Thursday, December 22, 2011

An Ant & Dec Christmas

As is my wont every year, I've been listening to almost no Christmas music. Actually, yesterday I put on a piano Christmas CD... and switched it out for The Greatest Folksingers of the Sixties shortly afterward. Yet, for some reason I do a token Christmas post every year. No idea why. But I do love this season, after all.

Actually, I have been watching/listening to one holiday themed video. Not because it's seasonally appropriate, but because it makes me grin and I adore the lads it features: Ant & Dec.



Ant & Dec (Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly) are two Geordies who have had a prodigious career together as actors, presenters, entertainers, and even *cough*singers*cough* (as they would say). But above all, they are best mates. They don't seem to be very well known here in the U.S. which is a shame. It was only recently I grew to love them through watching old clips of the "children's" show they used to present, SM:TV Live. (Many thanks to a British blogging friend for introducing me!) Before I started watching SMTV I had only seen them once, to my memory, in Susan Boyle's audition for Britain's Got Talent as that is a show they present. Even then, till I re-watched it, I didn't remember them.

The video I'm posting is from the 2009 Christmas episode of Saturday Night Takeaway, one of their many shows. With British singer Robbie Williams, they perform an festive medley that turns into a battle of choirs. All I can say is, it always makes me smile. These two are simply the best!




I wish a very joyous, blessed Christmas to everyone reading! And even to those of you who aren't reading. ;)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Stranger on the Shore

Well, I promised I'd do something different in light of the fact last post was #100 and well, who could get more different than this singer?




Oh, look... it's me!

Though I thought a picture of me with a musical instrument would be appropriate, this photo is rather a joke since my guitar skills are abysmal. The picture was taken Summer 2010 when I had resolved to learn to play the guitar since I was becoming frustrated with songwriting on the piano. I soon discovered that the guitar really wasn't a better medium and the piano was truly my forte. (Ha! Ha! Little musical pun for you there.)

First, allow me a little backstory: Years ago, while in my grandparent's basement, I ran across an old piano book of my uncle's. In this book was the sheet music for a song called 'Stranger on the Shore'. I had never heard the song before, but as soon as I played it, I knew it would be a favourite.

'Stranger on the Shore' was written by Mr. Acker Bilk and recorded by him as an instrumental piece in 1961. Actually, before Acker Bilk released it as a single, the song was originally named 'Jenny'. Its title was changed after it was used as the theme song for a series called, what? Yup! Stranger on the Shore. (Also, amazingly enough, as a predecessor to the British Invasion, it was the first British song to top the US charts!)
Here's the thing, though: I've always thought the song's lyrics were more suited to be sung from a girl's perspective; but, I swear, I have not heard a version that was not instrumental or sung by a male. On top of that, the song seems to be little more than completely forgotten.

Today I am here to change that; I am posting a recording of myself singing 'Stranger on the Shore'.

This recording of the song was done this past January, and since there are many things wrong with it, I would love to re-record it except I can't for the recorder on my computer is broken. So I can only apologize for what is wrong with it and move on. Firstly, my piano playing on this song is quite atrocious. The sheet music is simple so I embellish the left hand while playing and apparently, doing that while singing crosses over the line into multi-tasking mayhem.
Secondly, my voice... is not exactly great. The song is not in my best key. Also, we have a love-hate relationship, my voice and I; but this is not the time or place to go into that. The recording quality isn't great either. But still, I hope you can hear at least a little how beautiful this song is. I really love it and, despite my shortcomings, love playing and singing it. My version doesn't do the song proper justice, but at least it's not instrumental and at least I'm a girl!

Listen:
(The lyrics are included underneath, as you can see.)



Here I stand
Watching the tide go out
So all alone and blue
Just dreaming dreams of you

I watched your ship
As it sailed out to sea
Taking all my dreams
And taking all of me

The sighing of waves
The wailing of the wind
The tears in my eyes burn
Pleading, "My love return."

Why, oh why
Must I go on like this?
Shall I just be a lonely
Stranger on the shore?


Well, there you have it: my 101st post. I hope it's not too horrible. I debated with myself a while about whether to post this or not. Guess which I chose...!


(Supplemental link, for anyone interested: if you want to hear me sing a song I composed myself click this link: 'Dangling my Legs Off the Moon'.)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Laura Nyro

For anyone who reads my other blog, the fact that I've picked Laura Nyro for artist of the month should come as no surprise.



As I stated in the post previously linked, her music has been the soundtrack to my November. (Of course, I started loving her music too late in the month to make her the artist for November.) I've been fangirl gushing about her for weeks now, so I'm not even sure what to say or where to start now...

A few weeks ago, I checked out Michele Kort's biography of Laura from the library: Soul Picnic: The Music and Passion of Laura Nyro. It was excellent and I would certainly recommend it to any Laura fans, or even people who like to read well-written biographies. (I know they exist! I'm one of them! :P) I thought I'd include my goodreads "review" of it since it's not really a review and I've been in such a blue funk for the past three weeks that writing this post has been unnecessarily hard.

My review[of sorts]:

Although Laura Nyro has been on my radar for over two years, I only recently downloaded one of her albums.
That album was New York Tendaberry and, let's put it this way: if I had it on vinyl, it would never leave my turntable

My [now] 13 year old brother who hangs around me a lot, detests her; he identifies her as "the woman who wails." And, while it's a bit of an exaggeration, he's right - she's a wailer! But that's what I love about her: how she sings her heart out. I have a great admiration for singers who convey a lot of power and emotion in their singing. As someone who expresses herself through the medium of singing/songwriting, I would love and strive to have that sort of emotional strength in my voice, and even lyrics. I don't, though. Or at least, I feel like I don't. Sure, nice adjectives have been used to describe my voice, but something in me wants to have a rough, emotive voice like, say, Janis Joplin. So I'm going to take up drugs and alcohol and see where that gets me.

