Archive for ireland

THE MINNOWS-The Sound Of Things To Come

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2016 by TheManicBlogger

I have always been a fan of The Minnows. It began when they were still Tiberius Minnows. I have, however never been more excited by an upcoming release as I am with the current project of these Belfast rockers.

minnows55I recently had the pleasure, and the honor, of advance streaming of several tracks destined for the as yet untitled new album, set for release sometime in 2016. My comments on the material. as I reported back to the band, were simply “brilliant”, and ” devastatingly beautiful”. I am pretty certain that I also referred to one of the tracks as “I wish I had written that one”.

The Minnows have embarked on a journey into sounds that differ significantly from their previous releases. They have embraced ‘Americana‘, and have taken to it like, well, a fish to water. The tracks are filled with exceptionally beautiful melodies, enhanced by 1960’s California harmonies. There are  “twangy” guitars, and some of the most beautifully, bittersweet harmonica I have heard.  This is real heart & soul music. Wonderfully written, and executed. Brilliant indeed! It is insanely wonderful. I am not sure why The Minnows are not world famous, but this just may be the album that gives them the notoriety they deserve.

 

 

As good as the songs are, the accompanying videos for ‘Oh Man‘, and ‘What was I Supposed To Do?‘, have left me breathless, and reduced me to tears. You really need to see these. And when the album is finally released, get yourself a bunch. Play it often. Impress your friends and neighbors. Treat yourself. Feed your heart, and your soul.

 

 

To keep up with all that’s going on with the Minnows, head over to Facebook, and LIKE their page.

 

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2016-WE’RE SO EXCITED!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2016 by TheManicBlogger

Here are a few good reasons that we are excited by 2016. There are new releases due from some of our favorite Indie bands, this year.

 

minnows55Stalwarts of the Belfast scene, The Minnows are set to release a long awaited, and long overdue album. If the track, ‘Oh Man‘,  is any indication of the road the band is on, this will be EPIC!

 

youngbenjamins55Saskatoon, Canada’s, Young Benjamins, last released an album in 2013. 3 years later, and we can’t wait to get our hands on this.

http://youngbenjamins.com/album/340928/beware-of-me?autostart=true

 

lostboys55The darlings of Southhampton, U.K., The Lost Boys are set for a 2016 release. Check out ‘China In The Sink‘, and you’ll be as excited as we are for this one.

 

 

 

thecorsets55We have heard, that Toronto, Canada’s, The Corsets are working on a release. The new track, ‘Drivin’ Away‘, has us sitting here with our fingers crossed.

 

 

 

 

jp55Toronto‘s Cameron House regulars, Jane’s Party, have an album set for release in the spring.  Its been about 3 years since their last release, and after hearing ‘Coming On Strong‘, well, we hope its an early spring.

 

 

 

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KISS MY ACID-Individuality

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 8, 2015 by TheManicBlogger

kmaAnother kick ass Dublin, Ireland band, Kiss My Acid, released their debut ep, Individuality, in September, 2015.  The 5 tracks are wonderfully powerful, with cool melodies, and dynamite changes. Exciting bass lines, and dynamite vocals enhance the blistering power chords. There are some cool vocal effects, and the drumming never lets up. There are no frills here. No bells and no whistles. Just cool songs filled with angst & anger. Hard driving, this is pure raw energy. Pure power punk! Favorite track: ‘Revolution’, with its cool vocals, nice changes & transitions, and an in your face vibe, could be a new punk anthem! Check it out here, and then buy yourself a copy. You won’t be sorry!

 

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VAGABONDS & THIEVES

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2015 by TheManicBlogger

 

v&t1There is some incredible indie music coming out of Ireland. Recently, I discovered Vagabonds & Thieves, who put together a 4 track demo in May, 2015. At first I didn’t know what to make of this Kildare band, but, after several listens, it all made sense.

