Monday, 18 July 2011

2011Candy - July Edition One

Background:There is a distinct difference between good and great. With stellar musical track records that include work on renowned studio projects, world tours, Broadway musicals, performances in top-notch clubs and festivals, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, TV and film soundtracks, and production on two Grammy nominated albums, it’s clear which side of the good/great split Liz Queler & Seth Farber are on This husband and wife duo are lifelong professional musicians who literally grew up in the business and are now sharing the same great tradition with their 12 year-old son Joey Farber, who is also a budding musical star in his own right.

Released back on April 8th, 2011, The Edna Project is an album of original music set to the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay, and began with a book given to Liz by Seth’s mother a few years ago. While frustrated with a spell of writer’s block, Liz decided to pull the book down and compose to a poem, just as an exercise to get the creative matter moving. It clicked, really clicked for her, and before long she had ravenously consumed every word written by or about Edna. Deeply inspired, she and Seth set off on composing a full collection of songs set to Edna’s poetry. The Edna Project is musically rooted in Liz & Seth’s signature folk/rock/bluegrass sound, but also shows the playful tendencies of their jazz and blues backgrounds, and includes performances by fellow artists/friends Shawn Mullins (“Rock-a-bye”) and Larry Campbell (Bob Dylan, Levon Helm). Joey also appears on vocals and percussion, making it a true family affair.

Liz & Seth are among the rare artists who have been fortunate enough to spend their entire lives in music. As children of musical parents, parents of a musical child, and individuals who are musicians through and through, sharing thoughtful and exceptional music with the world has been their breath in/breath out. It’s not surprising that music blossoms from their every pore, and it sure is good. For many years past, and many years to come, Liz & Seth will be doing the work they love and illustrating the difference between good and great.

2011Candy Says: A fine alt country, come folk feel to their music that is well worth a listen if you have just a passing interest in such musical styles. Great vocals and music.
Listen: Rosemary. Web: Official.
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Background: Eastern Phoebes began as the home recording project of a Long Island, NY, couple: multi-instrumentalist/producer Ry Smith and holistic health guru Meg Bayley.

In January 2010, Ry started recording songs he had been writing in their loft apartment. He asked Meg to help sing and clap on a bunch of tunes, and the band was formed.

Eastern Phoebes released their self-titled five-track EP that summer a CD-R in a handmade cardboard envelope with artwork by Andy Drake. A second EP, “Rods of Energy,” was released digitally in December of the same year. Through the group’s alternative means of self-promotion (random endearing posts on Craigslist), the EP began to attract listeners both regionally and nationally. In February 2011, Ry and Meg recorded “Wampum,” their debut full-length. Written and recorded entirely within the month, the album was he band’s entry for the RPM Challenge. It was released on March 1st as a free digital download. Recently, Ry and Meg joined forces with two of their dearest friends, guitarist/bassist Rick Kattermann and drummer Frank Filipo, to create the performing version of Eastern Phoebes.

“Gypsy Paw” offers 5 sunny folk-pop tunes that are catchy and charming. Eastern Phoebes have a way of being touching and comical in the same breath. 

2011Candy Says: Yep this is definitely sunny folk pop music that can only lift you up. Nice songs and singing for the summer.
Listen: Old Toronto. Web: Official.
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Background: Jenn Bostic’s career as a singer and songwriter began when she was 10 years old, in the back seat of her father’s car with her older brother on the way to school. A horrific crash that killed her dad, a hobby musician who taught her folk songs like “Sunny Side of the Street,” and turned her on to Emmylou Harris and Bonnie Raitt, changed the 25-year-old’s life forever.

“God must need another angel/Around the throne tonight,” she sings on “Jealous of the Angels,” a song on her second album, the follow-up to her promising debut, Keep Lookin for Love. “Your love lives on inside of me/And I will hold on tight.”

