Backstreet Boys > N*Sync
I don’t know about you, but I was a BSB girl back in the day (N*Sync who?). Millennium was the first album I ever owned (sorry Britney), and if last.fm scrobbling and the Internet had existed back then, you best believe the Backstreet Boys would be the #1 top scrobbled artist on my charts.
Clearly Ryan Hemsworth knows what’s up. (90s throwbacks, boy bands, remixes, and Amanda “I’m suing everyone” Bynes.) Chopping up BSB’s 1999 hit, “Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely,” amidst stuttering electronic beats and the ever-classic “Amanda please!”, the Halifax, Nova Scotia native gets the nostalgia levels pumpin’ so well that I’m almost left wanting to hear more of the original chorus. But really, it’s the feel good boy band harmonies and flamenco guitar juxtaposed against blitz claps, warped synths, and quick start-stops that makes for bumpin’-thumpin’-fist-pumpin’ good time.
Hello 1999, how nice of the self-professed Remix Ryan Gosling to usher you into the sample-heavy, nostalgia-infused 21st century. #Backstreetsbackalright!
You can download the track here by tweeting (just close the pop-up window and download away if you don’t have twitter) or by clicking the link above!
I used to have a serious aversion to remixes (“ORIGINAL 4EVER”), but I’ve now chalked that up to being young and very very confused. (Never) quit playing (remix) games with my heart, Hemsworth.
For fans of: Twin Sister, Oberhofer, Cults, Summer Camp
Sounds like: hearing your neighbor’s noisy 90s party through the wall and not getting mad because you know they’re all probably wearing neon windbreakers and spandex over there
I downloaded Pandercakes‘ debut EP Paint By Numbers last week and finally got around to listening to it on this beautifully sunny and abnormally warm day, and I’ve got to say–how fitting! The Columbia, South Carolina 4-piece surprised me with the diversity on this record. They describe their music as “fogpop,” and I guess it makes sense: their sound is bright, upbeat, intricate, and definitively pop under a layer of reverb and noise. Thing is, their bouncy melodies mask the rather grim ‘oh-so-this-is-life’ type lyrics. It’s in an interesting contrast. Also, who can resist boy-girl vocals (god knows I can’t)?!
You’re telling me when a tiny pin can break the skin so easily, that your soul will never die. I’d like to see all the evidence behind your arrogance. (“Fogwalk”)
“André Breton” is the only track where they really rein in their sunshine fogpop (is that an oxymoron?), but it’s a nice slowed-down departure to end off Paint By Numbers. It’s like a sunshower! (Y’know, when it rains while the sun is still shining.)
Overall, something about their melodies just makes me think college–but more so the riding-in-cars-during-the-summertime-in-between-college-semesters kind of college picture than beer pong or all nighters. CHEER! SMILES! SUN! OPTIMISM! (Along with a healthy dose of “but, hi– this is reality, don’t forget” lyrics). It’s a nice counter to Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness.”
Listen and download the EP for *free* below!
Thanks to Coma Cinema for this recommendation, and thank you, Internet, for everything else.
If you know me (I’ll assume you don’t), you’ll know that I’m not much for belt-y, powerhouse vocals; I’m more keen on whisper-sweet serenades that require you to almost lean in (even if you’ve got headphones on).
Priscilla Ahn more than checked off that box for me when I first came across her sparse ‘girl with a guitar and a loop and sometimes a harmonica’ easy listening tunes. I caught her at the Drake back in 2009, and sitting cross-legged on the floor with everyone else in tiny venue, there was a collective hush over the crowd and everyone was actually leaning in.
Now she’s back with Sweet Hearts, a duo project with fellow musician Charlie Wadhams, and they’ve just released their mellow, mushy, and blush-worthy self-titled EP for free download just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Or if you’re a single lady (“all the single ladies, all the single ladies, all the single ladies, now put your hands up!”), why not celebrate Galentine’s Day à la Leslie Knope?
