Sunday, March 29, 2009

the good feeling music of dent may & his magnificent ukulele by dent may

Ever since I got my grubby mitts on Dent May's self-released EP, A brush with Velvet, at some point last year, I knew I wanted to hear more; but alas, Dent May was not signed and his myspace was not updated. I cried. Then I refreshed the webpage and listened to the songs again. Then I cried some more.

Luckily for all us emotionally fragile would-be hipsters, Dent May signed to Paw Tracks late last year -- and since then I've been up in arms about getting a copy of the result of that beautiful union -- namely, the good feeling music of dent may & his magnificent ukulele, and my friends, I'm proud to say it was worth the wait.

OK, get a recording studio -- then, throw in a little lounge, a dash of exotica and a little folky-home-grown, glasses-wearing nerdiness and season the whole thing heavily with irony and a frail-sounding croon. What do you get? 100 percent awesome, that's what. Good feeling music is like a handmade quilt of sounds -- referencing and taking from all sorts of genres and stitching them together into a lovely (and useful) gift that in the end -- somehow -- manages to stay totally and distinctly itself. It's not lounge, it's not folk... it's ...Dent May.

May's sweet, lilting lyrics detailing the beautiful failures and exquisite mediocrities of life are packed with wit and fun. College Town Boy details the epic of a post-college failure; Other notable tracks include Howard, washed up star; At the Academic Conference and I'm an alcoholic. Dent May's knit a world of loungy, easy-to-love tunes that just keep rolling around in my head. Check it out.

mp3: "Meet Me in the Garden" by Dent May
mp3: "I'm an Alcoholic" by Dent May

junior by röyksopp

Go ahead, take a good look at...the album artwork? Yeah...I don't know either. Regardless of puzzling visuals (seriously...who knew Dali was alive and kicking in the 80s?), Röyksopp's third album Junior (out now -- in case you too have been asleep at the wheel) is really good. An excellent way to cap off our beat-heavy March.

Considering my unabashed love for Air, you think I'd already be on the Röyksopp bandwagon. I must admit that it's times like this that I realize futility of masquerading as someone with all encompassing knowledge of the musical landscape. Sometimes bands just fall by the wayside. But with indie-friendly guest spots, and easy-to-digest retro-smooth songs, it's only a matter of time before Junior gets gobbled up by mainstream marketing. Hey, it worked for Moby.

The instrumental tracks all play with understated melodrama. Where Cut Copy's (the other retro-electro men currently living in my mind and playlist and thus this month's arbitrary point of reference) music explodes in an auditory, all-encompassing rainbow, Röyksopp's music wraps the listener in a cooler palette, tinted with an air of self-importance. Good -- my megalomania has gone severely undernourished as of late. No really: you cannot listen to "Royksopp Forever" without delusions of cinematic grander. You just can't. Music supervisors: this is where the heroine has her dramatic, late-night, introspective realization. In slow motion.

Sorry, I got nothing here. Unless the real drama is realizing that the key to Junior really lies in the guest spots. Womens' voices skating atop Röyksopp's frosty muted-rainbow base, we're treated to to Robyn's sultry dance-club croon ("The Girl And The Robot"), to Lykke Li's girlish whisper ("Miss It So Much" easily matching up to anything on last year's debut album Youth Novels) and to Fever Ray's Karin Dreijer Andersson's howling over aggressive beats on "Tricky Tricky," -- a track that wouldn't be out of place on her next album with The Knife. The amazing part is that, somehow, all these otherwise disparate styles manage to work on what's essentially the same musical base -- sort of an alluring version of elevator music karaoke. Although to be fair, if elevator music contained half the sex-appeal of Junior's instrumental tracks and bases, I'd never take the stairs. Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland are very good at choosing their friends.

