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The Cool Whips-‘baddies’

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 28, 2017 by TheManicBlogger

 

Its been about a week since i received a copy of The Cool Whips new album ‘baddies‘. I have been listening to it non stop. Everywhere I have been, I have been listening to this Portland, Oregon band’s follow up to their 2014 release,  ‘goodies‘. I have played it for family, friends, ex band mates, and music loving neighbors, because its that good! 12 1960’s  pop songs that excite and entertain. The album flows with unforgettable melodies, sweet harmonies, and seamless changes. The songs deliver wonderful riffs, and the prominent use of organ is brilliant. I hear shades of The Hollies, The Zombies, and The Beatles, and there are 2 tracks that could be in the dance scenes of any Frankie & Annette movie. The lyrics are clever, with gems like “hasn’t had much cool since he cut off his shag” just one of the reasons  ‘My Old Man Is A Drag‘, and the arrangements are complex in their simplicity. A wonderfully stylish album that delivers an exceptionally good time. Favorite tracks: ‘Inside Outsider‘, ‘Liberace’s Lamp‘, and ‘There Must Have Been Sugar On It‘. You should check out ‘baddies‘  and if you haven’t, its probably time to check out ‘goodies‘ as well.

 

 

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FRUITION-Labor Of Love

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 27, 2016 by TheManicBlogger

fruitionFruition, based in Portland, Oregon, released their latest album, Labor Of Love, in April, 2016. Filled with addictive melodies, insanely good 3 part harmonies, and catchy hooks, the songs are wonderfully inspiring, with infectious musical references to Reggae, and Louisiana Swamp Music.  I heard mandolin, 12 string acoustic guitar, dobro, banjo, violin, cello, and some way cool organ. The varied instrumentation is exciting, and allows for some wonderfully creative arrangements. 10 tracks of roots-soul music at its best. Favorite tracks: ‘Labor Of Love‘, ‘Early Morning Wake Up‘, and ‘Death Comes Knocking‘.

You can check it out for yourself on their bandcamp page, and then buy a few copies. Share it with friends & family. Definitely one to consider for I Can’t Believe My Earz Indie Album Of The Year, 2016.

 

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THE COOL WHIPS-Goodies

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 19, 2015 by TheManicBlogger

I don’t know how I missed this until now. The Pacific Northwest has produced its fair share of incredible Indie Music, but I seem to have missed Portland, Oregon’s The Cool Whips. The release of their 12 track album ‘Goodies‘ in November 2014, may have come to me late, but this wonderful blend of 1960’s Brit pop and American power pop will not soon be forgotten.

the cool whips2The album kicks off with ‘Tickle Me With A Feather Duster‘, with a dynamite 60s beach/surf melody, great harmonies, and lyric like “come on babe don’t filibuster, don’t be such a little tease, tickle me with a feather duster, please”, and a few “yeah, yeah, yeah”s for good measure. ‘Move Over Aphrodite‘ delivers a great bridge, some way cool reverb, and  wonderful farfisa. With a great hook, and wonderfully pop hand clapping, ‘On The Seesaw‘ has a way cool Frankie & Annette, Beach Blanket thing going on. ‘She Did A Number On Me‘, offers a great melody, nice harmonies, a cool riff, and wonderful keys. ‘A Complicated Man‘ gives a terrific bridge, with some really sweet guitar, which is highlighted again in ‘Lost In The Summertime‘. The keys in ‘Where Can That Girl Be?‘ are the cool whips3reminiscent of Manfred Mann, as it highlights the way cool changes, and killer bridge. ‘A Vague Sense Of Dissatisfaction‘ delivers some wonderful harmonies, while ‘Turpentine‘ offers a great guitar solo, and more tongue in cheek lyric with “she tells me what to do. I think I like it too”.  The guitar rocks in ‘The Man I Never Was‘, and once again, the keys are incredible. ‘Pink Lemonade‘, offers wonderful harmonies, an exceptional melody, and a great hook. The riff is way cool, and I dig the Beatleseque vocals. The final track, ‘Boom-Shang-A-Lang‘, throws in some dynamite hand clapping to an unforgettable chorus, and hook. The keys are great, the guitar sweet. A perfect song to close out the album. Favorite tracks: ‘Tickle Me With A Feather Duster’, ‘Pink Lemonade’, and ‘Boom-Shang-A-Lang’.