Anyway, I tell my entirely too-judgmental brother that Laura is an acquired taste, and I suppose she is. For a while, even I was ambivalent about whether I liked her or not. But I kept an open mind and now I'm basically in love with her. So there you go!

All this to say, this biography was mahvelous; an excellent look on Laura's life and her groundbreaking musical influences. This book has further fueled my passion for all things Laura Nyro; I am resisting the urge to go out and buy her entire discography.


My favourite photograph in the book of the lovely Laura:




[Caption: Nyro taking a dance break during New York Tendaberry recording sessions, 1969. (Photo by Stephen Paley, courtesy of Michael Ochs Archives)]


Since writing that review, I have downloaded her 1968 album, Eli and the Thirteenth Confession, and while it's fast becoming a favourite, I don't love it as wholly as New York Tendaberry.
It really is a shame that, while other artists had hits singing Laura's songs, she never had one singing one of her songs. To me, covers of her songs are unnecessary. No one sings her music the way she does; each song seems to come straight from her soul. Anyway, I shall wrap this up by saying that Laura Nyro is amazing. I've not had an emotional reaction to music like the one I've had to hers in a long time. Many don't like her because of her voice or the "unevenness" of her songs, but that's alright. I love her. The end.


Listen to 'Sweet Lovin' Baby', my favourite song from New York Tendaberry:


{Supplemental link: Watch Laura singing my favourite song off of Eli and the Thirteenth Confession ('Poverty Train') live at the Monterey Pop Festival here.}

Ooh, look at that! This is my 100th post! Hmmm... I'm thinking about doing something a little different for my next post. So, be on the look out for that...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Meg & Bryan's Record

Have you ever wanted to release a record? Well, here's how you can do so vicariously!

Allow me to backtrack: the other month I was browsing youtube as is my wont, and I happened upon a video of a duo performing live on some steps. The two people were Bryan Bangeter and Meaghan Maples who make music together under the name Meg & Bryan. Since their sound caught my ears, I started looking up more of their stuff, and liked them better and better the more I heard. I love duos, especially when they're composed of a guy and a girl. And since Meg & Bryan make fun, intelligent music with lots of harmony, they were an instant win for me.

Soon after my discovery of them, I found out that they are trying to release their first full-length album. Through the awesome site kickstarter.com (which is "the world's largest funding platform for creative projects") their fans can help make their record a reality with "pledges". (Mediums like kickstarter are quietly, but surely, becoming the norm, and I have to say I am immensely in favour of them!)

Anyway, I'm just putting this out there for awareness - pressure not included. :)
If you want you to learn more you can check out their kickstarter here, or perhaps go to their bandcamp and download their live EP for free!

Here's a video of Meg & Bryan performing one of their newer songs, 'Expire'.






And guess what! I have December's artist of the month all picked out and everything! I'm just eagerly waiting to post all about her, though I suspect I maybe alone in this particular enthusiasm; but I care not!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Memoryhouse

As you can see, I have completely re-done my blog. I've been toying with the idea for a while now, and today, for some reason, decided to make it happen. I think I like it... but I'm not sure. I'll get used to it, eventually; I know I will. (Though I still haven't decided whether or not I'm going to make a new header.)

Anyhow, for once I am facing the beginning of the month without feeling the previous one slipped by before we could even get acquainted. October was a satisfactory month; it's not often I feel that way! I'm not sure what the difference was...

Still, I'm not sure I like how fast winter is descending. It seems appropriate, then, that this month's artist is a group originally formed "to escape the paralysis of winter."
That artist is Memoryhouse.


Memoryhouse is Evan Abeele and Denise Nouvion. Last year, they released their first EP The Years on the indie label Arcade Sound. This year, they're back again with The Years round two: "re-recorded, remixed and remastered", not to mention released on the larger label Sub Pop. Evan Abeele describes their original EP as essentially a "demo tape" which is why they made the decision to re-release it. (You can read more about that in this interview.)

It is the re-released EP I have, and from what I've heard of the original, I do like the more polished tone of the new one. Another difference is the tracklist for the two EPs, the original being:
1. Sleep Patterns
2. Lately (Deuxiéme)
3. The Waves
4. To The Lighthouse

And the re-release:
1. Sleep Patterns
2. Lately
3. Modern, Normal
4. To The Lighthouse
5. Quiet America


I also like the second's cover better:

(It reminds me of Edward Hopper's paintings of light falling on the floor and wall in empty rooms.)


Memoryhouse's name is a tribute to the German composer Max Richter, and their EP is a tribute to Virginia Woolf. Its title, and two of the tracks take their names from Woolf novels. I find that wonderfully commendable, since I love Virginia Woolf's books.

Though adjectives such as "glacial" have been used to describe their music, it is not particularly something I class as "winter music" in my mind. It is music for the lonely hours, for filling the silence without killing it. And in my opinion, it's one of those lovely albums that gets better the more you listen to it. It's also an album that works best as a whole.

Excitingly enough, they have an full-length album in the works. It's definitely near the top of my [imaginary] "Can't Wait For!" list.

Listen to 'Sleep Patterns':




I would also recommend their beautiful music video for their song 'Lately' which you can watch here. (It's the version on the original EP, I believe.)
...OR you can stream the whole EP here!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Salut Les Copains

Angry songs.
We all have them, don't we?
Actually, I'm not really sure if anyone else does or not, but for this post I'm pretending they do. I know a great deal of people have those songs they listen to when happy/sad/in-the-mood-for-dancing**, but songs you crank up when your mood is riled don't seem to get as much mention.

