Sarah Fimm Listening Party!

On Sarah Fimm’s Facebook page, she has announced a May 5th listening party on AOL for her new CD, Near Infinite Possibility . This makes me *extremely* happy! If you’re not familiar with her material, I would highly recommend becoming such. Ethereal, haunting, moody, and like I said before, just flat-out, downright sexy.

For the non-inculcated, here are some vids.

And finally, a duet with the King of Goth, Peter Murphy:

If this isn’t enough to whet your appetite, you can check out the video for her new single, “Yellow,” on her website. I won’t embed it here so you can all check out her site.

Review: Nataly Dawn – (Her Earlier Stuff)

I imagine this is how it must have been for a music addict in the 30s, 40s, and 50s –discovering that one voice on the radio that you immediately recognize as being that unique and that perfect. Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday … and now we can add Nataly Dawn to the list of classic crooners.

I fell down the Pomplamoose well after catching some vids of theirs on YouTube–specifically “Centrifuge.” Just an amazing video by an incredible band. Of course, the inevitable web-searching began to find out where they frequent online. I quickly found their Facebook page and their Twitter account. Well, ha ha. Guess what. Nataly AND Jack each not only have their own Twitter accounts, but they each also have their own incredible solo material. Nataly has a less extensive discography than does Jack, but that’s fine–give her time!

This CD was released in 2009, so I’m sure there probably a bunch of other reviews out there, but whatever. I like it, so I’m reviewing it.

If there’s one thing to be said about her voice, it’s that it is as intoxicating as the most potent wine. Like caviar for your tastebuds or a Renoir for your eyes, Nataly’s voice is pure exquisiteness. Gentle, mild, and addicting.

For the most part, Nataly sticks with her guitar, though there are some songs where the music branches out into other instruments. “Waking Up” finds her playing a piano (or at least a keyboard). “Hope,” with Ben Burdick, uses bass and harmonicas. “Save Me” uses a menagerie of instruments and is utterly haunting … I think mostly in part to the bass, which has this semi-eerie quality to it. You can hear the classical guitars dueling as well. At least they sound like nylon strings. I could be wrong. The deep, rumbings of Mr. Burdick also had a meloncholiness to the song.

“My Hands Burn” is an acapella tune that employs multiple tracks for Nataly to harmonize with herself. The effect is beautiful. To be fair, she does this on a lot of her tracks (and in Pomplamoose as well). I like it, though I imagine it’d be hard to reproduce the harmonics in a concert setting. 🙂

Stand-out tracks.

“A Happy Song” – Love that it sound like it was recorded on a tape recorder. This recording method is employed on a lot of the tracks, but this is the first one on the CD where you notice it. And she used the word “endoscopies”!! You HAVE to love that. “you can be whatever you want to be. i will be on your side. and when we’re having endoscopies and gumming our jello, we’ll survive. there;s not much to this fixation. feels like vacation. if only real life could be this fun.” 

“Save Me” is A haunting tune that shows the span of how much we rely on others to comfort us. Some slightly religious overtones … maybe I’m reaching here, but it sounds like it. There are other religious nods throughout the CD, but this one is more … covert? for wont of a better term?

“Baise M’encore” is a musical interpretation of French poet Louise Labe’s 16th century sonnet “Baise m’encor, rebaise-moi et baise.” I don’t know if it’s a cover or not, but her execution of the language would have you believe that she is a Parisian native (and of course there’s a good reason for this, ha ha).

The Right Decision – I like it because I’ve struggled with a lot of these similar “escapes.” I’ve found some work better than others–definitely not the drugs. I don’t mean that as a “wink wink, nudge nudge.” I really mean it. I don’t see drug use as a viable escape, but I will never judge anyone for not wanting TO escape and turning to drugs to do so. Sometimes, life can be just that insanely difficult; who am I to criticize someone for wanting to feel better and “escape”?

Well, listen … (ha ha! Get it? See what I did there?!) this is definitely one for the CD shelf–digital or otherwise. I don’t know if you can actually order a physical CD, but I would sure love this sitting on my shelf. As it is, I’ve purchased it from iTunes, and I’m happy with that. Whatever you do, just GET THIS CD!!