Like I said, this is good stuff. Röyksopp has created a cool world full of kitschy possibility. A world where, if they're to be believed, a perfectly-polished electronica album is enough to make even mutant-eye flowers cry tears of joy.

mp3: "Happy Birthday" by Röyksopp

Friday, March 27, 2009

redlinespotting by örnsberg

Due to draconian social convention, I am forced to work for a living rather than sit on my butt all day writing five-minute essays about whatever music captures my fancy. It's probably worse for musicians who are forced to work a day job, sometimes two, simply so they can make the music they love, and maybe, just maybe, have enough money left over to buy that fancy effects pedal.

Örnsberg (a.k.a. Johan Ragnarsson) understands the plight of the working man. With a project named for a metro stop on his daily commute, his debut album Redlinespotting (out in April) perfectly captures that chilly morning reluctance to leave the house and plunge forward into anything resembling a daily routine. This is the sound of love, of a man plunging forward into a different sort of work for the heck of it, burying his longing to transcend the ordinary with songs like "Arlanda," "Away Away," and "Every City" -- the beat-heavy tale of a broken hearts and drugs in both Stockholm and Amsterdam. Thematically, it's more than enough to open up a few emotional scars for listeners suffering from chronic wanderlust...but gosh darn it if it isn't charming. (Hey look! We found the record label title!)

Of course, sheer determination isn't enough to transcend daily existence. (Although an iPod with the volume limiter turned off is a good start.) Underneath the low-fi beats and off-kilter vocals, Ragnarsson demonstrates a distinct understanding of basic pop structure. It's a bit like listening to New Order demos, without, you know, all the suicidal impulses. One of my favorite qualities of Swedish indie-pop (or any music really) is that unquantifiable sense of levity mixed with nostalgia -- a quality Örnsberg has in spades. While the beats occasionally feel a bit forced ("Put Your Hands Up For Örnsberg" feels like a remix away from a bonafide hit) the good far supersede the faults.

The tone of Redlinespotting is best summed up on stand-out track "Weekend Lights" where Swedish indie-pop royalty Magnus Carlson (of the Weeping Willows) shares a guest spot along side actual samples of the Swedish metro. Yes, there's a whiff of the melancholy to the plight of the working man. But sometimes, we don't have to work so hard to supersede our emotional entropy. Sometimes, as Ragnarsson surely would be quick to point out, working day catharsis is as close as a stolen moment alone with one's headphones. 

mp3: "Every City" by Örnsberg

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

lablaza by dieter schöön

Dieter Schöön freaks me out -- not necessarily a bad thing. There's so much going on in his newest offering Lablaza (available in Europe and iTunes), at first listen it's a bit overwhelming and decidedly weird. My synapses just don't fire that quickly, I guess.

I realize that I'm pretty much screwed when it comes to a proper review. There are so many influences that without some sort of touchstone, describing Schöön's music and genre is like playing Scrabble with no vowels. Would you call me on it if I said his genre was "xzcwqpr?1"

Fine then. For the record, that's the last time I play Scrabble with you. How about influences? Paris-based Swede Schöön has all the charm of fellow country-man Jens Lekman -- should he have been trapped in a blender with Mugison and a scratched-up copy of Mellow Gold. There's a lot of almosts: The almost folk "Jethead," the almost chant-like "Lots of Free Shoes but Nowhere to Run" the almost techno "I'll Go There." But there is one absolute: sifting though the hip-hop beats, tweaked-slacker vocals, and aggressive genre shifts, these songs are, without a doubt, the singular cracked-vision world view of one artist. Absolutely.

Let's get the dirty word out of the way, shall we? This is an experimental album. Yeah, I know, I don't like experimental music either. It makes me crave aspirin and a strong cup of coffee. Or better yet, earplugs. It's a term that gets a lot of bad press, and most of the time, rightly so.

But now, the tides are changing. Schöön has created an experimental project that's almost as much fun to listen to as it must be to play. Freaky.

