Open Letter to Marissa Nadler

To the immeasurably talented Marissa Nadler,

I cannot thank you enough for your incredible music. My desk job is infinitely more welcoming, knowing that I have your music to keep me company. Yes, I like other music–other genres. Huge fan of Tool, old Metallica, SOAD, Rush, love Suzanne Vega, Alela Diane, Brahms, Vivaldi … kind of a broad spectrum. And to be sure, they all have their place in my queue, but there is something *ridiculously* soothing and stirring about your music that I can’t quite qualify or quantify. Also, that last sentence may just win The Most Words Using the Initial “Qu” Sound. Yay me. I guess.

I know you’ve played here before, I think most recently with Alela Diane, at Kilby Court, towards the end of November 2009. That was 2 years ago. Now … I know the world is a *gargantuan* place, and there are a million places you haven’t even played yet, so it is entirely possible that this request will fall by the wayside while you explore the as-yet-to-be-played locales … but it can’t go unasked.

When you can, will you please come back to Utah? I’m sure we can find you a great venue! There’s no shortage of awesome places to play: The Depot, Kilby Court, The Urban Lounge, In the Venue … there are tons of amazing stages here!

Please consider it. I know your schedule is uber-busy, which is certainly understandable. Please … just don’t forget about our lonely little state. 🙂

Thanks Marissa.

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.

 

Relaxing Evening with Photomatix and Metallica

Yes, you read that right–relaxing evening with Metallica. Garage Days Re-Revisited. Well, the Garage Inc. Version, anyway. Lots more songs on it than the 5.98 EP, so it works for me.

Is it wrong that I still loathe Bob Rock for taking their incredible sound and literally destroying it? I mean, … and Justice for All was just so amazing, regardless of what Jason Newsted being relegated to almost non-existence. At least for that CD. I don’t know. The black album had some gems, but … it really was the beginning of the end, and for 17 years, they tried denying it. The black album, Load, Reload … just weren’t anything special. Again, some good songs, but … that’s it. It was extremely difficult to listen to those two CDs all the way through without skipping at least half the tracks. Compare that to Kill ’em All, Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, and Justice. Every single song on those 4 CDs are winners. Well, okay … if we’re being totally honest and open, Kill ’em All had a few relative duds, but those “duds” still kicked ass over most anything on the 3 aforementioned weak CDs.

St. Anger … what? Does anyone even talk about that CD? Seriously?

Their saving grace from the ultimate “Fade to Black” was writing Death Magnetic. While it definitely shows James’ age and voice deterioration, it also shows that they still have some balls left. I’ve written a review of the whole CD a while back, so no need to rehash it here. It just amazes me that after … I don’t know. They didn’t quite suck cuz they did have some great songs, and hoorah to them for trying to branch out. I just don’t think it worked out in their favor. They might have been commercially wildly successful. That doesn’t mean they were good. Not in my book.

Anyway, ever since I was in high school, I’ve always found some soothing element in listening to Metallica. I can’t explain it. Pantera doesn’t have that affect. Iron Maiden doesn’t either. No other metal-style band does. Of course, artists like Azam Ali, Marissa Nadler, Sarah Fimm … of course they have a soothing and relaxing effect. They’re *supposed* to. So go figure. Not sure what the deal is. Don’t care, either. 😉

Speaking of Photomatix, these HDR images aren’t gonna tweak themselves.

Take Down the Pimp RIAA!

Okay, I know that sounds a bit melodramatic, but it’s still how I feel, so … I’m leaving it.

My original intent was to write about how it seems like more and more artists are wising up and ditching the standard recording industry method of marketing and distribution for the *much* more up-to-date, modern, intelligent model of DIY distribution and funding.

Marissa Nadler and Samantha Crain are my first two examples. Here we have two amazing artists who want desperately to record music. AND THEY SHOULD. Have you heard these two?! No? Stop what you’re doing. Go to iTunes, Amazon, or wherever you buy your music. Sample their stuff. You’ll be hooked. I promise.

Anyway, these two need your support to record their music. They work hard for their art, and they deserve to be compensated. NOT the RIAA, not some label who will take their talent and rape them repatedly with some pathetic contract that will promise them pennies on the dollar. No–they made the music, they should get the royalties. Long gone are the days where a CD is the required method of distribution. iTunes has gone so far beyond the point of being a good example that I barely feel comfortable using them as an example. PEOPLE WILL PAY FOR THE MUSIC THEY WANT.

And therein lies the rub. How can you get people to want to buy music in an age where freebie sites are literally everywhere? Torrent sites are rampant. Why would someone willingly hand over cash for something that they could probably google and grab for free?

Exhibit A: Marissa Nadler’s site.

