for belt-y, powerhouse vocals; I’m more keen on whisper-sweet serenades that require you to almost lean in (even if you’ve got headphones on).
Priscilla Ahn more than checked off that box for me when I first came across her sparse ‘girl with a guitar and a loop and sometimes a harmonica’ easy listening tunes. I caught her at the Drake back in 2009, and sitting cross-legged on the floor with everyone else in tiny venue, there was a collective hush over the crowd and everyone was actually leaning in.
Now she’s back with Sweet Hearts, a duo project with fellow musician Charlie Wadhams, and they’ve just released their mellow, mushy, and blush-worthy self-titled EP for free download just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Or if you’re a single lady (“all the single ladies, all the single ladies, all the single ladies, now put your hands up!”), why not celebrate Galentine’s Day à la Leslie Knope?
Guys, you can follow suit. And then on the 14th, cozy up with a glass of wine, some cheese, a mirror, and celebrate a little good, healthy narcissism. Celebrate you! (It’ll be like your birthday except better because you’re not a year older!)
Oh sweetheart, when I see you again, you’re never gonna let me go. That’s right, you’ll always be my dearest friend. My, my, I’ll love you till the day I die.
Put on Sweet Hearts’ EP, gaze into your own eyes (that’s what the mirror’s for) and pretend all the lyrics are about you. It’s the new affirmation nation.
[Download]: Sweet Hearts’ EP here by entering your email address!
Getting to know an artist is like making a new friend.
There are some people that seem standoffish in the beginning (maybe because they’re shy or because they’ve eaten a crap sandwich and it’s ruined their entire day–sandwiches have that kind of effect on people, y’know), so it takes a couple of visits or run-ins for them to get comfortable around you and for you to warm up to them; then there are those people you take an instant liking to (perhaps you both find great pleasure in watching/making fun of what has become of America’s Top Model over the years).
It’s the same with music. There are some musicians that require a couple listens to get into (Joanna Newsom, anyone?) and others where the connection is undeniable and instantaneous. For me, Youth Lagoon was the latter.
Even better, it was like revisiting an old friend. That’s the kind of nostalgia-tinged feeling The Year of Hibernation is wrought with.
“Five years ago, in my backyard I sang love away. Little did I know that real love had not quite yet found me.”
[MP3]: Youth Lagoon – “July”
Raw vocals with a sort of youthful reverie, crackling and hazy with reverb, beg for a closer listen, for a more concentrated ear. With synths, organ, guitar, and some heavy beats layered on–usually starting off quietly and then building up to thicker, fuller sound (think wall-of-sound)–Youth Lagoon crafts introspective bedroom anthems.
Also, I cannot lie. During my first listen of the entire album, I thought it was a girl singing. (Sorry, Trevor.) Alas, Youth Lagoon is Boise, Idaho’s awesomely named Trevor Powers. (Yes, that’s his real name.) And with a name like that and a penchant for bedroom music and introspection, you’d think that Powers might be walking around with a superhero costume hidden underneath his button-ups.
However even amidst the quiet introspection, Powers references the past only as a way to look to the future. Like the experiences and memories that make us who we are today, The Year of Hibernation is a memento of sorts, to the past.
[MP3]: Youth Lagoon – “Cannons”
From the opening track (“Posters”), I could immediately feel a quiet sense of understanding between Powers and I, like a quiet nod. Like, a musical ‘hey, I feel ya!’ What started as a bedroom project (where the whole LP was recorded) has found resonance beyond his four-walls.
You make real friends quickly. You make real friends quickly. But not me.
I get him. I feel where he’s coming from; from his lyrics, to his delivery, to the entire atmosphere that’s created when everything comes together perfectly. And for me, that’s the beautiful thing.
[MP3]: Little Scream – “Cannons” (click arrow on the right to download)
Montreal-based Laurel Sprengelmeyer (under the moniker Little Scream) has already gifted us with a free download of “Heron and the Fox” (featuring guitar work from The National’s Aaron Dessner), the first single off her debut album The Golden Record. But I guess the Canadian spirit has really rubbed off on the Mississippi native, because now she’s also giving away her second single, “Cannons.”
