Wednesday, 9 May 2012

2012Candy May Edition One.

Background: Portland, Oregon-based artist Leigh Marble celebrated the national release of Where The Knives Meet Between The Rows recently.  The album is a ten-track follow-up to Red Tornado, which Portland alternative weekly Willamette Week proclaimed "a burning, angst folk-rock masterpiece."  Further extending beyond the pop-rock and folk of Red Tornado, Where The Knives Meet Between The Rows delves deeper into an indie-fied spectrum of soundscapes and experimentation, without losing the lyrical depth or sonic power of Marble's previous work.  Willamette Week said of the album, "...the folk-tinged troubadour bends his signal genre well away from the self-styled punk Americana of his early efforts to embrace big-chorused indie pop and swaggering guitar rock, all of which meshes surprisingly well with his more introspective musings."

The album features guest appearances by longtime friend Erin McKeown, and local Portland musicians Jesse Emerson (Amelia, The Decemberists), Matt Harmon & Kali Giaritta (of The Ascetic Junkies), and Rachel Taylor-Brown.

Even with the help of friends, though, Where The Knives Meet Between The Rows wasn't an easy record to make, by any stretch of the imagination.  It was both physically and emotionally draining to write and record, because, as many know, life will sneak up on you.  Battling his now-wife's cancer with her, and the subsequent depression that followed, it took Marble all he had to make it through each day, let alone finish the record.

Once out of the darkness, and his wife in remission, Marble was able to finish Where The Knives Meet Between The Rows, pouring his heart out, just as he did on Peep, his debut, and Red Tornado.

"This record was mostly written after my wife (then my girlfriend) was diagnosed with breast cancer, and went through months of treatment and surgery for that. Those were sad and dark times for us, with long-lasting effects," comments Marble on the history of the album.  "I descended into a depression that lasted over a year. So you'll hear themes of anger, frustration, and fear all over this record."

It may have taken Marble a lot to travel to the point of finishing Where The Knives Meet Between The Rows since 2007's Red Tornando, adapting to life's unexpected turns, and struggling with depression and the subsequent recovery period.  Using writing as a last, desperate resort to creatively overcome these obstacles, Marble, not exactly known as a sunny songwriter before, goes from drizzle to downpour on Knives.


2012Candy's Wise Words: Having read the background to this album by Leigh Marble, I was half expecting something quite depressing, whereas although the mood is sombre at times these are fine stirring songs that are more thought provoking than sad.
Listen: Walk. (mp3). Web: Official HERE.

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Background: Girl/girl DJ/Electronic duo Moneypenny was formed in the Spring of 2008 by long-time friends and well known Chicago nightlife personalities Chess Hubbard (DJ Mother Hubbard) and Jessica Gonyea (DJ A-Cup). With both ladies having experienced a great deal of success and high public visibility on their own – DJ Mother Hubbard has graced the pages of every major Chicago print publication (usually in a "sexy singles" issue) and is a founding member of Life During Wartime, one of Chicago's longest-running dance parties, while Gonyea has been featured in Spin, Rolling Stone, NME, Teen Vogue, and appeared on MTV and E! with her former band, OFFICE – Moneypenny hit the ground running.

The duo's first show ever was a direct support slot for international pop star Robyn at the Park West in Chicago and was followed by a Playboy "Rock The Rabbit" event the very next night. It didn't stop there either. The group has performed at some of the coolest parties in the US, from the official 2008 Lollapalooza after party @ the Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago to the FADER Magazine party at CMJ just a few months later, and have shared the stage with the likes of Phantom Planet, The Heavy, The Bravery, Villains and Chromeo. With all that noise, people were sure to notice and that's exactly what they did, as Moneypenny quickly racked up favorable press from The Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, Venus and URB Magazine.

2012Candy's Wise Words: I really think I should have heard of Moneypenny prior to receiving this song, thank goodness I have now, great electro music and vocals, delightful.
Listen: Sides. (mp3).

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Background: M. William Helfrich, better known as the Portland, Oregon-based mbilly, a folk-pop songwriter with a knack for crafting time-proven melodies with aged wisdom, will celebrate the release of his sophomore full-length, Malheur (self-released), nationally on June 5, 2012.