1. Triple word score!

mp3: "I'll Go There" by Dieter Schöön

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

histoire de melody nelson by serge gainsbourg

Hey did you hear the one about sex selling? Ha! The original French playboy Serge Gainsbourg is back with a very cool posthumous rerelease, Histoire de Melody Nelson (out today via A Light in The Attic Records). 

The seven-song EP is the story of a man's chance encounter, subsequent seduction, and the tragic end of underaged, "natural redhead," Melody Nelson.  While the French art world is littered with such parings, it's taboo stuff to our prudish North-American sensibilities. Of course, form brings meaning to content. I suspect even grocery lists could be rendered questionable in Gainsbourg's trademark sing-speak. Although to be fair, the thematic material is handled with extreme care. Accompanied by his wife Jane Birkin, demonstrating where daughter Charlotte Gainsbourg gained her unique phrasing, the only eyebrow-raising track to the non-French speaker is "En Melody," which plays like a toned-down sequel to subversive, Catholic-church condemned "Je T'aime...Moi Non Plus."\

Musically, this is easily Gainsbourg at his finest and a great place to start for those with even a passing interest in French pop. Between the cohesive instrumentation -- including a bass line all musical students should be studying, soaring choral work and orchestration, and, bien sur, Gainsbourg's melodramatic intonation -- there's a conceptual synergy that's hard to beat, one that even today has artists like Air, Jarvis Cocker and Beck referencing it in their own work. Of course, ever the epitome of subversive French sex-appeal, Monsieur Gainsboug probably wouldn't have had it any other way. 

Sunday, March 22, 2009

begone dull care by junior boys

I'm going to go ahead and declare March the month of electronica. Looking back on our coverage to date it hasn't been as one-sided as I thought -- but every time I daydream, my mind instantly fills with bloops and bleeps. It's either been a really good month for beats, or my brain tumor is acting up again. For those of you craving guitars and the human touch, I apologize, I'll see what I can do next month.

In the meantime, we've got Junior Boys' newest album Begone Dull Care (out April 7th). Another entry in the "Canada, like America only cooler" file, Junior Boys continue to do what they do best: marry traditional pop structures (I'm risking life and limb for drawing the comparison, but think Bee Gees or Prince song structure without all the scary falsetto) to grove-worthy electro-beats. Yeah, as much as I've personally worn the phrase to the ground, it's electro "night music." You know, for those relatively mellow sort of nights, filled with house guests and punctuated with the occasional bout of slow motion dance. Charming, a bit sleepy at times, but darn it if they're not going out while doing their darnedest to entertain.

Sonically warmer (and still a completely inappropriate soundtrack for Southern California1) than 2006's auditory-icy So This Is Goodbye, I have to admit being initially thrown off by Begone Dull Care's direction and thaw to Junior Boys' signature sound. Although, the effect of the subtle transformation is difficult to argue with. Tweaks aside, what we're left with is a lively, more unexpected album filled with smooth sax solos (not to be confused with "smooth jazz," an evil that must be combated in all forms), gently plucked bass lines, and sparse samples, all framing singer Jeremy Greenspan's breathy whisper, a normally subdued instrument that approaches near bombast on album highlights "Hazel" and "Dull to Pause." Quiet bombast -- I can get behind that.

1. In spite of my now insatiable urge to go meditate in a sunbeam with the album on repeat

mp3: "Jackie Jackie Junior (Junior Boys remix)" by Sally Shapiro

Thursday, March 19, 2009

fever ray by fever ray

Other than the one at Disneyland (which all good children of the Southern California sunshine are wont to experience), I really don’t like haunted houses. No doubt some traumatic, long since repressed memory from childhood.

I listen to Swedish electro-goth group The Knife in roughly the same emotional space – other than tempting fate to put it on late at night when I’m home alone (because no one is ever hacked to pieces while rocking out to twee), I really can’t find a place for it in my daily audio diet. Needless to say I popped Fever Ray, (out in hard form 3/24) debut solo album from Knife lead-woman Karin Dreijer Andersson, into the player with extreme caution: lights on, doors dead bolted, sun still high in the sky. You know, I think the truly sad part of this whole entry is that while a certain amount of hyperbole goes on around these parts ( I will neither confirm nor deny specifics), this is not far from the truth.