If you aren’t a (physical) album collector like I am, you’ll be happy to know that her album is out today exclusively on iTunes. Yes…you can purchase it today. But if you must get your hands on the jewel casing (or perhaps digipak or vinyl) and artwork, then you’ll have to wait until April 11 (Europe) or April 12 (North America).
WHO: Sanders Bohlke
WHERE: Oxford, Mississippi
CONNECT THE DOTS: Opened for Badly Drawn Boy
YOU WILL LIKE HIM IF YOU LIKE: Cooing, “ooh”-ing, and the plucking of acoustic guitar strings
Sanders Bohlke describes his sound as “experimental neo-folk,” which makes sense considering his songs are very acoustic-based. The thing is, there’s something more beyond the guy-with-a-guitar picture. His songs seem at times to be infused with a bit of a soul element that calls back to Maxwell, and honestly, that’s never a bad thing. This is best translated in Bohlke’s live rendition of “Search and Destroy,” which can be found on his Facebook page, along with a few other videos. Again, it’s a very subtle tinge of soul, so I might be overemphasizing it. Heck, it might not even be there, but it’s what I hear. (Feel free to comment below and let me know what you hear!)
[LISTEN]: Sanders Bohlke – “Weight of Us”
“I’m not ready, I’m not ready for the weight of us… The time has come, let us be brave. Shake off all of your sins, the time has come, let us be brave, let us be brave.”
“Weight of Us”–arguably Bohlke’s most well-known track–is fit for a momentous Grey’s Anatomy montage. With it’s drumming beat, sweeping build up, and lyrics that call us to bravery, you can just picture Cristina running around the hospital to look for Owen so that she can declare her love for him after deciding to take the plunge (Note: Or insert any other two main characters who are obviously in love but can’t admit it). You get the picture–it’s a hard song to dislike.
[LISTEN]: Sanders Bohlke – “Quiet Ye Voices”
However, I think that there are others that perphaps better showcase his talents. “Quiet Ye Voices” is one of them. With more intricate instrumentation, layered harmonies, and even handclaps (and who doesn’t have handclaps?!), Bohlke has a fuller, more orchestra sound in his recordings that never loses its warm tone.
But to be honest, I find him strongest and most compelling in his life performances. There’s just something about the way his voice extends and reaches and fill the expansive space that grabs me. I’ll leave you with this chilling live rendition of “Fighter Pilot.”
[WATCH]: Sanders Bohlke – “Fighter Pilot” (Live in a loft in Jackson, Mississippi)
[LISTEN]: Sanders Bohlke – “Weight of Us”
If you like it, buy it! Support independent musicians!
Lia Ices’ willowy vocals waft effortlessly across the opening moments of “Love Is Won,” piercing the quiet, backed only by simple piano chords, heavily-reverbed like the thick condensation of air above a lake at summer’s dawn. It is a fitting introduction to the avant-garde pop songstress, as her voice is her greatest instrument. Like a swift seductress in murky waters, her barely-above-a-whisper coos resonate throughout the subtle orchestrations on “Little Marriage,” in a wispy, lilting fashion, embellished with bells and finger snaps. Though Grown Unknown does begin to feel slightly redundant in its form towards the end, with mellow, mid-tempo avant ballads sandwiched between more of the same, Ices’ sophomore effort sees her develop her own voice. Rather than echo the safety of the piano-based singer-songwriter vibe that permeated debut Necima, she shows a more solid understanding of herself as an artist, experimenting with wider, vaster soundscapes. Captivating standout tracks “Grown Unknown” and “Daphne,” (feauting Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon) play to Ices’ greatest strengths, embracing her more experimental leanings atop interesting instrumental backdrops. Ultimately, Lia Ices’ voice is the main attraction. It is, in effect, the conductor guiding the instrumentation and the siren captivating by injecting an ethereal, effervescent vitality and experimental avant-garde lean into an otherwise familiar and tired formula.