Guys, you can follow suit. And then on the 14th, cozy up with a glass of wine, some cheese, a mirror, and celebrate a little good, healthy narcissism. Celebrate you! (It’ll be like your birthday except better because you’re not a year older!)
Oh sweetheart, when I see you again, you’re never gonna let me go. That’s right, you’ll always be my dearest friend. My, my, I’ll love you till the day I die.
Put on Sweet Hearts’ EP, gaze into your own eyes (that’s what the mirror’s for) and pretend all the lyrics are about you. It’s the new affirmation nation.
[Download]: Sweet Hearts’ EP here by entering your email address!
It’s been a bit of a whirlwind for Guelph, Ontario dream-pop duo Memoryhouse. Having just self-releasing their digital EP The Years the year before (2010), Sub Pop quickly snatched them up in them in 2011, remastered the EP, added a couple of new tracks, and re-released it–this time with a full-fledged physical release (cd and vinyl).
Their debut full-length, entitled The Slideshow Effect, is due out February 28. “Walk With Me,” the second single from the album, dropped today and is available for the price of an email address (so basically, it’s free)! The cuts that we’ve heard from the new LP thus far are little more uptempo than their predecessors, slightly more sonically optimistic, and much easier to sing along to–which is actually quite fitting since it’s still relatively early into new year and we’re (maybe) still stickin’ to our resolutions and laughably idealistic notions.
The lead single “The Kids Were Wrong” is also available below for less than a penny. With all the controversy surrounding SOPA and PIPA, you really begin to appreciate the exchange of an email address for a track. Commodity exchange for the new age. Oh the beauty of free (or is it “free”?) legal downloads!
The recent couple years have seen an uprising of lo-fi bedroom musicians (see: Youth Lagoon, Coma Cinema) and when Brad Oberhofer appeared on the scene in 2010 unsigned and with a free EP for download, he was no different.
“Heart,” the first single from Oberhofer’s debut LP Time Capsules II (out March 27), is a departure from the reverb-laden fuzz-filled soundscape that we’ve come to identify with him. From the crisp and clear opening notes of a solitude piano to the addition of orchestral strings towards the end, it’s immediately clear that Oberhofer (now signed to Glassnote) is heading in a new, bigger direction. I’ll admit that I was a bit skeptical at first upon hearing that he was going polish up his sound for his full-length, because I worried that it might lose the youthful fervor and frenetic energy of the o0Oo0Oo EP that really caught my attention.
Everything’s a little more pristine and little more calculated and thought out, but the youthful energy (albeit a little more mature) is still there bubbling under the surface, so I think I’m coming around to it. After all, we all have to grow up some time, right? Besides, that signature throaty Oberhofer yelp embedded in mix at the 30-second mark of “Heart” gave me my sigh of relief and kind of sort of won me over.
[MP3]: Oberhofer – “HEART”
They say the best things in life are free, and in the case of Coma Cinema, that saying holds up.
Mat Cothran, the guy behind this gem of a music find, equates music to something like oxygen, saying that it would be ridiculous to charge for the air we breathe so why charge for something as vital as music?
Accordingly, all three of Coma Cinema’s full-length records are available for free download on
the official band website (he recently retired that .org, so now you can download all the albums on his bandcamp). What sets Cothran apart from other musicians who do the pay-what-you-want thing (which is effectively a “free” download since the majority opt not to pay) is that he doesn’t even accept donations, stating on his page that “If you feel the need to compensate us, we only ask that you share the music with others.”
I don’t know what it was about this song that made me stop and focus into it as I mindlessly went through Coma Cinema’s catalog while studying for exams. Maybe it was the simplicity of the instrumentation with its lowly guitar picking or maybe it was the barely above a whisper talk-singing or maybe it was just the fact that it was a mere minute and a half long and thus able to keep my short attention span.
Or it could have been the fact that he said, “I am not afraid…even my fear’s in love with you,” and I thought it was simple and mundane yet startlingly beautiful and incredibly profound all at once.
