Good tidings everybody! Great news came to my inbox yesterday and I got
some pretty good news in my mailbox too! Brandi Carlile has a new album
coming out in June and will be part of a Johnny Cash tribute at Austin City
Limits just a few days before my birthday in April. Brandi, I didn’t
get anything for you for your birthday, how did you know what to get me
for mine? She is so considerate. Who’s ready for new tunes? I thought
Birdy — Birdy (Warner Music UK Limited)
Singer-songwriter Jasmine Van den Bogaerde may have a
name worthy of being a Gossip Girl
character, but this English lass’s wise-beyond-her-years persona makes Dan Humphrey seem immature. Those of you in the U.K. have been able to get their hands on Birdy’s self-titled debut for over six months already; but those of us in the U.S. and Canada can begin
adding her gorgeous, melancholic, piano-driven original songs to our playlists alongside her cover of Bon Iver‘s “Skinny Love.”This album is what I imagine Florence
Welch‘s high school diary would sound if it were being sung by her 15-year-old self. Feel good? No. Sound good? Hell yes.
— The MF Life (Universal Life)
Album opener “This Time” has got me
psyched on R&B right now. Melanie
Fiona has a voice bursting with soul and a bit of rasp that
takes her low-pitched vocal lilts to epic baby-making-music levels.
Someone over at So You Think You Can
Dance needs to put “Wrong Side of a Love Song” in their ears and
choreograph a dance in the same vein as Sasha and Twitch‘s incredible “Misty Blue”
routine. This is a damn-near perfect album in my book.
Whispertown — Parallel (Acony
Musician Morgan Nagler is a curious combination of electronic and indie
folk rock. I like this album but I can’t say I love it enough to want
to play it front to back and I’ve been having a hard time figuring out
why. At first I was wondering if her jumping from one genre to another
was too jarring for my mood. Listened to one by one with space between
tracks, I’m a big fan of her work. I think what it boils down to, for
me, is her vocals. Each song seems to be sung with the same few notes
using the same inflection and while everything else is changing in the
background, her voice is what ends up sticking out more than anything.
My recommendation: Don’t dive in head-first — rather dip your toes in
first and take your time coming back.
Esperanza Spalding — Radio Music Society (Heads Up International)
Do I think Esperanza Spalding is gorgeous?
Absolutely. Is she talented? Without a doubt. Does her music fly over
my head and make me feel inferior for not really “feeling it”? Yup.
There’s a reason she took home the prize for Best New Artist at the
2011 Grammy Awards and I’m trying really hard to be an eager audience
for her. The problem is, I just can’t connect with these sounds on a
personal level and even when I do for a second, it changes very
quickly. It reminds me of those times in high school when I would go to
the cafes closest to Northwestern University to do my homework and hope
the other cafe-goers would mistake me for another college student. Try
as I might to pull out a Faulkner
book and look interested, I always ended up writing lyrics to Luscious Jackson songs or pretending
I knew how to draw something other than Fred Flintstone (which continues to
be the only thing I know how to draw). So, there you have it. If you
enjoy neo-soul that is also overwhelmingly jazzy, you’ll probably end
up enjoying this album very much. I welcome you to school me in the
comments section. You can listen to the entire album over at NPR.
Honorable Mentions: Lost in the
Trees (fantastic and gut-wrenching), Yukon Blonde, Avalanche City,
Shins, Tanlines, Josh Baze, Diggy (Rev Run‘s son), Brad Mehldau Trio
and Magic Castles.
Dis-honorable Mentions: Odd Future.
That’s it for this week, my friends! I want to say thank you to everyone
who watched my first
vlog episode last week and didn’t end up throwing their computer
screens out the window. I’ll be back with another one on Friday and for
anyone missing my Weekly Women to Listen to columns, I’ll be back with
them soon! Tomorrow I’ll be busy speaking to eighth graders about the
wondrous world of music blogging and interviewing. Hopefully I will
also manage to get the whole “stay in school” message across, too.
As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter,
friend me on Facebook
or challenge me to a battle of the best old school playlist on Spotify.
Spoiler Alert: Nothing beats my “Best of the Old S–t” mix.