10 FREE CDs To Download

A buddy of mine on Facebook pointed me to this link:

I’ve been listening to and downloading stuff like crazy. So far, I’d say my favorite has been the chill BrainStorm Operations material. Well over 50 mp3s, split over a few different albums, some of which are actually complete. This stuff is so chill that it’d seriously cause even Flea to mellow out. Might not be so great for a RHCP show, but he’d be one well-rested little bass player.

That got me wondering if maybe there are other “10-free-mp3-albums-download-sound-sunday-X” pages. Sure enough, substitute X for any number 1 through 34 and you’ll get a whole new page of new stuff to nab.

You’re welcome. 🙂

Emily Browning: The Next Scarlett Johannson?

A buddy of mine on Facebook posted that he went to go see “Sucker Punch” the other night. I’ve been wanting to see it since the trailers started popping up a few months ago. It looks like it’s all eye candy, which I’m okay with. According to my buddy, the plot has more holes than the Utah I-15 in February, but as far as visuals go, it’s amazing.

However, the real story coming out of the movie isn’t even the movie itself. Emily Browning–the very same who played Violet in “Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events” movie–has a couple of singles on the soundtrack, and … yah. “Smouldering” doesn’t even begin to cover it.

If you’re not familiar with Scarlett Johannson, check out “Lost inTranslation,” “The Island,” “The Prestige,” or “The Black Dahlia.” She’s a pretty good actress. This is just my opinion, of course, but for as good an actress as she is, her vocal chops far surpass her acting skills. Her CD Anywhere I Lay My Head is a must-have. She will soothe your ravaged day with her silky voice and mellow, moody music.

However, this post is not about Scarlett; it is ALL about Emily Browning and her potential for a career beyond acting.

On the “Sucker Punch” soundtrack, she has two songs of her own, and one as a featured performer on Yoav’s track, “Where Is My Mind?” ( a great Pixies cover). Her two tracks–“Asleep” and “Sweet Dreams” (Eurythmics cover)–really showcase her vocal capabilities: smooth, quiet, polished, refined, dark, brooding and like I said earlier, smouldering.

Here’s the song:

I’m extremely excited to see what, if anything, she does with her musical career. Again, just my opinion, but really–she should pursue it ardently cuz she has a LOT of potential …

Review: The Hello Strangers – Introducing Max Schmidt

You know, I have to confess: I actually feel lazy reviewing this. My San Fran blog buddy keeps spoon feeding me all these incredible bands, and of course I just lap ’em up. I am her dog, and she is my Pavlov. I swear, I’ve been conditioned. Also, I don’t mind or care.

Alas … I highly suspect I will not make it to SXSW ever. Or Coachella. Or [insert multi-day music-fest here]. Well, okay … maybe not *never*, but it’s definitely a distinct possibility. Thus it is that I will probably never see as many awesome bands as she who hails from The Bay. However, that does not mean that I will not pine for such the opportunity, for to do so would be tantamount to giving up a dream. I’m not willing to do that. So I continue to hope.

Meanwhile, those who DO get to go generously and gratuitously pass on their discoveries. Such is the case with The Hello Strangers. I have two words: Love ’em! Here’s why.

The first thing I thought of when I heard the vocals was Ani Difranco. That eventually wore off and gave way to me lapsing into a Karin Bergquist coma. The Chace sisters–Larissa and Brechyn–have been writing songs together since about 2006. They added Dave Holzwarth (bass), Kevin Shannon (guitar), and Katie O’Neil (drums) to round out their line-up in what we have in the Introducing Max Schmidt EP. Or I’m assuming it’s supposed to be an EP; there are just 6 tracks, so hopefully a full-length release is in the works.

I love the lyrics. Very Nick Cave-esque. I also love the alt-folk-country sound they have. Very reminiscent of Faun Fables, for those of you who are familiar with them. However, I *really* enjoy their vocals much, much more. Like I said–Ani Difranco and Karin Bergquist. Hard to go wrong if you sound like either of them.