[MP3]: Lia Ices – “Grown Unknown”
You’ll like them if you like: Ray Lamontagne, sitting by the fire with a cup of tea, roasted walnuts, syrup on blueberry pancakes (or just pancakes in general), The Swell Season, boy-girl vocals that melt seamlessly into one another.
I’ve previously mentioned The Civil Wars in an ON THE VERGE feature as an up-and-coming band about to make the big leagues, and boy was I right. The folksy duo of Joy Williams and John Paul White were the first musicians to have a song of theirs (“Poison & Wine”) played in its entirety on Grey’s Anatomy, they recently played Jay Leno’s The Tonight Show, and they’ve been featured in Paste Magazine; basically, they been popping up everywhere–and all before the release of their debut LP, Barton Hollow (out Feb. 1 via Sensibility Music). All the attention they’ve gotten is not without good reason: these two have real, unadulterated talent–and they have substance.
Now to add to the hype, they’ve offered up the lead single of the same name off their forthcoming album for free download! And if you haven’t already downloaded their free live album, Live at Eddie’s Attic, (which is what first got them noticed and garnered them fans–hint hint, independent musicians!) just head on over here to pick up your free copy! Also, I got a chance to listen to the full album when they were streaming it earlier today from 12-1 pm. Verdict: Heavenly.
WHO: Charity Rose Thielen (vocals, violin, percussion), Chris Zasche (bass), Josiah Johnson (vocals, guitar, percussion), Jonathan Russell (vocals, guitar, percussion), Kenny Hensley (piano), Tyler Williams (drums)
WHERE: Seattle, Washington
CONNECT THE DOTS: Toured with Dr. Dog, Dave Matthews, Vampire Weekend
CLAIM TO FAME: They’re just really good. (Plus they just got signed to Sub Pop!)
YOU WILL LIKE THEM IF YOU LIKE: Husky male vocals, collectives, bearded men in plaid, log cabins
Seattle is a very luck state. Composed largely of Seattle transplants, The Head and the Heart was certainly the state’s best kept secret (up until now that is). I, myself, only discovered them this past summer (after finding their eponymous self-released full-length debut); but now that they’ve just been signed to Sub Pop Records, these guys are about definitely about to, for lack of better terms, “make it big.”
Crafting beautiful songs out of the heartache, they remind us not to dwell on the pains of sadness and instead focus on the beauty of it all. Just a bunch of friends singing around a proverbial bonfire, they’ve etched out a special little niche for themselves in a genre that seems overflowing. With a focus on instrumentation, their music is a seamless meshing of rustic harmonies, piano, percussion, acoustic guitar, violin, and yes–shakers. It’s a good ‘ol foot-stompin time.
Though I honestly don’t know too much about them as a band, but what I do know is that you should give them a listen. I guarantee you will like them. “Sounds like Hallelujah” was the first track of theirs that I heard, and damn, that transition to “Momma, don’t put no gun in my hand” really hooked me. “Down in the Valley” is another stunner, and you can now download it HERE, along with a new song, for the price of FREE (a.k.a. an email address), so there isn’t really a good reason not to check them out.
We all know the story of Noah and the Whale. How the happy-go-lucky British folk band that sang catchy, twee songs like “Five Years Time” churned out an album of heartache and heartbreak a la The First Days of Spring following the breakup between Charlie Fink and sort-of-member, Laura Marling. (Completely understandable as I’m sure Marling is tough to get over–seriously.) Their former spirit was hardly recognizable, if even noticeable, on their last album.
I, for one, thought that their more heavy material on their last album was probably some of the better stuff Fink has written lyrically, so I didn’t mind wallowing with him in his sadness.
