New Music Friday

More great stuff! Had a great chat with my buddies Jon and Kyle at Graywhale. Jon was at the Samantha Crain show as well, though he got to stick around for Langhorne Slim. I did not. Babysitting constraints. Oh well. Anyway, he and I chatted about that, the fact that Alela Diane is coming with Fleet Foxes, the wonderfulness of Twitter for learning breaking-news stuff before it breaks on “the major sites” … yah. Good convo. Also talked about Marissa Nadler’s new CD, which, ha ha … I ordered this morning. Twice, actually. Got it from iTunes, then realized, “No … I want this hard-copy” and bought it from Amazon. Lovely, eh?

Anyway, got this list on the cheap! I love finding $2 CDs at Grawhale. Or anywhere, for that matter. A lot of this list are $2-3 CDs.

  • Chris Walla – Field Manual
  • Helvetia – Headless Machine of the Heart
  • Will Sartain – For Love (yes, the Will Sartain of Kilby and Urban Lounge, Future of the Ghost, etc)
  • Hayden – In Field & Town
  • Sara Lov – Seasoned Eyes Were Beaming
  • Minmae – Le Grand Essor de la Maison du Monstre
  • Moneen – Are We Really Happy with Who We Are Right Now?
  • Holly Miranda – The Magician’s Private Library
  • Rykarda Parasol – Our Hearts First Meet
  • Rykarda Parasol – For Blood and Wine

See what I mean? Great haul!!! Can’t wait to rip these and get ’em on my iPod.

New Music Saturday

I love it when I go to Graywhale and get handed a bunch of great recommendations. Example: The Fire Theft. Basically all members of Sunny Day Real Estate whose label wouldn’t let them out of their contract, so they recorded a record under The Fire Theft name. Ha ha ha. Love it! Also Tamryn’s The Waves CD. If you’re inclined to sit on a beach and sip whatever your drink of choice is while you watch the sun set and listen to the waves crash on the shore, this would be the soundtrack to your evening. Fantastically mellow music. HIGHLY recommend.

Here’s the complete haul list:

  • Starrring – Wife of God
  • Tamryn – The Waves
  • La Sera – Hardly Art
  • Tera Melos – Patagonian Rats
  • Kaki King – Dreaming of Revenge
  • Vivian Girls – Share the Joy
  • Sunny Day Real Estate
  • The Fire Theft
  • The Kills – Keep on Your Mean Side
  • The Kills – Midnight Boom
  • The Knife – Silent Shout
  • The Knife – Tomorrow, in a Year

Also, because I’m a sucker for hardcopy, I picked up The Kills’ Blood Pressures. I like collections–what can I say?

As I was discussing with a buddy on Facebook who introduced me to Niki and the Dove, who sound a lot like The Knife except with a lot more accessibility to the vocals and lyrics, The Knife kind of has a death metal pop sound to them, minus the metal. So what does that make them? Death pop? I guess … I dunno. The way Karin’s vocals come across, and I don’t know if that’s Olaf who’s “singing” with her, but whoever it is, it sounds like someone’s done the vocals then tuned them down an octave and sped them up to keep the beat with Karin … anyway, the effect is utterly creepy. I love it. No way I’d let my 5 or 6 year old hear their stuff from Silent Shout, though I’d consider letting them in on Deep Cuts. My 6 year old digs Cranes though. That made my day. We were out driving around on some pre-Mother’s Day errands, and “Worlds” came on. She loved it and asked me to play it again. Who am I to deny her the goodness of Ali Shaw?!

Review: The Kills – Blood Pressures

I have to confess … the first time I heard of The Kills was when I was hunting down info on Gypsy Death and You–the Philadelphia-based band. The Kills have a song by the same title on their Keep On Your Mean Side CD.  I have since become a HUGE fan.

The Kills is Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince. Pretty cool concept of how they started off–mailing recordings back and forth over the Atlantic. He was living in London, she was living in South Florida. She, of course, provided vocals for the music he would send, and they’d send stuff back and forth. Finally, she just moved to London. Makes sense to me … no sense wasting postage when you could move to London!

