Tuesday, June 23, 2009

... But Summer Is Here

Perhaps the summer isn't such a bad thing after all. Yesterday I wrote a guest post at Music is Art that expressed my longing for winter and summer's end. I complained about the heat and incessant bugs flying around when all I wanted was a breath of fresh, cool air.

Well, I got it in the form of Kym Campbell, a US expatriate who now lives in Australia. Kym writes and performs warm surf/folk songs that may be reminiscent of Jack Johnson or Xavier Rudd with her own personal touch and flavor. The result, other than a little more relaxed smiles around the office, is that suddenly I feel summer may not be all bad, especially when you enjoy the breeze down the beach with good music filling the air.

Treat yourselves to Kym Campbell on her website and MySpace.

Kym Campbell - Rolls That Way {MP3} (from So Alive)
Kym Campbell - Free Flowing {MP3} (from So Alive)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Have You Ever Been Julia?

I've had a small revelation today which soothed me and quailed my growing impatience quite rapidly. I'm sure most people have had it and even I had some prior notions of it, but I, as my usual way about things, forgot. It's very simple, really: I'm not perfect and am not likely to meet or encounter anyone or anything that is. Some say that god is perfect, but even if such a "thing" exists, I doubt our poor and limited human comprehension could ever truly fathom "it".

This brought about a small degree of peace, not because now I don't need to bother working to do the best I can (because perfection is unattainable), but because I could accept that the driving feelings and anxieties about not reaching some (fantastic) goals come from within, and it is, first and foremost, my own perception of myself I have to contend with. As I said, not the most original observation, but one that may make life a little more bearable in this prison of flesh.

What has all this to do with this post's music? Not a great deal. But this net mystery, recording under the moniker of Never Been Julia, has caught my attention and imagination with stormy seas ("Along the Sea") and broken memories ("When I Breath"). Also, as far as I can tell, I've never been Julia either. It's not a bad place to start (even if your name is Julia).

Check out Never Been Julia on last.fm for more tracks. If you've never been Julia too, tell me about it.

Never Been Julia - Along the Sea {MP3}
Never Been Julia - Love Will Come {MP3}
Never Been Julia - When I Breath {MP3}

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Man, Alive

I've somehow managed to survive nature's latest assassination attempt (using microorganisms in the food to try and poison me was clever, better luck next time). As I slowly recover my strength and will to live, I realize how quiet it has been around me. This is not just due to the recently canceled TV cables, but mainly because I didn't really feel the drive to listen and write about anything. Obviously, that has changed.

And with good timing too. By a lucky happenstance Brighton's indie singer-songwriter Julius has released his LP Shepherdess only a few days earlier and I've ran across it. Julius claims the LP, recorded in the mountains of France, pretty much sums up his life in the past 2 years. Well, it's a beautiful life. Calming and inspiring with remnants of happy traveling days memories and friends intertwined, the sound is clear and fresh in my ears.

Check out Julius on MySpace and last.fm for awesome tracks and downloadable EPs and LP. Shepherdess is available on MySpace.

Julius - A Man Alive {MP3} (from Shepherdess)
Julius - Dark Days {MP3} (from Shepherdess)
Julius - My Lovely Boy {MP3} (from Shepherdess)
Julius - Separate {MP3} (from Shepherdess)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Just a Man, Am I?

Cherbourg, one of my currently most listened to bands, has unveiled its official clip for the first single out of their new EP, Into the Dark. Well produced and laden with symbolism of all sorts, it is up for the viewers to get whatever meaning they can out of it. That is, except for the obvious risk in being in a rock band...

Listen to Cherbourg on their official site, MySpace, Facebook and last.fm for more tracks and gig updates. Follow them on twitter here. Buy the EPs on iTunes, Rawrip, or Rough Trade.

Cherbourg - Man {Video, HQ recommended} (from Into the Dark)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Long Boring Love Song (Not)

Sometimes there's no need for lengthy introductions or colorful metaphors. Sometimes, you just need to listen, to delve the silence into which the sound is poured only gently, because too harsh a stare would dissipate it.