My angry song is 'Salut Les Copains' by Eux Autres.


Eux Autres was originally brother and sister, Nicholas and Heather Larimer. Now they've added Yoshi Nakamoto on drums, and "Ethan" as bassist. (Presumably, he has a last name, I just can't find mention of it anywhere!)
The thing I love about Eux Autres is that they sing in French just because they can. Their band name is even French! (Translated without idiom, it means "them others".) Also, they describe their music as "the unrequited love song Doug Martsch would have penned for Françoise Hardy, had the time/space continuum conveniently collapsed."
I dig that.

While most of the time Eux Autres is a rollicking indie-pop band with French influence, they sometimes really let 'er rip. Such as in 'Salut Les Copains', which is from their 2003 debut album, Hell is Eux Autres. Mainly being a folkie, a lot of my favourite songs don't even have drums let alone loud guitars and raucous vocals. But I think most everyone has at least a couple of songs that are out of place in their usual and preferred musical fare. Keeps life interesting, non?

So, this, my friends, is the song I turn up and listen to with furrowed brow and stormy eyes when I'm especially irritated with life and/or people. Enjoy!












**No, I will not tell you my happy/dancing mood songs because... I don't have any. Sad songs, on the other hand, I have a plethora of!



(And I realize it's rather incongruous to tag this under "la langue française est belle", but oh well.)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Amy Kuney

I gave myself the option of trying to squeeze another post into September, or doing the artist of the month post in a timely fashion. I chose the latter, because it sounded more attractive to my procrastinating self.
...And at the last minute, I decided to change the artist I'd chosen, even though I'd already started writing the post. What can I say? I've been listening to a bounty of great music lately. Everyone one will get a turn eventually, but I decided I wanted to give October's honour to Amy Kuney.



Amy Kuney is my favourite singer-songwriter at the moment. I've been a fan of hers for a while, but didn't buy her album, Bird's Eye View, until recently. She's released three new singles this year, but it is her aforementioned 2008 debut album, that is currently making me happy.

Traumatic experiences (culture shock of being a missionary's kid, being kidnapped while on a trip to Guatemala, &c...) helped Amy Kuney hone her songwriting skills. On her site's bio she makes the admirable statement, "I also knew that I was being presented with a choice: I could let these memories, and the experiences that they represent, cuff me, paralyze me, and make me bitter... or I could turn them into something beautiful... something that other people could relate to and, hopefully, find comfort in. This is my gift."
Though I believe in that particular quote she was referring to her album, ONYX, which is still in the works, I think it applies to all her music, which is indeed beautiful and a gift I'm delighted to receive.
But also, her music is a lot of fun. She has the fun beats without the typical inane words. Her sense of humour shows through in her smart lyrics and also in the parodies of popular songs she's done videos for. (Though, admittedly, I know none of the originals. :P)

Random note to further prove her amazingness: I just found out today that she made appearances in two episodes of one of my favourite shows, Gilmore Girls; both times she appeared as a singer, guitar in hand. I had to google the scenes to jog my memory, but now that I remember I am totally chuffed!


Anyhow, my favourite song off Bird's Eye View is thought-provoking 'Angel Tangled in the Telephone Lines'. I would say a few words about it, but really, it speaks for itself. (And my brain is starting to feel frazzled as I am currently writing in a noise-littered enviroment. *trying not to explode* o_O)

Listen:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Janis Ian

Well, I'm right on time for the artist of the month post! I seem to consistently do them about a week into the month now. :P Honestly, I'd like to change that. But I when you don't pick an artist til 6 days in, that creates a problem...


And, since you can [presumably] read, you've probably figured out that this month's artist is Janis Ian!




(This is Janis in 2008, I believe. When choosing an artist that's been active so long, it's hard to decide what decade to choose their photograph from. :P)

I cannot say enough what an extremely talented musician Janis Ian is. I've loved her for a couple years now (I posted another song of hers a while ago) but my Janis Ian listening experience was basically scattered songs here and there. Lately, however, I've been enjoying her album Between the Lines which was released in 1975 and became very popular, further kindling her re-emerged musical career which had started in the 60's and quieted somewhat since then.


No one's music pulls at my emotions like Janis Ian's does. Especially on this album. Her melodies, oh! Simply gorgeous, and almost always accompanied by beautiful string arrangements. And her voice! There are times it captures loneliness so well, not to mention her lyrics.
Best of all, she sings in a good key for me. (Always a huge bonus!)

Hands down, my all time favourite Janis Ian song is 'In the Winter.' It has been on my itunes' "Top 25 Most Played" for a looong time. It's also holds a pretty high status on my "Songs to Sing While Cleaning" list!
I'm not even going to try to describe why I love this song, just give it a listen.



And for your extended listening pleasure, if you so desire, I've included the song 'Jesse' which was not on Between the Lines but it's another Janis Ian original that just makes my heart weep. (Trivia: this song was also recorded by artists such as Joan Baez and Roberta Flack! Janis does it best, though.)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Rachel Delevoryas

I was going to post this last month nearer to my father's birthday, but some difficulty with the music file caused it to be pushed to the back burner. I guess there's no harm in posting it now, though perhaps my segue won't work as well...

*ahem* So, my father's birthday happened.... recently.... *coughcough* and that started me thinking about his impact on my musical tastes. My father likes music that is different, music that will offer him something more than your general, cookie-cutter fare. To put it bluntly, he's a music snob {or at least 95% of the time he is}. This is just one of the many traits I inherited from him, though personally I believe mine to be much milder.
I really started thinking about it, though, and realized, if not for me possessing his genes, this blog might not be in existence. {!!!}


Some of my strongest childhood memories involve listening to music whilst riding in my dad's car. Mainly I remember Randy Stonehill and Michael W. Smith's Project (and in more recent years, Steve Taylor).