Either way, I’ve been listening to it on repeat.
[MP3]: Coma Cinema – “Daffodils” (from Baby Prayers)
“Daffodils” hooked me in after a second listen. It didn’t stop my in my tracks like “Monica,” but I’ll chalk it up to my absentminded listening habits. The collage of sounds–especially the contrast of the clean guitar picking layered over the gritty feedback noise (?)–creates an intriguing backstory to the muffled vocals.
Coma Cinema’s tracks are catchy and only last an average of about 2 minutes or so, so I can guarantee that you’ll be listening to each record on repeat, wishing they were longer. (I know I have!) Cothran’s DIY mentality (not so much his music) reminds me a little of Oberhofer, if comparisons had to be made.
The vocals aren’t perfect and the recordings are hazy with noise and the drums are reminiscent of garage jamming, but I think that’s the point. It’s music for the sake of music, not for profit or anything else; it music made out of necessity because it’s begging to come out.
[DOWNLOAD]: Head on over to comacinema.bandcamp.com!
Fleet Foxes’ highly regarded sophomore album, Helplessness Blues, was released May 3, but that isn’t stopping Sub Pop from giving away another freebie: “Grown Ocean.“
[MP3]: Fleet Foxes – “Grown Ocean” (right-click, save as)
If you haven’t already, you can also grab the lead single and title track that was given away as a teaser to the band’s second LP.
Fleet Foxes’ frontman Robin Pecknold also took to twitter a while ago to showcase 3 tracks he’d previously recorded in California while on a break, one of which features Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste.
The moment I saw that We Are Trees had a song entitled “Dear Chan Marshall,” I was all ‘hell yeah, I’m up for the ride.’ (I’m a huge Cat Power fan and any reference to her will get me giddy.) That fact alone, for me, warranted them a listen–and I was not disappointed. (more…)
[LISTEN]: Russian Red – “I Hate You But I Love You”
Last time I spoke with Russian Red (Lourdes Hernandez) back in the 2010, she mentioned that she was hoping to start recording the new record this year. Since then, she has played a couple of shows in the States and released “I Hate You But I Love You”–the first single off her highly anticipated sophomore record. Here debut, I Love Your Glasses, came out in 2008, so it’s been long while, and I’m incredibly excited to hear her new material.
Fuerteventura is the name of her forthcoming album, slated for release in Spring 2011 (according to her website, vinyl ships out on May 11, 2011). Below is a little preview or behind-the-scenes of the making of the album. To be honest, I had no idea what she was saying (Spanish, duh), but I watched the whole thing anyway to get a sneak peek of some of her new songs.
[LISTEN]: Russian Red – “Fuerteventura”
Russian Red just recently announced via her Facebook that you can download the second single and the album’s namesake “Fuerteventura” for the price of an email (it’s basically free) FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY over here in English or Spanish. Enjoy!
I’m in the middle of writing an essay, but I just couldn’t wait any longer to share Angel Olsen with everyone. I’m a little late to the party on this one as she released her debut cassette (yes, cassette–you read right) Strange Cacti via Bathetic Records last year, but I don’t even care; I’m just happy I found her.
“Creator, you destroy me. You know my hunger well and yet you starve me until I’m begging on my knees.”
Sometimes you just feel it–a connection, an emotion, a surprisingly familiarity–when you listen to a new musician for the first time. I felt it when I heard Angel Olsen. It was something I felt when I first listened to Joni Mitchell (the two are nothing are alike, but still), Sharon Van Etten, and Marissa Nadler. There’s this innate and immediate understanding, and it’s ever so beautiful.
Her sound is lo-fi and organic and effortlessly sincere; everything’s raw. There’s a throwback feel almost as if these recordings were made in the 60s and resurrected. “Some Things Cosmic” sounds like something your grandparents might have listened to.