One of the best tracks on the CD, in my opinion, is “Conococheague.” There’s a very western, cowboy feel to it. “I have a lover but I want another cuz he’s being chased by John boy’s brothers. I had a lover like no other, but he’s at the bottom of the Conococheague.” Interestingly enough, Conococheague Creek is located in eastern Pennsylvania. Western feel. I love it.

“Poor Dear” is beautiful and upbeat musically. Ironically, I think it’s about someone who’s been in an abusive relationship and is getting the hell out. “You laid your hand on me; why is it so hard to see by the time you light up that cigarette, I’ll be gone to Tennessee …” I dunno. Maybe I’m reading into it. I hope I am and that I’m not right. Worse, I hope it’s not based on personal experience. Tragically, we do tend to write what we know about …

Great band. I hope they put out more material soon.



All This Crap about Rebecca Black

It just goes to show you what a sad state of affairs and the length that people will go to to exploit someone. All over Twitter, one of the hottest “trending” topics is this “Friday” song by Rebecca Black. I’ve watched it, and it really is as horrible as I was afraid it would be.

However, I have a completely different take on why it’s horrible. Leave alone the fact that the lyrics are some of the worst I’ve ever heard. Ignore the horrific mis-use of a perfectly good time signature (it’s done in straight 4/4 and the beat is as simple as it gets). The song is, for wont of a better phrase, utterly terrible.

The problem I have with all of the comments is they completely ignore the fact that this poor kid had absolutely nothing to do with the “creative” process in writing the song. She lent her voice to the track and the accompanying video, which is equally brain cell-killing in its mediocrity. No no–the blame for this crap can be squarely placed on the co-writers: Clarence Jey and Patrice Wilson. I have no idea what their history with music is; if I had to guess, I’d say that there is no history because anyone with an ounce of musical background would have written a song at least 10x better than that. Regardless, these two felt qualified to write a song–replete with noise and some of the most inane drool for lyrics that has ever been uttered.

Personally, I’d be curious to see what kind of music Rebecca could come up with on her own. To be fair, she’s probably no Mari Smith (I doubt that there are more than 5 Mari Smith-like writers at any given point in the world … who at that age would have that much talent), so we can’t expect top-of-the-line music, but still … I wonder if she could hold her own. Only one way to find out, eh? Have her write a song. I mean this from the heart of my bottom: she could do no worse than “her” first single.

Review: The Family Crest – The Village

I’m really starting to realize the advantage of moving to San Francisco. The music scene there is exponentially more in motion than that of Salt Lake. We do have some good local artists, but I’m really starting to dig what I’m hearing out of the Bay Area.

Recently, I discussed the luscious sounds of Pomplamoose. Right up there in quality and amazement is The Family Crest–a 7-piece group that borders on classical folk rock. Employing the use of such instruments as the viola, violin, cello and flute, this band is poised to take college radio stations by storm. In NO way is that meant as a slight to their potential; indeed, if anything, it speaks volumes about the state of popular (read: canned, utterly un-original drivel that any typical top 40 or “alternative” station will spit out with their Musak-style “DJ”ing) radio music today. It would be one of my greatest musical joys to see these guys meteorically rise to the top of every applicable Billboard chart. Alas … these guys are so good and so original that I’m afraid that it simply won’t happen. Don’t ask me to tirade about the quality of the cookie-cutter tunes that stale the airwaves on any given day; to do so would be wasteful and futile.

Having said all that, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you the 7 core members.

  • Liam McCormick handles vocals and guitar.
  • John Seeterlin plucks the bass.
  • Jacob Steuer beats the drums and other percussiveness.
  • Laura Bergmann graces us with her flautist skills, voice, and the occasional percussion.
  • Lucas Chen gently plays the cello.
  • Sarah Dabby plays the viola and provides the operatic vocals.
  • Owen Sutter  rounds out the core with his skills on the violin.

