Sunday, December 31, 2006

Lucinda: For the musical discerning

I've decinded that this record, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, is perfect for today. That and her self-titled album..

Lucinda Williams, I love you.

Lucinda on Rhapsody

Lucinda Williams article

New Year's Eve Morning

Because John likes this song lately...

  • The Coral

  • Rather upbeat. Good choice for New Years I suppose.

    Sunday, December 24, 2006

    Costello Music

    My CD review of The Fratellis' "Costello Music" was published December 22 in The North Shore News. I'm including my "extended" article here. I have to say though, I hate the idea of rating music. Seems cheeky really.

  • The Fratellis

  • Album: Costello Music
    Label: Fallout Records/ Island Records Group
    Rating: 5 out of 10

    Costello Music by Glasgow ensemble, The Fratellis, isn’t exactly complicated music. It’s straightforward from stepping off the play button with Henrietta, the album’s first single. It’s full hype, fast paced and made to be heard with a lot of treble. Just the music I have huge distaste for. So right away I find myself skipping to find ordinance. The first sign found in Whistler for the Choir.

    The band’s name “The Fratellis” as a trio of brothers is harmless pretense. Only bassist Barry Fratelli comes by the surname honestly, while drummer Mince and vocalist-lead guitarist Jon purely assume it as honorary brothers.

    While NME this past August declared them “the best new band in Britain”, the record plays like a hyper transcription of emergent rattling, unnerving to listeners with birthdates before 1970. Still within this jutting play of sound you’ll find a familiar resonance of another Scottish enterprise, The Bay City Rollers and the chant-cheering of S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night.

    This meager ounce of familiar charm may not be enough to coax you getting on this Kasabian-come-Franz Ferdinand bandwagon. It’s a particular imprint cast by these new Scottish-Indie bands that render such distinction within its genre.

    Chelsea Dagger’s intro with a reflective Ramones veneer, achieves the brazen anthem tempo you’d expect to hear at a football match or a late night sing-a-long at a raucous Glasgow bar. Tempting toe-tapping appeal and a highlight of the album.

    In the end, sadly I find myself either too female or no longer, ahem, young enough, to bear with the most of Costello Music.

    Monday, December 18, 2006

    Band of Horses

    Yes, I'm a little slow, but my latest discovery is Band of Horses, out of Seattle, proving ever more that the best sounds out of the excited states is either out of the South or out of Seattle. This song is called The Funeral, and is quite moving. The lead vocalist souns a bit like Wayne Coyne of Flaming Lips. At first listen I picked up Doug Martsch from Built to Spill.

    The following is Stephen Deusner's review from Pitchfork, March 20, 2006. He gives it 8.8 rating:

    "At every occasion, I'm ready for a funeral."

