Well, we made it to Tuesday and truth be known, I’ve only just barely made it. My voice is gone, I’ve got a gross cough and I’m racing against the clock to get better by the time the Pride festivities start here in Chicago. I’ll be at all of the Back Lot Bash events this year so come on up and say hello! I promise I’m not that scary in person and since people still seem to sit next to me on empty buses and trains, I have a feeling I smell delightful. On with the music!
Fiona Apple — The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do (Epic Records)
I’m pretty sure there is a bizarre cosmic connection between my life and the complexity of Fiona Apple’s album titles. She is the saddest writer of my heart’s diaries and has perfected the art of imperfection.
There has been a lot of talk about this album on my Twitter feed and everyone seems to either absolutely hate it or absolutely love it. I am somewhere in between but lean more toward the love even if I am not always a fan of having a mirror held in front of me. Apple is one of the most poetically gifted artists of our time. Yes, sometimes her metaphors make my head want to explode and while I appreciate playing the piano as a percussion instrument once in a while, sometimes I just want to tell her it’s hard to hear her above her own noise.
That’s all I’ve got in terms of negativity though. This is a very complex album and I understand that it’s summer time and no one’s looking for an audio sequel to Girl, Interrupted to have a good time — but there is no dismissing her gift. Album opener, “Every Single Night,” is probably the prettiest song on the album and definitely the calm before the storm. When she sings “I just want to feel everything,” it’s hard picturing anything but a violent release (which I do not condone besides metaphorically).
Album closer “Hot Knife” is one of my favorites and showcases her ridiculous vocal abilities. Where she sometimes plays her piano as though it were a drum set, here she uses her voice like a trumpet and leaves a smile on my face. Stream the album in its entirety over at NPR.
Girlyman — Supernova (Girlyman Inc.)
This indie-folk quartet has been through a lot together in the last couple of years and their struggles are documented throughout Supernova. In 2010, Girlyman‘s Doris Muramatsu was diagnosed with leukemia and the band seems to have been able to keep it together through her treatment and remission to write, record and release these lucky thirteen songs filled with love, introspection and recognition of the fact that sometimes your friends are your best family. “Michaelangelo” is one of my favorites and I have a few friends I’d like to send it to.
Vicci Martinez — Vicci (Universal Republic)
Almost exactly a year in the making, out power-pop singer Vicci Martinez is putting (most of) the covers away and celebrating the release of her own album. I love that Vicci’s voice has some rasp and soul to it that makes her stand apart from the pack of other up-and-coming stars on the pop scene. Whoever produced this did a great job of ensuring each of the eleven songs are ready for remixing so I’m sure you’ll be hearing some of those at the club this summer. “I Can Love” is a total jam so run, don’t walk, to hear that one.
Delta Rae — Carry The Fire (Sire Records)
This six-piece alt-roots band with four-part vocal harmonies is a collective force. Each member, three of whom are siblings, is talented but their true strength and the best parts of their songs come when singing together. I’m not sure if this will make sense to anyone but myself but when I hear them all I think of is a very clean feeling. While Spinner compares them to Janis Joplin and Alabama Shakes I’d be more inclined to compare them to Lady Antebellum, Sheryl Crow (anything but The Globe Sessions) and maybe Of Monsters and Men. Check it out for yourself.
Chantal Claret — The One The Only… (The End Records)
The One The Only… is a fanciful take on sixties girl band soul that lacks some of the power and vocal greatness we’ve been privvy to in recent years from artists in somewhat similar genres like Amy Winehouse, Adele or even Duffy. All in all, it’s a good album, but it’s not a great album. Check it out here.
Honorable Mentions: Smashing Pumpkins, Glen Hansard, Zulu Winter, Walk the Moon, Justin Bieber, Richard Marx (WHAT!), Juvenile, Chester French, Jhameel and Morning Parade.
More Music News: I am so psyched that Cat Power (Chan Marshall) is back with a hot single, “Ruin,” which you can stream and download here. Her new original album comes out in September and, quite frankly, it can’t get here soon enough.
Erika Spring (Erika Forster of Au Revoir Simone) is giving away a free download of her song “Hidden.”
Since I know so many of you are Bieber fans, I thought I’d include some special behind-the-scenes footage for you. Check out “Beauty And A Beat,” “Catching Feelings,” “Thought Of You,” Dance Rehearsal and “As Long As You Love Me.”