So I kind of stopped for a while. It really has taken me 4 weeks to finish up 2 three-sentence blurbs, and I'm not quite sure why. It may be laziness, it may be me underestimating how hard it is for me to objectively write things. I write like Swanson delivers speeches; I spew facts as well as I can. Hope you enjoy this week, I think next week will be a little different.. I'm going to try and lessen the workload and prepare myself for next week.
Vashti Bunyan (United Kingdom)
It's not often that there is a 35-year gap between releases. However, in Vashti Bunyan's case, that's exactly what happened. Much like Linda Perhacs, Bunyan abandoned the music industry after less-than-stellar sales of Just Another Diamond Day left her discouraged. Now labeled 'The Queen of Freak Folk,' Bunyan has been credited as an influence to a new generation of psych folk artists such as Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom. The long-awaited follow up, Lookaftering, includes a similar sound from years ago: soft folk and simple instrumentation accompanied by a whisper-like voice. The success of that has led her to release Some Things Just Stick in Your Head, a collection of singles and demos.
Named after a Led Zeppelin song, Those Dancing days formed late 2005 after meeting each other through mutual acquaintances. Modeling their sound after fellow Swedes Shout Out Louds, the all-female quintet began recording and demoing covers and later original work. They finished In Space Hero Suits, a collection of synth-laden indie pop rock, just after high school graduation in 2008. Linnea Jonsson's voice along with Cissi Efraimsson's high-energy drumming help distinguish them from the many other bands out there. Although they announced a hiatus earlier this year, they graced us with Daydreams and Nightmares, which features a more mature continuance of their previous album.
Cute. Cute lyrics, cute music, and cute melodies all describe singer-songwriter Sophie Madeleine. Her voice often flutters among a plethora of instruments, most notably her ukulele, which she includes in her debut, Love. Life. Ukulele. Although her recent release The Rhythm You Started features a looped drum machine throughout the tracks, she hasn't strayed far from her roots, employing layers of vocal harmonies, her ukulele, and a layer of glockenspiel.
She was in Babysitters Club and her mom is Sissy Spacek and she plays music - sjb2k1
Although the above quote is very true, there's much more to Schuyler Fisk's career in the industry. After starting out as an actress, she began pursuing a vocation in music and never looked back. Contributing to The Last Kiss Soundtrack, Fisk started writing pop-folk tunes leading to her first album, 2009's The Good Stuff. Her sophomore attempt brought her back to her Virginian roots, incorporating a more country folk sound in Blue Ribbon Winner.
Eisley isn't a new name to the music scene. Starting in the late '90s with sisters Chauntelle and Sherri DuPree, it wasn't long until younger siblings Weston and Stacy and cousin Garron joined the band. Their debut, Room Noises, is laced with the sisters' triple harmonies, which web into their brand of music. In 2007, Eisley released Combinations, whose title track describes their sound: a delicate combination of sisterly harmonies, guitar, and piano rock. Those elements seem to work perfectly together, without one dominating over the others. Although their relationship with Warner Bros. dissolved in 2010, it wasn't long until they were picked up again by current-label Equal Vision. The band soon after released The Valley, a more straightforward, indie-rock effort in 2011.
This was the first week where I thought I would finish relatively early. I was listening to all the artists, taking notes, and generally being awesome. However, I caught the stomach flu and have been yacking it up this entire week. I'm sure this is filled with mistakes and errors, but here it goes. Hope you enjoy!
Waxahatchee (Birmingham, AL)
Not to be confused with her other bands Bad Banana and PS Eliot, Katie Crutchfield's Waxahatchee is a solo effort. Her first release, a split with Chris Clavin, features a gritty recording with Crutchfield's voice and a lone guitar. With Waxahatchee, Crutchfield explores a slower approach when held in comparison to her much faster-paced projects. American Weekend follows along the same line of her previous songs, having an airy atmosphere in her recording to join the consistently distorted vocals.
It's hard imagining that She & Him would need an introduction here. The collaborative effort of actress Zooey Deschanel and singer-songwriter M. Ward came to fruition after the two met on the set of The Go-Getter in 2006. The duo later debuted with Volume One, an album filled with original songs by Deschanel and scattered covers throughout. Unsurprisingly, the pair followed with an album appropriately named Volume Two, complete with the sun-kissed pop reminiscent of the '60s and twangy country tunes. Be on the lookout next month for their take on Christmas classics with A Very She and Him Christmas.
Lights Poxleitner, under the professional name LIGHTS, changed her name from Valerie in the midst of her career. Beginning as a writer for Canada's Instant Star in 2006, Lights began touring on her own as a synth-pop artist soon after. After winning a Juno for Best New Artist, Lights took off and never looked back, touring constantly around North America and only stopping to record and release her full-length debut, The Listening. With her Acoustic EP, Poxleitner proves there's more to her than just keyboard-laden pop, beautifully arranging and producing the entirety of the short work. Come October 4th, however, she returns to her electropop roots with her sophomore attempt Siberia.
Brisbane's Kate Cooper and Damon Cox make up the indie pop rock pair known as An Horse. Grammar peculiarities aside, the two started off as an after-work-hours project at a record store. Shortly following the recording of their Not Really Scared EP, An Horse opened for former tourmates Tegan and Sara with their astonishingly catchy rock. Since then, the duo have toured with other acclaimed indie acts, recorded two full-length albums, and recently embarked on a North American tour.
