Concert Review: They Might Be Giants at The Depot in SLC

I will be the first to tell you that I *hated* They Might be Giants for many, many years. Yea–decades. I blame my idiot college roommate my freshman year Flood had just come out, and he played it incessantly. He had one other CD–NIN’s Pretty Hate Machine. That got precisely 3 spins the entire year. Needless to say, I got sick of TMBG right fast.

Not to mention I came from the background of *guitar rock*, not accordion rock. In fact, my musical background forbade the concept of such. It was a completely oxymoronic term. No good band could possibly incorporate such a niche instrument and pull it off. So pretty much the entire CD was full of crap, in my book.

Then there was the lyrical content. “I returned a bag of groceries accidentally taken off the shelf before the expiration date …” I mean … come on. Really? It made no sense to me. At all. I couldn’t wrap my head around this band, so the only logical thing to do was to dismiss them. Right?

Right …?

Class, the answer is “WRONG.” No, I should not have. I always considered myself a broad appreciator of music. I thought my tastes were diverse and well-ranged. I like Tool and Yanni. The pendulum doesn’t swing much more widely than that.

Over the years, I’ve had my TMBG hate-wall nicked a few times. Such as the year I noticed that “Malcolm in the Middle”‘s theme song sounded oddly familiar. After a quick Google search, I learned that, indeed, it was The Johns that brought to pass that quirky little ditty. Then after my two girls got to the age where they could sit through “The Mickey Mouse Club House,” again there was an air of familiarity with the music and vocals. Not only did I find out that TMBG had been busily occupied providing the theme song and additional music to that show, but I also learned that they had a whole series of kids’ music. “Okay … how bad can these two be? Musically, I might not appreciate everything they do, but I can at least give props to the magnanimity behind the music.

Last Wednesday, I had to do some work at a remote location with some other people from my office. Not driving, I used the opportunity to catch up on email, Facebook, and see what concerts were on the horizon. To my surprise, TMBG were scheduled to play at The Depot (one of my favorite venues in SLC). I quickly ordered 2 tickets, then texted my wife and told her we were going to go on a “surprise date.” She loves those. Generally, they consist of every idea we have devolving into a couple hours of geocaching. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but when plans go awry, it’s nice to have a better back-up plan than an old stand-by.

Somehow, she found out about the show and called me to tell me what she thought the mystery date was. I was slightly disappointed, but at the same time I was relieved cuz I *hate* trying to keep things secret. I suck at it, for one thing. For another, the mounting pressure to keep my yapper zipped is exponentially harder the closer we get to “game time.”

We dropped our kids off at our friends’ house, and we drove to SLC. We got to the area, parked, and grabbed a quick bite to eat at Panda Express. The walk from Panda to The Depot is short; they’re in the same complex, so it made it nice and easy. That’s another reason I love that venue so much; the food options are astounding. One of these days, I *have* to take her to Ze Tejas. She’d love that. But I digress.

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, The Depot is patterned after the House of Blues. There’s a nice bar with assorted snacks and adult drinks, which sits a few steps above the main floor. On the perimeter of the floor are bar tables and stools that sit well above the floor level. There’s a balcony that surrounds the perimeter as well. There isn’t a bad spot in the house from any vantage point. Well, unless you’re sitting on the steps that lead to the balcony, in which case yah–you’ll have a pretty obstructed view. Other than that though, no–not a bad seat anywhere.

The sound at The Depot is unparalleled. It has just the right acoustics to pick up every little nuance of sound. High hats sound like high hats; the bass is clear and distinct. This isn’t like the Energy Solutions Arena (or, for the locals, “The venue formerly known as ‘The Delta Center'”). This sound is pristine.

Jonathan Coulton opened the show. His set was short, but it packed a great, light punch … if there is such a thing. He was gracious and funny. It was just him and his guitar, since his band was occupied elsewhere. I dunno … I like acoustic sets. His was just phenomenal. My favorite was “Je Suis Rick Springfield.” It’s sung mostly in French, with the exception of a few key words that keep it pretty obvious where the tune is intended to go. If you do know French, it’s pretty funny.

