Sunday, November 12, 2006

Earthphish -- Earthphish EP

by Frank Gualtier -- 11/12/06

EARTHPHISHChoreographer / vocalist Aleksandra Mirjana Crossan and composer / producer Donovan John Szypura are the Swiss based band Earthphish. They are also the award winning dance company Earthphish Dance.

2003 saw the release of their 12 track debut LP Soft Green Exit, a rhythmically charged compilation of tinged with experimental hues and poetic lyric. This album is an excellent study of the trip hop genre.

This year (2006) they released a four track self titled EP. It was this EP that caught my attention in the wee hours of the morning as I was trolling CD Baby for an audio fix. It's trip hop roots are easily heard yet it is infused with and makes heavy use of organic sounds in a similitude of .

These two components (soul and organic sound with an electronic vibe) yield a more luminous ambiance than their previous release that sways it -ward. A standout for this soulfulness is the song Frank. There's also some subdued that is most readily heard in Something New.

The percussion sustain parameters have been dramatically shortened relative to Soft Green Exit. Less sizzle on the high hats and cymbals and/or electronic counterparts/equivalents. This yields a cleaner and tighter sound which is more appropriate for this album I think as they've moved away from the previously more trip hop beats.

This time around the mic has been given entirely to Aleksandra's voice. She kind of reminds me of minus the helium. Her voice is sandy (rich) which adds warmth to it's brightness. I'm very fond of her singing in general and I'm impressed with her technical control. She understands and makes use of the dynamics and metrics of her voice and how they relate to the music.

My favorite track on this release is Stop Breathing. The is an infectious hook and, as with Earthphish in general, it's very driven rhythmically.

Along with rhythmic energy there is a lachrymose aspect in harmony and lyric that has been constant throughout their works. The mundane can make us ache with a weary soreness for color sometimes and in our primal thirst we look to the dark in search of some manner of slaking contrast -- things to make us feel. Earthphish is a bittersweet lozenge of audio relief.

The production quality of this EP is tops -- as good as it gets.

If I had to tersely sum up my thoughts on the album I'd use a genre moniker I saw on their CD Baby page that thought I was a typo. No typo -- it fits perfectly -- trip pop.

Links for Earthphish:

Earthphish EP
Earthphish EP
Soft Green Exit
Soft Green Exit

Be sure to check out their website for information on their dance company, press, a dossier in English and German for both their dance and music, video clips and more. It's impressive -- they really put work into making it a good Earthphish info source with lots of links.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Cat Martino -- Just Love Me -- Chords

by Frank Gualtier -- 10/12/06

Photo by Andre Constantini
Cat MartinoIf ever there was a song I would readily recommend to anyone regardless of their genre preferences or any other factors and feel completely certain beforehand that they'd be moved -- Cat Martino's 'Just Love Me' would be that song.

Her tone color reminds me a little bit of at times. Both ladies can emot you to breakpoint but once they start working the mojo the timbral similarities end.

Cat goes off to some place I can't even fathom and conjures up the spirits of rapture to her beck and whim. I don't know that I've ever heard a voice so overwhelmed and overwhelming at the same time.

From a formula and chord structure standpoint 'Just Love Me' is extremely simple as you'll see below. While I didn't transcribe the electric guitar that moans along with Cat's heart wrenching vocals -- it's also fairly basic -- pretty much just poignantly placed notes riding a blues scale.

While discussing the simplicity aspect of the song with Cat she made the following remark:

"that song happened in a magic moment, was just written, not prepared to be recorded, so effortless!"

Beautiful and so apt. I think the nature of the beast in song is best served by not forcing incarnation.

This song and others, some of which can be sampled at Cat Martino's myspace profile, will be included on an album that's not finished baking just yet but I believe is not far off.

If you haven't heard Cat Martino sing 'Just Love Me' I highly recommend you hit up her myspace profile and do so. You'll thank me for it.

Cat Martino Conjuring the Spirits of Rapture
Cat Martino
Conjuring the Spirits of Rapture

Alright -- crack out that guitar...

See suggested fingering for chords below song.