There are many names that can be thrown around when you mention Land of Talk. Whether it's Justin Vernon, who produced their debut Some are Lakes, musical collective Broken Social Scene, of which lead singer Liz Powell briefly took part in, or the plethora of other indie Canadian bands who joined in their sophomore album Cloak and Cipher, it's safe to say that the trio has immersed themselves in good company. Land of Talk's accomplishments with their recordings are heavily influenced by the previously mentioned, with wonderful choruses and riff-laden tracks.
And so continues the Absolute Female Fridays series. I omitted one artist, who I hope to write about next week. Hope you enjoy.
AngeL Olson (Chicago, IL)
Relative newcomer AngeL Olsen released her first album, Strange Cactus, on cassette (yes, cassette!) just last year. Her lo-fi sound is incredibly raw and haunting - Olsen filled her six-song effort with only her voice and the strums of her guitar. Her vocal stylings have been compared variously from jazz singers Billie Holiday and Nina Simone (also doing a cover of 'Love is the Color of My True Love's Hair) to folk artists Karen Dalton and Kath Bloom.
Somewhere in California, there's a dentist whose album has finally gained popularity. In 1970, Linda Perhacs set to capture the beauty she experienced while out in the California wilderness, employing multi-tracks of haunting harmonies, a mix of instruments, and the occasional electronics. Her album, Parallelograms, was overlooked for the better part of 30 years until a fan tracked her down and reissued the album on CD. With the inclusion in Daft Punk's Electroma and Devendra Banhart's Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon, it's rumored that Perhacs has returned to the studio.
Much like her previous albums, Julianna Barwick's The Magic Place mostly utilizes her voice as an instrument rather than the conventional singing of many of the other featured artists. Barwick loops layer upon layer of vocals with minimal instruments, reminiscent of an ecclestiastical choir in a cavernous cathedral. The recordings, mostly done in her bedroom, create an unworldly ambience for many to enjoy.
Warpaint's origins date back to Valentine's Day 2004, with childhood friends Theresa Wayman and Emily Kokal teaming up with sisters Jenny Lee Lindberg and Shannyn Sossamon. After Sossamon left in 2005, it took 4 years for the trio to finally settle in with their current lineup, with Stella Mozgawa joining on drums. Since then, they've become a mainstay in the indie scene, subsequently releasing an EP, Exquisite Corpse, and their debut, The Fool. Warpaint attracts their audience with driving bass, hypnotic vocals, and effect-laden guitars.
Beginning as a keyboardist for Bomb the Music Industry!, Laura Stevenson began writing and performing her own music in 2007. While previously having fellow BTMI! members, Stevenson began recruiting outside help to create the Cans. After the re-release of of A Record, they followed up with Sit Resist, a more cohesive and polished effort.Varying from just Stevenson on a guitar to a full band a horn section.
Inspired by the AbsoluteFemaleSingers thread, I began cataloging the artists and the songs those in the thread were recommending. With the release of Spotify, I thought it would be a fun thing to explore and really listen to the artists listed. Unfortunately, not all the recommendations in the thread are available, and I'll turn to YouTube to help me out. Whether they're artists who I am familiar with or those who I would not normally listen to/never heard of, I'd like to spend time to listen and write a few blurbs each week. I hope you enjoy and maybe listen to a new artist or two.
Gold Motel (Chicago, IL)
Catchy. If you had to choose one word to describe Gold Motel, that would be it. With upbeat hooks and fun melodies, Gold Motel (ex The Hush Sound, This is Me Smiling, The Yearbooks) grabs its fans with music that's perfect to play while driving around with the windows down. Greta Morgan and co. hope to follow up their solid debutSummer House with another outstanding album of summer pop in 2012.
Described as a 'Kiwi Norah Jones,' Brooke Fraser has seemingly made a name for herself in her homeland. Each album is consistent with critics, garnering praise for her insightful lyrics and beautiful arrangements. With her latest album, Flags, Fraser enlisted fellow Hotel Cafe alumni to contribute to an album that ranges from infectious pop to somber story-telling.
Many may have first heard Lykke Li through The Twilight Saga: New Moon Soundtrack. However, if you spend time listening to the two albums that have come from the Swedish singer-songwriter, you'll soon realize her music goes far beyond the context of teen vampires and werewolf tribes. This year's Wounded Rhymes features more toned-down vocals compared to the saccharine notes found on her 2008 debut Youth Novels. Whether you prefer ballads or poppy melodies, Lykke Li delivers without hesitation.
You may be familiar with Emmy the Great Through other indie act, Lightspeed Champion. After briefly lending her vocals to the group with future mainstream talent Florence Welch (Florence and the Machine), Emma-Lee Moss decided to focus on her own music. The folk songstress followed up First Love with Virtue, a reflection on failed relationships through beautifully layered instrumentation and introspective lyrics.
Classically trained from an early age, Agnes Obel utilizes those studies well. With ethereal orchestration and whisper-like vocals, Obel charms her audience with Philharmonics, an album of folk-inspired stories interspersed with instrumental tracks that will draw you right in. Her arrangements lush with strings and multi-layered vocals create a dreamy, yet haunting effort.