I heard great beats, wonderful melodies, sweet harmonies, and some way cool changes.  There are great riffs, a wonderfully choppy rhythm on ‘Devil’s Beat‘, and a killer bass line on ‘Uncle Sam‘. I heard some nice harmonics, exceptional vocal arrangements, and an insane blues vibe on “Off To La‘. And the up tempo roots meets pop feel to ‘Stay With Me“, just rocks. This is foot stomping, thigh slapping music,  unique, and distinctly Irish. Incorporating the bouzouki is a wonderful touch. The sound is entertaining and exciting, and it will keep you moving, however hard you try not to. This is wonderfully melodic, Irish folk-pop.  Check it out and get yourself a free download of ‘Uncle Sam‘. And keep your earz open-an album will be out in March 2016. Get one for yourself and get one for your friends as well. Really. Vagabonds & Thieves are that good.

 

 

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2014 INDIE ALBUM OF THE YEAR

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

With a significant number of quality Indie releases this year, narrowing a list down to 10 albums, worthy of I Can’t Believe My Earz‘  2014 Indie Album Of The Year, was no easy task. There are some honorable mentions: Neverfriend-‘Evolve‘, The Everywheres-‘Habitualism‘, Harbour-‘Grade School Summer‘ & Social Strife-‘With Friends Like These…’.  We listened to them all, and here is our pick for the top 10 Indie Albums of 2014.

 

#10     DRUCKFARBEN————–‘Second Sound’

druck I am not certain why Druckfarben has been a mystery. These Toronto based musicians are insanely talented. It is an impressive work.   ‘Second Sound offers wonderful musical themes in an array of movements that are woven together in layers to create an incredible musical journey. This is way cool arena rock, out of the 1970s, with a 21st century bite. If you like Progressive-Rock, Druckfarben is the real deal.

 

 

#9     THE RED RAILS———-A Living Fiction

theredrailsno2The Red Rails offer ‘A Living Fiction‘, a classic rock sound immersed in blues.  The Ottawa band has a sound that reminds me of Cream meets The Black Crowes. With a 21st century edge. I like it! This is not background music. This is an album you play in its entirety. In your car. While taking a 40 minute drive down a highway. Make sure it is a highway. You cannot drive slow while listening.

 

 

 

#8     THE SATISFACTORS——–‘The Satisfactors’

the satisThe Satisfactors self titled debut album. It rocks from beginning to end with a wonderful garage groove. The songs are amazing. They are wonderfully crafted, and played with a beat that just doesn’t stop. Bruce’s vocals are great. Cool to hear from  Jersey’s Fantastic 4! The bass lines, and  guitar riffs are insanely good, and I like the less is more approach to the drumming.  This is rock ‘n’ roll the way it is meant to be played! This is Rock Til You Drop! This is The Satisfactors!

 

 

#7     SOUTH OF BLOOR——‘The Street’

south of bloorThis Toronto band has re-generated my lust for pop with the release of ‘The Street‘. The songs are exquisite 2-3 minute masterpieces. Their ability to write wonderful bridges and changes has me almost awe struck. The vocals are spectacular. The melodies, wonderful. This album delivers 5 terrific pop songs with alternative rock influences. And it works. A wonderful album. A fun time.

 

 

 

#6     TOXIC MELONS———‘Bus Therapy’

tm ‘Bus Therapy‘ is my kind of therapy. This album by Northern England’s Toxic Melons is inspiring, soul touching, and mind altering. The album plays like a journey through a toxic mind, but that’s ok. The songs are pop heaven, with shades of folk, blues, electronic, and some western influences. This Paul Fairbairn can write songs. The melodies are out of this world, and the harmonies, well, remind me of The Beach Boys. The music is wonderfully eccentric.The album is insanely addictive. It has me singing along and I haven’t figured out all of the lyrics yet!  An amazing compilation of great songs that has been placed on my must have list. Very cool.

 

 

#5     THE MINNOWS———‘Live At The Belfast Barge’

the minnowsAside from Yessongs, Waiting For Columbus and The Last Waltz, I have never been a big fan of live albums, but I have to add this Irish band’s ‘Live At The Belfast Barge to the list of great live albums. The songs are as wonderful as I remember them, and they stand up to the passage of time. The band is insanely cohesive, and the musicianship, extraordinary. I have spent the better part of the year immersed in The Minnows and I can tell you that swimming with the fishes is not a bad thing. This is a must for your collection.