TMBG opened with “Celebration.” Well, okay … I’m jumping the gun a bit. They opened with John Flansburgh introducing the band, who currently consists of Dan Miller on guitar, Danny Weinkauf on bass,, and Marty Beller on drums. THEN they jumped into “Celebration,” after which they played “Why Does the Sun Shine?” Ironic to the entire first 9/10ths of this post, that’s always been one of my favorites of theirs. I even threw my wife for a loop when I switched out the first two words of the song for, “Your mom.” If you’re familiar with the song and if you’re drinking or eating anything, you may want to take some time to wipe off your monitor and/or keyboard now.

Or maybe you’ve already done so. I do not know.

Anyway, the set was pretty great. 2+ hours long, I recorded the whole thing and posted a few vids to YouTube. “We Live in a Dump,” “Dead,” even the Avatars made a guest appearance.

Here’s a vid from the show. It’s my wife’s favorite. Or close to it, anyway.

I had a similar experience with U2, where I was kind of luke warm to the band, but afterwards, I was just so blown away that I was instantly converted. I would say that this is more than true here because of the level of disdain and for the length of time I spent just not liking them at all. For all their intelligence, wit and whimsy, it’s almost impossible *not* to like them.

CD Review: St. Vincent – Strange Mercy

I love days like today. New music abounds, blu-ray releases are all over the place … and I get to listen to the new St. Vincent CD. Sweet lemonade in ice form–the girl’s gone and done it again.

When last we left our ravenous NYC brunette, she had left us reeling from her at-the-time most recent release of Actor. A venerable tour de force of layered electronica and pscyho-blazing instrumentation, mixed with her searing and smoldering vocals.

2 months shy of 2.5 years have come and gone. The Packers have returned to the top of the NFL, the Bruins, Blackhawks and Penguins all won Stanely Cups, I got a new 58″ plasma TV, and I have worked in 3 different positions. In relative terms, it’s only been a short while. However, when it comes to music of Annie’s quality and talent, 2 and third years might as well seem like  an entire millenium.

Usher in the newest epoch of St. Vincent music. We may now add to her illustrious timeline a new achievment–Strange Mercy. Feel free to thank your lucky stars. Or, better yet, thank her yourself. Of course, this is just my opinion, and you’re welcome to agree or disagree, but I think this is her strongest work. Very personal, very emotionally evocative.

One of the stand-out tracks for me is “Cruel.” The juxtaposition of up-beat, dancy music with the depressing lyrics caught me really off-guard. Reminds me of 9o% of The Smiths discography. 🙂  “Hi, I’m alive. Does anyone notice? Care?” Apparently not–not even with flares waving. Yah. Upbeat music, tragic lyrics. Sad.

The next track immediately after “Cruel” is “Cheerleader.” It kind of grabs me as someone who loves her land, but is tired of trying to play the apologist. On a more “in the weeds” analysis, it also strikes me as someone who is tired of people milking tragedy for everything they can, be that sympathy, financial gain, or whatever. But musically, it’s just great. “I-I-I-I-I don’t want to be a cheerleader no more …” which repeats a couple of times. On each “I,” there’s this off-key keyboard sound that’s absolutely beautiful in its dissonance. Great.

Big fan of “Champagne Year,” too. A little more minimalist start on this track. Some bass drum samples, some synth, and Ms. St. Vincente’s sultry intoxicating vocals dangling on the edge of sadness. The track evolves into some very Sarah Fimm-style music and vocals. For anyone who’s read my take on Sarah Fimm’s music, See what I mean?

The best news about this CD release is that she’s going on tour, with a date in SLC at the Urban Lounge on October 11th. Pretty good place to catch her live. Small, intimate place, no bad seat in the place … yah. That’ll be a great show.

So yah. Time to get out and buy this. Or sit at your desk and download it from iTunes. or … from your phone ….. sheesh. Is there any place left where you can’t get new music anymore?! Well whatever your outlet of choice is, go get this immediately and improve your quality of life. GO! NOW!!

 

Weekend Music Ripping

I have a stack of CDs sitting behind me that I’m in the process of ripping. Two stacks, actually. Had to split it up cuz my daughters kept knocking over the one stack. Don’t ask how … they just did. I didn’t realize how much I had accumulated over the last couple of months until I started counting. Ha ha ha.

