November 8th, 2013 , by John Beeler
Bryce Dessner is widely recognized for the rich guitar sound he brings to The National, and almost as widely for the discreet but unmistakably cerebral sophistication of projects like that group and his other, somewhat quieter band, Clogs. And so it may come as little surprise to his listeners in the rock world that Dessner, in addition to his performing career, has also built up a reputation as an esteemed classical composer, culminating in this week’s CD release of his music for string quartet.
Aheym, recorded by the iconic Kronos Quartet and released on Anti-Records, is only the latest step in a classical music career that has also included collaborations with composers Philip Glass and Steve Reich, in addition to cross-genre projects like the recent Planetarium, a song cycle created with Sufjan Stevens and opera composer Nico Muhly.
Stevens and Muhly exert a certain influence on Aheym. It was Muhly who proposed the collaboration between Dessner, Kronos and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus that produced the movement Tour Eiffel, recorded here, and Stevens makes an appearance as one-man choir of overdubbed Tenebre, singing the Hebrew alphabet in a nod to Renaissance settings of the Lamentations of Jeremiah. Along with the album’s two purely instrumental works, Little Blue Something and the title track, their warm harmonies and layered, vital rhythms herald the emergence of a serious new composer of classical music.
October 29th, 2013 , by John Beeler
Lily & Madeleine have arrived. Just months after the release of their debut EP, the singing sisters have released a self-titled LP of all new songs.
The full-length format gives the sisters a broader canvas for musical expression, with Madeleine lending her ethereal vocals a soupçon of soul, and Lily’s wry contralto sounding earthier than ever. Lily & Madeleine reunites Madeleine and Lily Jurkiewicz with much of the creative team from their first disc, The Weight of the Globe, including producer Paul Mahern and songwriting partner Kenny Childers, but this time, the young women headed into the studio armed with the experience of making that recording, and with it a fuller sense of artistic self-determination. The resulting album is the sound of two already preternaturally assured young singer/songwriters coming even further into their own.
October 24th, 2013 , by John Beeler
The False Alarms, Fol Chen’s latest and greatest, is on sale on iTunes for just $7.99.
iTunes User pomengranates gave it five stars, calling it “future music.” User shajaaaahaaajaaa loves it too, suggesting that “in no way should you hesitate to buy this.” Here here iTunes friends.
Click here to purchase on iTunes.
October 22nd, 2013 , by John Beeler
For those listeners who literally cannot wait for Lily & Madeleine’s self-titled debut LP to drop on Oct. 29th, there’s good news. The blogosphere is counting down to the release of Lily & Madeleine with the release of one new acoustic video every day this week, starting with “I’ve Got Freedom” at CMT Edge. Fans of the elegant duo can keep up with each new video as it’s released by following Lily & Madeleine on Twitter, @LilandMad.
“Sounds Like Somewhere” is over at My Old Kentucky Blog.
The third video, for “Goodbye to Anyone,” has posted at Death & Taxes.
The fourth, “Come to Me,” is up at the Indianapolis Star.
“Spirited Away,” the fifth video, has posted over at USA Today.
Or, for a solid dose of the singing sisters, curious listeners can visit the website of New York Times, which for one week only is streaming the full album at their online Press Play feature. Visitors to the Times can preview the LP in its entirety or listen track by track to hear how Madeleine and Lily Jurkewiecz have managed to follow up on the promise of their breakout EP, The Weight of the Globe, released earlier this year.
October 18th, 2013 , by John Beeler
“It’s very humbling to me,” guitarist/composer Chris Schlarb says of performing with the members of his Psychic Temple project. “It’s a truly phenomenal band of musicians.”
Schlarb has just set out on a tour of the American Southwest with that ensemble in tow, promoting the release of their second LP, Psychic Temple II, and the Psychic Temple material is very much built to accommodate the virtuosity of his band.
“All the guys in the band are like jazz musicians or can hang on that level. So you’ve got to give them some room to contribute their own thing—you sort of recontextualize this music,” explains Schlarb. While this tour unifies these players as sidemen around the singer-songwriter material from Psychic Temple II, he points out that in their respective musical lives, “Each one of them is a leader of their own project. There’s an honor to that for me, to be in charge for a little while. That also gives me some confidence as an artist.”