Let me be the first to give Fever Ray the wimp’s seal of approval. Now there's a blurb that's sure to sell records.

Birthed from a period of post-natal exhaustion, Fever Ray is weirdly sentimental, one of the elements that saves the project from being a The Knife retread. Andersson has jettisoned the hyper-political stance of her main band, trading it for quiet fairy tales and the landscapes of an exhausted daydream -- along the way stripping down the trademark electro-goth sound without diminishing any of its trademark creep factor. Instead of leaping on you, fangs bared, it's more likely to sneak around the corner, teasing your subconscious with melancholic visions of your own childhood ("Seven") or the potential of a night spent wandering in the empty streets (predictably, "Keep The Streets Empty").

While the sound has been considerably lightened, most notable is the change in vocal styles. While opening track "If I Had a Heart" utilizes The Knife's tradmark Lurch-style voice filtration, Andersson's affected voice -- part Bjork, part Tegan Quinn, is often left bare, startling against the inorganic instrumental backdrop. This girl can sing -- and she's out to prove it.

If this isn't the most fantastically atmospheric album you've listened to all year...well let me know where this stuff is being hidden. No really! Now if you pardon me, I'm going to go check my locks.

mp3: "When I Grow Up (D Lissvik remix)" by Fever Ray

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

great northern @ silverlake lounge

If it looks like a dive bar, and sounds like a dive bar, it's probably an elitist concert venue, crammed with hipsters prepped to welcome one of their own back to the the public eye with open arms. While I too enjoy exclusivity (mainly because I am, of course, a terrible person) and am occasionally up for cramming into a tiny hot-box with a mere 100 or so of my best friends, I couldn't help but wish Great Northern's triumphal unveiling of the new material could have occurred in a venue more concerned with selling sound than suds /gripe.

Since their debut, Great Northern has slowly but surely risen in status around WBH HQ from "those people who recorded the CD I got with my KCRW membership," to loved band -- a transformation capped off by their contribution to last year's Plastic Snow album. (We're contractually required to mention it once a month.) Needless to say, last night's fleeting sneak-peek at what Great Northern has done on their summer vacation (and winter, and summer and winter again...) has left me -- and going off crowd response, a whole lot of other people -- excited about the new album. (Out April 28th...children of Silver Lake, book your camping spot outside Amoeba now.) At the very least, I'm sure to give it the attention it deserves from day one rather than letting the disk languish in my car for weeks before giving it a test spin. However, judging by what I've just heard, I suspect that album neglect won't be an issue.

There's a decided subtle shift to the new material, or failing that, an interesting dichotomy between live Great Northern and recorded Great Northern. Their debut album Trading Twilight for Daylight is a beautiful, introspective tome. The sort of perfectly balanced soundtrack for rainy days and moments of quiet introspection. (No wonder it took me so long to get on board.) However, if the live performance was any indication (or rather if my ability to deduce sounds through a wall of unchecked bass), members Rachel Stole and Solon Bixler have harnessed their rock roots (she: a former hardcore singer, he: former member of...30 Seconds to Mars?), pushing their signature sound into a more rockin' form. In the interest of journalistic integrity (no really, quit laughing) and lacking reference material, or at the very least, another show to compare and contrast, I'll postpone overly-intellectual conclusions. After all, it's music; don't over-think a happy relationship...just steer it clear of those dark, fuzzy-sounding watering holes.

(photo Great Northern: David Studarus)

mp3: "The Middle" by Great Northern

Sunday, March 15, 2009

i was a king by i was a king

Promotional material for I Was a King seems to enjoy reminding us that they're just a couple of musicians from Norway and guest-star Sufjan Stevens. After listening to their album, other than the fact they throw the sort of parties I wish I were invited to, I guarantee there's precious little information you can extrapolate from that claim. However, I can assure that their self-titled debut album (out 4/7) is an utterly pleasant, cliched Scandinavian pop and banjo-free affair.