 

 

the cool whips1‘Goodies’ is a wonderfully fun time. 12 amazing songs with unforgettable melodies, sweet harmonies, and addictive hooks. Add to all that great changes, and farfisa, and you get a  perfectly pop album! Amazingly cool!  I like this band. I like the sound. I like the album. Despite being released at the end of 2014, we just have to bend the rules and include it in the I Can’t Believe My Earz Indie Album Of The Year for 2015. It is just that good! Check it out for yourself: https://thecoolwhips.bandcamp.com/ and then buy 1 or 2. Definitely a must have album.

 

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CMW 2015-Losing My Head With The JAPANESE TONGUE SISTERS

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2015 by TheManicBlogger

cmw2So, I sat down with Sophie Rodgers & Tom Cecins of the Australian band Japanese Tongue Sisters, on a sun soaked patio on Queen St.W. during Canadian Music Week.

We talked about their upcoming EP release which surprisingly was recorded in Portland, Oregon. Quite a long way from Perth, Australia. It seems that JTS was impressed with producer Kris Crummett, who they had met in their former band We Are The Emergency. So, while they were vacationing in the USA, they bounced over to Portland and recorded the album. There was talk of the emergence of the JTS sound, a far cry from the punk-metal music of We Are The Emergency. Tom identified that they were more or less ‘hired guns’ in that band, and in JTS, they are the driving creative force. I asked them about a review by a Perth writer who stated that their music had a chilled vibe. Tom almost instinctively informed me that chilled vibe was Australian for ‘really fucking good’.

jts3The band uses an wide array of instruments, ideas for which arise in the writing process and in the studio. They do however, have plans to introduce a harp into their work. Now I am intrigued! JTS talks about their songs as “dressed up simple songs”, identifying them as being stripped down to basics, with layers added. Sophie adds that the inspiration for the songs come from personal events for her, while Tom is more of a storyteller.

Currently, Tom is listening to Australian singer/songwriter Sia, and Sophie, well, she has been listening to Bruno Mars. And other pop artists. And Hip Hop. Their musical interests are quite varied, with both of them agreeing that the albums they would take on a desert island would be History by Michael Jackson, Takk by Icelandic band Sigur Ros, and Bon Iver‘s Bon Iver.

jts2We talked about the Australian music scene, and I was informed that JTS have moved from Perth to Melbourne. The reason? Primarily because Perth is so very isolated. Sophie identified that many touring acts bypass Perth as it is so far away from the East coast cities. It was added that Perth does have its own thing going on, which is not surprising, I mean Perth is the home of INXS! Tom & Sophie are planning on tackling Melbourne and the East coast Australian scene head on. Playing as many gigs as they can in advance of their EP release, and continuing to evolve as songwriters.

jts1Sitting down and talking with The Japanese Tongue Sisters was definitely a Canadian Music Week highlight for me. They are delightfully laid back, and wonderfully cool people. Their music is brilliantly poignant, a rhythm & blues feel with layers of strings, piano, synthesizer, and guitar, and insanely good harmonies. It is this intricate layering of instruments that creates the signature ambient sound of The Japanese Tongue Sisters. The music is excitingly emotive. This is avant-garde ‘Roo Pop‘ at its best! I am a fan!  I am eagerly waiting for the release of the album, and in the meantime, I will continue to listen to their single “Lose My Head“.

 

 

Check out their facebook page for updates on the album release and where to see them live.    https://www.facebook.com/japanesetonguesisters

 

 

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THE WAILERS vs. THE SONICS: Grudge Match In Garageville, 1966!!

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 Frank Gutch, Jr. relives his youth and a remarkable musical experience. Interestingly, he lived to tell us about it in a way that only Frank could. 