 

 

#4     THE CORSETS———–‘Are You Lonely, Are You Scared’

the corsets

Are You Lonely, Are You Scared is a wonderful adventure. Toronto’s The Corsets manage to harness their individual talents into a harmonic whole that is indeed the sum of its parts. Each is easily identifiable, yet needs the other parts to be heard. The energy level is wonderfully exciting, and the songs well, incredibly creative. Add this to your collection. It is that good.

 

 

 

#3     XPRIME——–‘The Album’

xprimeXprime should be big. Hailing from Niagara Falls, Ontario, they write incredibly melodic songs with amazing harmonies and unforgettable hooks. These are talented musicians who seem to be having fun with every note played. ‘The Album‘ is a must have album. Give it 4 or 5 listens. At least. Pay particular attention to “To See You Here“, a 70′s pop-folk tune that reminds me of Poco, “Feels Like I’m The Only One“, a way cool song with R & B overtones, and “Early To The Sun“.

 

 

#2     THE AFTER HOURS——-‘Shaken, Not Stirred’

the after hoursI really like Los Angeles’ The After Hours. I am a fan! They cite among their many influences The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Kinks, The Byrds, The Zombies, The Hollies and The Turtles. Is it any wonder their music has wonderful 1960′s melodies, harmonies and riffs?  The vocals and the guitar work stand out. ‘Shaken, Not Stirred captures the essence of 60′s music. The songs are wonderfully written, and demonstrate a remarkable ability to integrate all of their influences into one cohesive and coherent sound. This is a must have album.

 

And, finally, the I Can’t Believe My Earz Indie Album Of The Year for 2014…

 

#1     THE HOT SPROCKETS——‘Brother Nature’

hsBrother Nature‘ by Ireland’s The Hot Sprockets. 13 tracks, and not a bad one to be found. I have listened to this album over and over, and it just keeps getting better. The songs are insanely good. The production, wonderful. These guys can write. These guys can play. The album has a ‘live off the floor’ feel to it. I haven’t heard this much energy in an album in a long time. The Hot Sprockets refer to their music as ‘country dirt”. I prefer to call it Irish Soul! Brother Nature is one of the most powerful albums I have heard in 2014, filled with the unusual, and the unexpected.

 

And there you have it. 10 exceptional albums. The I Can’t Believe My Earz picks for 2014. Give them a listen. Purchase them. Support Indie Music, and Indie bands.

 

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THE HOT SPROCKETS-Brother Nature

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

hs6I have been following The Hot Sprockets since their 2011 release of ‘Honey Skippin. I was fortunate enough to catch this Dublin, Ireland band at Canada Indie Week, part of a North American Tour to promote the June, 2014 release of their latest album, ‘Brother Nature‘.

The album opens with “Quarter Roam“, with its powerful vocals, great changes, and choral harmonies. The combination of acoustic and electric guitars is wonderfully melodic, and I think I heard some slide guitar in this track. The melody rocks, the effects are cool, and I dig the drumming. The early rock and roll influences on “Boogie Woogie“, are almost Rockabilly. This song delivers a high energy tempo, with dynamite and unexpected changes, some dynamite harmonica, and a great vocal track. “Shake Me Off” brings great harmonies, cool changes, and wonderful hs3instrumentation. The country-blues sound of “Comin’ On‘ offers some sweet guitar picking, a dynamite bass line, and a great melody. A wonderfully lively track. “Lay Me Down“, a beautifully sweet song, with acoustic guitar, nice harmonies, wonderful vocals, and, as an added bonus, some way cool banjo. The western style of “El Torro“, an instrumental, comes across like a cowboy tune, a great song to listen to on a cattle drive! It brings wonderful guitar, and great harmonica. The powerfully “Show Me The Weight” gives up dynamite guitar and great harmonies.  “Women & Chile”  delivers some R & B vibes, incorporating great guitar effects, wonderful drumming, a cool melody, and perfectly placed harmonica. One great track! The melody of “Someday” joins the acoustic guitar picking to create a simply serene track. “Soul Brother” just plain rocks. A wonderful tempo brings this blues-rock track to life. There are great guitar riffs and a way cool solo, wonderful harmonies, dynamite changes and insanely good vocal effects. The bluesy, acid hs2rock sentiment of “Heavy On My Mind“,  reminds me of Steppenwolf. With a cool guitar riff that drives the great melody, and incredible drumming, what else could I ask for? Well, The Hot Sprockets thought that flute would be a good idea. They were right. Amazing! The incredibly wonderful “Homeslice” offers a great melody, coupled with sweet harmonies, over what sounds like strings and a mandolin. My favorite track on the album, “The Worried Kind“, brings a great melody delivered by a wicked vocal track. The changes and harmonies are wonderful, and I hear strings! The song has a John Lennon thing going on, both in melody and vocals, and I like it. A beautifully written and performed song!