However, old Noah and the Whale fans will be happy to know that the band will be back next year–March 2011, specifically–with a brand new album that seems to be edging back in to their bright, light hearted roots, if this next track is any indication. It seems that Fink has finally realized that there is life after Marling, and he has a new song to prove it.
[LISTEN]: Noah and the Whale – “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.”
The band has also just released “Wild Thing”, another track off their forthcoming album entitled The Last Night On Earth, for free download. This song is obviously on the opposite side of the spectrum from “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.” It’s a tad introspective and still a little sullen, but the contrast between the two tracks showcases the various sides of the indie outfit. I mean, we can’t expect to be happy all the time, can we? Enjoy!
[MP3]: Noah and the Whale – “Wild Thing” (right-click, save as)
With Jason Collett’s musical repertoire, it’s hard to believe he’s a carpenter by trade.
A veteran to the Canadian music scene, Collett’s toured with powerhouse collective Broken Social Scene, collaborated with artists like Feist, Emily Haines, and Hawksley Workman, and garnered critical acclaim in Canada as well as across the border.
But Collett isn’t quick to forget his humble roots.
Collett says he was skeptical of having the luxury of time to write when he made his transition from musical hobbyist to full-time musician after joining BSS.
“But it allowed me to really appreciate the little things, and I felt it was a real blessing to get,” he says.
However, Collett doesn’t have much free time in his schedule these days. This year has been one of the busiest for the indie rocker.
He’s been touring all year and released Rat a Tat Tat, his fourth full-length solo album, along with the companion EP To Wit To Woo in March. He released Pony Tricks — a collection of stripped-down acoustic recordings of some of his songs — just last month.
Rat a Tat Tat, a collaborative project with Mike O’Brien and Carlin Nicholson of Zeus, also made the 2010 Polaris Prize long list, spawning the catchy bass-driven single, “Love Is A Dirty Word.”
“It was more of an organic project that way,” Collett says of the collaboration. “We’ve developed a really good rapport as friends and musicians. They know me well and I trust them […] so it was a natural fit.”
As a result, the writing and recording process this time around varied from the familiar structure of past albums. Collett wrote songs with actual players in mind instead of having a revolving door of various musicians coming to play on the record.
“We just went in the studio and messed around,” Collett says. “And I find working that way really fruitful because you’re getting first impressions […] and nine times out of ten, if you’re going on good instincts, that’s what you want — that’s where the magic is.”
And for Collett, the magic itself is really in the mystery of songwriting.
“There’s a real element of mystery to [songwriting],” he says. “It’s like, where the hell do these things come from? Because I feel like I’m more of a vehicle than an inventor of songs.”
Recording in various studios and different environments, including an obligatory 48-hour “classic late night shambolic” recording session at Feist’s ranch, also added to the feeling of spontaneity on Rat a Tat Tat.
“[When] you’re up all night, tipsy and tired, and your brains are smoked out, you get to a very disarmed place where your intellect is fried,” Collett says. “So you’re just going on pure instinct.”
He hopes to expand on the intimacy of instinct on his current solo acoustic tour, aptly titled the “Undressed Tour,” where one can expect a reworking of his vast catalogue into stripped-down sessions of just him and his guitar — much like on Pony Tricks.
Bringing along Al Tuck, a musician he praises as “the greatest songwriter of [his] generation,” Collett is excited to play London’s Aeolian Hall — a venue he says really lends itself to a listening room.
“I find that I really like being able to play that way, be really vulnerable, and have less distance between the stage and the audience,” Collett says. “I think it’s ultimately what you’re trying to achieve — to have some kind of communication with who you’re playing with.”