Skip ahead two weeks. No new stuff, other than a couple of iTunes purchases. While we were in Yellowstone, my wife had a hankering for They Might Be Flood CD, so I downloaded it for her. Yah–I’m that nice.

Anyway, so tonight is actually CD ripping night. It’s actually going to be CD-ripping weekend, but whatever.

I NEED NEW CD SHELVES IN THE WORST WAY.

Aaaaaand it’s Saturday now. I ripped through 11 CDs before getting dragged away, kicking and screaming voluntarily watching our kids while my wife went to bunco. Here’s the stack:

  • Rabbi – Bulla Ki Jaana
  • Trembling Blue Stars – Exploring the Shadows
  • Slick Shoes – Far From Nowhere
  • Abigail Washburn – City of Refuge
  • Sarah Jarosz – Follow Me Down
  • Feral Phantasms – Polar Goldie Cats
  • Kate York – Sadly Love
  • Tam – Self-Titled
  • Johnathan Rice – Further North
  • Alex Wise – Front Porch
  • Pedro the Lion – Winners Never Quit

The sounds are pretty divers, too. Feral Phantasms is all instrumental stuff. Great mood music. Sarah Jarosz has one of those voices that leaves me all melty-drippy-swoony. Slick Shoes is kind of Dream Theater-esque, but not as technical and pretty good straight-forward rock-out music. Rabbi … man. Great middle-eastern-sounding stuff. Overall, a great mix.

 

App Review: TuneIn Radio

I grew up in western New York. Buffalo area, to be specific. The radio station I listened to for sports out there was WGR 550. When I moved out here in the mid-90s, I lost the ability to keep home-spun tabs on the Bills and Sabres. Of course, that was about 15 years ago–right around the time the Internet was breaking wide open world-wide.

Streaming media came along, and all of the sudden, I was able to tune in to my favorite sports radio station from anywhere. However, the requirement was a desktop or a laptop; I couldn’t just plug in using my little Sanyo PM8200.

And along came smartphones. As phones got more and more smarter (see the grammatical humor there?) with more and more capability, apps like Pandora and Home Radio hit the app store. WGR thought they could jump into the fray and make their own app. And they did, right? What a great idea! It’s one of the most robust radio station apps I’ve seen. All kinds of awesome interaction–emailing the studio, texting, calling (hi … it’s a phone, after all), audio vault for past programs … great app! If only it would run well on something other than wi-fi.

What it touts as being its best feature in the ability to stream audio live (or at least as live as it can get with a pretty large buffer) becomes its greatest weakness; unless you’re at full bars or on wi-fi, forget it. The app will freeze up, and the only way to get it to function is to close it out and restart it. LAME.

I brought this up on the Sabres message board a few days ago. A bunch of people chimed in and said that they too were having issues, and they really hate the app cuz it’s so worthless. Fair statement. Then someone posted a comment about TuneIn Radio. This person kept raving about how it’s so great, the buffer is strong, and it’s never died on him. With free agency looming, I *had* to find some way to stay connected. I downloaded the app, and … wow. Just wow.

So here are some key excellent points.

First off, the app is an extension of the website, www.tunein.com. Great name. Easy to remember, very simple. Like it a lot. On the website, the first page you see is a list of local radio stations that you can stream. It lists 8, but you can click the “browse all local radio” link and get a full list. A few of the stations might be greyed out due to a lack of streaming address, so don’t freak out if you run across that. For example, the local radio station at Weber State is KWCR. While it’s listed on TuneIn’s website, it’s not available to stream. Boo. Hiss. I’m going to make some phone calls on Tuesday and find out if they have a streaming address cuz they need one. However, KRCL out of Salt Lake streams. Excellent!

So that’s the website. The app is about the same as the website … but *mobile*! Which, you know … should be, since it’s an app. The beauty of this thing is the sheer number of stations you can pull in with this thing. Fact: you can stream folk music from the Antarctic. Trust me–I know this because I’ve done this. So when I tell you that you can stream stations from ALL over the world, I really do mean ALL OVER THE WORLD. I’ve found stations from Portugal, Russia, Iran, Uzbekistan … that’s right–Uzbekistan. UZR1. No idea what they’re saying, but I’m digging the music.