So yah … this was released about a month ago, but it’s so worth reviewing that it very much still warrants the tidal wave of positive comments that I’m about to heap upon it. From Alison’s incredible vocals to Jamie’s bluesy, lo-fi, grinding, gritty guitar work, there’s plenty to enjoy on this new offering.

The first thing I noticed about this CD is that the whole thing is just riddled with vibe. It’s  fat and thick with heavily distorted guitar. It’s a great sound, reminiscent of Jack White (yes, I know there’s a connection with Jack and Alison through the Dead Weather). In fact, on “Satellite,” I’d swear that Jack is playing guitar.

Speaking of, that’s one of my overall favorites. The largeness of the guitar, the almost weepy quality to the vocals on the “ohhh ohhh” parts … it’s very easy to get lost in the emotion and weight of the overall sound. Its reggae-style of syncopated thickly distorted guitar chords, blending with the rhythmic, relentless pounding of the drums evokes a very somber mood. LOVE IT. Here’s a performance they did on the Conan O’Brien show. Absolutely lovely. Every time I hear this, it gives me the chills … live or studio.

Then we have “Nail in My Coffin”–a musically much more upbeat track, again heavy on the guitar. It kind of has a sort of dance sound to it. Not in a electronica kind of way; there’s an infectious beat that makes you want to get up and move around. You could spend a good amount of time bouncing around to this one.

“DNA” is another one of the stand-out tracks, in my opinion. There’s a 70s straight-up rock sound that’s infectious and brooding. Jamie plays low-key and fluctuates between picking out the matching melody to Alison’s vocals and a great riff that absolutely hounds the chorus. Alison’s vocal range oscillates between soft crooning to unleashing herself on the song. If you can imagine a cross between Led Zeppelin and Fleetwood Mac, you can kind of get a sense of how this song sounds.

As always, I don’t want to review every song; the rest is up to you to enjoy and form your own opinion. Hopefully, this will at least whet your appetite and get you excited to pick this up as soon as possible. I’ll tell you this much: the more I listen to this CD, the more I want to acquire the rest of their discography. I’ve heard a few songs from other CDs, and the sound is similar, sort of … I don’t know. I’ll need to get the rest of their stuff to make a more accurate assessment, but this CD sounds like it’s pretty different from their previous work. Only one way to find out, right?

Go ahead and file this under “shiver” and “shake” cuz you can do both on this one!

Official Site

Review: Sarah Fimm – Near Infinite Possibility

Well, here we are–that lovely time of year where we sit in eager anticipation of a Sarah Fimm release. This time, we get it ahead of time in the form of streaming audio from this site!

Reading over the song credits for individual tracks, I immediately noticed that the musicians vary from track to track. The venerable Josh Freese plays drums on quite a few of the songs. If you’re not familiar with his work, check out A Perfect Circle. He’s an amazing drummer. I don’t recognize any of the other names, but if they’re playing with Sarah, I trust that they’re quality. Listening to this new CD, yah–they are.

The greatest and most obviously noticeable difference between this and the Karma Phala project is the minimalist electronic music that went in to this new offering. Whereas KP was heavily laden (and most beautifully so) with keyboard, synth and loops, Near Infinite Possibility picks up where Red Yellow Sun left off. The music is much more organic and instrumentally driven. Her voice becomes a blend of

Three tracks from Karma Phala make the leap to the new CD : “Everything Becomes Whole,” “Sing,” and “Invisible Satellites” are some of my favorite tracks from KP, and I’m glad to see them getting a greater distribution through the new CD.

The new CD has a sort of pysch-folk-rock sound to it. Some tracks have a very fundamental rock sound to them (listening to Flames at the moment), drawing on such classic acts as Skynard and Aerosmith (that’s the 70s version of Aerosmith … not the post-“Dude Looks Like a Lady” Aerosmith). If the streaming track list is representative of the CD track list, she saved one of the best for last. Reaching back to her classic rock roots and channeling the likes of CSNY and a hint of Simon and Garfunkel, we’re treated to “Morning Time.” Other tracks, specifically two of the aforementioned tracks from KP ((“Invisible Satellites” and “Everything Becomes Whole”), have a much more alternative sound to them.

