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Dinah Thorpe

20 Dec


I’m gonna open up this next review with a simple comparison, a comparison that’s going to date me something fierce, but it’s just so spot on. And I can’t get it out of my head, so here goes: Laurie Anderson meets The Lilac Time. Old and obscure, unfortunately. Like Anderson, Thorpe’s rich, multi-layered vocals playfully haunt your brain as they weave back and forth between your ears (headphones strongly encouraged) and the banjo and tempo remind me of the upbeat moments of Stephen Duffy’s work with The Lilac Time. Of course my 16-year old thinks this track sounds like Mumford & Sons, but he’s never heard Peggy Honeywell. Thorpe is literate, politically astute, and crafts siren songs around her dreams and visions with everything from a synth to a ukulele. The results will brighten your day as does her album’s sparse, bold cover.

Ghost Lights

23 Nov

Ghost Lights make perfect music to fall asleep to. And I mean that in the best possible way and not because I’m in bed snuggled up to my laptop. The subdued yet lush instrumentation hits you like a muscle relaxant and you’re off to dreamland. The effect isn’t accidental. The artist behind Ghost Lights, Noah Cebuliak, disappeared into Canada’s wilderness and discovered emotions that can’t be transmitted by mere words or waking logic. Who is the Canadian equivalent of Thoreau? I nominate Cebuliak (Canada’s answer to Neil Halstead at least). He went into the woods, with a guitar, to see if he could learn what it had to teach. These songs are his lessons learned and the only way you’re gonna benefit from them is by checking out of the rat race, unplugging, and letting yourself drift toward the lights, the Ghost Lights…

Ghost Lights – Fog Chief

Ghost Lights – A Train is Coming

ghostlights.ca

Y La Bamba

16 Jun

I learned of Portland, OR band Y La Bamba late one night while scrolling through the twitter feed and saw @NekoCase tweet the following:

This was a recommendation I could not pass up. I logged onto Spotify that night and listened to their newest album Court The Storm. I was instantly captivated by singer Luzelena Mendoza’s haunting vocals, which held onto me until the album finished some 46 minutes later.

Court The Storm‘s songs are flavored with latin-inspired rhythms and melodies that work wonderfully with Mendoza’s vocals. The band’s label, Tender Loving Empire, set me up with the two songs below, opening track “Squawk” and track #2 “Bendito”. Both songs are fantastic, and a great preview to how cool this album is. I highly recommend it.

Y La Bamba – Squawk from Court The Storm (2012)

Y La Bamba – Bendito from Court The Storm (2012)

Y La Bamba

Tender Loving Empire

Karen Dahlstrom

9 May

Karen Dahlstrom has been a fixture in the NYC folk scene, writing and performing with Bobtown, The Evangelines, American String Conspiracy, The Do-Overs, and The Maybelles. Last fall, she released her first solo effort, Gem State, a five-song strong EP inspired by her Idahoan upbringing. In less than 18 minutes, Karen shows her narrative range—embodying everything from a hardass war veteran to a reluctant bride—with songs so immediate and real they seem to have been there all along, waiting to be discovered. Karen’s hauntingly earnest voice brings added weight her lyrics, especially when they’re as stark as this: “The devil clapped me on the back/when I was nigh 13/Died my eyes from blue to black/and he made me hard and mean” (“Streets of Pocatello”). Though it serves her just as well in the sweet summer-ish come-on, “One More Time”.

While self-released with almost no promotion budget, the EP has cast a spell on folk journalists, bloggers, and DJs alike. So much so that she’s already managed to put together a small US tour. Of course, my chronic laziness means half her shows will have happened by the time you’re reading this (check here to see if you’ll be lucky enough to catch her live). But that’s me…don’t take your frustration out on Karen, buy her EP and she might add your town to the itinerary next time around.

One More Time from Gem State EP (2011)

karendahlstrom.com

Luke Roberts

1 May

Nashville native Luke Roberts released his sophomore album, The Iron Gates At Throop And Newport, with Thrill Jockey a little over a month ago. It’s a warm, stripped-down, folk record with most of the songs featuring only Roberts and his guitar. However, on “His Song” provided below, Roberts employs the use of drums, and some electric guitar which adds even more warm goodness. Enjoy.