Today I'm posting the Randy Stonehill song 'Rachel Delevoryas'. I'm not sure what album it was that I knew this off of, it might have been a compilation. I do remember other memorable songs off that album, such as the humorous {yet true} 'American Fast Food' and 'Great Big Stupid World' {which my siblings and I enjoyed singing, firstly because it was fun and secondly because it contained the taboo word "stupid". Ha! Ha! Those were the good ol' days...} But my favourite was {and is} the beautiful 'Rachel Delevoryas' which tells the tale of an "ugly", misfit girl who plays the violin. The plaintive string arrangement and story stirred my heart as a little girl. Also, the fact that Rachel Delevoryas was, and is a real person and the lyrics tell a true story was doubly fascinating to me. Though I initially learned this from my father, here is a quote regarding the fact by Randy Stonehill himself. {Quote found here.}

"This is a true story from my childhood. The first time I sang the song Rachel Delevoryas in public I was completely unaware that Rachel's sister was in the audience. Later that year Rachel surprised me by coming back stage after one of my concerts. I had the opportunity to share my faith with her. After she left I thought to myself: "Boy, talk about God setting someone up... what a personal savior we serve!" Reality is stranger and far more wonderful than fiction."

Listen:


{As I mentioned, I had some struggle with the music file, but YouTube came to the rescue!}

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Noe Venable

Awww, poor little blog. Even though I gave you a prominent place on my to-do list it's still taken me almost a week to get the Artist of the Month post written. Don't feel too bad, though - I've been too busy to do much of anything. {Ha! Haha! The absurdity of that sentence didn't strike me til I read it a second time.}

But, I am here now, no? And with a monthly feature that goes to... Noe Venable!


I've posted a song of her's before {'Midsummer Night's Dream'} but that was before I received her 2007 album Summer Storm Journals for Christmas. After I got it, I listened to it but not as much as I thought I would. I had also been given Rio En Medio's Bride of Dynamite and for some reason, that was the album I kept returning to. I couldn't figure out why, until the weather started getting warmer and all the sudden I kept finding myself wanting to listen to Noe Venable. I then realized, Rio En Medio's music feels more appropriate for winter, while Noe's music (at least on Summer Storm Journals) feels more suited to warmer weather. {And no, I don't think the album name influenced my decision.}

Noe Venable's music is magical, I don't know why. She seems like... like a dryad! I could easily imagine her spending all the time she's not recording, sitting in the woods communing with the tree spirits or dangling her feet in a river, dreaming and singing. I really dig that idea, especially since I am a dryad at heart.
Apparently, I would rather wax eloquent on my image of her than offer substantial facts, so if you'd like some fact to swallow along with the fairy tale, you could try her website or wikipedia!


I had trouble deciding what song from the album to post, which usually signals I made the right choice for artist of the month! I finally chose the song 'Ice Dragons' but the album is chock full of beautiful, fresh melodies. I would definitely push this album on anyone who expressed a wish for a nice, soothing thematic summer album! {A scenario which has never happened. Wonder why...}

Listen to 'Ice Dragons':




Also, I'm considering redoing my layout. Yes, yes. I know. Strange that I, who am so anti-change am wanting to change something. Well, I've found... I can accept change if I'm ready for it and if it's essentially my own decision. In this case, that works out swell! In real life... not so much.

So, if I do change it, it will be very simple. Probably very monochromatic since I find myself very drawn to plain things. :P
But, I have not completely made up my mind yet. Stay tuned...

Friday, July 29, 2011

Autumn Tree

Oh. my. word. Today I had one of those wonderful moments where I accidentally stumbled across a song that just reached out and touched me in a deep, hidden place that few songs reach.

This is the video for the song that has so affected me: Milo Greene performing their song 'Autumn Tree' live at Ashley House:




At first when it started I thought, "Oh, this sounds a little too country..." But as the song grew and filled me I thought, "No, this song isn't 'too' anything. It's perfect."
I think ultimately it must have been the harmonies that captured me so fully. I'm a sucker for people standing around around in the room making impassioned, harmonic music {like this}. The lyrics, though, are also lovely and evocative.

I don't know much about Milo Greene yet except that they're a quintet whose music I will definitely be listening to in the future. {Sorry, the internet is not forthcoming with info about the band and it's too late at night for me to care enough to do extensive research. ;)
Their official site is here if anyone is interested.}


Somehow, songs like this always come around when I'm feeling really uninspired. There must be an Angel of Music watching out for me. ;)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Agent Ribbons

Ah, finally - an artist of the month whose choosing required no vacillations or hemming and hawing: Agent Ribbons!


I've been listening to them for several months now, but only just recently bought their 2006 album, On Time Travel and Romance. They enchanted me the first time I ever heard them and I've been listening to the album almost nonstop, it's rather addictive!

Agent Ribbons is, for the most part, a duo consisting of Natalie Gordon on lead vocals & guitar and Lauren Hess on drums, but they are sometimes joined by Naomi Cherie who plays the violin.
Everything about this band is superb: their peerless "cabaret garage pop" sound; Natalie Gordon's delectable vocals which sound equally good smooth as they do rough; their lyrics which are each quirky little stories, always clever and often containing a wink of naughtiness. I've been wandering around singing snatches of songs from this album these past few weeks, it's definitely an album that worms its way into your bloodstream. {That's a good thing, by the way.}

My favourite song off On Time Travel and Romance is 'Obituary' which is sung from the perspective of a young bride who dies and searches the obituaries for a man to love in the afterlife. {Which strongly reminds me of the book A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle.}


Listen:






{Sorry if the file host isn't working properly again. I can't figure out whether it's just my computer or what...?}

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Did You Give the World Some Love Today, Baby?