 

Note:  I have rewritten this a couple of times.  The original was posted by chaoticculture.com back in 2004, a site which disappeared shortly afterward.  I recently discovered a copy of the original article stashed in some old boxes.  This was my first attempt at telling the story of a magical night at the Albany, Oregon National Guard Armory on a weekend night with what would become two bands of legendary status…..

sonics3Picture yourself in pegged Levis and a short-sleeved white shirt with tab collar, perfect with the short thin black clip-on black tie you just picked up at the Robert’s Men Clothing Store on Main Street in Sweet Home, Oregon.  You pull your best pair of low-top Converse All-Stars (black, of course) out of the box you keep stashed under the bed and string the laces just right before putting them on.  Then it’s into the bathroom for a palm full of Butch Wax (a little extra for that great smell) and a mere ten minutes later (it takes time to get it just right), you’re ready to hit Dad up for the keys to the car.  Maybe you have a date, maybe not, but for once it doesn’t matter.  Tonight, it’s The Sonics vs. The Wailers at the Albany Guard Armory!

You grab the three dollars you saved from your allowances over the past month, stash the cash in your front pocket and ricochet down the stairs, screaming for the alpha dog to toss you the keys.  Time is of the essence here, you see.  Kids are coming from all over.  Have to get there early.

The Big Kahuna fork-balls the keys in your direction with a mumble about safety and keep it in your pants or something, but you don’t hear.  You’re already out the door and in the car, frantically punching the radio dial to KGAL, 920 on that AM dial, though it could just as easily be KFLY or KRKT, the other heavyweights.  Three high-flyin’ rockin’ stations vying for your musical attention.  I mean, they’re BEGGING you to listen!

wailerstreeThe music fades in slowly as the tubes warm up, you slam that puppy into gear and SHAZAM!  You’re on that magic carpet ride to Garageville, known as the Guard Armory.  A square brick/stone building two towns over on the edge of downtown Albany, it houses the facilities for an arm of the Oregon National Guard but in the teen world is a musical mecca.  Some of the biggest rock acts in the Pac Northwest have played there.  Don & The Goodtimes, The Bards, Paul Bearer & The Hearsemen!  And tonight, The Sonics and The Wailers!  It doesn’t get better than this!

As you look for a place to park, you notice groups of teens heading in the direction of the armory, mostly guys but a few girls, too.  It is, after all, a dance.  Five blocks distant, you maneuver the family tank into a too-small spot next to the curb.  It’s tight but it fits and that’s all that matters.  More kids saunter by and you jump from the car and head quickly in the same direction, anxious, The Witch and Out of Our Tree competing for mental music dominance.

You’re slightly out of breath but not sweating as you reach the door.  As you reach into your pocket for the three bucks, your heart stops.  The Money!  But you realize your mistake and check the other pocket and there it is.  Heart beating, you are beckoned through the door and into a vast echoing man-made cavern.  You stand, amazed, and wonder how many kids they could pack in there until you’re bumped out of your stupor by some jerks you don’t recognize.  It’s okay because they have vaulted you in the direction of the risers, a stage of sorts, and right there before you, in most of their glory (the rest still being extracted from the back of a crummy) are the instruments, according to some, of social carnage.  Many times you have laughed at comments heard on the streets or printed in the papers and you laugh once again, because rock and roll crawls under the psychic skin of traditionalists and causes a prickly rash on the order of spiritual blood blisters, and to a red-blooded teenager, rock and roll is worth it for that alone.

The equipment is awe-inspiring:  Two full sets of drums, numerous guitars, amps aplenty.  Two keyboards, but one sticks out— a new Sunn model, almost space-age in design and, wow, ready to be plugged into a beautiful new Sunn amp connected to two cabinets of what has to be either four 12-inch or two 15-inch speakers.  The larger of the two drum sets has a variety of boxes behind it, most notably one holding a full dozen pairs of Ludwig 2B drum sticks, thick as foot-long hot dogs and ready for battle.  This is going to be, you are now convinced, a night to remember.