    In the year between my father's diagnosis with cancer and his death, I dreaded the telephone. Whenever it rang, I jumped. Picking it up with a trepidant hand, I tried to quickly discern the caller's tone of voice, fearing the worst news. Whether intentionally or not, the line quoted above, from Band of Horses' debut album, Everything All the Time, perfectly evokes that particular anxiety. It's a sad line for any song, but Band of Horses singer Ben Bridwell's delivery isn't mopey or self-absorbed-- there are no intimate acoustic guitars or whispery male vocals accompanying these words. Instead, he belts them over soaring guitars and extroverted chords, all tempered with a stoicism that staves off histrionics. Turning despondency into indie majesty is a major talent of Band of Horses; their music is carefully balanced to evoke specific emotional responses while allowing space for personal projection.
    More elemental than the lush dream-pop of Bridwell and Mat Brooke's former band Carissa's Wierd (the duo played all the instruments here before fleshing out the band with backing musicians), Band of Horses' sound will be immediately, invitingly familiar to anyone who reads this site regularly. Their guitar-heavy sound and Bridwell's echo-y vocals invite specific comparisons to labelmates the Shins as well as My Morning Jacket, and more general similarities can be noted with forebears such as Neil Young and the Ocean Blue. While apt, these comparisons seem restrictive and reductive, but their limitations can be illuminating. On quieter songs such as "St. Augustine", Bridwell recalls Jim James' reverb-heavy vocals, but he lacks the defining regional drawl; as a result, Band of Horses seem placeless. Where the Shins coil their songs tightly to spring out at the choruses, Bridwell and Brooke's tracks sprawl languorously-- more atmospheric than hooky, but nevertheless too structured and targeted to be considered jammy.
    Band of Horses' alternately lucid and obscure songwriting remains life-size, even as their guitars swell beyond the everyday. Album centerpiece "The Great Salt Lake" begins with a jangly guitar that suggests early R.E.M., lying low to the ground during the verses until the chorus takes off. They also successfully work that contrast between earthbound and airborne on "The Funeral" and "Monsters", with its rickety banjo carving a rough path for a climactic finale.
    Of course, if all of Everything strove for such catharsis, the repetition of builds and releases would become tedious and cheap. Wisely, Band of Horses show off a much broader dynamic, peppering the album with rangier numbers like "The First Song" and the churning, catchy "Wicked Gil". "Weed Party", the album's most upbeat track, even begins with what sounds like a spontaneous and genially goofy "yeee-haw!" Still, every element and track on Everything contributes to the album's wistful, twilit atmosphere, from its first cascading guitar chords to its final rueful strums. And instead of closing with the slow crescendo of "Monsters", they go out on a quieter note with "St. Augustine", a gently ebbing tune featuring both Horses singing together, Bridwell's higher-pitched voice anchored by Brooke's low whisper. So the album's not as grim as that introductory quotation would imply; the band's downheartedness is always offset by a sense of hope. As Bridwell sings on "Monsters", "If I am lost it's only for a little while."
    Though Band of Horses aren't likely to be heralded as trailblazers, they do sound quietly innovative and genuinely refreshing over the course of these 10 sweeping, heart-on-sleeve anthems. Ultimately, the band's most winning trait is its delicate balance of elements-- between gloom and promise, quiet and loud, epic and ordinary, familiar and new, direct and elliptical, artist and listener. Each of these aspects makes the others sound stronger and more complex, making Everything All the Time an album that's easy to get lost in and even easier to love.

    Saturday, November 18, 2006

    Mike Clark-Darker Machines

    A former university wrestler, music school dropout, oilfield roughneck, and road manager for Tegan and Sara, Mike Clark has managed to unfold himself into an expressive performing songwriter with honest lyrics and a knack for hooky melodics.
    Due for Nationwide release on April 6th, his debut album, Darker Machines, co-produced with Futcher (The Be Good Tanyas), seamlessly switches from a hushed acoustic guitar to a Violent-Femmes-cum-Sonic-Youth fury and successfully proves his adeptness at both song craft and performance.
    Joining a stable of artists at the Vancouver-based collective, Copperspine Records, Mike Clark exemplifies their stance for music with integrity and intelligence. Whether on stage, or as captured in the songs on this disc, the honesty and directness of Mike Clark's music is clear to all that hear it.

  • Mike Clark Official Site - Play Audio Samples

    I came across this song on a Friday morning, ironically enough, on KEXP.

  • Goldspot Official Site

  • "My favorite discovery of 2005." -Nic Harcourt, KCRW

    Few have captured artistic honesty, musical purity, and sheer songcraft as LAs Goldspot do on their full-length debut Tally Of The Yes Men: an inspired melding of decades of rock and pop influences with the melodic sensibilities of traditional Indian music. Imagine Paul Simon heading to Mumbai to record his next record and listening to the Cure on the flight and youre getting close.

    Siddhartha (founder, lead singer / songwriter of Goldspot) is quick to pay tribute to his early influences: "I grew up listening to whatever my parents had in their cassette decks - Mohd. Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Mukesh - these were great Indian playback singers from the 1940's and 50's. The melodies were brilliant. And then one day when I was 14, I figured out that if you flipped the switch on the stereo from 'tape' to 'radio' you could hear music with English words. That's when I heard R.E.M.'s Green, and it was my first introduction to Western music."