Born in Philadelphia, but raised in Waconia, Minnesota, a small town 30 miles west of Minneapolis, Jenn grew up singing with her family around the piano. Her father, a CEO of NordicTrack, played a variety of instruments, including accordion, while his daughter picked up a love of folk, blues, R&B, soul, show tunes and, eventually, country. Seeing her father die in front of her made her angry with God at first, but she later found an outlet for her sorrow in music and writing songs. Jenn went on to perform wherever she could, taking voice, piano and acting lessons, singing in choirs and school musicals. She would sit in with a local roots band, Traveled Ground, that consisted of teachers from her middle and high school, and once included her father on accordion.

2011Candy Says: Jenn delivers on both performance and songwriting. Well mixed songs with enough of her own individual style to carry things off in a crowded musical market place.
Listen: Missin A Man. Web: Official.
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Background: Austyn Sullivan is a 20 year old self-titled ambient project currently residing in Baltimore, Maryland, originally from Mandeville, Louisiana. Sullivan experiments with murmured vocals beneath the surface accompanied by repetitious melodies which creates a wave of thought and emotion. Sullivan’s music makes for a perfect late night/pre-dawn listening.

Over the past year Sullivan has been prolifically creating music in all mediums from atmospheric piano to ambient full-band projects. Sullivan is currently working on a full length album titled Recollections Become Phantoms. It’s a highly textured album of concepts and ethereal sounds. Along side of his self-titled project, Sullivan occasionally works under the stage name Portraits of American Firing Squads and is currently playing drums for Dead Mellotron.

2011Candy Says: This is really well crafted music, that is part haunting and atmospheric however the rhythms really drive the piece along and the vocals are just right.

Listen: Desolation Melody. Web: Bandcamp.
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Background: Started as a solo project in 2000 by accordionist and drummer Jeremy Barnes (formerly of Neutral Milk Hotel)  and named after a line in Cervantes' Don Quixote, A Hawk and A Hacksaw became a duo in 2004 when Barnes met violinist Heather Trost. The pair began an adventure that took them to Zece Prajini, Romania and then to Budapest, Hungary where they lived for two years, staying with trumpeter Ferenc Kovacs who taught them much about Hungry and its  music, when not hunting wild boars and making wine.

While there, they toured Europe with Kovacs and some of Hungary 's finest folk musicians. They have made countless U.S. & European tours on their own and with big names including Portishead, Calexico and fellow New Mexico resident Beirut (whose Gulag Orkestar album they were key collaborators on). Joined by an ever-evolving line-up of musicians, A Hawk and A Hacksaw seeks to create and document an ecstatic sound much like the village bands of old, with the communal aspect of folk tradition and musicianship the key factors.

2011Candy Says: This is really superb and fans of Beirut will I expect be intrigued to say the least. The featured track is only one dimension of their music. Miss this at your peril.
Listen: Cervantine. Web: Official.
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Background: Acclaimed Australian acid-jazz / groove / funk band Directions In Groove (DIG) are back with the original DIG lineup - featuring keyboardist and vocalist Scott Saunders, saxophonist Rick Robertson, guitarist Tim Rollinson, bassist Alex Hewetson and drummer Terepai Richmond, alongside new guest vocalist Laura Stitt.

The band, which hailed from the suburbs of Sydney, honed their live set with a residency at Kinselas back in the early 90’s. They self-financed their first EP, which at the time was the highest selling release of it’s kind, and with an ever growing audience, set out to tour nationally. They released several distinctive acid-jazz / groove / funk albums through the 1990s, including the much lauded "Speakeasy" and "Deeper" which both went on to achieve double platinum status. Tracks such as "The Favourite", "Reinvent Yourself", and "Hip Replacement" were radio and television staples, the band garnering widespread critical acclaim, including this from Rolling Stone magazine: "DIG are the future of Australian music. They know what to do and how to do it."

With extensive JJJ airplay, great press support and consistent touring, dig crossed over into the mainstream with their mix of jazz/dance/old school funk and electronica, and evolved to incorporate new grooves, melding drum'n'bass and trip hop into the mix. They took their unique style across the globe, touring Asia, North America and Europe including the Montreux Jazz Festival, North Sea Festival, and Phoenix Festival on the same stage as Herbie Hancock, Bootsy Collins and The Roots. Dig also played in the Acid Jazz scene supporting Us3, Galliano, The Groove Collective, Corduroy, The Young Disciples, appearing at club and festival shows with Norman Jay and Giles Peterson.