In all actuality the sound of I a Was King feels a lot closer to home. Deft but sloppy narration, plodding guitars, playful yet nasal lyrics. Guys, have you been watching The O.C.? Hanging out with Jason Schwartzman? This can't be an accident -- there's even a song called "California" about -- what else? -- a girl leaving for California. Who are you, really? Come on, I won't tell. I will however hold a lighter aloft and nod my head in appreciation every time "Norman Bleik" pops up on my iTunes.

I Was a King has been subject to a lot of hype, and chances are before the dust settles and people being to listen, actually listen, there'll be a lot more. Which is a shame, since we all know that hype breeds backlash. So, in the interest of reasonable expectations for a solid and fun album, the official Confessions of a Would-Be Hipster position is as follows: I Was a King will not cure cancer. It will make you prettier or smarter. It will not do your taxes, protect your property or person in case of a domestic or international strike, or elevate your consciences to higher more transcendent sphere. It will however, make you smile. It will make you long to put the top down and drive down the PCH. It might make you dance. It might make you want to form a band of your own or at the very least take to the town for a night of karaoke. It might even serve as the musical backdrop to several fun, carefree hours with friends and family, thus serving as fodder for sweet reminiscences in the months and years to follow.

In short, this is a good album, able to stand on its own merits. I only hope we can get this message to the people who need to hear it the most.

mp3: "It's All You" by I Was King

Friday, March 13, 2009

cut copy @ the henry fonda, club nokia

There's a point in your night where things simply stop making sense and, despite your better judgment - was it the lack of sleep you got the night before? The glass of wine with dinner? The phase of the moon? - you find your formally buttoned-up self, well...busting a very white girl move. Don't analyze it - my willingness to to embarrass myself first in public and now in cyber form should provide all the empirical evidence you need. When applied to an otherwise rational existence, Cut Copy's live show is stronger than the logic.

Openers Matt and Kim kicked off the night with untold amounts of geeky joy. While their new album Grand is being heralded (by KCRW anyway) as a maturation, I'm happy to report that other than a few additional chord changes, they're still the same group of crazy kids who seem incapable of believing they're the ones on stage, choosing to deal with it by dancing, shouting, and grinning their way though an infectious set of deceptively simplistic yet catchy punk-pop. Even initial sound issues (was I the only one who felt like Kim's drumming was taking over the free world while Matt's voice was almost lost?) couldn't stop the audience from catching the party spirit.

After a long intermission that included epic light show preparations, Cut Copy took the stage. Revelation: unless the band members start wearing large signs announcing themselves as Cut Copy, there's no way I'd ever recognize them off-stage. Judging by their roles as glam party-starters (an intention announced and reintegrated throughout the night), coupled with the, yes, epic light show, this is probably not exactly what they're after. My apologies guys. This is why I fail at stalking.

But what is it about these otherwise ordinary Aussies that can get a crowd of almost two-thousand on their feet and waving their hands in the air? (Moderately concerned or otherwise?) Clearly, it's due to their kung-fu-esque grasp of the power of repetition, backed by a deadly bed of rainbow synth-pop. At least it's that which somehow manages to move me past my comfort zones, be it the gym session that never ends, or to the irrational belief that I can flail my limbs wildly in public and have it somehow come off as dancing.

This isn't to say that my rational mind was completely abandoned. During show highlight "So Haunted," half of Club Nokia's sound system went out. I, ever the bellwether of rational, turned to my concert companion, a look of what was later described as "pure terror" splashed across my face. For the record, no, I hadn't gone deaf. She heard it too. The only slight blemish on an otherwise perfect set, and proof if I want to continue enjoying said sets I should probably upgrade the quality of my earplugs.