A collection of eleven songs recorded over ten days in the summer at Type Foundry with engineer/producer Adam Selzer, Malheur was written in the months following the death of one of his best friends growing up.  The album takes its name--French for misfortune--from the county in Eastern Oregon where he grew up.

"He and I were in a band together in high school and every aspect of my musical life began with him," mbilly says of his friend that passed.  "We began playing shows together, writing songs, and recording; all of it was done for the first time with him."  In a fitting coincidence, the album's June 5th release date would have been his friend's 32nd birthday.

He continues, "We weren't close at the time of his death, but it brought out a lot of feelings and questions that I hadn't anticipated and couldn't easily articulate.  I have a similar ambivalence towards Eastern Oregon, where I grew up.  It's very much part of who I am and I am anchored by it in an unidentifiable way, but I also felt very disconnected from it and at odds with it."

Attempting to address the parallels between his friend and his hometown, the songs mbilly wrote became an album of open-ended questions. "I didn't attempt to answer them," he says.  "In past songs I've written I've tried to resolve them with an answer of some kind.  The nature of the questions asked in these songs is such that there are no simple answers, nothing neat in the way things are wrapped up."

Another thing new for mbilly, who recorded his debut full-length, Mister Nobody Baby, at four different studios over the course of three years, is the structure in which this record was made.  Spending plenty of time on pre-production with Selzer, mbilly knew exactly what he wanted to do with the songs when he went into the studio.

"I knew from the beginning that I wanted all the percussion on the album to come from old analog rhythm machines, so I started using them as I was writing the songs.  I love the way they sound rigid and stiff, but at the same time organic and rich." His thought behind the drum machines, one of the many decisions they made ahead of going into the studio, was that they would create a nice, static foundation for the songs in contrast to the fairly loose instruments on the record.

The result is an album that shines with its late-night starkness and airy, less-is-more instrumentation choices; however, that is not to say the instrumentation feels short, because the full-sounding compositions compliment the space beautifully. 

The Portland Mercury has written that, "… he has a voice that flexes and ripples like Jack LaLanne's pectorals - classic and classy, despite the nakedness," while The Oregonian wrote, "… a sly sense of humour and a potent darkness," about his previous album.  The same rings true with Malheur, as does Willamette Week's quote that, "…songs that contain both a plainspoken charm and a knack for communicating some deeper truth," a style that will instantly have you recognising mbilly.

2012Candy's Wise Words: Excellently mixed music where each instrument contrasts beautifully, and the vocals and harmonies just add to the quality of this song. 
Listen: Malheur. (mp3). Web: Official HERE.

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Background: Singer/songwriter Mitski has released the brand new single "Liquid Smooth" from her debut album Lush, available on iTunes and CD Baby. The eclectic singer personifies an oxymoron as she sports a nightgown and a sweet face in a dreamy effect on her album cover, but later sings beautiful poignant lyrics with an unfiltered honesty.

A worldly musician in her own right, Mitski holds many talents including expertise in the piano and the Japanese Taiko drums. She has lived and learned the customs of various cultures while residing in Malaysia, Japan, The Czech Republic, Taiwan, China, Turkey, The Democratic Republic of Congo and ­­­­­­­­­­the U.S. Being such a self-proclaimed nomad, music was the one constant thing that she could rely on to keep her peace-of-mind. Writing and making music with a true meaning and purpose was something Mitski became passionate about after realizing that songs on the radio weren't saying what she wanted to express. Only when someone told Mitski that her voice was a gift did she start developing her music more and sang in school choirs and talent shows. Currently living in the Big Apple and attending a music conservatory, Mitski has performed at local venues such as Vaudeville Park, Freddy's Bar and Backroom and Gallery 51.

Defying the persona of typical pop artists, Mitski stays true to her own experiences and emotions and relays them in somewhat somber yet romantic lyrics. With a unique approach and distinctive sound, the "Liquid Smooth" singer wrote, arranged, produced and performed all songs on the album with a little help from some friends. All nine songs on Lush are endowed with resilient character peeling back layers of Mitski to reveal a soft-hearted, unwavering individual. Subject matters on the album include "the little things in life that break your heart, sex, and how some things you just can't do anything about," Mitski said.