As I mentioned on my last post, I've been on a bit of a 60's kick. Most of my favourite albums from the 60's/early 70's are the obscure ones. So, today I am posting about the album Did You Give The World Some Love Today Baby by Doris because you can't have a list of largely unknown albums without it!


This is undeniably one of the oddest albums in my collection. It was initially released in Sweden in 1970 by Swedish singer Doris {Svensson}, but did not get much attention until its re-issue in the 90's. This album is a diverse collection of covers and also songs that I think may have been written for her by a songwriting team of Francis Cowan and Berndt Egerbladh.
Wikipedia lists its genres as "pop, soul, funk, and psychedelia". That basically sums it up except I would add "jazz" to the list. The album does indeed have an interesting paraphernalia of songs, from the strange siren-wails and psychedelia of 'You Never Come Closer', to soft ballads such as 'Grey Rain of Sweden, to the almost western fiddles of 'Waiting at the Station', to the big band arrangements of half the songs... it epitomizes eclectic. Even Doris's voice is uncommon. At times she sounds like a child but her voice has a rougher side that banishes any such thoughts. And to top it all off, the cover is one of the most befuddling I've ever seen.




Like I said, it's an odd album. Still, it is strangely addicting and is both an amusing and gratifying listen. My favourite song is definitely the title track, 'Did You Give the World Some Love Today, Baby'. There is nothing terribly strange about this song, it's one of the more conventional ones on the album.
On itunes this song is included on a "Go Green" compilation which is interesting since it's not about "loving the earth" bu rather about loving the people of the world. It was recorded in 1970 after all. Those compilators must have not listened to the lyrics. :P

Listen:



Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wendy & Bonnie

It's always nice to be driven by inspiration but let's face it, inspiration isn't always around when we need it. That's when the desperation kicks in.

In other words, I've been trying to write my artist of the month post for days. Since I don't have a new artist to wax eloquent about at the moment, I decided to pick an old favourite. Well, the artist I picked {who will remain anonymous :P} just wasn't doing anything for me, though I love them. Then yesterday, out of the blue, I started writing a post about the album Genesis by Wendy & Bonnie. For some reason that is what my muse wanted me to write about. So, thanks to my perverse muse, I bring you June's artist of the month: Wendy & Bonnie!




This is an old favourite, like from when I first started listening to obscure music. It's one of those delicious albums that was "lost" soon after its release but later resurfaced and, thanks to the internet and a re-issue, has gained more popularity. Wendy and Bonnie Flower, two sisters from California, recorded this album in 1969 when Wendy was 17 and Bonnie was 13. But fate was seemingly against these two as their label went bankrupt shortly after the release of Genesis and the man who wanted to see them about further recording was murdered {!?!}. They never recorded together again but pursued separate careers in music.
Incredibly, Wendy and Bonnie composed all the songs on Genesis themselves. They might have played an instrument or two as well, but mainly they were backed by an awesome group of musicians.

Their album represents the best of the 60's, the innocent desire for personal and universal love, unclouded by drugs. But their songs still have a pleasing sense of light psychedelia and are brimming with the sister's harmonies. The first half of the album {sans any bonus tracks} is the best, both lyrically and in musical composition, but begins to falter a bit after that. Overall, though, it's a darn fine album and a merit to the creative era it came from.

It's so hard to pick a favourite off this album; I've been vacillating for a while now. I think I'm going to go with the lovely and sad 'By the Sea' but 'I Realized You' and 'You Keep Hanging Up On My Mind' are two other absolute favourites.

Listen:



{My divshare players have been acting up. If you press play you can hear the music but can't see the time nor pause it. Sorry about that. If this persists I may have to find another file host.}



This post has opened a floodgate I've been obsessively listening to lesser-known 60's music since yesterday evening. *happy sigh* I've missed it so.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lonely Road

I know Paul McCartney has already gotten more than his fair share of space on this blog, but I love him--er, his music so much, I just can't help myself. ;)
Anyhow, it has recently been announced that he is going to be married again. I am quite happy for him and hope they will both be very happy... especially after his last marriage to she-whose-name-we-don't-mention.

So, it seems appropriate to post a Macca song! I'm going with 'Lonely Road' because it's one of my many favourites. Out of curiosity the other day, I asked my brothers what their favourite McCartney songs are and this one made the top of both their lists as well.
'Lonely Road' is off his 2001 album Driving Rain. Though it was released after he met you-know-who, quite a few of the album's songs are for his lovely Linda {pictured right} who had died three years earlier. {Read my post on his song 'Calico Skies' for more about them.} I admit, I am just as big a fan of Linda McCartney as I am of Paul and am a sucker for any of his songs for her. I personally think 'Lonely Road' is about his grief after Linda's death. This song has, as my mother would say, "angst". She has a penchant for "angst" in music. I'm not always sure what she means by that, but I think this song could be said to have angst, haha.


Listen:

























{And this makes my third post for May, just like I promised! See, I really can keep my vows! :P}

Friday, May 13, 2011

Love is a Tricky Thing

Ah, me. It's always when I swear I will be posting that my brain gets paralyzed and nothing inspires me to write.

