Tag Archives: Asthmatic Kitty

My Brightest Diamond

13 Jul

Ypsilanti, Michigan, usually has trouble measuring up to its neighbor to the north, Ann Arbor. The bar and restaurant scene is less vibrant, the clubs a bit dirtier, and Eastern Michigan University is no U of M, period. The brightest spot, perhaps, is Materials Unlimited, a salvage shop extrordinaire, filled with eclecticism and rare gems. And so, the analogy should be obvious — the music of former Ypsi-kid Shara Worden, a.k.a. My Brightest Diamond, is like something out of the finest architectural antique shop. Her stylized and orchestrated pop experiments are structured compositions, full of nuance, and her voice reflects he Pentecostal church choir childhood. Too bad for Ypsilanti she moved to New York. Her debut ablum on Asthmatic Kitty, Bring Me The Workhorse, comes out August 22nd.

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Shapes and Sizes

23 Jun

Victoria is a charming London in miniature (even the police sirens have that European wail rather than the standard North American whistle) carved into the brilliant and wet wilds on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The subtexts for the city, if you’re into that kind of thing, abound: a bite-sized cosmopolis carved into the heart of darkness, a town with the will of a city, a beachhead in the Garden of Eden. Shapes and Sizes are fantastic at finding that subtext, whether they’re trying or not. They hit rhythms and mimic styles like urbane pros, but they experiment like small-town kids with only themselves as inspiration. “Wilderness” lumbers along like a pessimistic comedian, hinging itself on a medley of downer horns, a charmingly amateur chorus of whistles, and the line “Susan, you can’t be tribal leader ‘coz your personality’s wrong.” It provides the perfect segueway to the melancholy opening (but not so down that it can’t hold a few handclaps!) to “Island’s Gone Bad,” but halfway through a party breaks out to the exuberant shout “I like eating fruit off of trees when I’m with you!” Aw shucks, guys, the feeling’s mutual.

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Castanets

19 Nov

While he may share the same record label as pop revivalist Sufjan Stevens, Castanets’ mainman Raymond Raposa creates a space of his own with what his bio calls “mutant country” — somber tales of heartbreak spread over wonderfully sparse, ecclectic instrumentation. Let those slow embers burn and keep your days warm and hopeful (those who have already started to see snowflakes swirl in the air know what I’m talking about).

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Bunky

22 May

A playful, boy/girl pop duo from San Diego backed by members of area scene stars: Pinback, Black Heart Procession, Rocket From the Crypt, and Castanets. This is a band who, in the album credits, refers to drums as “boomkadittles” and bass and guitar as “thunderstick” and “lightenin’ stick” respectively. Not sticklers for spelling, but sticklers for something much more important: making music that makes you laugh and dance and in the case of the ending of “Yes/No,” check outside your windows for UFOs.

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Sufjan Stevens

31 Mar

An ’03 fave makes an early and strong appearance in 2004. THE songwriter to hear this year.

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