 

hs5

Well, there you have it. Brother Nature. 13 tracks, and not a bad one to be found. I have listened to this album for the 4th time, and it just keeps getting better. The songs are insanely good. The production, wonderful. These guys can write. These guys can play. The album has a ‘live off the floor’ feel to it. I haven’t heard this much energy in an album in a long time. The Hot Sprockets refer to their music as ‘country dirt”. I prefer to call it Irish Soul! Brother Nature is one of the most powerful albums I have heard in 2014, filled with the unusual, and the unexpected.  A definite must have for your collection, and a definite contender for I Can’t Believe My Earz’  Album Of The Year. Don’t just take my word for it, listen here: http://thehotsprockets.bandcamp.com/album/brother-nature

 

 

 

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MUST HAVE CANADIAN INDIE ALBUMS-March 2014

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

Spring brings rebirth, and 3 incredible albums that are must haves. Check them out, and jump start the season..

photoTHE MINNOWSLive At The Belfast Barge

Another non-Canadian entry, but just too good not to include here. Aside from Yessongs, Waiting For Columbus and The Last Waltz, I have never been a big fan of live albums but I have to add Live At The Belfast Barge to the list of great live albums. The songs are as wonderful as I remember them, and they stand up to the passage of time. This Irish band is insanely cohesive, and the musicianship, extraordinary. I keep listening, immersing myself in The Minnows, and I can tell you that swimming with the fishes is not a bad thing. This is a must for your collection.

Check out The Minnows:  http://https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Minnows/131768390195614, and get this album.

xprime3XPRIME-The Album

Xprime should be big. They write incredibly melodic songs with amazing harmonies and unforgettable hooks. These are talented musicians who seem to be having fun with every note played. This is a must have album. Give it 4 or 5 listens. At least. Pay particular attention to “To See You Here“, a 70’s pop-folk tune that reminds me of Poco, “Feels Like I’m The Only One“, a way cool song with R & B overtones, and “Early To The Sun“. Check out Xprime’s music, videos, upcoming gigs and where to get this album:  http://http://www.xprime.ca/

alyeus1ALYEUSForty Days At Sea

Alyeus, a London, Ontario band delivers an exceptional concept album with themes that are dark and disturbing, and music that is hauntingly melodic. This is an album that should be listened to in its entirety, from beginning to end at one sitting. If you like progressive rock, and musical themes, you owe it to yourself to check these guys out. Finally, a band that brings back the way cool concept album. You can listen to and purchase Forty Days At Sea here.

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THE MINNOWS-Live At The Belfast Barge

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minnows1There are Irish bands I like, and Irish bands I really like. I like U2, The Pogues, and The Cranberries. I really like Them, Thin Lizzy,  The Boomtown Rats, and The Minnows. Originally called Tiberius Minnows, which I like to believe is in homage to the captain of the USS Enterprise, James Tiberius Kirk, this band released several singles and EPs from the late 80s and into 2007. In 2008, now called The Minnows, they released their full length album, Leonard Cohen’s Happy Compared To Me.. It was a great surprise and thrill to find Live At The Belfast Barge. This 10 track album contains songs both old and new.