On all of the tracks, Sarah’s voice warmly shines through and makes you wish you had heard of her much, much earlier than you had. There is just something about her that is absolutely riveting. There’s an inherent danger to listening to her music; if you are of the mind-set that fidelity in a marriage is important, then listening to her at work or on a business trip is probably not a good idea. Some locations that would be *perfect* to take in her music:

  • The Honeymoon suite in any given hotel in Niagara Falls
  • Bedroom
  • Living room
  • Kitchen
  • Laundry room (hey … why not mix it up, right?)
  • Secluded beach (cuz really, we don’t want to watch …)
  • Log cabin in the mountains by a well-stoked fire

You get my point, right? Her voice is the soundtrack to your love life.

The new CD comes out on May 5th. Get it. Hear it. Love it.


New Music: NHL Playoffs Quarter-Finals Edition

So it’s fairly obvious that there’s been a massive drop-off this month in posts. I cannot promise you that this is going to change any time in the foreseeable future. The Buffalo Sabres are in the hunt for the Cup that bears lord Stanley’s name, and I’m LOVING this post-season. I go in to work early so I can leave early so I can watch the games. We have expat WNY friends come over for the game. We make it a party. Even my wife, who has gone so far as to say that she actually does not like hockey, has gotten caught up in it. She pays more attention. She knows the stakes are higher. This is it, folks; it’s do or die time! And the Sabres aren’t dying!

Most of the time when I post, it’s after I get home from work, have dinner and relax for the evening. With the playoffs being played every other night, it gets tough to make the time to post. I can’t promise that I’ll get back to the “post a day” pace, but I’m sure gonna try!

Meanwhile, took some time to head over to Graywhale yesterday and chat with Kyle about what it takes to get an in-store performance for an artist. I had a purpose in mind, though to be perfectly honest, I don’t know if it could be pulled off. It’d be great, but I don’t know what time constraints the artist has, I don’t know if this artist is even interested in doing a performance … but ya never know if you don’t ask, right? So I’ll throw it out there for consideration and see what happens!

And of course, I took some time to pick up some new CDs. Can’t let that chance slip by, right? What a great haul. As always, it was a grab-‘n’-go day: pick up a bunch of CDs and hope they’re good, though like I’ve mentioned before, I’ve only been let down once. Picked up what looks to be a Family Crest-style CD, a CD in the vein of Alele Diane and Samantha Crain, some Wilco-style stuff … overall, a great haul! Here’s the list.

  • Langhorne Slim – When the Sun’s Gone Down
  • Langhorne Slim – Be Set Free
  • The Spinto Band – Moonwink
  • Jessica Lea Mayfield – Tell Me
  • Tiny Vipers – Life on Earth (LOVING this CD! It’s more mellow than a couch with a good book on a dark, stormy, rainy day. This CD makes Suzanne Vega look like a metal-head. Seriously that mellow.)
  • Smoosh – Free to Stay
  • Snowpony – The Sl0w-Motion World of Snowpony
  • Setting Sun – Fantasurreal
  • Mary Larson and Saint Low – Tricks for Dawn
  • Good for Cows – Audumla
  • Rahim – Ideal Lives
  • Norfolk & Western – The Unsung Colony
  • Holopaw  – Quit +/ or Fighting

I have Holopaw’s self-titled CD, so I was familiar with their stuff, but still good stuff. The Langhorne Slim material is a luck-out since I’m not familiar with his works but we’re seeing him with Samantha Crain. It’d help to know what he sings, right?

Snow Pony, Good for Cows and the Spinto Band are

CD Review: Azam Ali – From Night to the Edge of Day

About four years ago, a co-worker asked me if I had borrowed her Vas CD In the Garden of Souls. I had never even heard of Vas at the time, so no–I hadn’t borrowed it. Being curious, I hopped on Amazon and picked up a copy. Once it shipped, I listened to it a few times, then as a gift turned it over to my co-worker.

After a few days, I found myself *really* wanting to listen to it again. She let me borrow it for a few days, during which I became absolutely enamored with Azam Ali’s voice and style. Then I started doing my homework …

I know I’ve mentioned this in other posts, but for the love of all that is holy, that chick is PROLIFIC. Not only did she have 3 other CDs with Vas, but she had a CD with her side project Niyaz, 2 solo CDs, and a bunch of collaboration projects, one of which was a single with Serj Tankian of SOAD and Buckethead. GREAT song.

