Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Singers & Songs: Maria Usbeck - Silver Pools - Ofelia K

Maria Usbeck - Moai Y Yo.

Background promo - Maria Usbeck (former front woman of Selebrities) today announces her debut solo LP and shares lead single, "Moai Y Yo."

The album "Amparo", to be released May 27 via Labrador in Europe and Cascine in the US, is a collection of songs written and recorded across the span of three years in Ecuador, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Barcelona, Lisbon, Easter Island, Costa Rica, Florida, L.A. and her home in Brooklyn.

Though the songs were composed electronically, Amparo called for an acoustic treatment, so Usbeck spent a winter in the studio recording the arrangements live with producer Caroline Polachek of Chairlift who has also produced Beyoncé and engineer Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson. Fleshed out in full sonic colour on the marimba, xylophone, quena flute, piano, and harp, the album stretched into something hi-fi and expressive, meditative but not meandering.

So my native language is English and sadly my grasp of Spanish is extremely lacking. That music can transcend languages is reinforced for me with this wonderful song. Musically it is superb & Maria's voice becomes another instrument for me, and a wonderful one, at that. She could be singing the local bus timetable for all I know, however one thing I am clear on this is going to get quite few more plays by me.


Silver Pools - Leap Year.

Background promo - Silver Pools is an ambient-pop entity led by Toronto based mandolinist, songwriter & producer Todd Macdonald. Following the disintegration of the baroque pop group The Winks in 2010, Macdonald went back to school, studied jazz composition & performance while continuing his work as a sound engineer and producer.

Recorded over a four year period in studios and bedrooms between Montréal and Toronto, Memoirs of An Oblong Sphere features contributions musicians from both cities. The lushly orchestrated album explores rich, harmonic and sonic textural combinations through blending analogue synthesisers with horns and woodwinds and mandolins melting into warped classical vinyl samples. This process of layering multiple musical performances was in part inspired by techniques he learned from the production team of John Collins & David Carswell. They produced The Winks' 2008 album Birthday Party as well as The New Pornographers' Twin Cinema, an album which Macdonald played mandolin on.

The lyrics for Leap Year are taken from the correspondence between Macdonald and Vancouver writer Shmuel Marmorstein. The two have been writing songs & stories together since they were high school students in the 90s. Memoirs of An Oblong Sphere will be out on cassette April 22, 2016 via UR Audiovisual.

Silver Pools Tour Dates:
Thursday April 14th: Guelph @ The Golden Bus - Silver Pools, The Blue Funz, M. Mucci
Friday April 15th: Toronto @ Secret Venue - Silver Pools, The Blue Funz & Still Monk
Saturday April 16th: Kitchener @ Open Sesame - Silver Pools, the Blue Funz, Eiyn Sof
Sunday April 17th: Hamilton @ Baltimore House - Silver Pools, The Blue Funz, Blunt Chunks & ZONES
Thursday April 21st: Toronto @ Handlebar (For Frequencies) *Memoirs of An Oblong Sphere album release - Silver Pools, Anzola, Ajage No Anne & "Valkyrie... is about to Die!"

Saturday April 23rd: Montreal @ La Plante - Silver Pools, Syngja, Man Meets Bear & Dromia

'Leap Year' is my introduction to Silver Pools and it's a really fine song. Todd Macdonald's vocals are pretty special in my opinion, and he knows how to find just the right musical accompaniment and balance so that both vocals and music really shine. An excellent taster for the now highly anticipated album on my part.


Ofelia K - Cinco.

Background promo - The 'Plastic Flower' EP featuring “White T-Shirt”, "As A Bell," "Gone" and "Hawk Fly Tiger Run" reintroduced Ofelia K.’s voice to the world - compelling songs worn down to perfection that balance wistful maturity with a certain earnest and eternally young expression.  Not quite pop, not quite anything else, the young singer-songwriter showcased her beautiful symmetry with her music somewhere between an unrepressed journal entry, a comforting arm around the shoulder and her smoky, shimmering glare, her eyes so knowingly staring into you. With spins from Annie Mac at BBC Radio 1, over 1.8 million Spotify plays, and features on multiple NBC television shows, the world heard her starry eyed songs and asked for oh-so-many more.

With her upcoming single release, "Cinco," this LA songstress once again sets her sights on capturing the public’s heart with her tunes. As Ofelia herself mentions, "I was embracing the freedom to get loose and play, and I think that energy that comes through in the songs."  And with Ofelia K, you know that freedom can only result in pure musical bliss.  With every single on the ‘Plastic Flower’ EP reaching top 5 on Hypem, and  Zane Lowe premiering, her forthcoming EP is guaranteed to leave your ears enraptured.

This is a beautiful piece of sparkly indie pop. Bright and uplifting the vocals skip and hop across the equally upbeat soundtrack. That her music is already popular is clear by the statistics above, it's so very, very pleasing.


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