Again, these 7 constitute the core of The Family Crest. From here, the band further diversifies its sound by bringing in “extended family members.” This list is extensive, and it is lovely. Angelic choirs, various brass instruments, more string … they enjoy experimenting with different instruments and sounds. On a few of their songs, I heard either a cornet or a trumpet … not sure which. I hear a timpani on another track. A multitude of different instruments pervade each and every track on this CD, and they’re all beautiful and incredible.

So what are some of the stand-out tracks?

This is one review where I’m not going to isolate individual tracks because that implies that I prefer those over the other ones on the CD. While the vast majority of my reviews do precisely that–review three or four songs–this CD is so incredible that no one track is more worthy than another. Seriously … it’s that good. Instead, here are my thoughts on their music.

Every song is simply epic. I don’t mean that in the modern colloquialism that something is “insanely cool.” I mean it in the sense that every song is so deeply layered that there is simply no other way TO put it. I know that “epic” traditionally deals in length. To some degree, the epic scale applies here, but not across the horizontal plane. In this instance, the epic nature of these songs is due to their sheer layering and number of instruments played. There is a timeless feel to these songs that transcends decades and genres. You hear these, and there is simply no way to pin a time period on them. This isn’t like 80s synth pop or hair metal, or 90s grunge sound, or even 70s disco or classic rock. With those sounds, you can easily identify within at least a couple of years of when the song was released. No–with these tracks crafted and polished by The Family crest, you simply hear music that could have been plucked from a bygone time, or they could have been written 20 years from now. They’re limitless in their ability to spellbind your mind and captivate your attention. I’ve listened to this CD 5 times today already, and every time I hear something new on each and every song! That has never happened with any other CD I’ve ever owned.

If you live in the San Francisco area–or anywhere within 150 miles, or if you have the itch to take a road trip, make SF your destination and catch a Family Crest show. Let’s get them some attention so they can hopefully come to a town near you!

To my SF connection, I am forever in your debt for pointing out these guys and Pomplamoose. Thank you!

Review: Eddy – Start an Uproar

I have no idea how music finds me. I honestly don’t. Sometimes, I just open my iPod and there’s stuff on there that I’ve never seen before. You think I’m kidding, but I’m not.

Okay, maybe I hyperbolize a hair, but not by much. I’ll give you a good example. Today I downloaded Tenpole Tudor’s and Skyclad’s versions of “Swords of a Thousand Men.” A tad campy by both, but the chorus … “Hear our roar, hear our sound. We’re gonna fight until we have won this town. Hoorah hoorah hoorah yay! Over the hill with the swords of a thousand men.” This is potentially the Buffalo Sabres’ goal-scoring song. Philly, Rangers, Boston … all have goal-scoring songs. We don’t. We need one. This fits the bill perfectly. So I downloaded birth versions to test drive them and see what I think. There’s definitely potential.

But that’s not why I’m writing, is it? I’m writing to review Eddy’s four-track EP, Start an Uproar. To be honest, I have no idea how I found her. I just did.

OH! HI! I just made the connection. Maybe it’s not that I have no idea how all this great music finds me, but it’s more the fact that I’m just forgetful as hell. I was checking out TUAW’s website on my lunch break, hoping to get some info on the upcoming iPhone 5 (or whatever it’ll be called). Sifting through their news blurbs, I found one about some chick who shot a video using nothing but a bunch of  iPad 2 devices. I haven’t checked out the video yet due to company policy on streaming media (which in all honesty I do stick to since this company was gracious enough to offer me a writing position. I dont’ even use their wi-fi to run my iPhone; it’s all 3G baby!), but I have every intention of checking it when I get home, which will be in a few short hours.

Anyway, this news blurb had a link to Eddy’s website, with whom I was heretofore unfamiliar. Her website had me curious. At first glance, she looks a bit like Maria Brink. The pictures on her site give her a furtive, “Ha ha … I know something you don’t know, and I’m not gonna tell you what it is” look. An air of mystery! Being the sucker for intrigue that I am, I downloaded her four-song EP from iTunes and gave it a listen. Here are my thoughts.

