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Archive for March, 2011

CD Review – The Wilderness of Manitoba (Sounds just like you think it would)

Monday, March 21st, 2011

When You Left the Fire

tinyOGRE Records

Just look at the name and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what this quintet sounds like. Take a listen to the album and by the first minute of the opening track, “Orono Park” your idea will be confirmed. The acoustic harmonies sound almost identical to Fleet Foxes. Hailing from the big city of Toronto, The Wilderness of Manitoba have done a fantastic job of making a soundtrack to a cold snowy 24 hours in the middle of the Rocky Mountains.

CD Review – Epigene (A rock opera that will make you think)

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

A Wall Street Odyssey (The City, The Country and Back Again)

Amammi Music

I’m not sure what to think of Epigene. This husband and wife duo worked over three and a half years on this double-disc album that chronicles that story of Yossarian who works on Wall Street. But as the job becomes more intense, he starts losing himself and delving deeper and deeper into alcoholism and drug addiction. His brother eventually finds him and takes him back to the country and a place called the “Settlement of Love.” After getting physically, emotionally and spiritually cleansed, he tries to go back and warn everybody about how Globalization sucks and will destroy the world. They don’t listen and he goes back to communal living.

That’s all fine and peachy, but is this any good? Well, although I really don’t agree with the story, Sean Bigler and Bonnie Lykes pull it off pretty well. Part of the reason is because the music is quite catchy. “Looks Like I Made It,” “The Catch 22” and “Take My Head Off” stick with you like a bad Good Charlotte song. The other reason is the CD packaging. The discs are in the covers of a bound book that contains the story, the lyrics to all 25 tracks and illustrations to further punch home their vision.

The album isn’t always pretty. Tracks like “I Eat the Concrete” and “Isis Conspiracist” are a little unsettling especially lyrically. Epigene does a good job telling their story and they did a fantastic job making everything cohesive, but I don’t personally believe their apocolyptic vision. Does that mean that this is terrible? No. I’m just torn between the fact that the music and packaging is so good, and the vision as a whole is nothing like what I see. So what’s the bottom line? You’ll have to listen to it yourself, think about it and come to your own conclusion.

CD Review – Those Dancing Days (Dance music for the non-hipster!)

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Daydreams & Nightmares

Wichita Recordings.

Within the first 10 seconds of the first song “Reaching Forward,” I was hooked. I loved the keyboards which reminded me of The Sounds. I loved the rapid-fire drumming, the crunching guitars and the female vocals that tie it all together. Then I read their bio and found out that these are five Swedish women all aged 20-22. Holy Testicle Tuesday Batman! These women can friggin’ rock! I can’t get this album out of my head. “I’ll Be Yours” is vaguely Donnas-esque, but it is far and away better than anything The Donnas have done. They can do indie-rock (“When We Fade Away”), New Wave (“Dream About Me”) and in-your-face rock (“F—arias”). These five women will draw you in with the mid-tempo stuff and then rock your friggin’ face off with the harder stuff. Those Dancing Days are primed for the big-time stateside and it’s only a matter of time before they become their own Swedish invasion.

CD Review – Amy Speace (Folkie with a nice resume)

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Land Like a Bird

Thirty Tigers Records

She’s toured with the likes of Judy Collins, Nanci Griffith and Shawn Colvin. Her song “Weight of the World” was rated the #4 folk song of the decade by New York station WFUV. She has had the “Song of the Day” on NPR. Now she’s back with a folk gem that just adds to her ever impressive resume.

“Change for Me” has Speace emoting “Can you hear me now/ When you ever gonna change for me,” with an effortless heaviness. She beautifully covers Ron Sexsmith’s “Galbraith Street” and gives a sparce lounge-feel and sexiness to “It’s Too Late to Call it a Night.”

Speace wrote this album as she moved from Manhattan to east Nashville. The change hasn’t affected her music (which is good), but it resonates in her songwriting where “Ghost” and “Had to Lose” are, as Speace puts it, “Goodbyes to people and places from a distant memory, whether imagined or real.”

Speace has created another folk favorite. At times channeling Lucinda Williams and Shawn Colvin, she has made an album that folk fans will be clamoring for.