You move to a side wall and watch the kids mill about, connecting and disconnecting at will, attached and repelled and sometimes repulsed, but always moving.  A tension takes form and like steam in a hot shower slowly soaks teen consciousness into submission and the activity dwindles.  Then, a thwack of a drum and a plunk of a guitar silences the crowd, for battle is about to be joined.  In a group, kids shuffle ever so slightly toward the stage without even realizing.  It is the worker scene in Metropolis all over again, wax robots drawn to the flame.  Then…  the holocaust!

thesonicsccoverThe Sonics open with an instrumental you don’t recognize and a handful of kids float to the center of the dance floor and the dancing begins.  A roadie floats across the stage, a housefly lighting on whatever needs to be adjusted— a cymbal stand here, a mike cord there.  The song seems interminable because what you really came to hear is The Witch and Psycho and the handful of other crunching tributes to insanity for which the band is known.  They move to a somewhat lame version of Have Love Will Travel, a Northwest teen dance standard, and disappointment takes root.  These guys…  they don’t sound like they do on  radio.  Where’s the power?  And you want to jump up on stage and plug their instruments into the much larger bank of amps evidently reserved for The Wailers, but you don’t.  You stand rooted to the spot chosen for the night, toward the right side of the stage and in front of the guitarist’s amp.  By the fourth song, you wonder if maybe there hasn’t been sonics4some big mistake and these guys aren’t really The Sonics when WHAM!  They break into Psycho and the crowd cheers.  Gerry Roslie, the singer, is in good form, but not great.  The voice is stilted and a little wanting, but as the song progresses, he livens to the task.  “Baby…,” he screams, “you’re drivin’ me crazy,” and the more he sings it the better it gets until it is just right.  When it comes to “Psycho,” the crowd shouts in unison and the race is on.

 

sonics2It is Roslie’s time and he knows it.  Maniac that he is at times, he feeds off of teen spirit and they, in turn, feed off him until the place really begins to rock!  Cinderella follows Strychnine follows Boss Hoss in a hurricane of Sonics hits until the band tops everything off with what the crowd has been waiting for— the band’s signature song, The Witch.

 

Then, all too soon, just when the blood is starting to flow, it’s over.  Kids on the dance floor stop, mid-jerk and, like the wily coyote in the roadrunner cartoons, fall off the cliff.  Sweaty and breathing hard, they flood the concession stand and the overhead lights come on and you go back to watching.

 

It’s quite the mixture here, as it is at all teen dances.  Girls in ratted hair and wearing camel-hair sweaters (a classic ’60s guy joke) and guys in skin tight pegged pants.  Long hair has yet to make the scene this far north and most guys have short cuts of some kind— crewcuts or flat tops or the classic mixture, flat top with fenders.  The older guys have longer hair, mostly greased back a la Gene Vincent.  Tons of Brylcreem on those guys’ heads.  Looking around, you wish that Dad would let you grow yours out but you know that ain’t gonna happen.  Still, dinosaur that he is, he let you have the car and that counts more than anything at this point and time.

 

The Sonics‘ meager equipment is being swept aside and in no time, The Wailers‘ amps and guitars are lined up and plugged in.  Drums are shuffled into position, mikes are adjusted to the tune of “test, test” and finger thumps, and when everything is right, the stage becomes desert, nothing left but the hum of the amps and low lighting.  Once again, the tension builds though a small number of the kids have left, having come for The Sonics and The Sonics alone.  Even at that, the place is crowded and you have to wind your way back through the crowd to reclaim your place in front of the stage.

 

A couple of musician buddies stop by and give you the lowdown on the sound, which was evidently muddled toward the back.  Too bad, you think, glad that you stayed put because they sounded great from your vantage point.  After they warmed up, that is.

 

wailers1The lights go down and you notice the drummer snaking his way through cords and equipment to the drum stool, thumping the bass drum and adjusting the snare and cymbals.  Then the DJ grabs a mike and makes a heady introduction, something about all the way from Tacoma (which does seem like a different country, it is so far away), The Fab-you-luss Wayyyy-lers and they, like The Sonics, launch into an instrumental, but this one you recognize— Tall Cool One, a national hit from a few years before.  Another warm-up, you think, and you are right because right after, without missing a beat, it is surf city, some tune straight out of The Ventures‘ songbook.  All the while, their roadie is fluttering about the stage, moving mikes and adjusting cords (duct tape in hand) and talking with Kent Morrill, the keyboard man, until everything is finally to Morrill’s liking, it seems, because at that point the roadie disappears behind the amps only to be seen when needed.