Where has this chick been hiding?! I’d say “the kitchen” solely because it says right on her website that she bakes cupcakes, so I’m not being sexist or funny–she very well may have been hiding behind her culinary expertise. But apparently while she’s been concocting confectionary delights, she’s been dabbling with making some *extremely* catchy tuneage for us to enjoy. The opening track on the EP is “Rise Up,” and I will tell you this much: if you’re sitting down while you’re listening to this, you will want to jump out of your seat and move and shake it like you never have before. It has “dance club remix” potential like nothing I’ve ever heard. Granted, I don’t listen to a lot of dancey music, but this … even *I* want to get up and dance around.

Her voice oscillates between bold and stormy, and wispy … like cirrus clouds on a deep-blue sky sunny day. Strong when the track is up and moving, soft and gentle when

“Beautiful Mistake” opens with a great piano hook that follows up with some synth strings and bass line. We’re treated to a complete shift in vocal dynamics, where she shows hints of channeling Lacey Sturm (of Flyleaf fame).

In short, I don’t know what her future plans are, but her long-term plans are more and more music. If her website is any indication, new music is possibly on the way. The video she shot on the iPad 2 is for her song “Need,” which is *not* on the EP. GOOD! Like I need to mention it, but this gets filed under “shake” with an emphasis on GET UP AND MOVE IT!

Eddy, if you end up reading this, leave the cupcakes. Embrace your inner musician and keep the tunes flowing!

The end.

More New Music

My machine won’t update my iPhone OS. Every time I try, my phone bricks. Something about the USB ports not having enough power to juice the phone back to life once the iOS install starts. Instead, I’m greeted with some weird screen where I get a picture of an Apple dock cord and the Apple logo. Nice, eh?

The option I exercise is to take my phone to the local Apple store and have them install it for me. Lame, I know, but it’s what I have. Most AT&T stores won’t do it because they don’t want to risk bricking the device. Not the best customer care, as far as I’m concerned, but whatever. Anway, each time I go in, it takes about 15 minutes, which gives me time to peruse the store.

On this particular upgrade last Thursday, I used the time to check out what music was installed on some of the demo devices. I threw on the headphones and listened to the first song that came on. I didn’t jot down the name of the song, but I did take note of the band: Sea of Bees. I was instantly struck by the singer. A blend of Karin Dreijer tuned up an entire octave and Harriet Wheeler. Musically, they’re semi-similar to Cranes, which is *always* a good thing in my book.

Speaking of Cranes and pretty tangential, I had an extra copy of their latest CD sitting around–a self-titled gem. My sister in law’s birthday is tomorrow, and we got together as a family for dinner in honor of her special day. We gave her the CD. She looked really happy to get it. I told her that if she likes it, I have a ton more of their stuff that I’d love to get her hooked on. 🙂 We’ll see.

ANYway, so that was Sea of Bees. Excellent music from a one-woman performance in Julie Ann Bee. Ambient, soulful, folksy, beautiful … it’s fantastic.I picked up a copy of Songs for the Ravens. I’m pretty sure the song I listened to isn’t on it, and I’m okay with that … just means that there’s more of their work to hunt down.

The other band I listened to was The Whitsundays, a Canadian band out of Manitoba. Some further digging around led me to the fact that some of the members are also in LCD Soundsystem, a high-energy electro-pop band with some pretty catchy tunes. Again, not sure what Whitsundays song I heard, but it’s not on the CD I got. More sleuthing and hunting. LOVE it!

A buddy of mine wrote to me the other day and suggested that I check out Lykke Li. This buddy … frick. His musical tastes are just to be accepted as gold. Not once has he ever let me down, this time being no exception. She has a kind of Scarlett Johannsen quality to her music and voice. It’s really soothing, mellow stuff. Check it out!

New Music Monday

So I got some new CDs. Not a ton–just some. Here’s the list:

  • Elefant – Sunlight Makes Me Paranoid
  • The Good, The Bad and the Queen
  • New Roman Times – On the Sleeve
  • Copperpot – Chapter Seven
  • Killswitch Engage – As Daylight Dies

Great CDs. Good mix, too. Killswitch Engage isn’t at all what I thought it would be, since I found it in the Indie section, but whatever. Still a great find. Heavier than I anticipated.


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