    Wednesday, November 08, 2006

    Sunday Morning

    From his album "Hymns for Disco"
    Play this loud. It's so damn catchy...This is the song that will be played over and over...mark my words. You can't not like it.

  • K-Os My Space Site
  • Friday, November 03, 2006

    Wild Sweet Orange

    This morning while listening to 90.3 Seattle on the web, a song came on that I was immediately attached to. Off to and played the song over and over and over. The song is "ten dead dogs" - this band is just operating by demo record at the moment. So we can't even buy it if we wanted to! :( So check out their myspace site:
  • Wild Sweet Orange

  • I've googled the heck of them but only came up with another Blog (I Rock Cleveland) that mentions the following:
    "Ten Dead Dogs" by Birmingham, Alabama's Wild Sweet Orange is a song that has taken over my sound system the last couple days. Admittedly, Birmingham is not one of the fanciest addresses for aspiring rockers. Don't let that dissuade you. In "Ten Dead Dogs" you'll hear traces of American roots music and nineties alternative rock, along side powerful and poignant lyrics. As an aside, I am forever indebted to John Richards, aka John in the Morning, of KEXP, for turning me onto these guys.

    Saturday, October 21, 2006

    Elliott Smith: August 6, 1969 - October 21, 2003

  • Elliott Smith

  • Today marks the anniversary of Elliott Smith's passing. He was 34 when he took his life. Such a sad thing when an artist is so haunted and tormented. From his official website,, the biography pages unveil the poetic soul named Elliott Smith. The text begins to read "April 15, 1998. It was an unseasonably sultry night in Cambridge. I pushed my way cautiously through the crowd at the famed (but still gloriously tacky) Middle East, relieved to see lots of faces as nerdy, socially ill-at-ease and psychically overdrawn as my own."

    Socially ill-at-ease. That is the key description. What is the attraction and charm of the music of Elliott Smith? To me it is that quiet and gentle reveal of vulnerability that pierced it's way through his voice and his lyrics. As the author writes "With Elliott, I had found someone who gave voice to the outsider's way of looking at the world."

    The world is a little less poetic without his special contribution to art and music. And yes Elliott, we do miss you.

    Tuesday, October 17, 2006

    Woxy - the future of rock and roll!

  • Woxy Online Radio

  • I just heard The Connells "Get A Gun" and I haven't heard that since 1993. Also heard The Smiths, proving that WOXY is saving my day in the cubicle.

    Friday, October 13, 2006

    New Cat In Town

    American singer-songwriter - great voice - totally Lucinda Williams-esque, Cat Power is Chan (pronounced Shawn)Marshall, born in 1972, she provides a unfussy, Southern sound, backed by piano,guitar and dependable drum beats. Check out her music on her website. At the top of the site you can navigate the music player.

  • Cat Power

  • Wednesday, October 04, 2006

    Wolf Parade

    Somewhere in between Modest Mouse and Ween and Flaming Lips...Wolf Parade... And the video of Modern World reminds me of Blur's "Good Song". I don't know why. It's weird I guess.

  • Wolf Parade

  • Don't forget Pete...for God's Sakes!

    Okay, with all the new music being thrown my way, I've gotten a little lost. It's true, some of these bands are sounding the same! They're probably are all the same band! You know who I mean: Snow Patrol-Keane-Cold Play...I can't dicifer em all.

    So, let's go back to 2003 and Mr. Pete Yorn and his fantastic album "Music for the morning after". Yeah. Now that's good music. MMMKAY!

    A bit of Mat Kearney

    He's so cute I could just bite him.

    Mat Kearney @ The Media Club

    Collins and I attended Mat Kearney's gig at the Media Club Monday night. It was an A+ show. Such an intimate, unpretentious venue. We ran into several folks, like Dick Hardy from Sony, Terry David Mulligan, Joe Leary from City and some other infamous local bloggers. Pretty young crowd though. According to Dick, I better get over that one. He's older than I, and because of working for Sony, he goes to a million shows a year. We were talking about that and he says that's the market, they're the ones who go to concerts. He's absolutely right. People in their mid to late thirties and beyond, too busy with families I guess. Anyways, I now have to revise my 7 out of 10 review rating. Mat was absolutely fantastic live. He's got great vocal ability and even on the teeny-tiny stage at The Media Club, he and his band did a really great job. We even got to meet him after the show. It made for a fun Monday night. Next time though, I'm moving my car down to the venue. Walking back from Cambie Street to Alberni and Thurlow at 11PM was stupid and my shoes were killer on my feet.