This article was originally published on WesternGazette.ca
**Transcript of interview can be read here.
HOMETOWN: Long Island, New York
LINEUP: Eric Cardona (guitar/vox), Gabel D’Amico (bass), Andrea Estella (vox), Dev Gupta (keyboard), Bryan Ujueta (drums)
SOUNDS LIKE: Rhythmic rolling body waves captured in a bottle of glass shards
Without a doubt, Long Island quintet Twin Sister has stolen my heart (and my ears) today. And now as the sun is beginning to set, this band’s music is just what I need to ease me into the still and quiet evening while I furiously pen some poetry for my class tomorrow. Andrea Estella’s voice is sometimes buried beneath a wall of fuzzy reverb and tinny guitar (“Ginger”), and sometimes it’s sweet, drawn out, and lingering in the foreground backed by atmospheric swells and swoons (“Dry Hump”). And when Eric Cardona shares vocals at times, they create some light harmonies that make the tips of my fingers tingle (see video below).
Twin Sister translates their “wall of small” (what they sound like, according to their Myspace) recordings as well as their more sparse tunes surprisingly well in a live setting, so go and download their Daytrotter Session (free!) for your sonic pleasure and listen for yourself!
[MP3]: Twin Sister – “Ginger” (right-click, save as)
While television shows like American Idol rarely ever find musicians who can translate successfully into popular music sphere, it seems as if a shy Aussie beat the slim odds. Lisa Mitchell, an Australian Idol alum, stood out on the talent show for her coy, singer-songwriter demeanor. Released in 2009, Mitchell recorded her debut full-length Wonder in the UK, which has now reached Platinum in Australia. Canadians who do not know her might have actually heard one of her most popular singles, “Coin Laundry,” in a Bell Canada television ad (available for download below). She has been nominated for 3 ARIAs, won the Australian Music Prize (equivalent to Canada’s Polaris Prize) for Wonder, opened for Jason Mraz, and played big Australian festivals like Big Day Out.
Her musical style, some people may say, is full of soft child-like vocals and is unmistakably twee. Simple yet intricate in their arrangements, the girl has a penchant for multiple vocal track layers and most of her songs have the ability of making you smile. Go ahead, I dare you. Because regardless of whether or not you think she’s a musical revelation, you won’t be able to surpress your smile.
[MP3]: Lisa Mitchell – “Coin Laundry” (right-click, save as)
In a time when band names are getting more and more complicated, Washington is plain and simple. Washington is the moniker of Megan Washington and her band. I’ve only recently stumbled across this pop gem, and I’m not one to shy away from some good ‘ol pop music. She’s been really popular in Australia for the past year or so and just released her debut I Believe You, Liar. Her radio-friendly sound ranges from mellow pop like “Clementine,” to the quirky “How to Tame Lions” and even more polished, drilling tracks like “Cement.” Give her a listen, because I think you’ll be hearing a lot more about this this Aussie popstar soon enough.
[LISTEN]: Washington – “Clementine”
[MP3]: Washington – “How to Tame Lions” (right-click, save as)
[MP3]: Washington – “Cement” (right-click, save as)
This four-piece from Sydney been on the mouths of many recently and has been touted as one of the big upcoming acts for quite a while. They’ve toured with the likes of Tegan & Sara and they don’t even have a full-length record out yet. With three EPs under their belts and picking up steam, the Jezabels are starting to gain overseas recognition in North American. The band has played a slew of US dates and are gearing up for their Canadian tour. A mix of pop, rock, indie and even a little alternative thrown in at times, the Jezabels are a diverse band whose honest songs are universally relatable.
And Canada, Canada, Canada–please don’t miss this quartet when they come around next week (dates are below). Sadly, I won’t be in Toronto for the show as I’m stuck out of town for school, so please go and enjoy for me so I can live vicariously through you!
[MP3]: The Jezabels – “Easy to Love” (right-click, save as)
[MP3]: The Jezabels – “She’s So Hard” (right-click, save as)
[LISTEN]: The Jezabels – “Mace Spray”
Oct. 26 Toronto, ON – Horseshoe Tavern
Oct. 28 Calgary, AB – The Republik*
Oct. 30 Vancouver, BC – Pit Pub (Uni of BC)*
Nov. 3 Edmonton, AB, The Starlite Room*
Nov. 4 Regina, SK – The Exchange*
Nov. 5 Saskatoon, SK – Amigo’s*
Nov. 6 Winnipeg, MB – The Royal Albert Arms*
I don’t know what it is about Australia that draws me to it. And I don’t know why the great Down Under calls my name, so. It could be the accent (which I’m constantly attempting to perfect), the Sydney Opera House, the kangaroos, or the fuzzy koala bears. Or perhaps it’s because the first time I actually paid any attention to the Olympics, they were held in Sydney, and right then I decided that it was #1 on my list of must-visit destinations. I want to go to there.