The album opens with “Roonkin“, filled with great guitar, a wonderful bass line and cool vocals. The effects add another dimension to this pop-rock song, with stellar vocals that be-cry “Oh no, I forgot my guitar. I don’t know how I got this far“. The melody and harmonies are dynamite and the changes rock. One of those songs I wish was 3 minutes longer. The previously unreleased “What Was I Supposed To Do” contains incredible horns and strings sounds and opens with bongo playing. An amazing melody, powerful vocals and a way cool guitar riff, make this one of my favorite ballads of all time.”The Steepest Hill” has great harmonies, and nice electronic effects. The transitions and changes add to the melancholy feel that underlies this track. With cello and bells, “Baby Blue” displays unique instrumentation within a great melody. The way cool guitar solo doesn’t hurt. minnows2September 25” opens with acoustic guitar, and demonstrates amazing song construction. The melody and changes are great, and there is another very cool guitar solo. The Leonard Cohen vocal style of “Why Don’t You Phone Me Anymore“, adds to the great strings effect and wonderful bridge. The melody rocks, and the reference to Sinatra‘s  “My Way“, perfectly suits the male chorus ending. The pop song with an 80’s feel, “Another Rainy Day“, offers a sweet melody, nice harmonies, and wonderful changes and transitions. The harmonized vocals are exceptional.  “Free Man Freeman“, a folky song, has a great melody. The harmonies again, dynamite and the guitar riff, sweet. The synthesizer and great “chain gang” vocalization as the song ends, kill. “Sailing On” has cool synthesizer effects, a sweet melody, and great changes and transitions. The vocals and harmonies are wonderful, and the guitar riff rocks. Add an outstanding chorus and  wonderful strings at the end, and you have a great rock song. Not often does a 20 year old song still kick ass, unless you’re The Beatles. However, “Time Flies” is still an incredible pop song with a rock edge. The amazing melody drifts over great synthesizer. The wonderful harmonies, great bridge, and dynamite hook, nail it. This should  have been an anthem for that generation of disenfranchised youth, or at least, an Irish Football fight song.

photoAside from Yessongs, Waiting For Columbus and The Last Waltz, I have never been a big fan of live albums but I have to add Live At The Belfast Barge to the list of great live albums. The songs are as wonderful as I remember them, and they stand up to the passage of time. The band is insanely cohesive, and the musicianship, extraordinary. I have spent the past week immersed in The Minnows and I can tell you that swimming with the fishes is not a bad thing. This is a must for your collection.

Check out The Minnows:  http://https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Minnows/131768390195614, and get this album. You have until March 15/2014 to go to the band’s facebook page, click LIKE and download the album for FREE.

 

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YOU’VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY…WOMEN IN MUSIC, PART 2

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Another insanely informative and entertaining article by Frank Gutch, Jr. This time its all about women in Indie Music.

 

Time for the followup to the first post regarding women in music (click here) and, boy, have they ever!  Come along way, I mean.  You can forget about barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen (yep, there were idiots in the old days too) and inequality in the workplace, at least if the workplace has anything to do with music.  Ladies have shrugged off the shroud the old boys club laid over them and are giving them the old what-for (and they damn well deserve it).  Those days when the few women who picked up instruments were allowed only so much respect are now kicking the guys to the curbside.  Consider it the equivalent to kicking sand in the wimpy guy’s face.

I grew up to respect women, to look upon them as individuals (which wasn’t easy, considering the large amounts of hormones which were kicking my ass in  my earlier years) and to consider them equals.  Given the chance, I thought, they will overcome, and, man, have they!  You want proof?  I’ll give you proof!  Starting with…..

