Concert Announcement: Samantha Crain

Just read a tweet from Samantha Crain. Apparently, she’s coming back to Salt Lake again, playing at The Urban Lounge in support of Blitzen Trapper on July 19th.

This summer is just getting crazier with all the concerts. I heard back from Marissa Nadler’s tour booking agent that she’ll be playing here on her next west coast dates, so that’s cool, but she doesn’t know when that’ll be.

Welcome back, Samantha. 🙂

Conversation with Samantha Crain

A couple of  months ago, I found out that Samantha Crain would be coming to Salt Lake. I immediately sent her a tweet requesting an interview. At the time, I knew she was in Michigan on tour, so I didn’t expect a response for a few days. Imagine my surprise when she replied within a few minutes. “Sure!” So casual, so exuberant. So … Samantha Crain.

Over the course of the next several weeks, we exchanged tweets and emails, setting up date and time for the convo. We finally settled on meeting a couple of hours before her show at The Urban Lounge. We met out front and went in to the venue, where we took seats in “the green room” (i.e. the artists’ waiting room). She sat comfortably in the chair kitty corner to the couch I sat on, and looked just as at home as if she had been ready to curl up with a good book, or a movie and a big bowl of popcorn. But no … she was there to chat with me. And

Here’s the conversation I had with Samantha Crain and her band.

*ahem*

F: This is not your first time to Salt Lake.

SC: No, we played here with Langhorne Slim about 2 years ago when we were on tour with him, and then I played here earlier that year as well at Kilby with Thao and the Get Down Stay Down when we were on tour with them, and I think other than those two times … other than the first time we came here, which was a big, like 2 people came. That was a weird show. (turning to Will Sartain), Will, we came here here like 4 years ago before we ever played at any of your venues. It was this big, weird, completely butt-rock type venue, and like 2 people came to our show. It was kind of in the middle of nowhere. maybe by some warehouses or something? Palladium? Yah … that was where we played our first time in Salt Lake City.

F: That’s weird. I’m sorry.

SC: That’s okay. It was funny. I have that story.

F: So what do you think about Salt Lake?

SC: I like it. I went and sang karaoke last night in Salt Lake.

F: Where?!

SC: Cheers.

F: Nice! That’s so funny!

SC: We all went and sang karaoke.

F: I hope everybody applauded …

SC: It was funny. We did a Destiny’s Child song.

F: Nice. How did it go over?

SC: Good. I guess … I dunno, it was crowded. It was karaoke, man.

F: So this is your band (sitting on the other couch). I read your bio on a site, and it said that you had met some guys when you were doing something back east? Pennsylvania? It was the Midnight Shivers.

SC: That was my band about 2 years ago, whenever Songs in the Night came out. Jacob, the drummer for that, plays drums for the Avett Brothers now. My old bass player is not really playing, and my old guitarist has own solo thing going on. I’ve had different forms of bands for the past two years. This is the current incarnation.

F: And who are these lovely ladies?

SC: Penny Hill. We’re friends from back in Oklahoma. She plays bass. And then Anne Lillis. She’s from Akron.

F: (Turning to Anne) I lived in Stow. There’s always a Stow connection!

AL: I lived off one of the main roads in Cuyahoga Falls

F: Well welcome to Utah. Is this your first time playing here?

AL: I’ve played  in Salt Lake City before.

PH: I’ve never been here.

F: Do you like the snow on the mountains? In June?

All: Yah … it’s great.

F: Not so much …

SC: Well, it’s awesome to me because I’m all over the place anyway, so I never really have to be around anything for too long. It’s cool, then I’m over it.

F: What happened to the tour van?

SC: Actually, it wasn’t a van; it was an SUV, then I had my trailer. There were 289,000 miles on it over the past 2 years, and … yah. Graveyard. It’s just hanging out until I can get someone to buy it for parts. It wasn’t like we were on the road and it blew up or anything, although I have had that happen to tour vehicles before. This was just one of those things where we got home from tour, and we had a few months off, and it was already in pretty bad condition when I got back home, and over the 2 or 3 months that I was driving it around, it was just kind of like, “I’m done.” But it did exactly what I needed it to do for 289,000 miles, so you know …

F: On your site, there used to be a link where you could go out and make donations.