BUY: STRANGE CACTI 12″
[Mp3]: The Kills – “DNA” (right-click, save as / control + click, save link as)
The enigmatic grunge blues rock duo of the Kills‘ “Hotel” (Jamie Hince) and “VV” (Alison Mosshart) have already released the first single off Blood Pressures–“Satellite”–along with its accompanying video, announced the first leg of their tour in support of the album, and shown off the record’s album art (pictured above). Now they’ve jumped on the “free track” trend with a no-fee download of second single, “DNA.”
On the first listen, I have to say I’m partial to the crunchy guitar work and overall frenetic fuzz and grittiness of “Satellite.”
“DNA” is much more down-tempo in comparison, but it’s the type of slinky song you could imagine a gang of leather and vintage-clad badasses with perfectly messied up ‘just-got-out-of-bed-hair’ strutting down a dimly lit street to in slow motion. I think it’s a track that I’ll grow to love more and more with each listen.
With two strong singles, the anticipation is definitely building up for the Kills’ April 5 release date (via Domino) of Blood Pressures, and I cannot wait.
[MP3]: Little Scream – “Cannons” (click arrow on the right to download)
Montreal-based Laurel Sprengelmeyer (under the moniker Little Scream) has already gifted us with a free download of “Heron and the Fox” (featuring guitar work from The National’s Aaron Dessner), the first single off her debut album The Golden Record. But I guess the Canadian spirit has really rubbed off on the Mississippi native, because now she’s also giving away her second single, “Cannons.”
If you aren’t a (physical) album collector like I am, you’ll be happy to know that her album is out today exclusively on iTunes. Yes…you can purchase it today. But if you must get your hands on the jewel casing (or perhaps digipak or vinyl) and artwork, then you’ll have to wait until April 11 (Europe) or April 12 (North America).
Lia Ices’ willowy vocals waft effortlessly across the opening moments of “Love Is Won,” piercing the quiet, backed only by simple piano chords, heavily-reverbed like the thick condensation of air above a lake at summer’s dawn. It is a fitting introduction to the avant-garde pop songstress, as her voice is her greatest instrument. Like a swift seductress in murky waters, her barely-above-a-whisper coos resonate throughout the subtle orchestrations on “Little Marriage,” in a wispy, lilting fashion, embellished with bells and finger snaps. Though Grown Unknown does begin to feel slightly redundant in its form towards the end, with mellow, mid-tempo avant ballads sandwiched between more of the same, Ices’ sophomore effort sees her develop her own voice. Rather than echo the safety of the piano-based singer-songwriter vibe that permeated debut Necima, she shows a more solid understanding of herself as an artist, experimenting with wider, vaster soundscapes. Captivating standout tracks “Grown Unknown” and “Daphne,” (feauting Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon) play to Ices’ greatest strengths, embracing her more experimental leanings atop interesting instrumental backdrops. Ultimately, Lia Ices’ voice is the main attraction. It is, in effect, the conductor guiding the instrumentation and the siren captivating by injecting an ethereal, effervescent vitality and experimental avant-garde lean into an otherwise familiar and tired formula.
[MP3]: Lia Ices – “Grown Unknown”
L.A.-based Priscilla Ahn is gearing up for the release of her sophomore album and follow-up to 2008’s A Good Day with a free download of the lead single off When You Grow Up (out May 3 via Blue Note Records).
Back in high school, I had a serious Hotel Cafe phase. It’s a small venue in Los Angeles that has been home to many of my favourite singer-songwriters, like Joshua Radin, Meiko, Rachel Yamagata, Sara Bareilles, and the list goes on. It’s always fascinated me how each city has their own little music scene, much like Nashville’s Ten out of Tenn–a collective with a rotating roster of amazing and like-minded musicians and friends. (Fun fact: The Civil War’s Joy Williams, Madi Diaz, Katie Herzig, and Erin McCarley were all part of Ten out of Tenn once upon a time.)
Anyway, the Hotel Cafe used to put on a tour of current and past resident musicians, aptly entitled the Hotel Cafe Tour, and the line-up was always to die for. I vowed that one day, I would go to L.A. and check out this iconic venue.