The lead single "Liquid Smooth" is self-explanatory expressing sexuality and the desire to be loved. The alternative singer injects red hot femininity into poetic lyrics and pulsating piano chords. Her soothing voice adds a velvety texture that only compliments her inky instrumentation. Mitski displays her subtle rock-star quality, too on the album. With the electric guitar-ridden, "Brand New City", she sings distorted melodies about moving away from a relationship gone wrong. The album is essentially an unconventional journey through Mitski's diary that critics will either love or hate.

Steadily spreading her music to the masses, Mitski is currently planning to leverage her fan base starting with an East Coast tour this summer.

2012Candy's Wise Words: Liquid Smooth may be sensual however there is so much more to Mitski's music and this really is only touching the surface of her many talents and directions.
Listen: Liquid Smooth (player only). Web: Official HERE.

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Background: Detroit-based quartet FAWN have teamed up with Quite Scientific Records (Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Chris Bathgate) for the release of its debut album Coastlines, due out on June 12th. In anticipation of the LP, FAWN has released its first single "Pixels" alongside two remixes by fellow Detroit natives Arranged Marriage, and Coyote Clean Up. FAWN consists of members from Kiddo, Child Bite, the Nice Device, the Von Bondies, Javelins, Thunderbirds are Now!, and Those Transatlantics.

The members of FAWN are not only experienced musicians, but a font of visual creativity -- designing their own record covers, photography, posters, websites, and video treatments. They have managed to assemble an excitingly well-versed group to showcase the sound of New Detroit through the prisms of such 90's touchstones as Jesus and Mary Chain, The Pixies, Sleater-Kinney, The Breeders, and Juliana Hatfield, alongside modern influences like Yuck or The New Pornographers. It is indie pop with a definitive rock tinge that tips a hat ever so slightly to Detroit's past in the rear view mirror, but propels you along by offering up the hyper-realism of what ultimately can be.

2012Candy's Wise Words: I was expecting bulk standard indie rock with the opening chords, only to be knocked out by the vocal harmonies and depth of this song, I am now in eager anticipation of the album, that'll teach me to presume !
Listen: Pixels. (mp3). Web: Official HERE.
  
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Background: Detroit songstress Mozella is thrilled to announce the release of her new album The Brian Holland Sessions. Set for a July 24th release, this exciting new album was co-written by Motown legend Brian Holland - songwriter of over 25 Number 1 Motown songs - and co-produced by Holland along with Dave Wilder (Macy Gray & Ghostface Killah).

Mozella - who seamlessly blends her charismatic vocals and charming personality with carefully crafted pop, soul, and jazz - was a perfect compliment to Holland's songwriting, synonymous with what is arguably considered the greatest period of American songwriting history. Holland is responsible for classic songs such as "(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave" for Martha and the Vandellas, "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)" for Marvin Gaye, "Baby I Need Your Loving" for the Four Tops and hit songs by The Supremes like "Baby Love," "Stop! In the Name of Love," and "You Keep Me Hangin' On."

Within a few weeks of writing together, Mozella and Holland put together a 10-song album of sophisticated R&B and memorable pop melodies using Motown's signature foundation of rhythmic bass and drums.

With songs such as the driving "Another You," the romantic "Exception" and the sweeping "You Don't Love Anyone But Yourself," The Brian Holland Sessions is an undeniable album of catchy symphonic doo-wop and soul, sung by an accomplished artist and co-written by an unparalleled legend.
 
2012Candy's Wise Words: Mozella has the right voice to work with such a Motown legend and this song puts a modern twist on Motown one moment and has me transported back to the 1960's the next!
Listen: Another You. (mp3). Web: Official HERE.

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Background: On June 5th, 2012, Santa Barbara/Los Angeles, California-based Roxanne and Caroline Teti, sisters of the shoegaze-rock/psych-pop band Skyline Pigeons, will be celebrating the release of their debut full-length album, House of Mysteries. 

House of Mysteries is an 11-track collection inspired by the traumatic and liberating experience of loss and rebirth, following the Santa Barbara wide fires that claimed their home - and all of their possessions. 