SC: We’re still doing that.

F: Where is it? because I poked around on the site and I couldn’t find it.

SC: Oh … on our *website* website? They might have changed it. I need to put that back up because we do have a Feed the Muse account, and that’s still going on, but I have to re-post it on Facebook every now and then because it gets shuffled down through the things. We’re going to redo the website, so we’ll probably have a permanent link cuz yah–we’re definitely still doing that. We’re borrowing a car for the summer. Literally. My dad is letting us borrow a car of his, and my mom is doing without a car so we can go on tour this summer.

F: This is the part that blows me away. A few months ago, you were working in a diner.

SC: Pizza place.

F: And now, you’re on this extensive North American tour, and you’ll be playing at a festival in England. How did you do it?

SC: It’s not a “How did you do it?” thing. It’s how I’m able to tour sometimes. Touring, really, just like costs money somtimes more than it earns money. It’s not like it’s a success story by any means. I’ve been touring for about 5 years, and we’ve played some big shows, and we’ve played some really small shows. It’s a constant roller coaster thing. As long as I’m doing something. I realized that we didn’t have a tour vehicle, so I needed to be making money and not spending the money I had saved up, so I had to get a job.

F: I think that’s amazing.

SC: I would rather *not* have a job so that I could have time to write and record, you know, but whatever it calls for, I guess.

F: You’re working on new music.

SC: Yah, it’s coming. It’s slow, it’s coming a lot slower this time, but we’re working on stuff. We’re lining up recording times right now because what we’re going to do instead of doing a full album next, we’re going to, ove ra period of 8-9 months, release singles done by different producers, done digitally and also on 7″ with B-side recordings. It’s going to be kind of like a throw-back thing, more of like what they did in the 40s and 50s. So people will get a little bit at a time, which I htink kind of works for this digital media age that we live in now anyways, I think that kind of makes more sense to peoples’ attention spans now, than what a full album release does. It also makes more sense, I think. It’s not like I don’t like doing full albums, I love doing full albums. I like that a lot, but it’s getting to a point where people don’t buy albums; they burn them off their friends and get them illegally off the internet, or they download them of iTunes, which iTunes is good, but some of these other sites that sell them, like Amazon for example, sells my album for like $5, and I don’t know how they do that, but they do.

F: But you still get full royalties.

SC: I don’t know if I do … I don’t really know how it works, honestly. I know that it’s something through Sony. So maybe Sony’s not getting paid or something? I don’t really know how that Amazon thing works. But a lot of people do that, so … albums really don’t make money for artists anymore, and so they end up spending all this money on making an album, recording it, printing it, then they never get any of that back. They never recoup any of that. I think this way, people are more likeyly to say, “I have $3-4 to buy a 7” or something like that. Then it becomes a more gradual payment. People are more readily able to buy a 99 cent single download than they can $9.99 full CD download. I don’t know. We’re just trying something new, seeing if it works out any better.

It’s also a better model for me right now too, just because of like the way I’ve been writing lately, which has been slowly so this kind of lets it be no so overwhelming about thinking about “I need to write 11 songs for an album.” This way, I can think about having 3-4 songs for the next 3-4 recording sessions, and then I can focus on the next 3-4 songs.

F: Do you have free time? What do you like to do in your free time?

SC: Free time … yah, I’ve got free time. I mean, I guess I’ve got free time. Probably have more free time than the average person actually. When you’re touring, you’re in the car a lot, so that’s I guess free time cuz you’re not really doing anything but you CAN’T do anything cuz you’re just driving. When I’m at home, I guess I have free time. I don’t know if I’m the wisest user of free time. I do read a lot, and I started painting a lot this winter but more out of necessity. I like painting, but I needed to sell some paintings so I could get some money, so it was more out of necessity.

F: Did you do the album art for “Songs in the Night”?

SC: No, that’s actually a friend of mine from Oklahoma City named Chad Mount. He’s a painter, and he did that album.

F: What about Confiscation?

SC: Yah. The first printing of COnfiscation, I did the cover for that.

F: I think that’s the one I have, which sadly I couldn’t find because I actually have physical CDs. I mean, it’s cool that you can download them too, but to have CDs? I tried the download model for a while …

SC: I know that there are people that do like CDs. I’m one of them. I like to have physical CDs too, but it just so happens that I gues sthere are more people that don’t, and they’re ruining it for everyone else.