Capo at the 4th fret

-- start --

Em D
oh darlin'
you lift me up to the place i be-
Em D
long. that is why
all of my days i will be singing this
song. love me pure
Em D
love me more
just love
Em D
Em D

Em D
don't need you to be
my sugar baby
Em D
just want you to rest
right here until you confess that you
know no one
Em D
no one
can bring you home like i
Em D
do. and i
do. gonna bring it home to
Em D
you. ooh

Em D
when you're alone
so far away that you can't see my
Em D
face. go to an open field
lay yourself down there and faithfully
wait. call my name
Em D
just call my name
and i will come fall down on you like the
Em D
rain. like the
rain. like the
Em D

Em D
ah uh uh uh ah ah ah
ah uh uh uh ah ah ah
Em D
ah ah uh uh uh ah ah ah
ah uh uh uh ah ah ah

-- end --

Suggested fingering for chords

E A D G B e
Em 0 2 2 0 0 0
C 0 3 2 0 1 0
G 3 2 0 0 0 3
D 0 0 0 2 3 2

We're in swing time. Every single phrase of this song has
the exact same emphasis points as shown in the example of
the first phrase below and the transient D -always- lands

4 v--HERE
1 2 3

Em D
/ / / / / /
1 2 3 4
1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3

Cat plays this with a capo at the 4th fret so I annoted it
as such. If you play sans capo here are the actual chords:

Shown | Actual
Em | G#m
C | E
G | B
D | F#

Links for Cat Martino:
dance of destruction
Dance of Destruction

here now
here now

Upcoming Album
Scene of the Crime

Friday, September 22, 2006

Rachel Zamsteen -- Bouquet -- EPK and Video

by Frank Gualtier -- 09/22/2006, 09/23/2006

Rachel Zamsteen -- Bouquet -- EPK and VideoIn the past few days I've had a chance to preview the EPK and video for 'This Gun' from Rachel Zamsteen's upcoming debut release 'Bouquet' that's currently slated to drop this October 10th, 2006.

When you buy her CD 'Bouquet' you'll get the whole package -- music, EPK, and video.

In the EPK Rachel discusses a bit about herself, the story behind some of her songs, her thoughts on her creative process and some general Zamsteen philosophy.

You'll also get to see video snippets from songs such as 'This Gun', 'Bouquet', and 'Drought' and footage of photo shoots. She's a classic beauty.

I'm particularly fond of the footage of her playing guitar. Being a guitarist myself I suppose that makes perfect sense but this will appeal to everyone as it's always impressive to see the technicals at work in someone we usually only hear.

As well in both the EPK and the video we get to her play keyboard. What can I say -- just plain neat.

This is a fantastic addition to the CD.

Runtime for the EPK is about 5:41.

In the video for 'This Gun' is especially nice in that we get to see Rachel move about in some of the bizarre ways that jazz tends to get people moving. I love it and would pay the price of 'Bouquet' just for this video alone. That's partly because I found myself moving about in bizzare ways on hearing the song -- nice to see the effect at the origin.

It doesn't visually follow any storyline strictly but rather takes story and thematic considerations and splices them together in a sort of visual art that takes you back and forth between both of them and a jazzed up performance.

Best of all -- seeing Rachel sing and play to the camera. She's very expressive. Often sexy and at times just playful.

For those who want the goods up front the video will be on both Rachel's website and her in a couple of weeks.

The video runtime is about 4:11.

The music makes me want to go see her perform. The addition of the visual media with the music both satisfies and intensifies that desire. Yes I meant to say that. And you'll see just how true it is when you get your hands on a copy.

Finally -- a couple of ways you can draw more attention to Rachel Zamsteen:

1.) Post links to the review I wrote recently for 'Bouquet' in your blog. You're welcome to post the content as well but the backlinking does something kind of magic behind the feed scenes. Each person that does this will increase the effect more than onefold -- so spread it around. I don't want to eleborate and give up all my tricks -- but I will provide the code:

2.) Leave comments here and in my review of Bouquet. I moderate these comments and it can take me awhile to get to them -- but comments cause another kind of behind the scenes magic and that happens automagically and immediately regardless of how long it takes me to okay them so that they show up.

Links for Rachel Zamsteen:

Friday, September 15, 2006

Rachel Zamsteen - Bouquet

by Frank Gualtier -- 09/15/2006, 9/22/2006

Rachel Zamsteen -- BouquetAfter a prefix snippet of somehow resolves into a 'esque style finger snapping intro I hear the shadow casting larger than life voice of Rachel Zamsteen catting her way calmly to a point with:

"Come over here boy I got something for ya; rest your weary brow on my knee there. It's a big surprise so open wide and close your eyes, I think it's something that you're gonna like."

then drawing the bowstring taught:

"It's This Gun, it's This Gun in your mouth, that says you're gonna do some listening..."

and releasing the flaming arrow and all hell breaks loose:


And suddenly I find myself in the middle of what sounds like a sizzling 1940s big band jazz noir production. Visions of go dancing through my head...