This is just a pathetic, diminutive post to share a music video I'm addicted to right now. This post might have been better if blogger had not shut down yesterday because now I find I am too tired to finish this post properly after this evening's miniature meltdown. {Heh... heh... *sigh*}

Anyhow, I've been watching Julie Feeney's music videos lately. {Artist bio in a nutshell: Julie Feeney is an Irish singer/songwriter/producer/conductor etc.! Let's just say, she can do it all!}
At first, I just watched her videos for the videos themselves, but then I started going back for the actual music. Today I am posting my favourite of her videos, 'Love is a Tricky Thing'. (But I would recommend the other two: the quirky, catchy 'Impossibly Beautiful' and the beautiful 'Aching' which really will have you aching by the end, in a good way.) 'Love is a Tricky Thing' is my favourite because I like the song and lyrics best and the video is just too darn cute! Definitely one you want to jump into and walk around in.




Alright, that's all for now. Oh, on an unrelated note, I turned 18 last Saturday! Now I can get duly punished for all my crimes. Oh dear. :P

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sleeping At Last

I solemnly swear I will post at least three times in May! April went by freakishly fast. For most of the time, I was legitimately busy... {Imagine that!} Thankfully, this month's artist of the month was a no-brainer for me: Sleeping At Last.



I only discovered their music recently, as in a few weeks ago. I found them by happenstance during one of my rare youtube browsings and by happy coincidence they were offering their 2009 album Storyboards for free on NoiseTrade! {I would just like to say, I was perfectly willing to pay for it on emusic but my account was on hold last month and I got impatient, wanting to listen to them when offline.}

Sleeping at Last is composed of Ryan O'Neal {lead vocals, guitar & piano} and Dan Perdue {bass & keys}. Their music touched me like no band's has in a while. Their lyrics are definitely a highlight; they are poetical often with an underlying spirituality. And on the album Storyboards, at least, many of the songs have beautiful orchestral arrangements. Since stringed instruments speak to my soul, this makes me quite happy.
On another note, this year Sleeping At Last is doing a project entitled "Yearbook" and are releasing a three-song EP for every month of the year which is a pretty spiffy idea, I think!

I haven't yet become as intimately acquainted with the album Storyboards as I would've liked, since I know some favourites don't always become evident til after numerous listens. But this song, 'Slow & Steady' has been a stand-out track for me so far.

Listen:









{Again, I repeat my promise: I will post at least three times in May; I will no longer be such a slacker! ...Not on this blog, at any rate. :P}

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tennis

I have been inexcusably neglectful as of late! Life has not been busy, necessarily... but it's been rather strange. I've been feeling rather strange, at least. I have felt very apathetic about many things, mainly my schoolwork... and writing coherent blog posts. April rolled around too fast and I was caught unprepared with no artist of the month and instead of buckling down to pick one, it became the elephant in the room {AKA my brain}.
The choice was obvious, really. But as I said I've been feeling apathetic blahblahblah. But, better late than never, right? So, finally, I bring the you April's artist of the month, Tennis!



Tennis is married couple, Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley. This year they released their debut album, Cape Dory, which has a pretty awesome backstory. After saving money for four years, they bought a sailboat and basically ran away from home for eight months. They sailed around the Atlantic coastline, adventuring and also writing the songs which were later to make up their album. Consequently, they have created the most sun-drenched, ocean-soaked record I've ever had the pleasure of listening to. Their music is perfect for summer or listening to when one has spring fever {which I've been diagnosed with :P}. What's also cool is they recorded it the "old school way" so it sounds like it stepped out of a 1950's or 60's jukebox. Read this interview with Alaina Moore on emusic to learn more about the recording of the album and also why their cover art looks the way it does. ;)

The title track, 'Cape Dory', is probably my favourite song off the album. I've found I'm a sucker for a good "sha-la-la"!

Listen:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lisa

Get your ears ready folks! Today I am sharing my favourite song of the past couple months, 'Lisa' by The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers.


Quite a band name, non? (From hereinafter, I shall refer to them as "The Prayers and Tears" for brevity's sake.)
According to their myspace, The Prayers and Tears are "an incomprehensible mess of a band, comprised of the various members, benefactors, patron saints, and onlookers of the bu_hanan collective". But as best I can figure out, the root of The Prayers and Tears is Perry Wright.
You can go check out their website if you would like. You can even get some free dowloads there, including the EP that contains the song I am posting today!

'Lisa' is a song they recorded for Esopus Magazine back in 2005. I just happened to come across this song on another blog and I am so glad I did because, well, I love it. I love everything about it... the somber, subdued vocals; the slightly out-of-tune piano; the plaintive violin; the lyrics that make your heart ache... All these things add up to make a pretty special song.

I actually think I downloaded the song before I listened to it. The first time I heard it I was a bit distracted and there were other noises so I couldn't really hear it. But later, in the midnight stillness, I listened to it while lying in bed and was amazed.

The lyrics are definitely one of the highlights for me. I would recommend listening very carefully to them or reading along. {One of the commenters on that lyrics site I just linked, says that he remembers [whoever wrote the song - Perry, presumably] saying the song was about "an adult sending a letter back to his eight year-old self." Whether or not that is true, that is my favourite interpretation of this song.

Listen:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Foreign Slippers

So... um, sorry for only posting twice in February. I was going to post again but I had forgotten how short February is and I ran out of days. I figured I would just forget about posting again and instead actually post my "Artist of the Month" on time for once! Quelle idée! ;)

Apparently I've been listening to a lot of great EPs lately. If you'll notice, the last three artists of the month have all had EPs that I've loved. Hmm...
Though I did not do this on purpose, you'll be happy to know I'm am keeping that trend alive with Foreign Slippers as the artist of this month!


{No, I have no idea what she has on her head. I think it looks pretty awesome, regardless.
Also, picture was found
here. Since I actually found it on someone's photostream and not just randomly on google, I though I'd give credit.}



Foreign Slippers is Gabrielle Fröden (with Phil Wilkinson on drums). She was born in Sweden but is based in London. So far she has released two EPs: Oh Death and It All Starts Now. I was not aware of the latter's existence till yesterday. You can download it for free here. Actually, I am listening to it for the first time as I type this. Incredible, right? So far it sounds great!