F: I know! Jerks! So, what is the most random CD you have in your collection?

SC: Oooh … most random CD …

F: Obscure, random …

PH: Do Vinyls count?

F: Sure.

PH: French Girls?

SC: Oh yah! That’s pretty random. I got this vinyl album back in January called “60 French Girls Can’t Be Wrong,” and it’s a choral CD from the late 60s of this French girl’s choir singing 30s and 40s pop tunes. It’s actually really awesome. It’s pretty random why I would have that in my collection. But I have embarrassing stuff that I’m not embarrassed about things, like Hanson, Britney Spears …

F: I think everyone has those kinds of CDs.

SC: Yah. I have them, and I’m not embarrassed by them.

F: I had Weird Al …

SC: Oh. Umm … yah. I don’t have that. (Laughs)

F: Well, thanks for your time! Good luck tonight.

SC: No problem!

===================

So, some comments about the convo. The thing that struck me is just how down to earth she is. She sat on the couch and chatted with me and my wife as if it were no problem … probably because it *was* no problem. She’s friendly, her smile could warm Barrow, Alaska in January, and she effortlessly carries a conversation like we’re long lost friends catching up.

Her star is rising at a meteoric rate, yet she doesn’t wait for the world to come to her; she goes and takes the world as it is and recognizes what needs to be done to make her dream stick. I point to the part of the conversation about working in the pizza place. She makes this incredible music, does all kinds of interviews with all kinds of organizations and magazines, goes on tour, THEN goes home and works at the local pizza place so she can go back out on tour, borrowing her parent’s car?! Come on. That’s NOT a success story? I 100% disagree. I think it is THE success story against which all other success stories should be measured. Why? Easy: she’s fighting tooth and nail to keep her dream alive. She goes on tour, then comes home and goes back to a normal, every day life, and thinks absolutely nothing of it. Nothing is being handed to her. Well, almost nothing. This is the other part that I just love: her parents lend her a car so she can go on tour, while her mom goes without to give her girl the dream she so desperately fights for. Yah. That’s success.

If she comes to your part of the world, make an effort to see her show. You will be a better person for having gone.

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. 🙂

Announcing the Frissonic YouTube Channel!

Seriously, I have no idea why it took me so long to think of this, but it did, and I could smack myself for it. I still might. Anyway, I set up a channel on YouTube for the videos I shoot at concerts and other miscellaneous music-related stuff.

You can follow me here!

Right now, I have a bunch of U2 songs posted from the Salt Lake City show. I’ll be adding some Samantha Crain material in June. I’m *really* excited for that show!

Also, read some exciting news about the new iPhone coming down the pike, possibly in September. It very well may have a 10MP camera and do 1080p HD! I hope the CMOS sensor doesn’t suck. I’d rather have a 5 MP camera that does 1080 and the pictures look good than trying to cram a bunch of megapixels in a sensor that can’t hold them. Maybe I’m showing my ignorance as to how digital cameras work, but I don’t think I’m too far off here. Guess we’ll find out in September. 🙂

Anyway, hope you all enjoy the videos.

Great Shows Coming My Way

June 11 is going to be an awesome day. Took a bit longer than I wanted, but I finally bought ’em: I now have in my possession two tickets to the Samantha Crain show. She’s coming to the Urban Lounge with Langhorne Slim. I’m hoping she’ll be able to do an in-store show at Graywhale, but we’ll see. I’m sure she’ll have a busy schedule.

Just saw that Death Cab for Cutie plays the Maverick Center August 22nd. Ha ha. I almost got suckered into getting tix from this site at those ridiculous prices. Tix are $29-33 on Ticketmaster. Glad I double checked. Sale starts Saturday morning. I know what I’ll be doing at 10 am …

And as if this summer’s concerts couldn’t get any better, we already have tix to U2 on May 24th. They were supposed to play Rice Eccles last June, but Bono had some back issue, so they rescheduled. Can’t wait!

Wonder who else is coming …

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!!!!