You've seen it on the news.  Devastation over wild fires.  Displaced families, priceless family heirlooms gone, and everything people once had now ashes.  We watch this from the comfort of our homes on the news, feeling bad for the faceless people we see on our TV screens, but that feeling soon dissipates as the next horrific 5 o'clock news story comes on.  However, what if it wasn't just a news broadcast?  What if it was your life?  Your reality? And you lost everything?

Each song on House of Mysteries takes the listener inside the emotional journey of such a reality, the way one travels from room to room of a home.  Skyline Pigeons are able to use each individual song to explore, uncover, and confront the hopes, scars, and fears that become buried in the human subconscious.  While each song maintains independence, their essence is familiar yet fresh, the way a chapter of a book flows freely yet is bound by story—a story with songs intriguing and soul biting.

Rounding out the band with Andrew Harrison, Ben Potter, and Orly Gal, the outfit blends influences as far and wide as folk-roots, post-punk, and psychedelic-rock to create their dark, yet warming pop concoction.  Much of their musical style is influenced by the era of the 50s, the garage rock era of the 60s, and the country rock era of 70s. Throughout the record the musician sisters detail loss, sorrow, and heartbreak—relating to the fire—but also recalling other emotionally taxing or exciting times, such as a break-up with a loved one or the energized spark of new love, loneliness and isolation or the epiphany of sense of self and experiencing the rawness of fun.

The album’s eclectic layout carries a consistent but diverse sound through each of the songs and their various use of instrumentation.  From the upbeat rock anthem of “Get Up” to the haunting and intriguing psychedelic trip into an apocalyptic scenario that is "Fire She Blows," the record is as suspenseful as it is melodic.  Expect to hear the haunting beauty of piano ballads such as “Lucid” and “Take Me Back," as well as sexy, bluesy, garage rock songs like “The Cycle” and “Tennessee," which emanate the carefree soul of California.  In a mix of intense emotive tunes, hidden treasures of philosophical dreamscapes like “High," "Stardust Collector," and “Alright” allow one to forget about reality for a while.  "Unrequited” and “Together” invites one to experience or revisit romantic despair, and the sad yet freeing reality of breakup.

Sisters Roxanne and Caroline’s alto and soprano ranges come together to form a beautiful vocal instrument full of sultry splendor that captivates one with a relaxed seduction.  Instrumentally the record showcases a diverse mixture of poignant piano composition, soulful organ, Wurlitzer keyboard, vintage analog synths, the relaxed yet tight percussive elements of tambourine and multiple bass drums, electric guitar solos, acoustic finger picking, dreamy 12 string strumming, and garage rock rhythm distortion.

The conclusion after one listens to House of Mysteries is that The Skyline Pigeons Sound is a unique entry to the music scene.  They pour their hearts and souls into every note and give the listener every bit of emotion they have, both lyrically and musically.  Now the sisters want to share the songs that have meant so much to them throughout these life - and mind - altering experiences to others.  They'll do that by hitting the road and performing in front of audiences whenever and wherever they can.  For Skyline Pigeons, 2012 is the year of the House of Mysteries.


2012Candy's Wise Words: This album is a must for shoegaze come psych-pop fans and anyone with a desire to hear a band putting their own unique mark on the music scene. 
Listen: Lucid (mp3). Web: Reverb Nation HERE.

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Background: The South Florida teenage native Sonali, is popping onto the scene with the release of her debut EP, Speechless. Sonali is a talented emerging artist on the edge of ascension. Speechless is currently available for download on iTunes.

A multi-instrumentalist who plays keyboard, drums, and bass, Sonali is a scorching lead guitarist who wields an impressive arsenal of instruments. Dedicated to education, Sonali's studies include jazz guitar at the Players School of Music, Berklee College of Music's Five Week Summer Performance Program for Voice, the School of Rock program and a music business course at New York University, where she will be attending full time in the Fall of 2012 as part of the Clive Davis Recorded Music Program at Tisch.

The new EP features rousing songs, energetic performances, and exposes layers of emotional truths within the songs. Speechless, showcases a performer, guitarist, songwriter, and a voice that is truly unique. This upbeat album is full of poppy songs and catchy melodies showcased on songs such as "Just Wanna Love You' and "Road To Nowhere." With a full production helmed by Zach Ziskin, Speechless features Sonali's voice in tandem with a studio's worth of instruments. Sonali is equally capable of delivering these songs acoustically, allowing her honest authenticity to shine through.