With a record as strong as In Ghost Colours and a show covering the entire album plus highlights off Bright Like Neon Love, including the almost-acoustic "Autobahn Music Box," picking a show highlight becomes a music fanatic's Sophie's Choice. Well at least this is my issue, as in a post-concert haze I find myself trying to auditoryily gorge on an artist's entire catalog all at once, thus reducing any articulate description or commentary, within the first 48 hours or so, to a simple "gagagag!!! music!!!!" But...despite my chronic indecision, the audience (or at least the guy yelling in my ear) clearly didn't share my struggle, calling for their (his) favorite, "Lights and Music," which was finally, riotously delivered as the evening's barn-burning closer. Lights in our eyes and logic on pause, the crowd responded, and for one final moment, logic be damned, life was one big dance party.

mp3: "Hearts on Fire (Midnight Juggernauts remix)" by Cut Copy
mp3: "Yea Yeah" by Matt and Kim

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

bite my tongue by friday bridge

I'm a sucker for a catchy pop tune set to synths. Honestly, it's that simple. Needless to say, Friday Bridge,'s delicious auditory anachronisms immediately caught my ear. Musical kissing-cousins to fellow Swedish-synth revivalists Sally Shapiro and Cloetta Paris, the band's noted goal is to create musical perfection. While this may be a pretty difficult goal to obtain, or even measure for that matter, we at CWBH -- regardless of personal tastes -- applaud bands with mission statements...probably owing to our complete lack of one.

More musically aggressive than its predecessor, Bite My Tongue (out today), has shed most of Intricacy's harpsichord in favor of driving dance beats: an innovation no more obvious than album opener "How To Spend It." This is a band interested in perfection though gradual evolution. It seems to be working. Bite My Tongue is a step forward from their charming debut, which found Friday Bridge creating dignified, albeit ivory tower pop. This time, the duo has stepped out to play with the common folks, and believe me, we're all the better for it.

Of course, certain hallmarks are still in place. Still present is the tantalizing smattering of French lyrics (any band that can satisfy both my Francophile nature and synth love gets extra bonus points, redeemable for your choice of pie, bien sûr), slick, almost mechanical production values, and singer Ylva Lindberg's glamor-girl vocals. The resulting music feels pulled completely out of time: the demure turn-of-the-century ingenue consorting with the 1980s party boy. It's incredibly easy to romanticize Friday Bridge's catalogue: past, present, and (with any luck) future. Which, given their stated goals, might actually qualify their work as perfect after all.

mp3: "Shanghi Shipping" by Friday Bridge

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

under the texas sky

It's that time of year again. Birds are singing, spring has sprung, and a young lady's thoughts turn to selling a kidney on the black market in exchange for SXSW tickets. (Takers? Anyone?)

I sadly, am not going. Chalk it up to bad timing, chalk it up to bad economy (personal and otherwise), chalk it up to not being able to break away from a full schedule (this one is a stretch.) And, to be perfectly honest, all this chalk was making me feel better (must have been the dust in the air from eraser clapping). That is, until I saw this:

Camera Obscura, and Chairlift and (my beloved) Loney Dear? My keyboard is wet with tears. So for those going to SXSW, please: enjoy. Take lots of pictures, take lots of notes, take time to let me live vicariously though you. Just don't rub it in too much, 'kay?

Edit: Now that Chairlift is playing in the big leagues, previous Mp3 freebies are considered "copyright infringement." Pity.

mp3: "Airport Surrondings" by Loney Dear
mp3: "Evident Utensil" by Chairlift
mp3: "Teenager" by Camera Obscura

Thursday, March 5, 2009

the hectors, summer darling, and the monolators @ the echo

I don't own a record player (yet). Origami Records, Echo Park's all-vinyl Sea Level replacement isn't open (yet). But after Monday night's free curated show at the Echo, I love them (already).