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 …

New Music Friday. Literally

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve written about the Friday pick-ups from Graywhale. Blame my lack of … something. One problem I’m running into is that I generally try to rip my new music either the day of or at least over that weekend. Well, ha ha ha … guess whose optical drive is in a non-functional state. Go ahead.

Okay, there’s generally no connection between the two. So really, I don’t know why I haven’t written about the additions. Allow me to make up for it today.

If you’re expecting a long list, you’re going to be disappointed. However, if you’re in to quality music and new releases from semi-/established artists, you’re going to LOVE this week’s list.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Jesca Hoop’s “new” CD was actually released internationally in November of last year. That does not at all take away from the fact that her new CD is just as sonically inspiring and vocally lulling. Hunting My Dress was released domestically this past Tuesday in quality music stores (effectively ruling out Walmart, Blockbuster, Target, etc … not that those are quailty places to get ANYthing, but whatever), such as Graywhale.  

So here’s the list for today:

  • Jesca Hoop – Hunting My Dress
  • Samantha Crain – You (Understood)
  • Sera Cahoone – Only As the Day Is Long
  • The Ms – Future Women
  • Interpol – Our Love To Admire
  • The Reverend Horton Heat – Smoke ’em If you Got ’em
  • Reverend Horton Heat – Revival

Sometimes, it’s all about quality vs. quantity.

My man Kyle hooked me up with Windham Hill Chill Vols. 1 and 2 as well for the cost of nothing. Thanks, Kyle! He also threw me a free movie pass for “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.” The screening in a bit of a drive from my house, but it’d be worth it, right? Free movie? Just need popcorn. Yah. Pretty cool.

I’m stoked that Samantha Crain has a new CD out. Surprised, too. I didn’t see anything about it anywhere! Now that I check her site, it’s all over the place (of course).

Diane Birch – Bible Belt

I was in Barnes & Noble just because. I’m not a fan of buying movies or CDs there because they’re ridiculously over-priced. A perfect example is this Yellowstone: Battle for Life blu-ray disc (yes … I bought it). On my iphone, I have that awesome red laser app that zaps the bar code of books, CDs, movies … pretty much anything. It pulls back the cheapest local and online prices. The B&N I was in charged 24.99. If I weren’t so tired and had thought to actually use the app, I could have saved at least $5 by pointing out that their other store 3 miles away had the exact same show for $5 less. Alas, I had it out of the cellophane before I even thought of using the app. Oh well. Lesson learned.

Another thing I saw sitting on one of the end caps was a CD that was in Amazon’s “If you like ‘X’ artist, you might like ‘Y.’ As I was checking out Samantha Crain’s discography (which is really just her Songs in the Night CD and a 5-song EP), I noticed that Amazon “recommended” Diane Birch’s Bible Belt CD. I added it on my list of things to possibly check out.

Back to B&N. On one of their end caps was Diane’s CD for $10.99. I though, “Why not …?” so I picked it up too. Came back to work and threw it in the CD player.

First off, the difference in styles between Samantha Crain and Diane Birch are vast enough that I don’t see how they’re even making the recommendation. Samantha Crain is as unique as a green diamond. That’s in musical style, vocals … the whole package is a style unto itself.

By way of comparison, Diane Birch takes a page from the soul/gospel/50s. To be fair, I guess the title “Bible Belt” should have been at least a hint of what to expect. But after linking her to Samantha Crain, I could not have been more surprised at the disparity in styles.

Now … having said all that, I will admit that I find this CD relaxing and refreshing. Yes, her style is not at all unique. No, she doesn’t bring anything particularly ground-breaking to the table. Does she need to? No. Most artists don’t. Tune in to your local “alternative” music station to hear the same song over and over and over. 🙂 However, what she does offer is a gift of composition that is well-layered. She has a varied list of instruments that are scattered over the whole CD. Electric guitar, piano, bass, violin, trumpet, Hammond organ, tamborine … some tracks even have whole horn and/or string sections. She wrote every note on every song. That’s talent. Enya does the same thing, although with a much larger arsenal of instruments. However, Birch is only 27. She has some time to catch up.

She could be at home in Nashville, Montgomery Alabama, Atlanta or in Dixie. She could be just as at home in your local church choir.

Here’s the thing I find interesting. This is her first CD. She has a *lot* of potential. It will be a privilege to follow her career.

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