New Music Tuesday: 3-20-2012

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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

so.

BirdyBirdy (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.

Melanie Fiona

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.

WhispertownParallel (Acony

Records)

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 SpaldingRadio 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,

Vacationer, The

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.

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