2011Candy Says: Loads of style and substance, if you like to groove then this is spot on.
Listen: Clearlight. Web: Official.
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Background: From the mountains of central Pennsylvania comes Philip Masorti’s second record Another Year. The sound is American roots all the way as the storytelling blends with the local landscape in this thought-provoking record. “I’m walking down a dirty, dusty farm road…” Masorti sings in the title track and the record seems to be a journey through past and present. The journey does not last long however because Masorti can “get there in half the time” as the Great Indoorsman claims on track six. The record is equal parts satire and sentiment and has a surprising depth of feeling which will move the listener. While his first record Father’s Eyes reached #34 on the Americana Music chart and #20 on the College Jam Band radio chart, and drew comparisons to Warren Zevon and Leonard Cohen, the latest record further establishes Masorti as a solid songwriter -by night. By day, Masorti is a trial lawyer telling stories to a different audience. “Trying cases is an exciting experience” Masorti says when describing his chosen career and “I thoroughly enjoy the creative process, developing the facts, the theory, the argument.” The story telling aspect of songwriting seems to come natural to him perhaps as an extension of the day job. “There is no doubt that the practice influences the song. I hate to admit it but there are times when strong feelings seep into my music, particularly when a legal matter gets so ingrained that I cannot separate myself from it.” Masorti started writing songs in 2006 when his father passed away. “I started playing my guitar again and songs began to form as an expression of what I was going through. And I began to feel better. That was the purpose; to express myself and to feel better.”

After recording the first record in NYC with producer Delmar Brown (Sting, Miles Davis, Gil Evans) Masorti had long-time friend Mark Ross produce Another Year at a local studio in Stormstown, Pennsylvania. “Mark was the driving force behind Queen Bee and the Blue Hornet Band and I was a big fan of his creative energy. He’s all about the song and he has been awesome to work with.” The record has more of a roots/rock feel and, according to Masorti, he was again “fortunate to have musicians who added considerably to the mix.” Masorti’s sound is somewhere between Dire Straits and Johnny Cash. When asked about the comparisons Masorti takes it in stride “it’s very flattering to be compared to established artists and I think, creatively, we are moving in the right direction.”

The fan base is growing as reflected by attendance at the last few shows. Masorti hopes the new record will add an element of interest to his music and he looks forward to more live performances, “I am anxious for people to hear the new band.” Writing, rehearsing, and arranging the songs, then performing them live, it’s grueling but Masorti seems to enjoy it. “There are no short cuts. It’s going to take years of hard work to be the next overnight sensation,” Masorti jokes. 

2011Candy Says: From the opening bars of this song I new I would enjoy and when Philip starts to sing it just gets even better!
Listen: Fathers Eyes. Web: Official.
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Background: British Icon John Martyn's Legacy is Reimagined by Thirty Artists on Johnny Boy Would Love This...a Tribute to John Martyn. Among the contributors are David Gray, Paolo Nutini, Beck, Swell Season, and Robert Smith

In the late '60s, the late British guitarist and songwriter John Martyn broke ground by leaping from acoustic folk into highly successful experiments with tape delay, wild recording scenarios, and jazz-inspired arrangements. He became a cult figure among British musicians. A list of his admirers reads like a who's-who of rock, pop, and even trip hop: Eric Clapton, The Band's Levon Helm, Lee "Scratch" Perry, The Cure's Robert Smith, Beck, Morcheeba.

To honor his life, thirty artists reveal the full breadth of Martyn's creativity on Johnny Boy Would Love This...A Tribute to John Martyn (Hole in the Rain; August 16, 2011). The package will include a double CD digi-pak, 40-page booklet, and DVD that will feature interviews with a number of the contributing artists, performance videos, and rare live performances by John himself. Adding to this unique audio experience is the inclusion of John's actual guitar work on two of the tracks.