Priscilla Ahn was one of the musicians that really caught my attention. The simplicity of her music, the looped vocals/harmonies, the pureness of her voice, and the nostalgic songs created the perfect company on nights when it was hard to fall asleep. Her music has the ability to lull you to sleep, not out of boredom, but out of sheer warmness, much like how it felt to fall asleep on the car ride home and be carried into your bedroom and tucked into bed by your parents when you were a child. It’s a sort of reminiscing serum that calls back to childhood, and isn’t that something we could all use from time to time?
I was lucky enough to catch her show at the Drake two years ago, and she had completely enraptured the audience. I’m really excited for When You Grow Up, because it seems as if Ahn is moving away from the childhood aspects and more into the experiences that overtake us in adulthood. And now that I’m 21, I’m ready for the ride.
All I have to say is, thank the Lord for NPR! Bored and on a “study break” last week (who am I kidding, the whole day was a long study break), I thought I’d check out some new World Cafe Sessions on NPR, and lo and behold there was feature on the Best Sessions of 2010. So of course, I downloaded it. I already knew of the other artists featured (Beach House, Phosphorescent, Ray Lamontagne, Minus the Bear), but I thought I’d check out some band called Villagers anyway. Because, you know, I’ll give a listen to almost anything on NPR at least once.
Well, my friends, I’m glad I did. From the opening guitar strumming to the ubiquitous folk “ooohs,” I knew I’d at least think the song was alright. But when his voice came in and the lyrics hit, “Twenty-Seven Strangers” had me frozen in a state of rapture (I kid you not) (more…)
I’ll just come right out and say it now: the Bon Iver comparisons are kind of inevitable with James Vincent McMorrow. Some have already dubbed him Dublin’s answer to the wispy-voiced Justin Vernon.
From the opening notes of “If I Had A Boat,” the familiar sounds are there. And I’m not going to lie…Justin Vernon was the first thing that came to my mind. Regardless, it is a beautiful track that had me right from the beginning.
Yes, if you were to simply judge McMorrow based on this song and nothing more, the echos of Justin Vernon are quite evident–glaring even. But if you were to delve further and really listen to his music–like his recently released debut, Early In the Morning–you’d find that he is a different artist with a little bit more of a folk lean.
Sure, they both have impossibly luscious and husky voices and have a penchant for layers of falsetto harmonies–but the similarities pretty much end there. His voice is also reminiscent of James Morrison’s at times (“We Don’t Eat”), if we were to be so keen on comparisons.
[MP3]: James Vincent McMorrow – “We Don’t Eat” (right-click, save as)
After going through a bit more of his catalogue, I find the main difference between the two artists to be in the instrumentation. Both sing from emotional depths, but Bon Iver creates more sparse, yet sweeping, atmospheric experiences, while McMorrow relies more on the devices of the singer-songwriter.
Still, if you like Bon Iver, it’s a pretty good bet you’ll dig James Vincent McMorrow.
[MP3]: Heidi Spencer & The Rare Birds – “Alibi” (right-click, save as)
“No one needs to know we laid around all day.”
All day, every day, that’s pretty much my theory. And if your first thought when seeing her name was Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt (from The Hills), you weren’t alone. If not, I should cut back on my celebrity gossip. MTV is terrible.
“Alibi” is a nice, simple, mellow song I came across and thought I’d share. Sometimes it’s nice when things aren’t too complicated; sometimes you need that. (Also, I like how you can hear a single finger-snap on some beats.) It’s the first single off Milwaukee’s Heidi Spencer & the Rare Birds‘ album, Under Streetlight Glow (due out March 27 via Bella Union). Hope you enjoy!
“I was raised up believing I was some how unique. Like a snowflake, distinct among snowflakes, unique in each way you could see. And now after some thinking, I’d say I’d rather be a functioning cog in some great machinery, serving something beyond but me.”