Luke Roberts – His Song from The Iron Gates At Throop And Newport (2012)

Thrill Jockey

M. Ward

30 Mar

M. Ward is releasing his new album, A Wasteland Companion, with Merge on April 10. The album was recorded with 18 musicians from bands like Oakley Hall, Devotchka, Sonic Youth, and Dr. Dog to name a few. Ms. Deschanel sings on a couple of tracks as well. Merge was gracious enough to send us the song “Primitive Girl” from the forthcoming album to share with you. “Primitive Girl” is in classic M. Ward form, although it’s a piano driven track with his guitar skills taking a back seat. The song moves along quickly, finishing well before you want it to. I guarantee at least two repeats. Check it out below, and make sure you get out to your favorite record store on April 10 to get yourself a copy.

M. Ward – Primitive Girl from A Wasteland Companion (2012)

M. Ward

Merge

The Barr Brothers

14 Jan

I love being on the prowl for new music, scouring the web, looking for one of the thousands of musical gems that are out there hiding in cyberspace. I hang out in the WOXY Lives room at turntable.fm quite a bit, I have found this place to be a great place to hear new stuff and talk with people who have similar musical tastes. This is where I first heard The Barr Brothers. I don’t remember which song was played, I just remember having the “I have to check these guys out” moment. I am sure glad that I did.

Founded in Montreal, Quebec, The Barr Brothers are a four-piece folk band comprised of brothers Andrew, and Brad Barr on drums and guitar, with Sarah Page on the harp, and Andres Vial on keys, bass, vibes, and percussion. Their self-titled debut came out in September of 2011, it is a must have. Secret City provided us with two songs for your listening/downloading pleasure. Enjoy these tracks, then go out and buy their album.

The Barr Brothers – Beggar In The Morning from S/T (2011)

The Barr Brothers – Give The Devil Back His Heart from S/T (2011)

The Barr Brothers

Secret City Records

Fruit Bats

21 Jul

Fruit Bats are releasing their fifth album, Tripper, on August 2, 2011. The song included below is a great indicator of another solid release. Please enjoy.

Fruit Bats – Tangle and Ray from Tripper (2011)

 

Shan’s original post from 01.27.2006

I’ve been meaning to post the Fruit Bats for a while now because, well, because they’re as reassuring as a warm cup of tea. The acoustic guitar has a lovely lilt to it. The slight, overdubbed vocals don’t demand attention but get it anyway. And the alternately peppy and melancholy rhythms float on and on and on. All in all, you get the sense that the Fruit Bats respect their mothers, and a little motherly love in our indie pop could do us all some good.

 

 

Thurston Moore

28 Jun

Thurston Moore

Thurston Moore needs no introduction, being the lead singer for Sonic Youth and releasing solo albums for the past 20+ years. However, in his long musical career, this is the first time that he has collaborated with Beck and the results are quite spectacular. Both songs below (and the entire album) are full of depth, and quite different from his last, more straight-forward indie rock effort. Thanks in part to Beck’s production skills, great use of strings, and of course Thurston’s incredible talent at songwriting and guitar playing. Enjoy.

Thurston Moore – Benediction

Thurston Moore – Circulation

Socalled

15 Jun

On paper, Socalled’s bio reads like an elaborate art hoax: he’s a producer/ composer/ arranger/ rapper/ singer/ journalist/ photographer/ filmmaker/ magician/ cartoonist/ puppet maker – oh, and Yiddish music enthusiast! – who, for his fourth album, invited 34 collaborators from all ends of the musical spectrum into the studio. As a whole, Sleepover is disjointed – sounding like “Prairie Home Companion” one minute and “106 and Park” the next. There’s a recurring thread of humor and pastiche on many of the tracks, but others stick out as being quite earnest. So it’s difficult to nail a unifying theme. However, taken individually, each song holds its own, and some even stand out. Take these two examples, where the eclectic ingredients come together nicely into a singular concept. The title track is a send-up of ghetto-tech anthems, with none other than Detroit’s own King of Booty, DJ Assault, serving up hypnotic refrains over a frenetic klezmer loop. (The joke wouldn’t be complete without puppets freaking in Socalled’s apartment – so be sure to watch the video.) By contrast, “Work With What You Got” is a positive vibration calypso-hop jam featuring Roxanne Shante and The Mighty Sparrow on vocals that would feel at home on the soundtrack to a feelgood children’s movie.

Socalled || Teaser Sleepover #2 from Dare To Care Records on Vimeo.

Sleepover (featuring DJ Assault) from Sleepover (2011)
Work With What You Got (featuring Roxanne Shante and The Mighty Sparrow) from Sleepover (2011)