As an educated multi-talented artist, Sonali doesn't stop there. Her dedication to community service is an essential element to her life. She works with a variety of worthy organizations, for example all of Sonali's iTunes sales of Speechless are donated to SmileTrain, an international charity that provides free cleft surgery to thousands of poor children in developing countries.


2012Candy's Wise Words: As debut EP's go this one really does set the standards high, Sonali may be an educated multi talented artist, she also knows how to deliver a powerful debut. 
Listen: Road To Nowhere. (player only). Web: Official HERE.

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Background: Berlin-based songwriter Masha Qrella has announced the release of her long-awaited Analogies album, out on June 5th with Morr Music. This is her first original studio material since 2005. A founding member of Berlin-based bands Mina and Contriva, Qrella first stepped out as a singer/songwriter in her own right with the release of her first solo album Luck. After two more full-lengths, Unsolved Remained and Speak Low, a collection of beautifully-rendered Kurt Weill and Frederick Loewe cover songs released in 2009, the latest Analogies LP truly marks a high point in her career.

Analogies is essentially her take on pop music, sitting perfectly between folk, indie rock, and all the huge radio anthems from decades past. The confidence, the virtuosity of composition at work in these songs, their post-rock leanings, shimmering folk layers and hymnal pop gestures, are the result of actual experience, years and years dedicated to actually playing and breathing music. The LP was recorded in a tiny studio in Berlin-Pankow, and echoes Qrella's musical forebears and soulmates scattered all over the history of pop: Starting with her own past and a certain proximity to Stereolab's experimental library music, one can easily move on to The Cure's mainstream melancholy or even to the all-embracing sonic albatross wings of a band like Fleetwood Mac. Imagine Stevie Nicks, Robert Smith and Laetitia Sadier randomly meeting on a walk, somewhere in beautifully quiet Berlin-Pankow or hanging out on a bench in Bürgerpark. Qrella's music invokes a sort of timeless beauty that's difficult to pinpoint, but inspires such images. Ever since the Berlin party heydays of the early nineties, Qrella has been part of the city's musical avant-garde; yet at the same time she has kept an eye on that one thing which has always been the very core and heart of pop music: the song itself, and Analogies has become the perfect canvas to bring it to life.

2012Candy's Wise Words: This song flows along, gently building with Masha's vocals mixing in perfectly, it's all over so quickly and well worth a second play!
Listen: Crooked Dreams. (mp3). Web: Bandcamp HERE.

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Background: Shake the Baron’s sophomore release, Ghost Hits, is a true rock album that simultaneously bursts with rambunctious energy and shimmering precision. Lyrically, it’s an honest LP brooding on lost love, false friendships, and the confusion of mid-20’s existence. Musically, the songs are joyous, with ambitious guitar-driven arrangements and propulsive rhythms reminiscent of bands like Broken Social Scene and The Strokes. Lead singer Andrew Oedel's vocal hooks are smooth yet melancholy, punctuated by waves of thick harmony and percussive slap-back. Fuzzy guitars and spooky synth lines build along head-bobbing drums in lush compositions, creating a deep sense of atmosphere within the band’s pop sensibility. The songs feel familiar yet refreshing. After forming four years ago at Connecticut College in New London, CT, Shake The Baron relocated to NewYork.  They’ve found a welcome home in Brooklyn, where they’ve begun a new and promising chapter.

Ghost Hits is a collaborative effort that was self-recorded and self-produced, with help from the band’s studio-savvy friends. The album was recorded in several locations in New York, from the band’s own basement studio, to the Gallery Recording Studio in Brooklyn, to DNA Downtown in Manhattan. The album was mixed by Justin Gerrish (Vampire Weekend, Weezer, Ra Ra Riot), who lent his notably bold production style to the band’s sound. Shake the Baron will proudly release Ghost Hits with NYC-based super duper records on June 12, 2012.

2012Candy's Wise Words: Shake The Baron rock with natural energy and passion, sometimes slowing down long enough to deliver a song like Big Sur so we can catch our breath, and take it all in.
Listen: Big Sur. (mp3). Web: Official HERE.

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