Looks like a 3-year hiatus is common for bands (but just 3 years–no longer, no shorter), because like the Kills, Fleet Foxes are now back out of the woodwork with a new track. “Helplessness Blues,” the first single off their sophomore LP of the same name (due out May 3 via Sub Pop/Bella Union), is up for free download, and you will not be disappointed.
On their latest track, Robin Pecknold and his beard-loving Seattle folk-rock band are back to making the tight, sweet-sounding harmonies they’ve come to be known for, which makes it even harder to accept the fact that we’ve all been missing out on their beautiful music for 3 years. Cascading with harmonies crafted to be sung on some mountain in the wilderness, it sounds as though production is little sharper and clearer than on their critically-lauded self-titled debut, and I’m gladly taking it all in.
Really, this couldn’t get any more perfect unless they sang this high atop some mountain so their voices echoed while I closed my eyes and spun around a la Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. Yup. Sophomore slump? What sophomore slump? Enjoy! (And I’m sure you will.)
[MP3]: Fleet Foxes – “Helplessness Blues”
*To download, click on the arrow on the right hand side of the player.
You’ll like them if you like: Ray Lamontagne, sitting by the fire with a cup of tea, roasted walnuts, syrup on blueberry pancakes (or just pancakes in general), The Swell Season, boy-girl vocals that melt seamlessly into one another.
I’ve previously mentioned The Civil Wars in an ON THE VERGE feature as an up-and-coming band about to make the big leagues, and boy was I right. The folksy duo of Joy Williams and John Paul White were the first musicians to have a song of theirs (“Poison & Wine”) played in its entirety on Grey’s Anatomy, they recently played Jay Leno’s The Tonight Show, and they’ve been featured in Paste Magazine; basically, they been popping up everywhere–and all before the release of their debut LP, Barton Hollow (out Feb. 1 via Sensibility Music). All the attention they’ve gotten is not without good reason: these two have real, unadulterated talent–and they have substance.
Now to add to the hype, they’ve offered up the lead single of the same name off their forthcoming album for free download! And if you haven’t already downloaded their free live album, Live at Eddie’s Attic, (which is what first got them noticed and garnered them fans–hint hint, independent musicians!) just head on over here to pick up your free copy! Also, I got a chance to listen to the full album when they were streaming it earlier today from 12-1 pm. Verdict: Heavenly.
I apologize for the lack of updates recently. I’ve been incredibly swamped with school and…well, school. You know how it is. Anyway, on to business…Lykke Li.
Another remix of her single, “I Follow Rivers” has popped up–this time by TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek. That guy likes to bury vocals and use horns (as evidenced by his production on Holly Miranda’s The Magician’s Private Library), so of course there’s a full horn/brass section on this remix (which I find a bit abrasive). Personally, I prefer the original and The Magician remix better, but that’s just me–you can decide for yourself!
The indie darling has also released a video entitled, “Untitled.” I’m not sure if it’s an EPK for the album, or an introduction track of sorts–but the again I have no idea what’s going on in the video itself. Let’s just say it involves a big white dog, sand, knives, lots of flailing around and stabbings of knives into the sand, a deck of cards, and artistry with a switchblade. And all that while wearing five-inch white stilettos.
You’ll like them if you like: Bat for Lashes, zombiefied Florence + the Machine, Ouija boards, Warpaint, Zola Jesus, those stupid ghost hunting tv shows.
Must listen to: “Lucia, at the Precipice,” “About This Peninsula,”
Esben & the Witch are descending upon North America and are on a warpath, ready to take on anything and everyone with the release of their debut full-length, Violet Cries (via Matador). But you can stream the entire album below before its Feb. 8 US/Canada release date! The Brighton three-piece first popped up on the radar when they offered their self-released EP 33 for free download. Their dark, brooding, and ominous creations embedded with the dragged out vocals of Rachel Davies caught the attention of The xx, who they later toured with; they’ve also toured with Foals.