I suppose it goes without saying that it is her Oh Death EP I am familiar with. I first came across her music a few months ago. Her song 'Packed the Car' was the first I heard and let's just say, I was instantly hooked. Soon afterward I downloaded the full EP. Her music is full of nostalgia, quiet longing and absolute beauty. Oh Death is perfect for listening to while sitting by the fireside and dreaming of past, warmer days.

Listen to 'Packed the Car':

Monday, February 14, 2011

Something or other.

The lovely alabee at Carpenter St. has given me a blog award!

Alright, so I have post seven facts about myself and then pass it on to like 100 million other people which I am not going to do because I'm regrettably lame like that.
But I thought I'd make the seven facts about myself related to music because... I'm awesome like that. ;)


1. I took piano lessons for about 8 years. {I started when I was 7 ½.} When I was around 9 I wanted to stop playing but my mum wouldn't let me. Hands down the best decision she’s ever made for me. ;)
But she encouraged me to stop in my mid-teens when I was no longer enjoying the lessons. And I play the piano more now that I've stopped taking lessons.

2. I love harmony; listening to it, singing it. I just love it. I've been singing in a girl’s ensemble for four years. I used to sing the Soprano part but I switched to Second Soprano and am now much happier and comfortable.

3. I announced in my pre-teen years that I would only listen to Classical music and nothing else. My favourites were Vivaldi, Tchaikovky, and Beethoven. It didn't last long, though. When I was eleven I started listening to artists like Switchfoot and Thousand Foot Krutch. {My favourite TFK song was 'Rawkfist'...? Yeah. I have no idea.}

4. If I had not become obsessed with the Beatles I would not be here blogging today. Why? Because of the Beatles I started listening to other 60’s music and from there I went on to listen to obscure 60’s music and from there - indie music. Voila!

5. I cannot stand really loud music. I have sensitive hearing so I keep my music low thankyouverymuch. {Hopefully this means when I'm old I won't be deaf like the rest of my generation will be... :P}

6. I hate the popular, inane, overproduced sound that passes for music these days. If I have to listen to the radio, I choose the 60's/70's station. Yes, I am a music snob. I am more open than I used to be but there are still a few music genres I can't stand. {e.g. Rap, Southern Gospel, Country... &c.}

7. For a couple of years my two younger brothers and I had a band where I {or younger brother #2} played the piano and we all sang along in high-pitched voices. We recorded three albums in our too short career. Regrettably we broke up… but not before we started a rumour/conspiracy theory that one of our bandmates had died. We hid many clues to this alleged death in our last album. {Hm, I wonder what that’s a parody of?}



Well, that's all for now. Oh, yeah. Happy Valentine's Day and all that. I would embed the music video for my favourite love song right here but blogspot isn't letting me right now {and I am too lazy to upload the file.} But you can go over and watch it on youtube if you want. It's 'Something' by The Beatles. {Quelle surprise. :P}

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Peter and the Wolf

Ah, yes. Tis that time of month again, wot? And the artist of the month for this fine February is Peter and the Wolf.

{Gear picture, no?}

It is a little bit confusing trying to find information on Peter and the Wolf. There is a band called Peter and the Wolf from Texas and another from Liverpool. Not to mention the original, musical composition, Peter and the Wolf. {Which brings back such memories since I used to watch the Disney version when I was a child. I could probably still hum each character's theme!}

Anyhow, the Peter and the Wolf that I am talking about is the one from Liverpool. They are fronted by Marc Sunderland who sings lead, plays quite a few of the instruments and writes many {or possibly all} of the songs. But he gets "a little help from his friends", Hugo Harrison {who plays the double bass} and Donna Dosanjh {who plays the drum and sings back-up}.

I really don't know how to define their music. Folk Rock would probably be the closest I could come. Of course, their debut album, Golden Stars, {released last month} sounds more rock than folk while their 2006 EP Storyteller sounds more folk than rock.
I have only listened a little to their new album but Storyteller I am quite familiar with. In fact, I love it!
Storyteller is an apt name for the EP for each song is, indeed, a story. The lyrics give life to characters and short vignettes that are backed by catchy melodies and an uncluttered production sound. My only complaint is that it is so brief, having only 5 songs and being only about 16 minutes long.


Listen to 'Tommy' {from Storyteller}:

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Song For James

And lastly for my favourite songs of 2010, 'Song for James' by The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger. {Oh, did I mention that these songs weren't posted in any specific order? Because they weren't.}


This was another artist I discovered from the daily download on emusic. One day, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger's (also known as The GOASTT) song 'Jardin Du Luxemborg' was the free emusic download. I downloaded it but didn't have a chance to listen to it till lying in bed that night, listening to it on my ipod. I decided I rather liked it and resolved to look the band up tomorrow.

The next day, look them up I did! I ended up on their official website. I skimmed their biography and started to move on when, all of the sudden, I did a double take. I re-read the first line of their bio: "The GOASTT is two people, Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl."
Sean Lennon... The Sean Lennon? As in...?
And the answer is yes. Sean Lennon as in the son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. {Small world, non? :P}
Turns out The GOASTT is Sean's latest musical project that he started with his girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl who also is a model.
Their debut album Acoustic Sessions is aptly named, being mainly a folk album though it has tinges of psychedelia and other 60's pop elements. Their lyrics are brimming with wordplay {which I've heard is mainly Charlotte's doing} and the melodies beg to be hummed along to.

