Friday, July 27, 2007

Idgy Vaughn: Story of the "River"

Idgy Vaughn is a refreshing addition to the country/folk rock scene by way of Austin, Texas. Pop Candy blogger, Whitney Matheson, expressed her appreciation for Vaughn's "groovy...wailing" on the outstanding "Red Bone Hound" and after a listen I was immediately hooked. Vaughn's affinity for poetic story-telling and breathy vocals make for easy listening no matter the topic. She could even be mistaken for Neko Case with matching fire-red hair and an appreciation for folk rock with country influence.

If ladies are looking for tips as to how to off a cheating boyfriend, they could learn a thing or to from Idgy Vaughn (she puts the Dixie Chicks to shame). On the mid-tempo cut "Dragging the River", her voice emits a deceivingly melancholy, innocent tone over the dark premise. She speaks softly and sweetly enough throughout, that you may not notice the haunting subject matter, the vengeful murder of a former lover. Mockingly, Vaughn croons, "Look into my eyes/do I look like the dangerous type?/you'd never tell by these small hands".

Vaughn is effortlessly bewitching over the backyard sound of the banjo and harmonica. Her narrative skills effectively make the listener feel like an accomplice to the crime. After watching the victim plunge into the Mississippi without remorese, she concludes, "No one ever thinks that little hands are capable of much/but in the end these little hands were just capable enough". Though Idgy Vaughn may claim to have "small" features, her talent is tremendous. Her album Origin Story is in stores now.

Idgy Vaughn - Dragging the River

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Spoon: "Ga Ga" for a Summer Album

Anyone who has filed through any place for music news and reviews in the past few months has probably read some sort of praise for Spoon. Their latest album, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, has been lauded by many and even mentioned in some early discussion for album of the year. Unfortunately, it took me longer than usual to check it out. Partially due to the onslaught of new records released this season and honestly, I think I subconsciously avoided it because of all the hype.

It wasn't until I finally got around to watching the highly underrated Will Ferrell film (also featuring the great talents of Emma Thompson and Dustin "I've been in every movie you can think of" Hoffman), Stranger Than Fiction, that my interest in Spoon peaked. I waded through the credits to find out who the band was that had me humming along throughout the movie. I was pleasantly surprised to find Spoon had 6 songs in the film and I was eager for more (I also decided I would love to be the person to create soundtracks for movies and TV shows).

Coincidentally, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga had just been released and I didn't need to be convinced, the album is great. It is classic indie rock for devout followers or pop music fans. Songs like "The Underdog" and "You've Got Yr Cherry Bomb" are breezy enough for an afternoon on the beach and catchy enough for a rowdy game of beer pong. The band's Brian Wilson-like abilities for writing fetching hooks and layered sounds are both pleasant and addicting. Lyrically, its not exactly profound, but is more than sufficient as a fun, summer album.

If you are in the Detroit area on October 13th, check out Spoon at The Majestic Theater. Tickets are are $20 before Live Nation adds all of their garbage charges, but the band's shows have been getting rave reviews as well.

The whole album is streaming here if you need to give it a trial run.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Rilo Kiley: Potential "Moneymaker"

I am glad to say Los Angeles indie stalwarts, Rilo Kiley have returned with their first major label single, "The Moneymaker". After the success of the potent album More Adventurous and touring with the likes of Bright Eyes and Coldplay, Warner Bros. Records quickly snatched the band up for future hits.

I first heard about Rilo Kiley last summer after numerous plugs from fellow blogger Ms. Waters and found the folk/indie rock infused More Adventurous to be more than worth the hype. The country-blues flavored title track "More Adventurous", "I Never", and practically the entire set are a lyrical relief and musical genius.

Fronted by lead singer Jenny Lewis's best seductive lounge singer impression and the band's bluesy accompaniment, "The Moneymaker" is sure to catch the ears of old and new listeners. The lyrics aren't exactly ground breaking (a bit repetitive, actually), but the band's alliance with frequent Dr. Dre collaborator, Mike Elizondo has only evolved their resonance further. Lewis' breathy vocals sound as though she is scouting her prey and the chorus is her cue to pounce. The lyrics "You've got the money maker/You've got the money maker/This is your chance to make it/Out out out oh yeah/You'll get out out out oh yeah" could be a mating ritual or foreshadow their impending rise to fame.