I was sold on the spot.

The song was 'This Gun' from Rachel Zamsteen's upcoming debut album 'Bouquet' which is currently scheduled for release this October 10th, 2006.

Rachel Zamsteen -- Photo by Mike BlackThe LP contains ten tracks of original music, the video for the song 'This Gun', and a multimedia EPK with interview. As well I believe there may be live concert footage. This is going to be hot hot hot and heavy -- I fully expect concrete to break when it drops!

The title track 'Bouquet' is classic - with a brightness to it. It's a brightness that is contrasted by the content -- an interesting batch of thoughts in which dismay at negativity infuses the narrator. Like when you're so tired of hearing people bitch you end up bitching about people bitching. I think we can all relate to that. Damnit -- right?

Another of my favorites is the song 'Orion'. An intense jazz number in 5/4 . Rachel shows some seductively mad vocal skills in a type of consonantless that'll make your knees weak. In parts of the song she pits these riffs, as well as lyric vocals, against an style scat. It's cool it's sexy and it makes you want to dance. Take care not to break anything as 5/4 is a real bone wrencher on the dance floor. Probably the most recognized example of a piece scored in 5/4 is the original 'Mission Impossible' t.v. series theme (1966-1973).

In the song 1984 she sings in introspective disdain of authority using 's classic fiction as a from her year of birth (Sept 21st, 1984 to be precise). A cool song already but given some great A|B|A|kickass transitional drumming by producer Andres Karu for good measure.

In fact there's a surplus of cool percussion it's way through this album.

Rachel ZamsteenI expounded on the jazz aspects of 'Bouquet' because that's what drew me to this music and to Rachel. is my mainstay these days, however, and for someone so steeped in jazz she surprises by parring it in this genre.

I'm a total swoon for a song with a pulse. I like that feeling of being rocked along on a journey. Three flowing standouts that do exactly that are 'The Same Way', 'Lusted' and 'Saved'. While there's picking in all three the first, 'The Same Way', is finger picked style. 'Lusted' negotiates guitar a bit more like on . And saved -- . I should probably also mention the added spritz of in 'Poor Dead Baby Bed Bugs'.

Rachel Zamsteen is a skilled and diverse . As a performer her voice shines with crisp clarity and top rate technical skills. She's a multi-instrumentalist playing , (acoustic, electric, slide), bass, , , , and drums. When I asked her about this array (impressive to say the least) she was happy to mention the lot (including "") but was quite modest regarding her skill levels. Especially regarding guitar. Take it from a 30 year vet -- this girl can play.

Finally, I read very recently that she was nominated for two Asbury Park Music Awards -- Best Female Solo and Best Female Vocal. I'm not the least bit surprised -- this girl is on fire. It's a glow you want to be near and 'Bouquet' is an album you want to hear.

Check out Rachel's music on her myspace profile and her label's myspace profile -- see links below.

Links for Rachel Zamsteen:
Note: For the sake of historical accuracy -- the song was actually published in 1956 and recorded by in 1958.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Rachel Taylor Brown -- Ormolu

by Frank Gualtier -- 09/12/06

Rachel Taylor Brown -- OrmoluThis evening while reading blogs I ran across some words from Mark Collins, the cultural genius behind the internet radio station Women of the '90s, that echoed my own sentiments regarding Rachel Taylor Brown and her new album Ormolu.

In addition to what follows he added that Ormolu 'blew him away' and said that he guarantee's that it will be in his top 10 list for album of the year -- a page of thought Mark and I share.

"Upright Man" was the first single that I played off of Rachel Taylor Brown's fabulous album. Two weeks ago I introduced "Linda" off of it and it's currently number 9 in this week's WOT90 Top 20.

"Ormolu" is the third single selected from the album. It is simply brilliant!

The 'Ormolu' CD is only 23-1/2 minutes long and I guarentee that you will keep hitting the replay button on your CD player... over...and over... and over... Hell, I played it back to back five times in a row.