If you hear something you really like, you can record it to your phone and play it back later. It store a list of your recordings in the Recordings section on the buttons tool bar.

Editor’s note: it should be pointed out that the Uzbek station sounds like it’s broadcasting under water at about 11000 khz. Any semblance to even a decent mono feed is purely coincidental. So while I’m not totally overwhelmed with the broadcast quality, I am more than just whelmed that I can actually pick up Uzbek radio at all.

There are lists according to local radio stations, recently visited, recommended, music, talk, sports stations … you can browse by location or language. Have a hankering for some exquisite Mandarin Chinese? Look it up! Want to eavesdrop on those retarded chowderhead beantown Bruins fans sports radio talk? Look it up! THERE IS A STREAMING STATION FROM BARROW ALASKA. Name of the station? “Top of the World Radio.” HA! That’s freakin’ awesome.

Because I want to come back later and check out what’s going on up there, I’ve added it to my presets by pressing the little heart icon in the top right corner of the Now Playing screen. You can do that with any station or feed. That way you don’t have to come back to it later.

There are two versions in the app store: free and paid. Pony up for the paid one. The free one “only” streams 45000 stations and broadcasts. 🙂 Because let’s face it: 45000 radio stations just isn’t enough, is it?

Now … I know there are other apps that do this kind of thing, with the streaming radio stations. I’ve used them. I’ve even liked some of them. This app, though … man. I just love it. The interface is clean, simple and intuitive. The number of available stations and locations is sick.

Give it a shot. It’s worth it.

New Music Friday

List isn’t incredibly long, but you know the phrase: quality vs. quantity. Picked up some gems that I thought I had, but upon an actual inspection,

  • Marissa Nadler – Saga of Mayflower May
  • Kate York – Sadly Love
  • Sarah Jarosz – Follow Me Down
  • Alex Wise – Front Porch
  • Tam – Ecstatic Peace
  • Polar Goldie Cats – Feral Phantasms

I like the instrumental sounds of PGC. Alex Wise was a pleasant surprise, while I was equally surprised to find that I didn’t have Miss Marissa’s Mayflower May CD. That’s been remedied. 🙂

 

CD Review: Marissa Nadler – Marissa Nadler

The first music I heard of Marissa Nadler’s was Little Hells. The thing that struck me about that CD was just how … I don’t know … mellowingly  meloncholy? haunting? Dare I say it–macabre? It was one of the most amazing CDs I had ever heard.

I wasted no time hunting down and acquiring everything she’d done to that point. Ballads of Living and Dying, The Saga of Mayflower May, and Songs III: Birds on the Water. All of it was provacatively haunting, and I listened to it non-stop for weeks.

It was a pleasant shock to discover that Miss Nadler Released her 5th CD this past Tuesday–a self-titled effort that elevates her music to a new benchmark that borders on heavenly. 11 tracks that clock in at right around 45 minutes, there isn’t a song on here that won’t leave you wondering how God let such an angelic voice slip out of earshot.

The longest track, “In Your Lair, Bear,” is 6 minutes long. It opens with Marissa gently plucking her guitar and musing, “Where did you go when the snow fell that year? You’re inside these wooden walls like a bear, eager child, for the end in your lair. For the end of the year. The old familiar fear creeps up your little arms and runs through your veins like blood through your songs.” After several listens, that’s what I’m hearing, anyway. Between her guitar, the strings arrangement, the low-key cymbals and percussion, you can’t help but swoon like a shark that’s been knocked on its back.

You see the 3rd track, “The Sun Always Reminds Me of You,” and you think, “Aww … a love song!” Yah. This is about as love-songy as “Every Breath You Take.” The only difference is that this doesn’t have the stalker feel to it so much as it has the “Shit … why must every ray of sunshine remind me of you? Curse my rotten luck.” You can hear her heart breaking with each strum and drum beat. I love the steel guitar at the end. Gives it just that hint of country flair to it without actually invoking Fords, dogs, shotguns, line dancing and cheating spouses. No, okay … seriously. You know how a lot of country has that “love lost” feel to it? That’s this song in a nutshell.