Mark August 20th on your calendars, when the band's fourth album, Under the Blacklight is scheduled to be released.

Rilo Kiley - The Moneymaker

Friday, July 6, 2007

Maximo Park: UK "Pleasure"

Maximo Park - Our Earthly Pleasures - 4/5 Narks

Our Earthly Pleasures is the sophomore offering from North-East England based Maximo Park. The album celebrates the many aspects of human emotion from a post-punk revival point of view. Lead by front man Paul Smith, the band was more than able in forming a collection that embodies the roller-coaster that is life.

"Our Velocity" exploits the band's strength in creating dance-able tunes no matter the pace. Featuring a synthesizer straight out of the '80s, the song's frenzied tempo matches the Smith's schizophrenic rant about life careening out of control. He sings, "Never, never try to gauge temperature/When you tend to travel at such speed/It's our velocity." To further the effect, he implements a yodeling dynamic as guitars and drums jump up and down like a lie detector test. It is like he is trying to combat his new feeling of loneliness in the rat race by arguing with himself. Concluding by repeating "I’ve got no one to call/In the middle of the night anymore/I’m just alone/With my thoughts." Interesting subject matter for a dance-rock track.

"Books From Boxes" also speaks to relationships gone awry, as Smith recounts the signs of a break-up. Looking over each detail of the situation like a detective adding up clues, he explains "We rarely see/Warning signs in the air we breathe/Right now I feel each and every fragment." The lines are very reflective and point to the way love can make people oblivious or at least ignore the subconscious. The act of "unpacking books from boxes" could be used to describe feelings that were never opened in the failed relationship, as literature the goes unread.

Similar to Arctic Monkeys and other post punk stalwarts, one of Maximo Park's strongest attributes is the vivid story-telling that evokes memories of nights in saloons that resonate with great imagery. "By the Monument" belabors over flashbacks with almost obsessive detail like a "photobooth smile" and "disparate futures". Further,"Your Urge", a mid-tempo tune about needs that come with shame, descriptively sets the stage with words like "Oh but the pinkness near your iris,/Reveals that you've been crying,/But I don't know what my crime is,/Behind my crumbling veneer."

Maximo Park easily avoids the ominous sophomore slump on Our Earthly Pleasures by playing to their strong points: crafting energetic tracks at a variety of paces that are also lyrically reflective.

Maximo Park - Books From Boxes

Monday, July 2, 2007

Emmy the Great: "Two Steps" to Greatness

Emmy the Great is a young, British, singer-songwriter type that should be penetrating your eardrums soon, if she isn't already. I first heard her on the popular site, My Old Kentucky Blog, and my interest was accelerated with a post about her on the Daily Growl. There really isn't much more I can pontificate about Emmy the Great that those two gentlemen didn't already say, but I would like to reinforce them.

Mostly, I can't fathom why she hasn't been scooped up by a label yet. She is precisely the reason I wish I could start my own record company. She would easily be the flagship artist. Her soft-spoken, troubadour approach is very accessible to a variety of audiences. Not to mention that her voice delicately laces each melody, but makes you listen (similar to Feist).

One of the Emmy's greats so far, is "Two Steps Forward". The run down of an encounter with a past love reminisces about how times have changed since the couples' last rendezvous, including vivid imagery of the her first sexual encounter, religious opinions, and the fun of music before it was a "job". Emmy's airy vocals combined with the impassioned subject matter effectively give a sense of the innocence lost and the pain it has caused. The track is sure to conjure emotions and thoughts of nostalgia over the acoustic guitar strums and subtle fiddling. You hardly notice that there isn't a chorus because you are enamored with every earnest detail.

Emmy the Great - Two Steps Forward

Be sure to check out the Black Cab Sessions video as well