This is a must have.

Links for Rachel Taylor Brown:

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Beth Waters -- This Little Piggy -- Now Available at iTunes

by Frank Gualtier -- 09/12/06

Beth Waters -- This Little PiggyBeth Waters -- 'This Little Piggy' -- Now available exclusively at iTunes.

     Buy It

     Read About It

     Be Friendly About It

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Carla Werner -- Chords -- Ghost Road

by Frank Gualtier -- 09/09/06

Carla Werner -- Pure Things in Wild PlacesI thought I'd share a transcription I did of Carla Werner's song 'Ghost Road' from her new LP 'Pure Things in Wild Places'.

It's my little homage to Carla for how inspiring her new album has been to me.

I am currently working with another artist who is writing out some of her songs and those will be appearing in the near future. Very gracious of her to do that and I'd like to encourage all artists who are on my list at mypsace to write out one or more of your songs with chords or tablature. If you write them out for me -- I will post them.

Please contact me via my myspace profile for corrections, questions, or if you'd like me to post some of your songs chords and/or tabs.

See suggested fingering for chords below song.
-- start --
1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4
Cm / / / / / / C(9) Cm / / / / / / C(9)
Cm Gm
The road is haunted
Fm Cm
with ghosts, time gone by
They lie and linger
Fm Cm
as I go by
Eb Bb
A ship is waiting to take me home
Fm (strum 5 beats then hold) Cm
A light is shining, leading me on
Cm Gm
I'm told of places
Fm Cm
We go when we go
The past golden faces
Fm Cm
Steal away to distant shores
Eb Bb
A ship is waiting to take me home
Fm Cm
A light is shining, leading me on
Eb Bb
Archangel Michael standing by the door
Fm Cm
He calls to me, I cannot go
Eb / / / / / / / Db / / / / / / /
Fm / / / / / / / Cm / / / / / / /
Eb Bb
A ship is waiting to take me home
Fm Cm
A light is shining, leading me on
Eb Bb
Archangel Michael standing by the door
Fm Cm
He calls to me, I cannot go
Fm Cm
He calls to me, I cannot go
(2 times)
Cm / / / / / / / Gm / / / / / / /
Fm / / / / / / / Cm / / / / / / /
-- end --
-- Suggested fingering for chords
E A D G B e
Cm 3 3 5 5 4 3
C(9) 3 3 5 5 3 3
Gm 3 4 4 3 3 3
Fm 1 3 3 1 1 1
Eb 3 6 5 3 4 3
Bb 6 8 8 7 6 6
Bb 1 1 3 3 3 1 alternate
Db 1 4 3 1 2 1
Db 4 4 6 6 6 4 alternate

Links for Carla Werner:
Pure Things in Wild Places
Pure Things in Wild Places
carla werner ep
carla werner ep

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Carla Werner -- Pure Things in Wild Places

by Frank Gualtier -- 09/07/06, 09/09/06

Carla Werner -- Pure Things in Wild PlacesIf anyone wondered what has been up to for the past three years the question has been answered by her newly released 'Pure Things in Wild Places'.

It is here on her second full length release, following an initial , that she displays true ascendancy to a new and fully higher plane of creative existence.

She's always been a good and . But she excels beyond her self on both counts with PTIWP and exhibits stunning skill with arrangement. In the latter regard I'm particularly enthused about what she's done with strings. Simple yet rich and full of elegance and the magic of s that stick but don't overpower those of the vocal .

The layering of sounds is seamless and masterful and comes across as an extension of emotion rather than a technical feat. She becomes her music and her music sits itself before you as a person would with words to tell and the experience is made personal.

In the technical zone she has truly found her voice. It's still the same distinct and charming Carla but she's grown into an incredibly dynamic and patient style. She explores the upper and lower regions of her voice and makes an embedded art form of measured lingering and thoughtful melodious interlude. She also shows her skill and experience in the spectrum she explores. I've loved her voice for a long time but here is a creature anew -- an old soul quickened -- and I have to say she takes the breath out of me for how beautiful she sounds.

Some songs such as 'Driftwood' and 'For The Moon' have haunting string accompaniment that weeps in some manner of lament. Context is 9/10th's of perception and such sounds can be as easily relatable to the old west era as to old or . Carla strikes me as a bit ambiguous on this as simply the name 'Driftwood' conjures in my mind the west yet 'For The Moon' makes use of strings in a more mournful fashion and takes me back further in time to roots an ocean away.

