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.

 

Brush Away Loose Ground

There are some things that I’m dealing with that are really taking a toll on me emotionally and mentally. I didn’t realize to what extent until Saturday afternoon when my family had an Easter gathering. All the kids went outside to play, and we–the adults–sat in the living room and chatted. The conversation gravitated towards the situation under which I’m laboring arduously to overcome and put behind me and move on. The conversation somehow got … unpleasant, for lack of a better term. No harsh emotions towards any family members, just a lot of pent-up frustration and inability to understand exactly how this situation even came to be, much less WHY we’re having to go through this.

In the end, I felt like I just couldn’t take it another day. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not suicidal by any means over this whole thing, but I mean to tell you that this is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. No one deserves to go through this … especially my wife and me. Yet we are, and it is what it is.

As I sit here today, still trying to wrap my head around this whole situation, I have my iPod on shuffle, as I typically do. What song comes on? Alice in Chain’s “Private Hell.” The coincidence of it all made me listen to the words a lot more closely this time through.

“Give away a love and then remove another too,
Painted words adorn the walls, echoing untrue.
I feel cold.

Promises abound you rarely find it to begin
Maybe I’m afraid to let you all the way in.
I guess so …

I excuse myself; I’m used to my little cell.
I amuse myself in my very own private hell.

Lately I’m beside myself, pretending unconcerned.
Standing on a corner, where I threw you for a turn.
I’ll move on.

Flowers on a cross remain, mark an ending scene
Damn it all if blood you spill turn the grass more green.
Life is short.

I excuse myself; I’m used to my little cell.
I amuse myself in my very own private hell.”

I won’t go into details as to what we’re going through. It *is* very private, and very, very personal, yet I feel compelled to vent and get some of this off my chest, even if it is in vague terms and generalities.

Music is just so powerful. It has the ability to evoke emotion like no other sense can. Sight is close, but I still challenge that sound is more powerful. At least it is for me. I can hear a song and immediately relate to it on some level. It can be a melodic Enya-like song, or it can be as hard and edgy as old Metallica … on some level, I know I’m going to be able to relate. I’m grateful for that, especially in times like these where I feel like the weight of the world is bearing down on me. I *need* something to take my mind off of it all.

Much like heroin to Layne Staley, music is my drug of choice. Period. It helps me “brush away loose ground.”

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

Utah Concert Announcement: SAMANTHA CRAIN on June 11 at the Urban Lounge.

Okay … I really didn’t think she’d come play here. I’m … holy crap. I’m stoked. This is beyond awesome.

Looks like she’s supporting Langhorne Slim. Not familiar with them. Looks like I have my work cut out for me over the next couple months. I’m checking them out on iTunes right now … they sound pretty cool. Yah. This will be a great double bill.

But really, I’m absolutely psyched to see Samantha Crain here in Utah! I don’t know how she’s pulling this off, but I am *extremely* grateful.

Check out these Samantha sites:

http://samanthacrain.com/

This video is just incredible. What a great introduction to an incredible upcoming artist. I swear, she has more potential than even Joana Newsom had at the same stage in her career!

Here’s a video of her song “Santa Fe.”

JUNE 11TH CANNOT GET HERE FAST ENOUGH! WHOOO!!!!

Metallica Albums

Today at work, I had an interesting email debate with a buddy about which Metallica CD is the best. His argument is that Ride the Lightning is the best because Cliff Burton was at his best. That’s a good argument simply because he’s right; Cliff was at his best on that CD. He also mentioned that “One may be the best Metallica song ever, but that doesn’t make Justice the best album ever.” And again, he’s right there too. However, what does make … and Justice for All the best Metallica album of all time is the fact that they took it to the next level for Cliff. They knew what they had lost in him: he was not only an incredible bassist, but he was also a very large contributor to the music of the band. His loss was enormous on so many levels, and to the end, the remaining members (and of course Jason Newsted) knew they had to put out THE BEST music they ever had. And they did.