Regardless of the reason behind my fascination with the great Aussie country, one thing is for certain: they have some great musical exports. And just like me, they seem to have an affinity for female singer-songwriters. Here are some of the Aussie musicians that I think deserve a some recognition and are worth checking out. This is part 1 of a 3-part series–so enjoy and stay tuned!
This brother and sister duo have 2 full-length albums under their belt, most recently 2010′s Down the Way. With complementary honey-soaked boy-girl vocals, they are household names in their native Australia. Plus it doesn’t hurt that they’re pretty to look at. They actually have quite a substantial dedicated fan base overseas already, with many of their 2010 tour dates selling out (including a sold out Toronto show which I attended). They’ve played numerous festivals, including this year’s Bonnaroo and the CMJ festival over in New York this week. With Angus & Julia Stone well on their way to becoming big names in the States and Canada, be sure to check out their solo efforts: Lady of the Sunshine (Angus) and Julia Stone.
[MP3]: Angus & Julia Stone – “Just a Boy” (right-click, save as)
If you’re into folk/pop, this girl is a true gem. Blasko has been around since 2002, so I guess you could call her a veteran in the industry. Just like her debut The Overture & the Underscore indicates, Sarah Blasko burst on to the scene with sweeping orchestral arrangements and a timid, yet assured warble. She has won 2 ARIA Music Awards (Aussie equivalent of the Grammys) for Best Pop Release (What the Sea Wants, the Sea Will Have) and Best Female Artist (As Day Follows Night) in 2007 and 2009, respectively, since then. I never really understood why she never broke it over here in North America despite her immense talent, because this girl deserves some well-earned recognition!
[MP3]: Sarah Blasko – “At Your Best” (right-click, save as)
Hailing from the Western coastline of the United Sates that is Los Angeles, my latest obsession Warpaint have released a full-album stream of their debut The Fool a week early thank to Hype Machine! Check it out, and if you like what you hear, go to your local record store (or wherever you purchase your vinyl/cds) and pick the album up October 25 (via Rough Trade).
WHO: Joy Williams and John Paul White
WHERE: Nashville, Tennessee / Florence, Alabama
SOUNDS LIKE: Curling up by a warm fire with a glass of red wine
CONNECT THE DOTS: Ten out of Tenn (collective), Madi Diaz, Erin McCarley
CLAIM TO FAME: Free digital album: Live @ Eddie’s Attic (download below!)
FOR FANS OF: The Swell Season, The Honey Trees
You may know Joy Williams as the voice of the new Oscar Meyer theme song, “Doesn’t Get Better Than This” or from her song placements on numerous television shows. You may even remember her as one of the Christian musicians your parents let you listen to as a child. But perhaps you haven’t yet heard of The Civil Wars.
After previously being on a major label and then releasing a couple EPs on her and her husband’s independent label, Sensibility Music, Williams has now joined forces with singer-songwriter John Paul White, the pen behind a couple of country tunes from well-known artists (LeAnn Rimes, Matthew Mayfield, Jason Aldean to name a few). They met by chance at a songwriting session in Los Angeles, hit it off, wrote a couple tracks–and that, dear readers, is the story of how The Civil Wars came to be.
Their sound is warm and inviting, with lyrics offering reflection on life and love. Williams and White’s voices blend together so well it’s as if it was somewhat inevitable that they sing together. The Civil Wars offer up a brand of music that is sincere, honest, raw to the bone, and without gimmicks–giving their stripped back sound the ability to withstand time and the influx of fads that come and go it. And with slow-burning, folk-tinged songs, “melodic melancholy folk” is what I think best describes the music these two make together in this age of blending genres.
