Archive for March, 2009

Lisa Hannigan

I have a soft spot for sweet (not scratchy) female vocals, like Victoria Bergsman, Lykke Li, Feist, Lenka, Yael Naim; all mentioned here at one time or another. Of course I like lots of other categories of female vocals (Aimee Mann, for example, straddles multiple genres for me), but the quietly breathy variety brings me back to the days when I could spend all day Sunday in bed with the newspaper and cup after cup of coffee, then tea. Well, I no longer can justify hours and hours of laying around “recharging”, or whatever that was, which makes the occasional 3 minute “mini-break” with an admittedly twee song that much more valuable.

Lisa Hannigan

Lisa Hannigan

Ireland’s Lisa Hannigan is a great new addition to my list. Of course, she wouldn’t be new to me had I been a fan of Damian Rice, who had featured her vocals since 2001. Having missed that boat, I was delighted to have tuned in to, of all things, The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, where Steven Colbert had Lisa as a guest on Monday night. She performed a song called “I Don’t Know”, which prompted some fun banter when Colbert asked her the title before the performance. Hear the beautiful CD version on her MySpace page, or watch this very watchable video:

In advance of the September Ireland release of her solo debut, Sea Sew, the song “Lille” was released as a free download on her website (where it’s now 89 pence, but I found it free online HERE), or watch another very watchable video (this one I couldn’t take my eyes off during first view):

This is the rare CD I recommend buying in its entirety, or just purchase it as a download for $7.99 HERE.

Other standout songs include “An Ocean And A Rock”, “Keep It All”, and “Sea Song”.

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Who needs oldies???

I had already decided upon the title of this post when Catherine Wheel’s “Black Metallic” (1992) came on my satellite radio. Okay, I stand corrected: an occasional oldie, preferably underappreciated and seldom heard, is a good thing. I’m sure “Black Metallic” still gets regular rotation on WFNX’s Leftover Lunch, but I’ve so long ago stopped listening to my local stations that I’m not really sure (generally too much late 90s grunge, not enough stuff from this – the 21st – century). Video being easier to post than mp3, here’s “Black Metallic” for those so inclined (I couldn’t bear to watch past 20 seconds, but I did listen).

The reason I might argue that there’s no need for oldies is the abundance of new music faithfully rooted in old genres. Take, for example, Dan Auerbach’s recent solo release, Keep It Hid.

Dan Auerbach

Dan Auerbach

As authentic to the delta blues as anything that the Allman Brothers, Creedence Clearwater Revival, or my beloved J. Geils Band ever did, yet offering  the freshness of discovery that only a new release can, Keep It Hid can be sampled at Dan’s MySpace page. Normally, authentic blues is not my cup of moonshine, and, true to my nature, it’s the track “Heartbroken In Disrepair” that really graps me, with its tremeloed guitar smacking of the shaggy seventies, even while evoking Johnny Marr’s iconic “How Soon Is Now” riff. Check out the non-video video here:

Buy the vinyl LP and enjoy the scratchy sound at the bargain price of $8.99! [I was recently told that I’m showing a propensity toward “scratchy female vocalists”; not sure I agree, but I’ll cop to Dan’s scratchiness]Dan is the lead singer/guitarist of Akron, Ohio’s The Black Keys, recently highlighted here by Buzz Biscuits, and he churns out equally faithful bluesy rock on their current CD, Attack And Release.

The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady

Brooklyn’s The Hold Steady has always sounded, to my ears, like a Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes tribute band, perhaps one in a rock opera or Broadway show about that segment of rock and roll that requires a saxophone and a Hammond B3 organ. No surprise then when I heard that they had been selected by Bruce Springsteen to cover “Atlantic City” for the “Heroes” benefit album.

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[Benefiting children affected by war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, the CD took 15 “legends” and asked them to pick one of their songs and a new artist to cover it; click the CD image above for more info]

This is a cover of the very faithful variety, likely even to please Springsteen fans. Hear it HERE.

Jamie Lidell

Jamie Lidell

I’m surprised Jamie Lidell isn’t more popular, what with the explosion of post-Amy Winehouse neo-sixties soul/R&B all over the UK having spilled over to the US. Heck, even the neo-crooner category of Michael Buble, John Pizzarelli, and the other Jamie, Jamie Cullum, could share some of their admittedly limited spotlight. Britain born and based now in Berlin, Lidell’s current release, Jim, has a couple of standout tracks. Check out “A Little Bit Of Feel Good” and  “Another Day”, in video form, below (again, easier to post….me? I listen without watching).

Of course, my favorite Jamie Lidell song is still 2006’s “A Little Bit More”, made familiar by a Target commercial. Hear it HERE.

The Vivian Girls

The Vivian Girls

From Brooklyn by way of New Jersey,  The Vivian Girls evoke that era before stereo and high fidelity were even important. Their eponymous debut CD is a quick listen, with 10 tracks barely breaking 22 minutes. Surfy, garagey, and lo-fi, “Where Do Run To” is the standout, in my opinion. Click their photo above to go to their website, or find their MySpace page HERE.

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Hey Ocean

Hey Ocean

Hey Ocean is certainly more like what you’ve come to expect from me: bouncy, happy, non-scratchy, female pop. From Vancouver, the quartet gets jazzy and folky at times, but generally settles into unthreatening pop territory. Check out hook-laden “Too Soon” now, before it gets picked up by adult contemporary radio (do they still call it that?) and gets played all over the dial. You can listen and download it HERE, at a Dutch website I stumbled upon. Their MySpace page gives a little more, but “Too Soon” is the gem.

The Magnificents, Nick Harrison

Here’s a song that sounds like it could be an undiscovered 80’s recording – let’s all try to name what influences we hear! (I’ll start….I hear The Alarm!)

The Magnificents

The Magnificents

The Edinborough quartet actually first released this on an EP in May 2007, but it’s just starting to get big buzz, and rightly so. An oft quoted comment from their MySpace page reads “If you are too tight to pay for it try a torrent site or sit between two stereos, one playing Lou Reeds Metal Machine Music and one playing ABBAs The Visitors very loudly. The effect is very similar. You f***ing skinflint.” Sounds good, but I’d recommend just spending the dough! Seven bucks for the download HERE.

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Nick Harrison works the ska beat, in the sincere English way, as opposed to the caffeinated California style. Check out “Oi Rude Boy”, and be assured I’ll be rockin’ this tune when I’m in Jamaica this April:

Click HERE.

Nick Harrison, cheeky monkey

Nick Harrison, cheeky monkey

Originally a drummer, the 24 year old switched to singer/songwriter when he couldn’t get drumming gigs, and we’re the beneficiaries. Read his whole bio, if you like, at his website, or go to his MySpace page to hear 5 really fun tunes from the new CD, One Drop, out now and available HERE.  Nick and his trio are currently on tour in the UK.