My favorite song on the CD is “Baby I Will Leave You in the Morning.” Hands down. The chords, arrangement, BPM, theme, lyrics … this thing is brooding, moody, depressingly gorgeous, and just frickin’ hot. For some reason, it has a very Pink Floyd vibe to the music. This makes it on my “desert island” top 10 list. That’s right. Love this song.

This whole CD is just breath-taking. I’m already wishing she would put out an new CD. Not because this one has grown stale (right … cuz that’s possible), but because her music is just that good. I crave, want, and desire more. Now.

File this under “shiver” cuz you will get the chills from listening to this.

 

App Review: SongKick Concerts

Guess what app I’m in love with right now. I’ll give you a hint:

I hadn’t really checked out any new apps on iTunes’ store lately, so I thought I’d glance through it and see what I could fiind. To my surprise, SongKick Concerts was featured on the main page. The app integrates with its web-based counterpart to sync your SK accout (if you have one; if you don’t, it’s easy enough to set up one). Best part is that it’s free.

This thing is incredible. By “incredible,” I don’t just mean, “Wow, hey … this thing is pretty nifty.” No–I mean this app makes Chuck Norris look like the E-Trade baby. That’s how enormously awesome this thing is. Here’s why.

1. It scans your iDevice and finds the musicians in its database, which is vastly superior to any other concert app database I’ve seen. This thing finds EVERYthing. I loaded one song from each artist from the first half of my library (A-M), excluding classical artists and new age/soundscape artists. It had representative graphics for almost everyone, including obscure artists like Hungry Lucy, Diane Birch, Howling Rain, First Aid Kit, Emily Wells … the list goes on.

For every artists that is on tour or a concert date is scheduled, it puts a little “On Tour” banner in the top left corner of the image so you KNOW that that artist/band is playing somewhere soon. Could be as little as a one-off gig at some bar in Rigby Idaho. Could be as extensive as playing Estadio de Luz

One thing that I would like this app to do, and it may  … I haven’t seen it do this yet, but it very well could–is to localize the list to my geographic area and provide that same banner for artists coming to the greater Salt Lake area. As it is, I sift through my artists and see if a particular artist is coming. If not, oh well–move on to the next one. If so, I check out date, ticket prices, venue, etc. But really … it’s not at all a large complaint.

2. The app links you out to ticket vendors. No need to go out to Ticketmaster or wherever. Links are provided to the venue, ticket purchasing, or wherever you need to go.

3. You can search for an artist and track when s/he/they are coming to your area. It’s a bit better than having to scan your whole iOS device library and look through at individual artists/bands, but at the same time, you have to manually search and select “Track” to get that localized effect. Again, oh well. 🙂

4. If 6you select the nearest large city to you, it will spit back who’s playing where, when and for how much. For example, tonight in the SLC area, we have:

  • Psychostick at Club Vegas
  • Soulcrate Music at Kilby Court
  • Taking Back Sunday at In the Venue
  • Pharoahe Monch at the Hotel Elevate
  • Craze at One Nightclub

I’m telling you … this is the ONLY concert app you need. Download it and check out what shows you didn’t know are coming to your area!

Concert Review: Samantha Crain in Salt Lake City

I don’t even know where to begin with this one. Should it be the fact that she went out of her way to grant an interview? That during the interview, she was so down to earth that I couldn’t help but feel like we had known each other for years instead of mere minutes? How about the fact that this tiny little spitfire put on a show that kept people coming on to the floor immediately in front of the stage?

Where to start …

I guess I’ll just go in chronological order. At this point, it seems to make the most sense.

First off, I should mention that this is going to be a two-parter post: The concert review, and the discussion/interview we had. Again … damn. They really don’t come any more laid back than she.

So concert review. Here it is, from the top.

The venue was The Urban Lounge. I hadn’t been to a show there, so I did some poking around. Not a lot of favorable reviews, sadly. Even my friend in Colorado who had been to a show couldn’t think of a good thing to say. “It’s hot, AC sucks, sound system sucks … not my favorite place for a concert.” For all the reviews I read and all the dialog about the place I had had, I can’t help but say this: y’all are wrong. Okay … not about the AC. It was really warm in there. However, the intimacy of the venue trumps pretty much everything. The stage is tiny. The dance floor is tiny. Actually, the whole venue is tiny. It’s only designed to hold about 300 people, and there were possibly 200 people there last night. Very, very intimate place for a show. And I *loved* it. Our “seats” were bar stools on the fringe of the dance floor. I could have thrown a feather and hit the stage (if that feather were tied to a tiny pebble, or maybe a wad of semi-compacted paper).That’s how close the seats were.