No Small Children—  Whew!  I have waited for a band like this for decades— a three-man (er, wo-man) band with punch and grit and chutzpah to show their wiles.  I back-doored into the band, having found them through their guitarist who used to record under (and still retains the name of) Lisa Parade.  Two albums and I was in love.  Lisa has everything it takes to make music fun and, more importantly, make music music!  She is joined on this project by sister, bassist and major voice Joanie Pimentel and the percussive poundmaster her own self, Nicola B.  Thus far, they have recorded a number of tunes, all available for perusal on their bandcamp pages (click here and be sure to check out all the tracks available by clicking on the icons on the right), and have a new album almost ready for delivery.  But why wait?  Here is a video which says everything I cannot.  I love these girls!!!

 

 

Dala—  Surely you have heard of Dala by now, but just in case you haven’t, let me tell you a bit about them.  They’re Canadian, are working their asses off touring wherever people will hear them and are doing on their own what the music industry would not do for them.  I found them quite by accident, having checked in with CDBaby at just the right moment, and watched them wow the crowds at the The Newport Folk Festival a handful of years ago before barnstorming North America and the UK, building a solid following.  Their voices are beautiful and sometimes downright haunting, their music is sweet and ethereal and they have the attitude which many women musicians have these days— do or die.  Here is a song from their latest album, Best Day.

 

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Arborea—  Okay, it’s only half-woman, but Shanti Curran is so good she makes up for the non-half.  This duo have been shopping their musical wares for some time now and are finally beginning to break through the white noise.  When trying to describe what they do, I stumble over words and phrases like “renaissance” and “medieval folk” and “trad folk”, but none really fits the bill.  They are, in a way, futuristic with a serious look backward.  Whatever it is, it is beautiful stuff.  Maybe this will help.

 

Good buddy Brian Cullman is always drawing names out of a hat (at least, it seems like it) and his latest is a lady named Mary Fahl who, for some odd reason, always posts herself as Mary Fahl (former lead singer of October Project).  I had not heard of October Project until I started following Brian’s leads but am well aware of them now.  Mary has had a run with major labels and is now attempting to work the field her own self (though she must have label connections somewhere) and I give her a big thumbs up for attitude and energy.  She works the social networks like a trooper and responds to almost any positive comment passed on to her and that alone takes an enormous amount of time.  Talent-wise, she has a voice and uses it well and writes as well as she sings.  To give you an idea, here is a video she posted a few months ago which catches her in an Enya-style mood.  Very impressive.  No, Celtic is not all she does.  In fact, she is all over the map, but it is a delightful map.  Here she is singing a song from her latest album, Love & Gravity.  You can thank me after listening.  In the meantime, I will be thanking Brian, who is also working on an album.  Or so he says.

With the Midwest and East coast in deep freeze, the warmth has to come from somewhere, so why not from Nashville’s own Kink Ador, whose run at the brass ring the past few years has been a rollercoaster ride.  In spite of personnel changes and deep probes by aliens, they have put out consistently impressive recordings.  My first exposure to them came by way of friend Joe Lee, who performed on the same stage (not at the same time) a few years ago and was impressed enough to send me a link to this video, saying that they were, indeed, the real deal.

After watching that vid, I joined the Kink Ador Fan Club and even got my secret decoder ring.  Four years later, here they are with a summer anthem of another color.  Wrap those blankets around you, you East Coasters, and think warm.  Good stuff.

Ollabelle‘s Glenn Patscha (certainly not a woman) has recently teamed up with two ladies to form a band they call The Big BrightFiona McBain is another leg of the tripod and Liz Tormes rounds out the trio.  Beautiful voices and great arrangements are what they are all about.  They do what they call “new wave nocturnes,” rearranged songs by the so-called new wave of bands from the eighties.  The album, in fact, is titled I Slept Through the 80s and is notable for the arrangements as well as the choice of songs.  Here they are doing a live version of Yazoo‘s Only You.

 

 

You’ve probably heard of Meg Hutchinson if not actually heard her.  Time for you to hear her if you haven’t, methinks.  She started out as far as I am concerned a folkie of worth but has recently (since signing with powerhouse indie Red House Records) blossomed into a strong, confident and well-rounded musician.  Her last album, The Living Side, was her best at the time of release (2010), but 2013’s Beyond That is a step into another dimension, the songs deeper, more emotional, more mature.  This is a search for self through music.  A solid A.

