In realizing that February contained a conspicuously sparse amount of posting from myself, I am wanting to cover quite a few bands and artists, from various genres. So, here are some things that are happening.
First on the docket is Birmingham, Alabama native Maria Taylor. I’ve loved her voice since the days of Azure Ray, when I first heard “Safe and Sound” in my old 94 Dodge Caravan. Azure Ray’s Hold On Love was another strong release, but when Maria started releasing her own material on Saddle Creek, debuting with 11:11, her voice soared over crisp acoustics and electronic texturing (thanks to Conor Oberst, for his [ostensibly] only good contribution to music). On her newest effort, Lynn Teeter Flower (releasing on March 6 via Saddle Creek), Maria takes a step into a more organic zone — less electronic layering, and more guitars, enlisting the help of her siblings, Spoon’s Jim Eno, and some other crafty folk. While the album doesn’t entirely stand up to her prior release, the standout tracks feature her adoring vocal harmonies and sense of “shiver-worthy” chord progressions.
Mikey Die is a college kid at SUNY Purchase, for all that I’ve uncovered. However, he has four virtually flawless songs up on his Myspace page. I don’t know if I could say his riffs are those most intriguing, but he sure knows how to keep a soft spoken voice, and combine some very fluttery parallel harmonies with an anonymous female contributor. However, I could envision some practiced falsetto. Either way, worth a listen.
Ah, the cute and adorable Headlights. One of the few remaining American pop-indie acts that put out an amazing full length, Headlights. With Kill Them With Kindness (does anyone remember that charming skit in Wonder Showzen?), the Champaign, IL trio put out a wall of sound one can only describe as infectiously catchy and again, ‘shiver worthy’. My prime examples?
Headlights – Put Us Back Together (highly recommended)
Rankin Scroo hails from Jamaica, and has been producing urban reggae for some years. His new album, Godfada (Crucial Youth), features mostly throwaway tunes about being sort of a freeloader with liquor an’ bitches, but pay close attention to the songs “Lyrical Tongue” (available via MySpace) and “Bad Treatment”. Not only is his lyrical styling the most comprehensive of most modern reggae artists, but he seems to pay close attention to the musical details; he changes instrumentation, and makes clear distinctions between verse and chorus.
Last week, Suicide Squeeze released Interpretaciones del Oso, a remixed version of Minus the Bear’s 2005 release, Menos el Oso. The album includes remixes by members Blood Brothers, Pretty Girls Make Graves, and P.O.S. also makes an appearance. While Minus the Bear could’ve gone without this release, there are some definite keepers, such as “Drilling” and “Pachuca Sunrise”, which have already made their way around the aural snob society. In the end, all this album does is make me crave more original material from the Bear.
And that wraps up my Friday night. Tomorrow I will attempt to review albums from Marissa Nadler, Porugal the Man, and WinterKids.
— Nicholas J.