Happy Tuesday folks! Today is a very special day for me: Not only am I getting a real bed delivered so I can stop sleeping on my futon couch, but I also get to begin the CMJ Music Festival experience for the first time. I’ll be bringing you some highlights soon but if you get impatient, I’ll be updating my Twitter feed as often as the gods of iPhone battery power allow me to. Now, on to the new music.
Chelsea Wolfe — Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs (Sargent House)
Chelsea Wolfe is an artist who won’t appeal to everyone but I can only think it’s because not everyone is comfortable feeling a little bit uncomfortable. Her 2011 release Apokalypsis was a beautifully gloomy electro-folk album and Unknown Rooms picks up in the same chilling place she left off despite its acoustic base. In fact, I barely noticed a difference between the acoustic vs. electronic production because Wolfe’s voice commands all of the attention. This is an album for the coldest of fall nights when you need some introspection.
A Fine Frenzy — Pines (Virgin Records America)
Alison Sudol can paint a picture with just a few words drawn out into beautiful melodic syllables. I’m a huge fan of her debut One Cell In The Sea, but have lost track of her a little bit over the years. For me, this is a great reintroduction and shows a great deal of maturation in the singer/songwriter’s work. The digital album also comes with an interactive booklet which I’m sure can only enhance the experience of her storytelling.
Brandy — Two Eleven (RCA)
I can’t lie: seeing Chris Brown’s name listed as a contributor to a song on this album has not only made it difficult for me to want to press play but also gives me the constant urge to dry heave. Unfortunately, I don’t think that is Brandy’s only bad call when it came to making Two Eleven. There’s something very inauthentic about the overall feeling I get while listening to her sing regardless of how well she hits her notes. Putting my finger on what exactly was tripping me up was difficult but ultimately I think it’s because these songs almost sound like they were originally written for a male singer. It’s not that Brandy does a bad job of singing, but I’d say at least every other song has an overtly masculine sound I wouldn’t normally associate with the already well-established vocalist.
There are a few songs I like despite feeling like I should know better. Brandy’s voice really packs a punch on “No Such Thing As Too Late,” even if some of the lyrics were borrowed from the cotton commercials. “Without You” is another jam showing off the singer’s vocal talents but I can’t stand hearing her sing about being nothing without her man and then rolling into her collaboration with one of the most famous (and totally unapologetic) domestic abusers of our time. Overall, the album isn’t a total loss but I am disappointed in the industry’s ability to shrug off the despicable actions of a violent pop star. I hope the powers that be come to realize Chris Brown taints all of the projects he is associated with.
Tamaryn — Tender New Signs (Kemado Records)
Tamaryn’s music is both mellow and rocking simultaneously. Their beachy sound has a bit of dark gothic angst to it and while I’m only beginning to get into their catalogue, I can already imagine their sounds being used to score a Gus Van Sant film. If Chelsea Wolfe and Best Coast spent a night raging and woke up with a heavy, but creatively stimulating, hungover – I imagine this is what it would sound like. Unfortunately none of their new songs are available to stream on Soundcloud but the album is available for streaming on Spotify and of course available for download elsewhere.
Icona Pop — Iconic EP (Record Company Ten)
This is a bit of a change of pace for me today and it is appreciated because I need to get pumped up for a long week of running around, standing face-to-face with other people’s backs at various shows and most likely having drinks spilled on me. When you’ve got two gorgeous ladies dropping beats and telling you to get ready for the weekend, it’s kind of hard to be a party pooper. This EP is putting the bounce in my shoulders and I’m fairly certain it’ll do the same for you. Oh and hey, you can stream the entire EP below.
Music Extras: This remix of Janet Jackson’s “If” is unexpected and un-freaking-real. If I had a list of my favorite remixes of all time I have no doubt this would make the top 10.
24-year old Katy Tiz will be the newest pop tartlet you’ll be hearing about soon. She’s got a little more of a bad girl vibe than some of the others but doesn’t seem to be as *ahem* dirty as Ke$ha.
Midnight Magic has a new album coming out and they’re sharing the great drowsy-disco track “Same Way I Feel.” I totally dig.
My favorite DJ as of late is the smokin’ hot Maya Jane Coles. I’ve been listening to her DJ Kicks album for a few months now and her ability to create a distinct signature sound always shocks me. I was just listening to a random string of songs on Soundcloud while putting this post together and had to stop as soon as I heard the fantastic sounds of “No Sympathy” — and it just so happens Ms. Coles is the magician behind the decks of this jam.
That’s all I’ve got time for this week but before I sign off, I want to give you the head’s up about the Dark Dark Dark/Emily Wells tour. If they come to your neck of the woods and you care about live music at all, you MUST see these artists perform. You will thank yourself (and me). As per usual you can feel free to shout me out on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or if you’re at CMJ and see me walking around, come up and say hello!