And sometimes, it's the simple and charming songs that will win you over. Even if you thought you heard it before, think again. A topic covered as much as love could never really be boring anyway. Not if there's even a fraction of a memory left in your mind.

Check out Zach Bronow on MySpace and last.fm for additional tracks and info.

Zach Bronow - Long Boring Love Song {MP3}
Zach Bronow - Green Tourmaline {MP3}

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Fire in Nebraska, Open Hearth at the Faire

Night falls and you're still at the Faire, marveling at the wonders and sounds around you. A soft laughter echoes in the distance as you notice a quiet spot around the burning open hearth. Around it a people sitting, listening, there and far away, distant in thought and memory. They travel by the sound of the singer accompanied by his lone guitar.

That singer could be the enigmatic man who works under the moniker of Like a Fire in Nebraska. You've never been to Nebraska yourself, but somehow you get it, or think you do. Originally from Berlin and now based in Wellington, New Zealand, Like a Fire has a way of producing a warm sense of solace, much needed at day's end. And perhaps, for you, it also sounds like home.

Check out Like a Fire in Nebraska in MySpace and last.fm for a downloadable EP and a few more streamable tracks.

Like a Fire in Nebraska - Sounds Like Home {MP3}
Like a Fire in Nebraska - Recall the Songs {MP3}
Like a Fire in Nebraska - In Memory of {MP3}

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Drifting Beyond the Idle Sand

I'm officially dedicating this week to the unofficial Faire week. The overall theme of wonder and strange coupled with the underlying passion of wanderlust of these artists leave me little other choice (other than to pack my bag and join the road).

The road is long and arduous, fraught with many dangers and delights, good company, some drinking, an accident here and there and a few broken hearts. It is the tale of the wanderer fewer people nowadays want to listen to or remember, instead preferring to fantasize about lying idly in the sand while eagerly checking the cell phone for news and gossip. Not here.

A genuine article personified in the sometimes NYC based singer-songwriter James Apollo will make you pick up that 40's styled hat, hop on a freight train or just drive away. A drifter himself since 16, he's toured extensively officially and unofficially for years across the US and Europe, and somehow it all gets reflected in that weary, knowing voice. I'm glad to have found him. Just let me grab my hat and a bottle and I'll be on my way. Where to? Beyond the idle sand.

Track Jame Apollo on his website, MySpace and last.fm for tour updates and music. His latest EP, Angels We Have Grown Apart, is available on Amazon and iTunes.

James Apollo - Morphine & Wine {MP3} (from Angels We Have Grown Apart)
James Apollo - I've Got It Easy {MP3}
James Apollo - Beauty Bird {MP3}

Monday, June 08, 2009

Electric Black Faire

The traveling Darkmoon Faire, starting today, provides an arena for the worlds' strange and wonderful. That is, if it actually existed (it's virtual). If it did exist though, I'm sure NYC's Electric Black, covered here before, would have its own specially adorned and red smoke shrouded performance stage.

With their self titled debut LP fast approaching its release date (June 16th), the band has its own traveling to do, along dividing lines of the weird and the profane, the chasms of the soul and the fiery mountain ranges of the broken hearts. Where the journey will take them I cannot say, but I'm sure it will be wonderful.

Check out Electric Black on MySpace and their site for streamable tracks and updates. A second pair of singles is being released before the expected LP release of June 16th.

Electric Black - Reign The Night {MP3} (from Electric Black)

Sunday, June 07, 2009

My Gold Mask, Unblemished

You'll never know what treasures will find their way into your mailbox. Granted, my junk mail folder is overwhelmed by all sorts of people soliciting for cheap drugs, heirlooms of devout Christians in faraway countries just waiting to be picked up and inquiries into my anatomy and if I'm pleased with it. Thankfully, my inbox is spared of all this and I can find myself lucky enough to be introduced into some really unique works of art.

With my newly acquired (virtual) horse (still looking for a name, I'd appreciate some suggestions), I can finally dedicate the time needed to go through it all. And I mean all - sampling songs is just not enough sometimes. This was the case with My Gold Mask, an indie-alternative-art band from Chicago. Their debut self titled work is available for free streaming on Bandcamp, with a few songs available for download.