Listen to 'Song For James':
{Heads-up: the actual song ends around the 4 minute mark and then the rest of the song is silence with some faint nature noises in the background.}



Well, that's all for now, folks. Hope you all enjoyed my favourite songs of 2010. :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Brave Enough

I don't have an official favourite album of 2010. If I did have one, though, it would probably be Secret Transit by KaiserCartel.



Perhaps I just take a personal interest in it, since I helped make it possible. {It sounds very important when I say it that way, doesn't it? :P In all reality I merely pledged as many fans did. Which turned out to be an excellent decision since their Philanthropy EP, which was exclusive to pledgers, contains some of the best songs they have ever done, in my opinion. I have figured out how to play my favourite song off it, 'Lying Cats' on the piano. An accomplishment of which I am quite proud! *ahem* Pardon. I digress.}

Of course, I just love KaiserCartel. Period. They were my artist of the month in January of last year. Even my family knows they are one of my favourites and they gave up trying to keep track of my favourite artists a long time ago. {Which brings up something that has confused me for quite some time: is it KaiserCartel with no space? Or Kaiser Cartel with a space? Because, to semi-quote Shawn Spencer, "I've seen it both ways." :P}


So, since I've posted about them before, surely I need to give them no further introduction? Honestly, it can be horribly trying to sit here and try to come up with something to say that isn't pretentious or an echo of what has already been said. I'm much better in the rambling department, in case you hadn't noticed. ;)

As usual, I vacillated when trying to pick which song off Secret Transit to post. There are so many good songs to choose from! I would pick one and then second guess my choice. Finalement I chose 'Brave Enough' as the song to post. I'm a sucker for the cello... and Courtney Kaiser's vocals are just lovely in it {not that they ever aren't}.

Listen to 'Brave Enough':










And yes, I had to change my background. *sigh* This one I have right now was just supposed to be temporary but I've finally gotten to the point where I no longer cringe when I see it... so I think I might keep it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dead Hearts

There do not seem to be enough hours in the day to do all the things I want to. But I never fully realize it till I am lying in bed at night, and all the things I meant to accomplish that day {but didn't} stand around my bed and stare at me reproachfully.
Here is a task whose glare has been particularly hard to ignore: posting my third favourite song of 2010, 'Dead Hearts' by Stars.


Bascially, I know nothing about this song and the band who does it. The site I buy my music off of {emusic} has a free song download every day which I usually get. This was one of the songs offered one day and, well, I downloaded it. It was definitely worth every penny I payed! :P
Just teasing - obviously I love it since it made my favourite songs of 2010 list!

Correction, I should have said initially I knew nothing about this song or the band Stars. I do know more about them than I used to. Stars is a Canadian indie pop band that was originally formed by Torquil Campbell and Chris Seligman but now includes three more members: Amy Millan, Evan Cranley, and Pat McGee. 'Dead Hearts' is off their album they released in June The Five Ghosts. {See? Aren't I just brimming with information?}

Confession: while I do love this song, I never really have listened to any more of their music. Sometimes I am just content not to buy an artist's full albums or discography and just enjoy the few songs I hear. Maybe that's absurd but, well, *points to blog name*. :P

Listen to 'Dead Hearts':



In other news, I may have to change my blog background soon. You've probably seen the message on the side but if not: the site I got my background on has changed servers so I have to "update my code". I would except the background I'm using is seemingly discontinued. -_-
I have sent an email so we'll see what happens. I don't even know why I'm blathering about this... I guess I just thought I'd give you a heads up in case there is someone out there reading this who is anything like me and hates change.
As Adrian Monk would say: "I don't mind change I just don't want to be there when it happens." or "Don't change anything... ever."
That just about sums it up for me!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Between You and Me

For my second favourite song of 2010, I present 'Between You and Me' by Auryn!


Auryn is a singer I don't know much about. I can find very little information about her and what I have found is in French! I do know that she was born in Belgium and she plays the cello and the piano. Also I know that her debut album, Winter Hopes is exquisite.
I randomly stumbled across Winter Hopes on emusic and, in listening to the samples, decided to give it a try. I downloaded the first track 'Between You and Me' which I soon grew to love. And eventually, a few months later, I came back and downloaded the whole album.
It is an interesting, enchanting album that leads you from upbeat pop songs to melancholy classical songs. It is full of sighs, it is full of joy.
And oddly, only two of the songs are in French.

'Between You and Me' remains my favourite off the album but the slightly funky 'Prince aux cheveux d'or' comes in close second.

Listen to 'Between You and Me':



I realized after my last post that I didn't even say, "I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas/New Year." Please forgive my rudeness. I will say it now!
I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Year! I did. ;)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Jaymay

If you were reading my blog last year, you may remember I did "My favourite songs of 2009" which was just me posting 5 songs I had loved from the past year. I am going to do that again this year since I enjoyed doing it last year. Also, it is the beginning of a new month {not to mention year} so you all know what that means?!?
If you answered artist of the month then you are correct!
Aaaand... *drumroll* January's artist of the month is Jaymay.


Jaymay's real name is Jamie Seerman. She makes awesome folk music. Ever since discovering her first album Autumn Fallin' which was released in 2007, I have been anticipating new releases from her. Last August she released a three track EP whose duration was around 3 minutes long. That did nothing but sharpen my longing for more Jaymay! But thankfully a month later she released a 5 track EP Long Walk to Never with songs whose lengths exceeded a 1 minute average. :P
One of the highlight's of Jaymay's music are her lyrics. They are honest songs of love and longing and very often personally conversational as if she were singing it to one person, the person she wrote it for.
My favourite song off Long Walk to Never is 'One May Die So Lonely'.

Listen:



Well, that's all for now. See you later this week with more of my favourite songs from 2010! *plays ending theme music*