 

 

Allow me to continue singing the praises of Maxine Dunn, who records under the name Maxi Dunn.  This lady is quite unlike any other performer I’ve heard the past few years, living somewhere in the realm which produced so many female singers of the past— Petula Clark, Sandie Shaw, Cilla Black.  Her real strength besides her songs, which are sometimes off-the-charts good, are her arrangements, vocally and instrumentally.  Part of the credit for that can go to fellow musician Peter Hackett who has a real flair for numerous instruments, but most is Dunn’s.  Last year’s Edmund & Leo entrenched itself solidly in my Top Ten early in the year and refused to be replaced.  Here is Dragonfly from that album.  Seriously, listen to the production and arrangement on this.  They are exceptional.

 

 

Lisbee Stainton seems to be one of those musicians from the UK who somehow gets lost in the shuffle, not unlike Ireland’s The Minnows.  Unique, impressive, and with exceptional voice, she has made great inroads in home country England but just cannot seem to gain a toehold in the US of A.  I blame it on Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry, but then I blame everything on them.  Oh, and Justin Bieber.  Can’t leave him out.  Here’s the thing, though.  Lisbee has put out four good to exceptional albums and has little to show for it in North America.  Time for the US and Canada to take the earmuffs off— well, after the winter season, anyway.  Here she does a live performance of a song from the excellent Word Games album (2013).  Listen closely.  She won’t be a secret long.

 

 

There’s this dude in Portland, Oregon, one Ben Darwish, who came up with this futuristic story of the past— a story of drought and the struggle to find potable water in what seems to be a dying world— which he calls The Clear Blue Pearl.  Consider it theater of the mind music.  The vocal core of the band (Morning Ritual) is Darwish and The Shook Twins, two Pac NW girls who are turning some heads.  This is a track from the opus, performed live by Oregon Public Broadcasting.  They have performed the entire album live.  I am sorry to have missed it.  And, yes, the Shooks perform on their own as a duo and in combinations with other bands.  As a fellow Oregonian, I can’t help but have a little pride in them.

 

 

I’ve said it many times.  Rita Hosking is a musical treasure.  She comes from mining stock (meaning her ancestors were miners) and has a grasp of the past that she weaves into some of her music that is quite disarming.  Bluegrass, folk, country, pop— she does it all.  Here she is performing a song from her latest mini-LP, Little BoatParting Glass— a song I have come to love almost as much as a song she recorded earlier, The Coyote.  Remember, this is live, folks.  No overdubs, no bells and whistles.

 

 

The Abramson Singers— How I missed this British Columbia collective, I don’t know, but I somehow did.  Fool’s Gold I had heard through a site promoting Canada’s Lilith Fair tour a couple of years ago, but I could find little else on the Net.  Well, it’s there now, and I’m telling you you should take a listen.  Not only is Leah Abramson unique in voice, she has a real sense of song quite different than others I have heard.  This is beautiful stuff.  Two albums and a single from an earlier solo album.  Listen to them all.  Maybe, as my friends sometimes tell me, I am easily impressed, but I am really impressed.  ReallyYou can listen to the albums and single here, and if you prefer, here is a video of a song from their latest, Late Riser.

 

 

Sometimes I think it’s time to turn it all over to the kids.  When the kids are as talented as Paige Anderson & The Fearless Kin, I don’t think that would be bad at all.  Here is the video which turned me onto them, passed along courtesy of the aforementioned Rita Hosking.  There is one whole lotta talent in Grass Valley, it appears.  I especially love the end where the kids smile, knowing that they just nailed the vocals.  Makes me chuckle every time.

 

 

Women in music, indeed.  I am finding that I am more and more an equal opportunity listener, but I do have a special feeling for what women are doing these days.  Their time is fast approaching, not only in music but everywhere.  Time for us men to step aside and give credit where credit is due.  They have surely come a long way, baby, and they ain’t done yet.  Check back in a year and I’ll have Part Three ready for you.

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