So I took my time listening, starting with one of the downladable tracks and then just kept going. Gretta Rochelle and Jack Armondo, the band's members, started out with home recording of what they call "extrinsic pop songs" but I think they're much more than that. It was actually one of the streamable tracks, "Like Eli", that jerked my ears into action (as it were). A dark, haunting and wondrous sound, building itself from calm to wild shamanic ecstasy of some ancient cave dwellers. Hey, that's the image I got from it. Try it out for yourselves.

Explore My Gold Mask on their website, MySpace and Bandcamp. Their self titled LP is available on the band's website.

My Gold Mask - Bitches {MP3} (from My Gold Mask)

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Canada's Talking Cetaceans

I'm seriously considering turning this week to an all Canadian experience. The sheer wealth and variety of artists and styles of music I encounter coming from that country would seem to demand it. I don't want to compare it to its neighbor from the south, but there's definitely something special and very much alive going on there.

Take Vancouver's indie folk-pop Said the Whale for example. Exuberance may be a hard word to define precisely, but putting a clip of the band in the dictionary might provide a good start. Just as important, the group appears to enjoy the whole experience and gives off a certain impression of genuineness.

If you're lucky and in Canada, you can check them out for yourselves in their grand summer tour:
June 11th - Penticton, BC - Barking Parrot @ Lakeside Resort
June 12th - Lethbridge, AB - The Slice
June 13th - Calgary, AB - The #1 Legion
June 18th - London, ON - Call The Office
June 20th - Toronto, ON - Reverb (NXNE)
June 23th - Windsor, ON - Phog Lounge
June 24th - Peterborough, ON - Red Dog
June 25th - Hamilton, ON- The Casbah
June 26th - Sarnia, ON - Patty Flaherty's
June 28th - St Catherines, ON - SCENE FEST
July 8th - Winnipeg, MB - Lo Pub
July 9th - Saskatoon, SK - Amigo's
July 10th - Edmonton, AB - The Pawn Shop
July 11th - Kelowna, BC - The Habitat

You can also find Said the Whale on their website and MySpace for more updates and tracks. Their LP, Islands Disappear, is expected to be released this October.

Said the Whale - This Winter I Expire {MP3}

Said the Whale - The Light is You {Video}

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Dark, Mean and Canadian

I've been overly neglecting my writing and, even worse, my music listening these past few days. The reason for that is that I'm working hard on saving money to buy a horse of all things (a virtual one, but I'm already looking for names). So, for those who've sent their lovely music over, please forgive me, I'll get there.

One of those I was happy to find is Hamilton*, Ontario's indie folk-rock band Dark Mean. I can feel the dark strand in their music, like a small shade haunting and providing added depth to their work. The mean part eludes me, unless you mean their lean-mean feet-moving rock.

Originally set up to provide a score for a play, the group has found that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and its initial Raison d'être and has recently released its first EP. Two more are planned and these will form the first LP and the next nexus from which to grow.

Check out Dark Mean on MySpace and last.fm. Their debut EP, frankencottage, is available for free download on their website.

Dark Mean - China {MP3} (from frankencottage)

* the more I listen, read and talk to Canadian artists, the more I see Canada as a treasure trove hidden in plain sight, filled with endless riches of culture and great spirit.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Bloody Young Dudes

The mail in my inbox said that Blood Guts Bruises Cuts may not be for the faint of hearts. And it's quite correct, too. But as a title for the Alberta, Canada indie rock band The Dudes' new LP, especially when it is joined with the rather creepy promo video on the band's MySpace, it serves well enough.

That's not to say that gore and violence is what this LP is about; the general feel of it is energetic fun rock, fun to create, perform and dance to. Simple, direct and good.

So, is violence so intertwined with our lives that we can't do without it? A spotlight here and there, offered by the Dudes, may have some interesting revelations and insights.

Check The Dudes on their website, MySpace, Facebook, last.fm and Virb. Their new LP, Blood Guts Bruises Cuts, is out tomorrow, June 2nd.

The Dudes - Dropkick Queen of the Weekend {Video}