Last year, I had the pleasure of speaking to Joy about the struggles and triumphs of being an independent musician, having already experienced the major label world. She had some thought-provoking insights into the industry and was incredibly well-spoken, and I think that really comes across in her co-writing with John Paul White. We discussed how we are living in an unprecedented era of the independent artist in which there are so many avenues and platforms through which musicians can get their music out to the public.
And the technological era has done really incredible things for the pair: their free live album has been downloaded over 80,000 times; their 2009 four-song EP, Poison & Wine, debuted at #4 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter Top Albums chart; and the EP’s title track was played in full on “Grey’s Anatomy.” (And wow, when was the last time you’ve heard a song played in full on TV?) See how much the Internet and a little good ‘ol word of mouth can come in handy for independent artists?
The mesmerizing duo will be releasing their debut full-length Barton Hollow on Feb. 1, 2011 via Sensibility Music, and it’s only a matter of time before they make it big. Can’t wait to see what The Civil Wars has in store for all of us in the coming year!
[DOWNLOAD]: The Civil Wars – Live @ Eddie’s Attic **Don’t forget to spread the word!**
Karin Dreijer Andersson, was originally one half of Grammi-winning (Swedish equivalent of a Grammy; those tricky, Swedes!) electric duo, the Knife, with her brother. Now performing solo under the moniker, Fever Ray, she is known for her theatricality (often donning masks and face paint), haunting vocals, and creating dark daydreams with synth textures.
“When I Grow Up” is a Fever Ray original and is the perfect song to introduce new listeners to her music. Honestly, on the first listen her multi-tracked vocals sound almost Bjork-like. The bass line is gripping and the sparse percussion is quite satisfying and carries the eerie feeling effectively. The single melody line repeated throughout pushes the track forward with a sense of movement.
And here’s the video, which I think suits the track perfectly and adds to its eerie tone.
First Aid Kit
And we’ve got 2 Swedes on the docket today! These two sisters from Stokholm had humble beginnings. They started off posting acoustic videos on youtube and tracks on Myspace, and clearly, they’re doing something right, because now they’re touring all over the world. They have a show in Toronto coming up on October 15.
Their version of Fever Ray’s “When I Grow Up” is a beautiful folk rendition with the girls’ signature harmonies. Completely different from the original, First Aid Kit’s vocals are in the forefront while subtle guitar instrumentation and muted percussion is buried in the mix (save for the intro).
Which version do you prefer? Fever Ray’s spooky electronic take or First Aid Kit’s classic folk?
P.S. What did you think of Glee’s cover of Paramore’s “Only Exception”? I hated it.
I’ve been listening to L.A.-based girl troupe, Warpaint‘s latest track “Undertow” nonstop as of late. With multiple vocal tracks bleeding into each amidst of river of reverb, they sound like hipster ghosts (yeah, I just made that up). With only 2009′s Exquisite Corpse EP under their belt, the quartet has already landed themselves the opening spot on the xx’s current tour. They play Toronto’s Massey Hall tomorrow night (Sept. 29)!
Their debut full-length, The Fool, comes out October 26 via Rough Trade.
“Now I’ve got you in the undertow,” they sing on the track, and they’ve definitely got me.
[MP3]: Warpaint – “Undertow” (right click, save as)
Sufjan Stevens‘ long-awaited Age of Adz if finally available for everyone to stream in its entirety before its October 12 release date. That way, folks can decide whether or not they’re going to purchase it (or if you’ve already pre-ordered it like me, you can listen to it before having the glorious physical copy in your hands). I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet, but I thought I’d share the love. Stream Age of Adz below or on NPR.
Welcome back, Sufjan. It’s been far to too long.