Pledge $100 or more

Dying Breeds: Autographed CD and vinyl LP, Digital Download, T-shirt, the never-before-released “Ivy and the Clovers” album on CD, and 4 tickets to a show of your choice.

Did you catch that? 4 tickets to ANY SHOW. ANYWHERE. Now … I’m guessing that if you live in L.A. and you want to see a show in the Catskills, you’re gonna have to pony up the airfare. Or bus. Train. Whatever. You will need to get there yourself. I’m okay with that! Let’s say you live in Denver and the show is in Salt Lake. Plan a road trip! Or if you’re lucky enough to have her come to your city, then you are in *such* luck.

Some of the upper-tier pledge amounts are steep, but hey … free concert? in your home? Yah. That’s worth some big cash. I’d totally do that if had a spare $3500. Not surprisingly, no one has taken her up on that one. Yet.

Exhibit A1. This article. My favorites are the paragraphs about Josh Freese and Moldover. Actually, once you get past the Reznor and Freese portions, it goes in to some amazing stories about others who have used this exact same method. AND this article was written over a year ago. In internet terms, that’s like … 300 years in real time. Or something.

Exhibit B. Samantha Crain.

Similar to Marissa Nadler though not quite on as grand a scale, there are various donation options. $10 gets you a hand-typed note. Nothing big, I guess, other than the fact that you get warm fuzzies for supporting a beautiful musician. Upwards of $75 gets you a song-ette. Now … what I want to know is if that song-ette is specifically written for you, or if it’s just a canned mini-song that says a generic “thanks for your big donation.” If it’s tailored to the person, I’m *ALL* for dropping the money for that. That’s rare, and it’s something NO ONE else will have. To me, that’s worth the money. I’d pay for that. But that might just be me.

So here it is. We’re not even in the age of digital downloads anymore. We’ve past the “free music” era and have moved into the “i’m buying this because I’m getting something rare and unique.” It’s kind of a self-serving notion, but ya know what? We’re gonna buy into this because that’s human nature. We want what others don’t have. We want to have something to call our own. And if that’s a shirt out of Josh Freese’s closet, or a hand-made PCB with light-sensitive noise making CD covers, or a personal concert in your living room, we *want* something unique. We desire to set ourselves apart from others by claiming the right to say, “Hey … someone sent me a personalized song,” or something along those lines. I know I do!

Upcoming Releases for Fantastic Music

This morning, as I was heading in to work, Alela Diane’s “White as Diamonds” shuffled through my phone. Having not listened to To Be Still in a while, I “unshuffled” my playlist and started from “Dry Grass and Shadows.”

There are few voices as distinct as hers. There are also few voices that can evoke such emotion–such raw, visceral feeling. She pours her soul into her music. Not that most artists don’t, but hers … sweet cabbage and mutton, how does she do it?

I started wondering if she has anything coming down the pike. In the “HUZZAH!!” category, we have this bit of news straight off her website: new CD coming out in the spring. No specific date, but her site is in a state of overhaul, I guess … at least that’s the illusion on the front page, so maybe more news will be forthcoming with the new site.

So THAT got me wondering who else has new stuff coming in the near future. Here’s a list I’ve compiled of potential releases in the next few months.

  • Alela Diane – Spring release.
  • Sarah Fimm – A new release is immenently close at hand. She’s taunting us with talk of a new song on her Facebook page.
  • Azam Ali – From Night to the Edge of Day, March or April.
  • The Dears Degeneration Street, Februray 15 (though this might just be a Canadian-only release date … not sure)
  • Dredg – early 2011 (nothing on their site other than a post from August targeting an “early 2011” release)
  • Eisley The Valley, March 1

Brief interruption … looks like the good folks from Gypsy Death and You are hooking me up with some tune-age. Again, I refer you to NewBandDay‘s post about them for “Crocus” and “Something I Can’t Have.”

And now, back to the list. On with the show, as they say, blah blah blah.

  • Samantha Crain – coming at some point hopefully in 2011, but it looks like she has a lot of projects that are keeping her well booked, so we’ll hope. She’s writing new stuff, so that’s good!
  • Well, crap. I wanted to post that Rush will be releasing their new CD this year, but it looks like they’ll resume recording in the late summer or early fall for Clockwork Angels, which will probably be released in early 2012. Well *that* sucks.
  • Howling Bells – early to mid year (?). Looks like they’re done with the recording and they’re well into the mixing stage, if not past it. Of interesting note is the fact that Mark Stroemer, of The Killers fame, is producing the CD. Hmm.
  • Marissa Nadler – Her site has a donation page set up, and the funding has been met as of December 9th. Not sure if she’s in the studio or not, but you can follow her blog here.

Honestly, I’m sure there are a ton more, and I’ll do some more research later, but for now, that’s enough to whet just about any musical appetite. Stay tuned …

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