That was an expensive Amazon day. I bought everything she had that I could find in one fell swoop. Over the years, I’ve kept tabs to see what else she had going on. She released a new CD with Niyaz a few years ago. Then her website started hinting at a new solo CD.

That CD was released today. From Night to the Edge of Day is a compilation of her takes on various children’s lullabies from her native Iran. 10 tracks of not understanding a single word she sings, but feeling every neuron respond to the pure musical magic of her incantations.

Some of her music is incredibly energetic, though in a subdued, refined way. I point to Elysium for the Brave for a few tracks, such as “Endless Reverie,” “Abode,” and “Forty One Ways.” There’s an energy to these that’s so … different. Not the “I can get up and dance to this!” kind of energy. No … this energy is different, and I just figured out what it is: it reminds me of the “energy” that Sarah Fimm creates in her music–one of a very strong … “amorous” energy. Yah–that’s it.

However, that energy is nowhere on this new CD. Like I said, it’s a collection of re-invented children’s’ lullabies, and every track does its intended job. There is a dreaminess and trance-inducing quality to these songs that is only hinted at on her other works.

Stand-out tracks:

“Tenderness” is absolutely ethereal. There is a I could listen to this one track on repeat pretty much all day. The deep, almost rumbling sounds of what may be a synth, layered with her breathy, luring vocals, mixed with various sounds, slowly mixing in another layer of synth a couple of octaves above the bass synth … it’s just an incredibly relaxing track.

“Neni Desem” starts similarly, but then a string instrument sounding suspiciously like a dulcimer kicks in. Gah … I wish I had the liner notes with me for this. This is a much more stripped down song than “Tenderness.” It really is just the keyboard synth, some string instruments, and her layered vocals that mesmerize and hypnotize.

“Dandini” uses percussion to keep the flow of the song moving, though I’m sure it would sound just as incredible without. This track is similar to “In the Garden of Souls” in that you can hear similar percussion, used in a similarly slow, burning, yearning way.

If this becomes your first Azam Ali purchase, may I congratulate you for taking your first steps into a larger, more musically mature world. Unless you are fluent in Farsi or native Iranian dialects, odds are you won’t understand a word on this CD. that will have literally zero impact on your ability to flat-out enjoy this new offering.

Feel free to file this under “shiver” because this is almost guaranteed to give you goose bumps.

Azam Ali’s New CD Comes Out Tomorrow!

Azam Ali’s new CD comes out TOMORROW. I’m extremely stoked about this. I have all her solo material, her work with Vas and Niyaz, Roseland … there isn’t anything she does that’s not incredible. I pre-ordered the new CD on Amazon this morning, but I highly doubt they’ll get it to me by tomorrow.

I wish I had checked her site last week. I knew her CD was coming out either in April or May, but I didn’t know it was tomorrow, ya know? So now I have something else to look forward to this week other than playoff hockey (Go Sabres!).

Review: Alela Diane – Alela Diane & Wild Divine

FINALLY made it back to Graywhale on Thursday. As I was upstairs scanning the indie CDs, this familiar voice drifted over the in-house stereo. Of course, just like any store, when you want help, it’s never around. I patiently waited until someone came back upstairs, which surprisingly took about half an hour. Upon his return, I asked, “Hey, so … a while ago, you had a CD playing that sounded  a lot like Alela Diane. Could you find out who that was?”

Well, ha ha. Guess who just released her newest CD on Tuesday. Guess who bought that very same CD. Guess who’s listening to it right now.

This is the 3rd pass through this new marvel of hers. It gets better and better with each listen. That is by no means to indicate or imply that the first listen was by any means boring; I do not buy boring music. I do take risks from time to time and buy the occasional CD on a hunch, whim, or for no reason at all other than I simply want to buy one. This CD was none of those. Having owned To Be Still for well over a year and The Pirate’s Gospel for just about a year, I was positive that her new CD would be no let-down. As almost always, I was right.