[LISTEN]: Esben & the Witch – “About This Peninsula” (from 33)
“About This Peninsula” was the first track of theirs that I heard, and to me, its instrumentation (specifically the guitar work) sounded very reminiscent of Warpaint’s Exquisite Corpse EP (which I adore). Plus they have English accents and used the word “folly,” “peninsula,” and mentioned “Icarus”! Ding ding ding–hooked!
They’ll be playing Toronto’s Wrongbar for Canadian Music Week on March 11 (on the same bill a Guelph’s Memoryhouse), so it should be an amazingly atmospheric (and creepy) show. You can check out their full tour dates below!
Just a tip–if you’re afraid of the dark, ghosts, or are just easily scared in general, do no listen to this album before you go to sleep. (“Battlecry/Mimicry” is especially unsettling.) Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Tour Dates (more…)
You will like her if you like: Land of Talk, crunchy guitars, Epic-phase Sharon Van Etten, ominous sounds, Rosie Thomas
[MP3]: Little Scream – “Heron and the Fox” (right-click, save as)
“I told the stripper at the bar that the shots we got were magic. Make a wish and they’ll come true. As she smiled, her golden tooth glinted in the light, and I wondered what she wished for; I just wished for you.”
I haven’t posted in a while, because school’s been swallowing me up whole, so I thought I’d make a short post with a track I’m currently obsessed with. “Heron and the Fox” is one Little Scream’s more mellow tracks, with barely above a whisper vocals and guitar picking contributed by none other than Aaron Dessner of The National. How could it get any better, right? You can click here to listen to her two other tracks: the fervent “Cannon” and ominous woodland aura of “The Lamb.”
A Montreal transplant from Mississippi, Little Scream (aka Laurel Sprengelmeyer) is about to release her debut full-length, The Golden Record (due out April 12 via Outside Music/Secretly Canadian). According to the press release, the record is brimming with the golden touch (ha ha) of local talent:
“Co-produced with Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire, Bell Orchestre), The Golden Record features Little Scream on guitar, vocals, violin, and keyboard. In typical Montreal fashion, it showcases a healthy slice of local talent including Richard Parry, Mike Fuerstack (Snailhouse), Becky Foon (Silver Mt. Zion), Patty McGee (Stars), and Sarah Neufeld (Arcade Fire, Bell Orchestre).”
The next couple months will be extra busy as she starts touring in support of the release. In February she will be doing a short tour of Toronto and its neighboring cities with Julie Doiron. Then in March, Little Scream will play a CMW (Canadian Music Week) showcase, a couple shows with Plants & Animals, and then head stateside for SXSW. Right after that, she’ll be touring with Sharon Van Etten.
I could’ve easily listed Sprengelmeyer as another artist “On the Verge” this year, but I opted for this shorter version instead (though it grew into a long post anyway); either way, count her in and file her under “Ones to Watch”–she will definitely making waves. Check out her tour dates below!
Tour Dates (more…)
WHO: Lia Ices
WHERE: Brooklyn, NY
CONNECT THE DOTS: Friends w/ Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon (who sings on “Daphne”); currently touring with The Besnard Lakes, The Cave Singers
CLAIM TO FAME: When Jagjaguwar snatched her up last year
YOU WILL LIKE HER IF YOU LIKE: Going for walks in forests, daydreaming, cloud-watching, fairies
FOR FANS OF: Bon Iver, Bat for Lashes, Glasser, Lykke Li, Cat Power
This one’s been sitting around in my drafted posts for a while, and with her album, Grown Unknown, coming out Jan. 25, I figured now would be as good a time as any to pull it off the shelve. Truth be told, I had never even heard of Lia Ices until it had been announced that she had been courted and wooed by consistently spot-on major indie label, Jagjaguwar in August 2010. She has already has one record under her belt: 2008’s Necima (out on Rare Book Room Records), which you can hear in its entirety over here.