One of the biggest champions of the Irish sound for the past two decades has been (Eithne Ní Bhraonáin) and intended or not I do hear a shade of Enya in portions of the album. The dosage is wafer thin but distinct.

This album not only shows tremendous growth but it contains a diversity of style. Along with what I just mentioned there's a distinct and well executed sound to the song 'Edge Of Joy', a more standard / feel to 'Into The Night' and 'Dovetails', a traditional folk ambiance to 'Love Comes Down', and an sound to 'June'.

My favorite track on the album is 'Ghost Road'. Carla's vocals are pure, surreal, and haunting in a kind of way. The lyrics are, as with all on this album, poetic enough to stand alone -- but with the music the effect is all consuming:

"The road is haunted
With ghosts, time gone by
They lie and linger
as I go by

A ship is waiting to take me home
A light is shining leading me on

I'm told of places
We go when we go
The past golden faces
Steal away to unknown shores

Archangel Michael standing by the door
He calls to me, I cannot go"

I've transcribed this song -- check here for the chords.

'Pure Things in Wild Places' is Carla Werner's finest achievement -- an absolute masterpiece -- and is one of the best albums of 2006.

Links for Carla Werner:
Pure Things in Wild Places
Pure Things in Wild Places
carla werner ep
carla werner ep

Friday, September 01, 2006

Ivy York to play BBC Radio London

by Frank Gualtier -- 09/01/06, 09/17/06

Ivy York will be putting in an appearance on BBC Radio London this month (Sept 23rd, 2006) on one of the morning shows. There will be a live performance and some plugging for the new self titled debut album.

One of their fans got them this gig -- how awsome is that?


Saturday September 23rd, 2006 -- JoAnne Good's Breakfast Show 94.9.

You can listen in here at 8:00 am UK time:

I can't imagine that anyone hasn't heard of but it's a very big deal. I'm told some of the DJ's there like to champion new acts and it's served as a launching pad for folks such as .

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Ivy York -- Ivy York

by Frank Gualtier -- 08/20/06, 08/27/06, 08/14/06

Ivy YorkBuy the CD

Soften the lights, turn up the volume, and put away that book.

Ivy York's highly anticipated self titled debut album is finally here and tapping at your window. It wants in and it wants to play.

If you put on some cocoa I'll tell you what to expect when you peel off the wrapper and open it up.

Within this LP lies a collection of satin lace emotive songs with a retro vibe sandwiched between a dreamy breathing intro that glides into your chest and snuggles like a comforter around your heart and an unlisted and equally dreamy outro on keys that gently weans you off the narcotically euphoric beauty of all you've just experienced. Long enough at least to catch a breath before you find yourself hopelessly in love and diving back in again and again...

At the risk of being arrested by the 'redundant word usage police' I think the best single word descriptor for both Ivy's voice and the music she writes is 'dreamy'. It works both as a literal and for it's retro usage connotations. Her pipes are harmonically rich with a smokiness that colors the high end in a way that verges on bubbly. Through this amazing instrument she channels the contents of her open heart and a worlds worth of identifiable emotion.

Depending on who you're with (or not with) you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll find visions of memories not yet made and those now distant. If you don't like music in your head or in your heart you are in eminent danger of feeling something -- apply your safety gear now and step back behind the blue line.

The primary sound is that of a four piece band with piano -- retro "oohs" and "ahs" included. And while the music can really kick a beat at times it's never harsh. Two things I especially like are the extra emphasis on acoustic guitar relative to what I've heard on previous Ivy York demos and the use of more synth in a smartly musical manner which yields just a hint of a vibe at times. At other times it suspends a tension that drives the music deep inside -- it's almost as if it's issuing from you rather than to you.

As is always the case with Ivy York the production is sublime and exhibits skill in console continuity mastering that in and of itself is a work of art.

This album is breathtaking start to finish -- an emotive masterpiece of retro rock made fresh by the truly unique sound of Ivy York. Two thumbs up to a work that far exceeded my high expectations.

For more on Ivy York see my May 8, 2006 review.

The Ivy York CD can currently be purchased via her myspace profile -- click the image below.

And is now available at CD Baby -- see links below.