The immediate difference I noticed on this CD is the fact that percussion plays a *much* larger role than on her previous two CDs. about 80% of the tracks on her new CD use drums, as compared to To Be Still, where drums appear on maybe 25-30% of her tracks. It’s a different sound, but it is definitely and uniquely HER. There is just no mistaking that voice. Much like Joana Newsom or Samantha Crain, or Geoff Tate, Geddy Lee … all of whom have incredibly distinctive voices, Alela’s voice shines through as a uniquely polished gem that leaves me begging for more.

Having said all that, the other thing I noticed even while standing around Graywhale was that her voice has grown stronger. Or maybe she’s just using it in a stronger manner. Either way, she has risen to new heights with this new offering.

I love her writing style. Her songs explore her thoughts, feelings and experiences, and she tells them through not just the words, but also through her vocals and how she uses her voice. You can feel the emotion and feeling in how she presents her music. She bares her soul, and you get to live her music–not just hear it.

This is one of those CDs where I have a difficult time picking out stand-out tracks because ALL of them are amazing and beautiful. I can pinpoint “Elijah” as the story-telling track about a woman she meets in France. I love “The Wind” for its incredible ability to relax me even more than the CD does on its own. There’s kind of a Margarita-ville feel to it in that it’s just so … breezy? I can imagine listening to this while sitting on the deck of a boat and staring out at the setting sun off the coast of some place like Pensacola Florida. I dunno. It’s just that easy-going. Love it.

So here’s what you do: find this CD as soon as possible. Amazon has it, as does iTunes. Pick up this new CD, and if you don’t have her other material, pick it up too cuz it’s all awesome.


More New Music!

HOLY crap it’s been forever since I’ve made it to Graywhale. It was like visiting an old friend … basically because I did visit an old friend. Never a disappointment, that Graywhale place.

Today’s haul is *FANTASTIC*. While I was perusing the indie section, I heard this familiar voice coming over the in-house stereo. Pausing briefly to give it proper attention, I was pretty sure it was Alela Diane, but the voice seemed … different. Like it could be her, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were someone else.

I went back to rummaging through the shelves of CDs and made a mental note to ask behind-the-counter guy who the girl was. He came back upstairs about 25 minutes later.

“Hey, so … about half an hour ago there was some chick singing. Was that Alela Diane? Cuz it sure sounded like her, but I have both her CD and EP, and it doesn’t sound like anything on those.”

“Yup. She just released a CD on Tuesday. Want it?”


Last copy they had, too. Made me very, very happy. He actually had to take it out of the player, which means it was “used,” which means I got it at the used price and not new. My guys know how to hook me up!

So here’s the full list of new stuff:

  • Alela Diane & Wild Divine
  • Casio Kids – Topp Stemning Pa Lokal Bar
  • The Brunettes – Structure & Cosmetics
  • Head Like a Kite – Random Portraits of the Home Movie
  • Kinski – Alpine Static
  • Amy Millan – Honey from the Tombs
  • Million Billion – Ready, Fire, Aim
  • The Most Serene Republic – Underwater Photography
  • Mona – Your Favorite Thing
  • Pretty Girls Make Graves – Elan Vital
  • Saint Etienne – Tiger Boy

Of the lot, I’m most excited to hear Amy Millan, The Brunettes, Casio Kids because I think they’re from Norway or some place over that way, and Pretty Girls Make Graves. To be fair, I’ve already dipped into the Alela Diane CD, and it is indeed everything I hoped it would be. I plan on posting a review of it later today.

New Death Cab for Cutie Single

Their new website owns. I love the Red Laser barcode thing, even though all it does is pull up a page that says “Tune In to Death Cab for Cutie’s ‘You Are A Tourist” Video Event, which was today at 5. YouTube has the new video though!

I’m digging the new song. Truthfully, it sounds similar to their older material, though this is definitively more upbeat musically. The CD comes out May 31st and is entitled Codes and Keys. I’m going out on a limb here (not really), but I’m betting this CD is amazing. Name one piece of music that Ben Gibbard has been involved with that’s sucked. Can’t do it, can ya? The man is amazing. Look at his projects:

  • Death Cab
  • Postal Service
  • All-Time Quarterback
  • These are not light-weight projects (though Postal Service will probably never see a 2nd CD …). Anyway, looks like we have some DCFC happiness on the horizon!

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