    This song is one of his slow ones.

    Friday, September 29, 2006

    His Master's Voice

    Marni and I went for audio therapy at lunch time and I picked up the following:

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    Nothing to Lose, Something to Post

    Update re "Looks like my writing gig was a fairweather stin): Well, I eat my words. Published in September 15 paper.

    Artist: Mat Kearney
    Album: Nothing Left To Lose
    Review Rating: 7 out of 10
    By Stephanie Kiernan

    Plucked from the line of his latest album and single, Nothing Left to Lose, Mat Kearney summarizes his route to Nashville, “To a kid from Oregon by way of California”. More precisely, Kearney was born and raised in “The World’s Greatest City for the Arts and Outdoors”, as per Eugene’s official slogan. That seems to be the key ingredient for his artistic tendencies, turning to everything from painting and photography to writing poetry and screenplays. He played soccer and studied Literature at California’s Chico State University before setting up camp in Nashville. In the daunting presence of the Nashville talent scene, rather than discouragement, Kearney found the muse and motivation to refine and hone his own music.

    Nothing Left To Lose, extracts a whole seven songs from his debut album “Bullet”, sifting them through a more sophisticated and ambitious venture. The album reveals a youthful and original talent in this singer-songwriter with rhyming tales and spoken verse that give emphasis to an unusual blend of urban folk and hip-hop. Vocally you’ll pick up Chris Martin and perhaps Jack Johnson; but that’s not to take away from Kearney’s own particular sound. His live performances prove his authentic vocal flair beside a talent for playing the piano, guitar and harmonica.

    “Undeniable”, “Crashing Down” and of course title track “Nothing Left to Lose” are sure winner that pipe up with optimism, strong pop guitar backing and of his clean vocals. The album has an earthiness to it, most of the songs hinged by spoken verse, exposing the artist’s sensitivity toward the written word. He’s not quite Leonard Cohen, but the kid’s got genuine ability and keen musical influences as posted on his website’s journal page, citing current playlists that include Sujan Stevens, Patty Griffin, Built To Spill, Lucinda Williams, Neko Case, Billie Holiday and Johnny Cash.

    Although it’s not necessary to assign music to a specific form or genre, but it is difficult to pin down Mat Kearney, because of the “hip hop” spoken verse cast through most of his music. It may be a turn off for some and I’m more inclined to think that his music hits a younger demographic. I would hope if you’re looking for something new in pop, that you’ll give Mat Kearney a chance. Be surprised by the album. It’s sure to renew your faith in the new generation of musicians.

    Friday, September 08, 2006

    Same Old Lang Syne by Dan Fogelberg

    Met my old lover in the grocery store
    The snow was falling christmas eve
    I stole behind her in the frozen foods
    And I touched her on the sleeve

    She didnt recognize the face at first
    But then her eyes flew open wide
    She went to hug me and she spilled her purse
    And we laughed until we cried.

    We took her groceries to the checkout stand
    The food was totalled up and bagged
    We stood there lost in our embarrassment
    As the conversation dragged.

    We went to have ourselves a drink or two
    But couldnt find an open bar
    We bought a six-pack at the liquor store
    And we drank it in her car.

    We drank a toast to innocence
    We drank a toast to now
    And tried to reach beyond the emptiness
    But neither one knew how.

    She said shed married her an architect
    Who kept her warm and safe and dry
    She would have liked to say she loved the man
    But she didnt like to lie.

    I said the years had been a friend to her
    And that her eyes were still as blue
    But in those eyes I wasnt sure if I saw
    Doubt or gratitude.

    She said she saw me in the record stores
    And that I must be doing well
    I said the audience was heavenly
    But the traveling was hell.