The evening started with The Hectors. For all of you who didn't get there for the opening band (and judging by how the room filled up during the course of the evening I'd say there's quite a few), might I just say: shame. Always always always show up for the opening band. What's the fun of being a music fan if you don't, ya know, go out and actually discover music? And hey, if they hit the big time, you can say you knew them when. (Radiohead was probably an opening band at one point...just saying.) See, instant cool points. And advice on how to be cool from a blog that calls itself "Would-Be Hipster." (Shot myself in the foot, didn't I?)

I wouldn't be surprised if the Hectors went on to make a name for themselves. It's no accident that they're already local favorites. I love when a band's live performance holds up to the promise of their recorded material. Live, "one-of-the-boys" lead-woman Corinne Dinner's vocals sound fantastic over the band's layered, well-honed instrumentation. If I were a betting woman, I'd put my money on their collective ability to lift your spirit, make the soundtrack to your night a bit more glamorous, and up your cool factor by at least ten. (Any claims that their live show can freshen your breath, help you drop weight quickly, or refinance your home have been wildly over-exaggerated.)

Summer Darling
, who hold residency honors for the month, are simply terrific. Is that too generic? How about, ultra-terrific? Striping myself of any cool I might have gained by telling you about the Hectors -- I have to admit feeling a bit ashamed that before the show I'd only done cursory listening. But after a set filled with trading male and female vocals, dark riffs built off of obvious band chemistry, and some of the most controlled feedback I've ever seen, I promise to do penance.

At the witching hour, the Monolators showed no sign of slowing things down. I love a band with sweaters, humor, and energy to spare. (Especially when mine was starting to fade -- darn day job, trying so hard to stop the rock.) It should be a surprise to no one that the Monolators' wild, energetic catalogue translates to a wild, energetic show. I know, crazy, right?

Now I've mentioned my love for women who drum many times before, but after seeing her play live, Mary Monolator holds a special place in heart. In front of the drum set, a sweet, charming, unassuming lady. Behind the drum set, a sweet charming, unassuming lady who happens to move faster than a lightening strike, attacking every bouncy Buddy Holly-meets-punk tune with a warrior's spirit. This of course, neatly compliments her husband's, lead-man Eli, performance style where over the course of the night he attempted the closest thing to a stage dive one can get at the Echo (sort of a stage roll), perched on her drum set, and assisted in the demi-destruction of band-mate Ray's guitar. Punk rock man!

Maybe I'm just an impressionable kid. Wait, strike that -- I know I'm an impressionable kid. But this is decidedly the sort of marketing that works. Origami Records is going to keep serving up Monday nights this strong, I might have to go get myself a turntable.

(photos by: David Studarus)

mp3: "A Million Fingers" by The Hectors
mp3: "Ride This Wave of Good Feelings" by Summer Darling
mp3: "I Must Be Dreaming" by The Monolators

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

songs for edna by caroline weeks

I have to admit, at first listen, Caroline Weeks' debut album Songs For Edna (out 3/17) didn't exactly grab me. Maybe it was the stigma of being a former Bat For Lashes cohort. I was expecting big. I was expecting weird. What I got is a low-fi recording of a single woman strumming her guitar, warbling in an almost medieval soprano. Hello dramatic paradigm shift!

When removed from artificially inflated expectations, Songs For Edna is intriguing. No doubt the stripped-down instrumentation and lo-fi production will lead many people to label this as intimate or personal. I however, will respectfully disagree. Instead of a heart-on-her sleeve singer-songwriter, this the work of a troubadour in the traditional, high-middle ages sense of the word. Songs For Edna is a impenetrable collection of musical poetry, lush imagery, and stories of love and loss. There is a passion and committal to the form, almost more than the finished product: one gets the impression she's playing for the pure love of the story -- listeners be damned. While this makes for a beautiful, more-or-less interesting piece of work, ultimately it might be Weeks' impersonal touch that proves to be her undoing.

(photo Caroline Weeks: Rupert Noble)

mp3: "Elegy" by Caroline Weeks