This is not to say that I don’t love everything about Puppets and Lightning—quite the opposite. I think they’re phenomenal works in their own rights. One of the reasons I think that “Justice” is their best is because for as great as Masters and Lightning are, they poured a TON more energy and anger into Justice because of Burton’s death. They had a lot of reason to be angry, and that album is pure rage, whereas on Puppets you have songs like “The Thing that Should Not Be” which is supposedly about Cthulu, and “Battery,” which for all its energy, isn’t all that angry of a song. With Justice, every single song has a focus of the rage: “Blackened” about destroying the earth; “Dyers Eve” about James’ confusion and loathing of trying to cope with what his parents taught him vs. his real-world experiences; “Harvester of Sorrow” about child abuse; “Frayed Ends of Sanity” dealing mental anguish; “Shortest Straw” dealing with social injustice; and of course “One”—the quintessential anti-war anthem and raging against the personal fall-out of war. That album has a focus like none of their other CDs, and it never gets boring. I can listen to that on repeat pretty much all day, whereas with Puppets or Lightning, I’ll flip to something else after a couple of spins through.

I’m not sure how we ended up on that topic today, but I’m glad we did. I listened to those three today. Good stuff.

Music by which to Chill Excessively

There are two artists that I turn to when I *really* need to mellow in an extreme manner: Anael and Enya. Both of these two have incredibly penetrating, haunting voices that really smooth out any rough spots to any given day. I swear, they perfectly hit that “resonance frequency” that puts me in tune with their sound, and I calm down almost immediately. Or if I’m already semi-calm, I hit a zen-like state and couldn’t care less about the outside world.

I find this to be extremely helpful when I’m at work and the stress hits a particular level. New job, wanting to make a good impression, sometimes feeling like I fall short … their music in particular puts me at ease and actually helps me focus better and get more accomplished!

The odd thing is that I used to listen to stuff like Tool, System of a Down, or Metallica at work to “calm down.” And yah–I could work with that playing in the background, but lately … no. Before any of y’all jump to the inevitable “old man” conclusion, let me just say that I can hold serve with Serj and Maynard on any of their full-on screams. “Streamline” by SOAD, “Eulogy” from Tool … I can nail ’em both no problem. So no, it’s not a matter of “wimping out.” That music has its place, like when I’m in the car heading to or from work, at home doing housework, shower, etc. But for being at work and needing to stay mellow and on-task, I go for the mellow stuff. Enya and Anael are far and away the queens of relaxation.

Happy National Record Store Day

I wish I had thought to post this earlier in the day. Today is National Record Store day. Tragically, I didn’t even make it out of the house. However, in honor of the day, I have been listening to some great music on and off all day. All of the music I listened to was purchased at Graywhale, our best local record store by a long shot. Here are some my favorite CDs purchased from them so far:

  • Underwater Cinematographers
  • Danielle Howle and the Tantrums – Do a Two Sable
  • Nina Nastasia – The Blackened Air
  • The Early November – For All of This
  • The Apples in Stereo – Pretty much everything of theirs
  • Orenda Fink – Invisible Ones
  • Scout Niblett – This Fool Can Die Now
  • The Raveonettes – Whip It Up
  • The Caribbean – Plastic Explosives
  • 1090 Club – Shipwrecked
  • Land of Talk – Applause Cheer Boo Hiss
  • Samantha Crain – Songs in the Night
  • Alela Diane – To Be Still
  • Death by Chocolate – Death by Chocolate
  • The Dears – Gang of Losers
  • Beep Beep – Business Casual
  • Beak – Beak>
  • Plasticines – LP1

Independent music stores are definitely the way to go. I can’t stand places like FYE or whatever because they’re ridiculously expensive AND they’re practically useless when it comes to asking questions. My boys Kyle and Jon at the U of U Graywhale know their music inside and out in just about every genre. It’s great talking with them and picking their brains for new music. You just don’t get that at national chain music stores. “Hey, I’m looking for the latest CD by Beth Orton. Do you have it?”

“Uhhhhhh …. whuuuuuu … buuuuuuuh ….”

“Right. Thanks. Tell ya what: I’ll bring you a bottle of formula if you can just tell me if you have it.”

“da ba ma ma ma ma baaaaaaaa ……”

*smack*

At least that’s been my experience with those kinds of stores. Not at Graywhale. They know what they’re talking about!

Support your local music shops! They’re where the real action is.

 

Fun Music Site

Okay, this is cool. Check out this site. Isn’t this FUN?! If you know enough about music theory and time signatures, you can have a lot of fun with this little site. I love it. If there were an “export to mp3” button, i’d seriously be in lurve. Good enough that there are progs out there that will record sound from the desktop.

Sorry that’s all I have for today. It’s been a rough, rough day, and I’m “flying solo” cuz my wife went to a conference with a friend. Watching after our two kids is tiring. So much so that I’m going to go to bed now. 🙂

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!).

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