Chris Schlarb and Psychic Temple kicked off their tour in Phoenix, AZ this Thursday, followed by a Friday night show on Oct. 18 at High Mayhem in Santa Fe, an Oct. 19 concert at Austin’s Salvage Vanguard Theater, an Oct. 20 date at Dan’s Silverleaf in Denton, TX, and on Oct. 30th a performance at Le Corusse Rouge in Bakersfield, CA.
“I think anybody who likes the material on the record,” says Schlarb, “or any of my material at all, will like what we’re doing—it’s sort of the most ambitious large-scale work for an ensemble that I’ve ever put together.
October 18th, 2013 , by John Beeler
“I’ve been ‘out.’ I wanted to come in,” says Chris Schlarb.Read the Rest...
October 15th, 2013 , by John Beeler
Something Good is here. Veteran singer-songwriter Shannon Stephens has released a new EP, featuring four brand new recordings of classic material, re-built from scratch with the help of her band of five years. The disc pairs two covers, “World in My Eyes” by Depeche Mode and the title track, Rufus & Chaka Khan’s Stevie Wonder–penned hit “Tell Me Something Good,” with “So Gentle in My Arms” and “My Feeble Heart,” two songs from Stephens’ own back catalogue.
The bulk of the arranging duties on Something Good have fallen to Stephens’ band, with the Seattle vocalist asking her trusted collaborators to put their own stamp on the covers as well as the Shannon Stephens originals, both selected from her self-titled debut.
Stephens pressed pause on her singing career following that 2000 release, taking an eight-year hiatus to raise a family and escape the music industry. “It’s such a different reality, before and after” becoming a parent, she says, “like you go into a new realm and you never go back.” Having looked at life from both sides of that border, Stephens is now coming full circle, rediscovering her own repertoire through the soul and twang of her new sound.
Shannon Stephens and friends will celebrate the release of Something Good with an all-ages show at the Fremont Abbey Center in North Seattle this Friday night, Oct. 18 at 8pm.
October 14th, 2013 , by John Beeler
Fresh from releasing the latest EP in his new, experimental Island Universe series, Brooklyn’s Helado Negro is taking leave of the East to bring his music on a micro-tour of performances from Washington to Southern California.
Along with an appropriately spare stage set designed by Paul Coors—the artist responsible for the artwork of his latest LP, Invisible Life—Helado Negro will be hauling his musical electronics and songs from Invisible Life, plus a handful of songs from his other records, to Seattle’s Barboza on Oct. 13, Portland’s Holocene on Oct. 14, the Bootleg Bar in L.A. on Oct 16, the Soda Bar in San Diego on Oct. 17, and then back up to San Francisco for an Oct. 23 show at the Rickshaw Shop.
Cy Dune, a project featuring Akron/Family’s Seth Olinsky, will be among the featured artists providing support at the Bootleg Bar, as will San Diego–based producer/performer Rafter at the Soda Bar, but the main event is strictly a one-man operation: his intimate live performances will be “just me,” says Helado Negro, “and my machines.”
View the new video for “Enters,” directed by Zircon Prince, below or by clicking here.
October 11th, 2013 , by John Beeler
In Lily & Madeleine’s newest video, which debuts the song “Come to Me,” L&M traveled south from Indianapolis to Nashville, Tennessee to work with 1504 Pictures. Filmed in the streets and living rooms of suburbs and in nearby forests, the video evokes scenes from Donnie Darko and E.T. Plus: what’s in the box? And what’s with that pebble?
Lily & Madeleine releases October 29th, 2013 and you can preorder it here.
October 3rd, 2013 , by John Beeler
On Saturday, Oct. 5, CBS This Morning rewarded early birds with a chance to see Lily & Madeleine making their first appearance on national network television.
Lily and Madeleine Jurkiewicz, the Indianapolis-based sister duo who were first discovered singing world-weary harmonies on YouTube, will be making the transition to morning TV as part of This Morning’s Second Cup Cafe series, for an interview and performance of two songs yet to be determined.
With their songwriting partner, bassist Kenny Childers (Gentleman Caller), Lily & Madeleine have already recorded a substantial repertoire of original material, starting earlier with this year with a five-song EP, The Weight of the Globe. That disc’s combination of heavy emotions and light, delicate arrangements had the Guardian praising their “shocking” musical talent and “mountain air–pure” voices.
Now the countdown has begun to this month’s release of the duo’s first full-length, a self-titled disc of a dozen all-new songs. Out October 29, Lily & Madeleine finds the duo moving confidently forward from that EP—both as a musical jumping-off point, and as a personal coming of age.