First up we have Band of Horses, who are the originators of “The Funeral.” The track starts off softly and then breaks into urgency driven by crashing cymbals and guitars, though heralding back to the lone voice and guitar in one section. The sound is signature indie rock-driven folk, folks–and simply and truly Band of Horses.
[MP3]: Band of Horses – “The Funeral” (right-click, save link as)
In ring 2, we have Canadian folk songstress, Serena Ryder, whose cover is off her 2009 EP, which she made in collaboration with Toronto-based roots/country band, The Beauties. She also covers Kylie Minogue, Jordan Sparks, and Hank Williams. Eclectic, huh? Her version of “The Funeral” is a bit slower and more sparse, with 3 vocal tracks and beautiful horn/brass instruments and guitar buried in the background. Her raw and musky vocals are front and center, and the focus seems to be solely on the emotion.
VOTE on who YOU think does “The Funeral” best!
Brooklyn duo, Sleigh Bells, have just released the video for one of my favourite tracks off their gritty debut LP, Treats. High school + smoke + fire + dog = “Infinity Guitars.”
Picture this: Alexis Krauss decked out in ubiquitous Ray-bans and a letterman jacket (which also seem to be everywhere recently) walking in slow motion through an industrial alley with a bat in hand. Add some fire to that, and hello–hot (literally and figuratively)! Girl crush material, indeed.
Love the slow build up, and the cuts from grinning cheerleaders to the pyro-eaten pile of guitars create an eerie juxtaposition.
But how is this anything like real life, you ask? It’s not. We only wish we were this cool in high school.
@ Madrid, Spain
If you haven’t heard of Lourdes Hernandez aka Russian Red, it’s probably because she’s also fairly new in her hometown of Madrid, Spain. She only has one release to her name: 2008′s I Love Your Glasses. And honestly, I have no idea how I stumbled upon this gem of a singer-songwriter last year, but I’m glad I did. There’s something very distinct about her voice. If you’ve heard it once, it’s immediately recognizable. It might have to do with Hernandez’s accent or the quirky way she stretches and bends her voice. While Russian Red’s sound might not be to everyone’s liking (some mind find it a tad grating like Joanna Newsom’s voice), if she suits your tastes, you’ll love her.
I’ve been listening her new track, “Loving Strangers,” non-stop since I got my hands on it. It’s probably my favourite track of hers (I love its subtleties), and I think it’s on the soundtrack to Habitación En Roma (A Room In Rome).
[MP3]: Russian Red – “Loving Strangers” (right click, save as)
EDIT: I recently had the chance to have a quick Q&A with Russian Red. Check it out here!
*KEEP READING: Russian Red – “Loving Strangers” LYRICS (after the jump!)
Okay, Sufjan Stevens has literally been gifting us with new tracks this month like an overzealous high school boyfriend, and hey–I’m not complaining. Now we have 2 free tracks, “I Walked” and “Too Much,” available for download off his highly anticipated Age of Adz.
Now enjoy and gush over it with your friends like you did your high school sweetheart–you know you want to.
If you haven’t already heard of Brooklyn-based Holly Miranda, you’re about to. With the release of her debut album, The Magician’s Private Library (produced by TV On the Radio’s Dave Sitek), she has garnered a lot of much deserved praise. Kanye blogged about her a while back and was completely taken by her airy falsetto’s and surprisingly powerful voice. The girl has a wide vocal range, and she displays her furthermost spectrum perfectly with the deep, rich timbre in “No One Just Is” and the dreamy wisp-like vocals in “Joints.”
Lush backdrops of hazy layers create a dream-like quality which only adds to create an atmosphere and other-worldly environment Miranda’s stunning vocals. Big things are in store for this young artist, and I’m excited to see what she makes of it.
These shorts were filmed in Toronto before her concert at the El Mocambo on May 20. If you’re new to Holly, here are two videos to get yourself acquainted with. And if you’re already an old fan, enjoy (and spread the word)!
Videos credited to: http://woodandwiresvideos.blogspot.com/