    We drank a toast to innocence
    We drank a toast to now
    And tried to reach beyond the emptiness
    But neither one knew how.

    We drank a toast to innocence
    We drank a toast to time
    Reliving in our eloquence
    Another auld lang syne...

    The beer was empty and our tongues were tired
    And running out of things to say
    She gave a kiss to me as I got out
    And I watched her drive away.

    Just for a moment I was back at school
    And felt that old familiar pain
    And as I turned to make my way back home
    The snow turned into rain --

    Thursday, September 07, 2006

    Snow Patrol Review

    This is my review of the new Snow Patrol Album "Eyes Open" (Released by Polydor Ltd (UK), May 13, 2006) which I hope to have published in the North Shore News - usually a Friday edition paper. I've given it 7 out of 10

    It’s easy to think of Snow Patrol as a new British alternative band and to mistake the freshly released Eyes Open as the second release to follow up a successful debut record. Though it’s true their 2004 album Final Straw quickly passed over the North American music radar screen with the breakthrough beacons “Run”, “Chocolate” and “How To Be Dead”, this Celtic band has been in the hopper for ten years. Even with such honest, college-indie beginnings, Eyes Open is about to open the eyes and ears of many this side of the proverbial pond.

    Glasgow based Snow Patrol’s commander is Gary Lightbody, born in Belfast in 1976, he formed the three-man band in 1997 while attending university in Scotland. Four albums later, old-friend and super talent Paul Wilson replaces the band’s co-founder/bassist, Mark McClelland, and a new five-member line-up emerges with multi-instrumental talents.
    Listening to UK Internet stations over the past month, I was already prepped for track one, “You’re All I Have”; a catchy, upbeat pop song that tags track two “Hands Open”. Both are sure to be successful singles for Snow Patrol here in Canada and back in the UK. The album presents a dual personality with excited fast moving songs and then mature, reflective ballads that perfectly demonstrate Lightbody’s songwriting ability and vocal talent.

    This peculiar transition from upbeat to sullen works in their favor, as a wide net is cast. Clearly there is intelligence here and we may still be surprised with the depth of confessional lyrics. A definite highlight is the featured vocals of Martha Wainwright, younger sister to musician Rufus Wainwright. Sounding like the missing link between Kate Bush and Tori Amos, Wainwright provides a haunting element to Gary Lightbody’s immensely evocative song “Set The Fire To The Third Bar”. Then the short and sweet, “You Could Be Happy” is simply lovely, with a poignancy that is complete with a tinkling music box. The track “Chasing Cars” is pure and may creep over to radio waves.

    If you are a fan of Final Straw, you’ll notice the shift in the sound of Eyes Open. With alluring layers of melodies, blending violins, cello, piano and background choirs, it is nevertheless clear that mainstay Gary Lightbody holds court to this band as his vocals are forefront. As Snow Patrol makes its way to the mainstream, we can only hope they can hold on to a trace of their humble, independent charm.

    Wednesday, September 06, 2006

    Improving Outkast Hey Ya...

    Bear with it - it's a long song, but Charlie, Snoopy, Sally and Linus totally improve this tune.

    Friday, September 01, 2006

    Robert Post's Got None

    I still got none...and so I fall into the open, singing out your name, and when I'm done, I'm crashed and maimed, I hope that's where you'll find me...

    And after all the bandages are gone, I hope you find a favorite part you can work on...

    Wednesday, August 30, 2006

    Uncovering the Cover

    Ben Lee's translation of Modest Mouse's "Float On"

    It's a hobby of mine "uncovering covers". I'm not from the camp of "why bother with a cover when you can listen to the original". I love talented interpretations of music. First, it's so telling of an artist which song they choose to take on. Second, if it's a good song, why not replay it. This is a cool one considering the heaviness of the Modest Mouse creation. But I enjoy Ben Lee and his mellowed out version here. It's not a matter of which one is better. It's just different.