 

wailerseverywhereNext up is Louie Louie, a song owned by the Pac Northwest, then some rocker you don’t recognize, and a slow song which finishes the set.  You stand there thinking what the hell when you see the drummer replacing and tuning a drum head (those 2Bs must be hell on drum heads) and you realize that this is an unscheduled break for equipment repair.  After tuning the drum, he stands against the lone National Guard vehicle in the lighted cave and wraps knuckles, swollen and bleeding, in multiple layers of masking tape.  Sweat and/or blood evidently makes it difficult for the tape to stick, judging by the number of times he has to wipe his knuckles on his pants until he gets it to take.  A nod to the other guys, lined up and waiting by the huge sliding door behind the stage, and they hit the stage again.  This time, it is different.  Bama Lama Bama Loo sounds as if it is made for Kent Morrill and he steps into it like a biker on acid.  Hair cut short on the left and long on the right, he rocks body front-to-back and side-to-side, the sweat-drenched long hair on the one side slapping so hard that you could almost hear it above the chaotic din.  Things start to heat up.  Kids jump and twist and cavort their bodies into virtual pretzels in a frenzy to keep up, but The Wailers, always wailers1964one manic step ahead, just get louder and harder.  Frenzy, in fact, once a tepid Ventures sound-alike, is now a wall of sound monster.  With a laugh, Morrill and crew rip into what sounds like a Little Richard medley, but you can’t be sure… so many songs sound like a demented Little Richard tonight.  Then, without giving the kids a chance to breathe, Morrill hits the keys, singing about some guy who stole his girl and he’s pissed at that sonofabitchin’ Dirty Robber and that Sunn keyboard dances across the stage toward the front until the roadie vaults from behind the stage to catch it before it topples into the crowd, a sea of teen angst.  I mean, these guys are nothing like their records, you think, until the opening crunch of their new single, Out of Our Tree, pulverizes eardrums.  This is what you expected from The Sonics, you realize, and all of a sudden you have new and immense respect for those old, stodgy Wailers.  Morrill is screaming, a la Roslie, “we gotta be… dun dunh… out of our tree… dun dunh… out of our tree…” and Dave Roland‘s shredded drumsticks are flying in all directions.  Even the usually semi-comatose Buck Ormsby is dancing wildly alongside sax player/vocalist Ron Gardner, joining the chorus which includes guitarist Neal Anderson as well.  It goes on and on until it finally runs out of gas on its own accord, each Wailer falling out as exhaustion takes hold.  Roland knocks over the drum stool, almost falling off the back of the stage.  Anderson unplugs his guitar and tosses the plug onto the stage as his amp gzorks in protest and then falls into its defective transformer act, noise loud but dinted in your already ringing ears.  Ormsby and Morrill bump each other off the stage and it’s over, but no one seems to care.

 

The kids, pumped up just a moment before, slide toward the door to heed the call of the Tom Tom or Hastee Freeze, two favorite teen hangouts.  You would go too, but that three bucks was the last three dollar bill in your bank and you have to put gas in the car, so you walk out to the car and a slow drive home.  Cars honk as they pass while you’re waiting for a chance to pull out— not at you, but at the world— and before you know it you’re on the road home.  You don’t even turn on the radio.  Your ears are ringing so loud that you couldn’t hear it anyway and you’ve had enough rock and roll for the night anyway.

 

When you get home, you lay the keys on the kitchen table and head upstairs.  Pulling off the tie, you unbutton the shirt, soaked with sweat, take it off and throw it on the floor.  Removing the T-shirt is harder, the fabric hanging on as if in desperation, but it finally loosens its grip so you can mop yourself down with a towel before flopping onto the bed.  Your head hurts, your throat is dry and you are drained.

 

As you fade into dreamland, you realize that you now know the names of each member of The Wailers.  That’s good, too, because the alpha dog has always said that you should learn something new each day.  Maybe you’ll tell him tomorrow morning at breakfast.  Then again, it will be Sunday.  Maybe he’ll let you sleep in.

Note:  Maybe it didn’t happen exactly that way, but it happened.  I know.  I was there.

fg44Frank Gutch, Jr. is an international man of mystery, searching high and low for Indie music most of us would otherwise never hear. Check out more of Frank’s writing at rockandreprise

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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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