Vol. 3 Issue 17 Februsary 2007
One of my best pals Fred use to hate February. Fred changed the name of February to Freduary and would just be grumpy for the full month….Must have been the weather or something, but man, what a grump. Well, I won’t let Fred bring us down, because we got some killer jams to pump up. So sit back, enjoy Hartley’s blurbs, and stop moping!
"Or Give Me Death"
Nobody does vintage keyboards and big hooks like Aqueduct mastermind David Terry. However, on the band’s infectious sophomore jam, Or Give Me Death (Barsuk), minor-key introspection is mixed in with the shout-out- loud-alongs. Saddest (and one of the best) “feel good record” ever. A perfect darker sibling to label-Mates of State’s Let’s Bring It Back. It’s pretty mesmerizing how Terry is able to build tension out of his songs while still coming up with memorable brain-sticking melodies at the same time. Check out “Lying In The Bed I’ve Made,” and “Living a Lie.”
Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter
"Like Love Lust & The Open Halls of the Soul"
Demure noir-country folkstress Jesse Sykes has built her rep on being Barsuk’s most alluring black sheep. On her third trip down sad and lonely lane, even the album title can’t escape from the baroque -- Like, Love, Lust, And The Open Halls of the Soul. “You Might Walk Away” is the album’s one light, farfisa-drenched, indie-pop breath of air. However, most of Like is filled with hazy neo-classical kaleidoscope 60’s female songwriter weepers. If Laura Nyro dropped this record decades ago, it’d be considered an x-chromosome cult classic. A big debt goes out to producer extraordinaire, Tucker Martine, for giving Sykes the perfect sonic canvas for her heart-wandering musings. A transfixing, brooding gem.
"The Pirate's Gospel"
Nevada City, CA-hailing songstress, Alela Diane, is undoubtedly the latest big name in freak folk. However, unlike most of the glut of bearded and bandana’d acoustic- acolytes out there, Alela’s talent as a songwriter, her gift for melody and phrasing, and simplistic poetic lyricim lifts her out of the patchouli stank ghetto like a carousel in the summer time. Alela’s enchanting debut, The Pirate’s Gospel (Holocene Music), has already made fans of Joanna Newsom and The Decemberists, along with all of us at BRM. The Pirate’s Gospel marks Alela Diane as one of the very best songwriters putting pen to page today, and definitely one of the names to look our for in the months to come.
"Lon Gisland (EP)"
Beirut. The man. The myth. The legend. The biggest thing to happen to the blogosphere since The Voice started passing off racist cartoons as cover story fodder. And yet, in spite, of all this, BRM still loves Gulag Okestar, and still play “Scenic World,” and “Postcards From Italy” more than we should considering the record is months old at this point. We didn’t need a reminder that Beirut was the bomb, but we’ll take this pleasant ep stop-gap, Lon Gisland, (Ba Da Bing!) as a nice Valentine from our second favorite Uke-enthusiast (Sorry Zach, but Stephen Merritt had us smitten from like ’96).
The Zincs originally started out as the solo project of England by way of Chicago songwriter, Jim Elkington. Black Pompadour (Thrill Jockey) is the follow-up to ‘05’s amazing set, Dimmer. As “Coward’s Corral” displays, Pompadour is every bit as inspired as Dimmer with Elkington’s gorgeous aching baritone vocals up front above the dim of acoustic guitars and hazy drums. Like a more dour Calvin Johnston fronting The Velvets, indie rock has rarely sounded so unabashedly "noir."
The Eames Era
"Heroes & Sheroes"
There are surely more “groundbreaking” bands than New Orleans’ prep-popster collective, The Eames Era. Surely, more pretentious bands, playing with sound textures, and reinventing the proverbial wheel…or at least, giving listeners the illusion of reinventing the proverbial wheel. However, there’s something to be said for the economy of just writing one goddamn catchy-as-all-hell hook – and this is the land that The Eames Era travels in. The band’s new sophomore record, Heroes and Sheroes, is so brazenly hooky, with songs that are so totally fleshed out with memorable sing-a-longable instantly familiar melodies, chugging guitars, ba-ba’s, harmonies and handclaps, you could forgive it for what it lacks in ambition. In fact, Heroes highlights like “When You Were A Millionaire,” “Dear Gabby,” and “Fake Do-Gooders,” are some of the best chick-pop, and wholeheartedly deserve to sit amongst your Go-Go’s greatest hits CD, The Bangles’ “Walk Like An Egyptian,” and the last Mates of State record too.
"Music For Tourists"
Chris Garneau is something of a Billy Joel for the hipster set. A perpetually sad-eyed piano-player, who can make a record with a song whose title includes three exclamation points (“First Place!!!”), along side an unbelievably melancholy cover of Elliott Smith’s “Between the Bars.” That record, Music for Tourists (Absolutely Kosher) , is Garneau’s debut – even though he’s been a staple on the New York indie music landscape for years now. Tourists was produced by Duncan Sheik, and to our ears it’s a win for both of these guys - a transfixing collection of impossibly fragile tunes highlighted with Garneau’s breathy, angelic vocals, weepy strings and the occasional accordion to boot. Let the inevitable Rufus Wainwright comparisons start...now.
"Eccentric Soul: Twinight's Lunar Rotation"
Eccentric Soul: Twinight Lunar Rotation is the reissue-crazed Numero Group’s latest soul- obsessed release. Highlighting Chicago’s “secret soul history” by focusing on one of the cities best/least known R&B hotspots, Twinight, this 2-CD set features some of the hottest soul jamz you’ve never heard!