Labels (or at least indie labels) are finally starting to catch on by offering up free “samplers”–legal downloads from artists–so that people are able to get a little taste before taking the plunge and buying the album (if anyone still does that anymore). Jagjaguwar has done a good job of this, by releasing lead single “Grown Unknown” for free legal download, and now, “Daphne” (which features Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon).
[MP3]: Lia Ices – “Grown Unknown” (right-click, save as)
Hand-claps and reverb-drenched vocals in “Grown Unknown” create a sea and cave-like atmosphere, like a siren singing her song, beckoning the sailors.
[MP3]: Lia Ices – “Daphne” (feat. Bon Iver) (right-click, save as)
“Daphne,” on the other hand, sees her as a woodland fairy, nimbly peeking from behind the moss-covered trunks of towering thousand-year-old trees. With the urgent shift around the 2:40 minute mark, Lia Ices and Justin Vernon’s (Bon Iver) vocals blend together seamlessly, intertwining, accompanied by piano and electric guitar; the turnaround is stunning. I’m an incredibly visual person, so these are just the images that flutter through my mind as I listen to her music.
Ultimately, it’s her voice that draws the you in. Lia Ices has a voice that is a quivering and lilting, timid wisp, with a certain mystic transparency about it. Her vocals flutter constantly, fading in and out, like the wavering remnants of something that was once there and now is no longer–like a hand reaching out to grab on to something that has already gone. Haunting and ethereal, it begs a closer listen and invites curiosity. And even after the song has ended, its ghost still lingers in the crevices of your mind, unseen and unheard, yet still present.
Too pretentious/convoluted/ambiguous a description? Oh well. My schedule is lacking in creative writing courses this semester, so you’ll just have to bear with me. Nevertheless, Lia Ices is one to watch in 2011, so keep an eye (and ear) out for her!
Also, if you like what you hear, show your appreciation by buying the record and supporting the musicians whose songs you listen to on repeat so that they can in turn make more music for you to love. I mean, that’s the least you can do, really.
[WATCH]: Lia Ices – “Half Life” (from Necima)
**Damn. Brooklyn really is a breeding ground for artistic talent (Sharon Van Etten, Oh Land, and Holly Miranda, just to name a few). New York, I can hear you calling my name. I’ll be there. I’ll see you in a year or two.
WHO: Charity Rose Thielen (vocals, violin, percussion), Chris Zasche (bass), Josiah Johnson (vocals, guitar, percussion), Jonathan Russell (vocals, guitar, percussion), Kenny Hensley (piano), Tyler Williams (drums)
WHERE: Seattle, Washington
CONNECT THE DOTS: Toured with Dr. Dog, Dave Matthews, Vampire Weekend
CLAIM TO FAME: They’re just really good. (Plus they just got signed to Sub Pop!)
YOU WILL LIKE THEM IF YOU LIKE: Husky male vocals, collectives, bearded men in plaid, log cabins
Seattle is a very luck state. Composed largely of Seattle transplants, The Head and the Heart was certainly the state’s best kept secret (up until now that is). I, myself, only discovered them this past summer (after finding their eponymous self-released full-length debut); but now that they’ve just been signed to Sub Pop Records, these guys are about definitely about to, for lack of better terms, “make it big.”
Crafting beautiful songs out of the heartache, they remind us not to dwell on the pains of sadness and instead focus on the beauty of it all. Just a bunch of friends singing around a proverbial bonfire, they’ve etched out a special little niche for themselves in a genre that seems overflowing. With a focus on instrumentation, their music is a seamless meshing of rustic harmonies, piano, percussion, acoustic guitar, violin, and yes–shakers. It’s a good ‘ol foot-stompin time.
Though I honestly don’t know too much about them as a band, but what I do know is that you should give them a listen. I guarantee you will like them. “Sounds like Hallelujah” was the first track of theirs that I heard, and damn, that transition to “Momma, don’t put no gun in my hand” really hooked me. “Down in the Valley” is another stunner, and you can now download it HERE, along with a new song, for the price of FREE (a.k.a. an email address), so there isn’t really a good reason not to check them out.