My intent was to take pics and video the whole show. Both were accomplished, but not in the manner I had anticipated. I was hoping that I could just prop up my phone and record the show. That was tossed out within the first 2 minutes of the first song as everyone rushed the stage and staked their claim to band proximity. Hey … who am I to complain? Newbie to the venue, rules already well-established … who am I to demand a straight shot at the stage? No … I adapted and made the best of my newly acquired understanding of how the vibe works there. I held my phone aloft for all 10 songs (11, if you want to count the Britney Spears tribute for Will), and it looks great. Even better than I had planned. Lots of crowd interaction, lots of needing to maneuver to get a better angle because of the crowd … all of whom were awesomely enthusiastic to be there for Samantha, Penny and Anne.

Samantha opened her set with “Lions,” off her newest CD You (Understood). The first thing I noticed, and I love this about an artist, is that she sounds even better live than she does on her CDs. This takes NOTHING away from her studio performances, but man … the girl can rock out. And rock out she did. She danced and stomped around the stage with her guitar, threw her head back and let the moment sink in, never missing a note or a beat. Her feet were constantly moving. Her music and moves were of one mind. And her smile! What a genuinely awesome smile she has. Her music and love for it is so sincere that she cannot keep from smiling while she’s playing. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. The passion she displays for her art and for making sure the fans get everything out of her show that she can offer are the only things she’s worried about while on stage.

She’s also aligned herself with Penny Hill (bassist) and Anne Lillis (drummer). They equally throw themselves into the moment. Anne set my “wow” factor for drummers to an all-time high. Just … WOW. One quick note from the interview: Penny and Anne were on another couch while I chatted with Samantha. Very unassuming, quiet, and low-key. Yah … that was all left in the green room once the show started. Anne took her sticks, and with fluidity like I’ve never seen, she began pounding away in anthemic rhythm. She was Niagara Falls, flowing relentlessly and careening over the edge in one million gallons of pure drumming, crashing down upon her drumset with unbridled passion. Penny, the bassist, matched Anne pace for pace in her energy, constantly bouncing around the stage and enjoying every minute, her fingers flying up and down the frets as she sweetly and crooningly sang harmony and back-up. MOST excellent.

Their energy and playing was infectious, which the crowd obviously picked up on this vibe cuz the floor kept filling up with each passing minute, all longing to be part of that energy. And let’s face it … who wouldn’t want to be part of that energy?

On the next song, “Songs in the Night,” Samantha traded in the mini-guitar solo opening for a kazoo solo.  I don’t know if the guys next to us were digging or making fun of it, but we loved it. Practically no one uses a kazoo anymore, but it fit so perfectly with the intro that going back and listening to the studio track almost seems … incomplete? This is the magic of Samantha Crain–“Surprise! Here’s a kazoo intro. Didn’t see that coming, did ya?!” Love it!

Here’s the entire set list from the show:

  • Lions
  • Songs in the Night
  • Equinox
  • Holdin’ that Move
  • New Song (not sure what it was called … something about convertibles)
  • Scissor Tales
  • Get the Fever Out
  • Religious Winds
  • Two-Sidedness
  • Toxic (Britney Spears cover, tribute to Will)
  • Up on the Table

Here are some pics from the show.

 

Videos of the show can be found on my YouTube channel.

For supposedly being an “opening act” for Langhorne Slim, she got the crowd on their feet and kept them there until well after the last note. After the show, I made it a point to get her attention before we left so that I could once again thank her for her time earlier in the evening for the interview and for such a spectacular show. What ended the night on such a personal high note was the huge, glowing smile that greeted me. I’m telling you … the girl has class. She knows how to make people happy, which is simply by being her good-natured self. I’ll get more into it when I write about the interview/conversation, but for now, just know that she is as geniunely friendly and kind a person as you can imagine, and my life is better for having met her.

Samantha Crain, thank you. 🙂

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!

Linkage:
Official Site
Facebook

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.

 

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