Musicians from several generations take on Martyn's intense, sometimes joyful and sometimes despairing, but always influential work. They come from the fertile acoustic fringes (Vetiver, Beth Orton) and from the heart of rock and pop (Robert Smith, Phil Collins). They are elders of blues (Clarence Fountain and Sam Butler of the Blind Boys of Alabama) and young up-and-comers (John Smith and Sabrina Dinan).

2011Candy Says: Plenty of fine folk putting their own interpretation on John Martyn's musical legacy. Robert Smith brings elements of The Cure to the featured track and is a taste of how Johns music can be reworked.
Listen: Small Hours (Robert Smith). Web: Official.
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Background: Kevin Devine has a new full length album, 'Between the Concrete and Clouds', that will be released September 13th, 2011 via Razor & Tie / Favorite Gentlemen.  Devine will head out this fall on a headlining tour with The Features as direct support on its first leg.  The tour will kick off on September 6th in Pittsburgh, PA at Club AE and make stops nationwide, concluding in Upland, CA at The Wire.

Between The Concrete & Clouds is a record full of firsts for Devine, both sonically and technically.  Perhaps best known for his solo acoustic musings, this is the first record he's made that is fully backed by a band.  After settling back home in Brooklyn after being on tour for most of 2009 and '10, Devine spent time in his rehearsal space playing around with ideas on his own, bringing shape to the songs by recording them as acoustic demos, something he hasn't done since high school.

Produced by longtime collaborator Chris Bracco and mixed by Rob Schnapf (Beck, Elliott Smith, Dr. Dog), Between the Concrete & Clouds was recorded in 10 days over a span of a month.  The 10 track album features musicians Brian Bonz (keyboard), Chris Bracco (bass, keyboard), Mike Fadem (drums, percussion), Russell Smith (electric guitar), and Mike Strandberg (guitar, mandolin).  This is the first recording Devine's done with his version of this band, and it had an inspired impact on the final product.

2011Candy Says: Kevin has delivered a solid sounding album based on the strength of this song. It's the only track I have heard so far and a fine taster.
Listen: Concrete and Clouds. Web: MySpace.
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Background: Putting all the pieces together. It's what Manchester's Blind Atlas excels at, and it's what makes their music so unique. They've assembled a band of multi-instrumentalists to synthesize disparate influences: The Rolling Stones to Townes Van Zandt right through to artists such as Calexico and Bonnie 'Prince' Billy to create a "melting pot of British and American Rock N' Roll." Even the band's name was a jigsaw puzzle assembled from distinct sources. "We just got together, got drunk and chopped up lots of words à la Bowie or William Burroughs," says singer Ross Thompson. "Then we just pulled them out of a hat and Blind Atlas was born."

Their latest EP, "Iron Wall," recorded with Christian Madden from the Earlies, at Modern English Studios, showcases the band's team writing style in the three tracks, which range in sound from the dark tribal title track, to the decidedly country "Mary Anne" to "My Proud Mountains", originally written and recorded by Townes Van Zandt, reinterpreted with sweet harmonies and delicate electric guitar. This last track has a special meaning for Thompson, a transplant to Manchester from Denver roots. "Iron Wall" will be released July 25th.

Hailing from Denver and disparate points around the U.K., Blind Atlas came together in the bohemian suburbs of south Manchester, united by a shared preoccupation with drinking, failed relationships and the Flying Burrito Brothers. They've received airplay on BBC Radio 2's Whispering Bob Harris and BBC6 Music. They have also notched up headline slots at some of Manchester's most iconic venues, as well as supporting the likes of Lucy Wainwright Roche, The Deadstring Brothers, The Features, The Acorn, The Travelling Band, Blitzen Trapper, Buffalo Tom and The Bees.

2011Candy Says: A fine song to finish this round up with. Great harmonies and musicianship. Superb!
Listen: Mary Anne. Web: Official.
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Listen:

1 comment:

Ralph Dodger said...

Thanks. Hadn't heard of Kevin Devine before but will be checking him out in future.