    MM's Float On:

    Newly Discovered: Pete Murray

    My co-worker, Grant Miller, (designer extradonaire) raved about this guy yesterday. Grant just got introduced to his music last week, and now, well, I'm on it. Finally, this song entitled "So Beautiful" is from his 2003 debut album FEELER, which went to number one in 2004 on Australian charts. Better late than never.

    Monday, August 28, 2006

    SXSW 2006 Interview....

    Love this Morrissy truth-telling interview... 20 years on and he still seems to amaze and captivate with such intelligence...

    Minding my own business, reading NME...

    I used to know him as Steven....

    Here is video that should have been played at the trials for God's Sake...four people in the band: "I think he deserves the attention he gets." Really? Happy in the background? Our time will come? Oh my! How telling an interview! M Joyce and ...who's that other guy?

    Still Smitten

    We cannot cling to the old dreams anymore.....illuminate the no on your vacancy sign please,, it's not like the old days anymore...oh no. Am I still ill

    Wednesday, August 23, 2006

    Grant Lee Phillips' New Album

    Friday, August 11th The North Shore News published my album review for Grant-Lee Phillips.
    Here are the specs and that review:

    Album: nineteeneighties (Zoe Records 2006)
    Artist: Grant-Lee Phillips
    Rated: 8 out of 10
    Written by: Stephanie Kiernan

    As I approach my twenty-year grad reunion date this coming September, I can’t help but connect my memories to the music we listened to in those times. I have a certain soft spot for the music of the 80’s and its unique power it had to infiltrate our lives.

    Today when I listen to New Order, The Smiths, or Elvis Costello, I wonder whether the New Wave Genre of the 1980's was the final installment of a true musical movement. So it is with warm regard that I receive Grant-Lee Phillips’ endearing tribute album “nineteeneighties”.

    Prior to initiating a solo career in 2000, Los Angeles based Grant-Lee Phillips was lead singer-songwriter and guitarist of the 1990's trio, Grant Lee Buffalo, and even previous to that, the neo-psychedelic Shiva Burlesque.

    As Underground music streamed from the vital hubs of London, Manchester and Los Angeles, the pop conventional began to splinter and crack. Grant-Lee Phillips himself describes the time perfectly, saying "For every hokey hair band there was once an alternative - a parallel universe, existing just below the conservative, pastel surface."

    With nineteeneighties, Grant-Lee Phillips is paying homage rather than playing cover. The song selection is wonderfully curious and somewhat unassuming. If you're a GLP fan, then you'll understand and appreciate the nostalgia of this songbook. If not, you may be disappointed. He hasn’t attempted to modernize them; he's genuinely and respectfully matured them. At times, these departures can simply be described as sublime.

    Phillip’s has an intelligence and precision in his approach to these songs. Spinning the hard edges of The Pixies’ “Wave of Mutilation” with slow, bluesy restraint, he then smoothly translates new folk incarnations of New Order’s “Age of Consent” and Joy Division's, "The Eternal". My personal favourite early 80’s tune, Love My Way, from the Psychedelic Furs’ 1982 “Forever Now” album, is also skillfully transformed and easily appreciated anew – secured by crisp acoustic guitar and violin. It’s as if these songs were live entities that have aged, and through the perception of Grant-Lee Phillips, they have matured and mellowed some twenty-plus years on.

    Another excellent example of this style is “The Killing Moon” by Echo and the Bunnymen; which runs entirely self-sufficiently, independent of Ian McColoch's brilliant original. Under the Milky Way by The Church, also continues to be haunting in its newly honed, unsaturated form.

    The lapse for me was perhaps the over-burdening of “South Central Rain (Sorry)” which frankly wilts from REM’s primary vibrant form. The Smith’s “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me”, lacking it’s interlude, limps along without crooning inspiration. Maybe we’re not ready to age these ones just yet.

    As a whole the album is tremendously unique and special. With the backdrop of the eighties quietly fading to black, a quiet recollection of that eager new music remains and we recall that precedence with even more admiration.

    Inside of Love

    I wanna know what it's like on the inside of love
    I can't find my way in
    I try again and again
    I'm on the outside of love
    Always under or above
    Must be a different view
    To be a me without a you