Links for Ivy York:

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Beth Waters -- This Little Piggy

by Frank Gualtier -- 08/09/06

Beth WatersFor current fans of Beth Waters and those folk that happen upon her profile it's no secret she has a new album coming out this fall. It's an eleven track disc called This Little Piggy containing ten original songs along with a cover of 's 1977 hit Slip Slidin' Away.

Most people immediately remark about Beth's "comforting" voice or her piano arrangements and playing (to which adjectives I've seen the likes of "muscular" to "poignant" applied) and to her songwriting skills in general. I personally almost always find myself first drawn to music by it's rhythm. I heard this first in the bass lines of her music. Very tight with percussion and very often melodic enough to stand on their own. Along with the other rhythmic elements they reach out and they grab me like invisible hands and pull me into the music. Her voice then paints vivid and poetic images in an intimate way -- as if I'm being told secrets just for me.

This Little Piggy continues these trends and furthers them. The very first track on the album, White Dogs in the Moonlight, immediately whisks you off as though part of the ether looking down and incorporeally witnessing the tale she weaves. From the outset the pros are striking --

"White dogs in the moonlight
following footsteps through the night
Over the bridge she runs barefoot and cold in her nightgown
Her feet don't touch the ground"

-- and the entire album is saturated with such well made verse.

My favorite song on the album is Dark Road to Hell.

Dark Road to Hell takes a look at the conflicting schism between self affirmation and self indulgence. The ambiance is masterfully set by the tempered pace of large resounding style percussion syncopated in a variant of . There's an underscoring of bass and upon this rhythm forms a breathy muted brass scorched ( style) canvas. Tense -- dark. The opening verse "On the dark road to hell they ask you lots of questions / Were you good to yourself / Did you follow your dreams" paints itself upon that canvas in eerily carefree brush strokes. These contrast in how they're sung and thus further underscore the confliction.

Another rhythmically noteworthy song is the (or variant) patterned Afraid of Love. I'm excited about these styles Beth has incorporated into this album.

Probably the breakout song for this album and one that is going to be talked about the most is the title track This Little Piggy. It's a disturbing tale told in first person from the perspective of the protagonist. I'll feed you some verse:

Gotta keep it quiet I can't make a sound
I die my hair black cause my Mother's a blonde
I look so strange now not like myself
This little piggy is going to hell
I don't know nobody I trust enough to tell
He said he'd kill me and I'm sure that he will
Worry about my Sister she's so young and he's so strong
Think that when I leave here I'll take her along"

It tells itself -- not much I can add.

And there's plenty more and but I'd be here for pages trying to capture just half of it.

With regards to arrangement/instrumentation I like what she's done with such instruments as the (aka Thumb Piano) which is heard in This Little Piggy. She matches sounds and beats to music and poetry in ways that all things compliment one another. She's a master of arrangement.

Finally, this is one hell of a good album -- even for someone as accomplished and talented as Beth Waters. From the songwriting to the performing to the production it's rock solid. Look for the pre-release exclusively on iTunes Sept 12th (2006) and keep an eye on Beth's website and/or her myspace profile for news on the CD hardcopy release Sept 26th.

Links for Beth Waters:

Monday, July 31, 2006

Danni Carr -- 47 Miles

by Frank Gualtier -- 07/31/06

Danni CarrThe other day I was expounding on the bred phenomenon. Today I'm finding extraordinary in .

Combine the sweetly rugged voice and bluesy spirit of Danni Carr with the more biased ways of guitarist Michael Tricarico and what do you get? 47 Miles of excellent music with a bluesy/ feel that has guts. Danni also plays guitar, harmonica and percussion -- very talented.

They currently have two songs from their album 47 Miles up on their myspace profile that you can download -- Old Man and Knock Your Head. They're described as a collaboration that explores a "bluesy and swampy sound". I love that description -- especially the word "swampy" because it's so fitting of the lush liquid guitar sounds which find chops in slide and humidified . You know -- "swampy".

Old Man is slightly reminiscent of the Trespassers William songs Lie in the Sound and Different Stars as far as the feel of the music goes. That liquid sound is further enhanced with a good dose of throughout.

Knock Your Head is exactly what you'd expect to hear if you just listened to Old Man and the next title you saw was Knock Your Head. More of an equally emphasized thomp two three four beat with Danni singing "You'll knock your head! You'll move your feet. You'll clap your hands! You'll move your feet." I'm working on a double ear infection today but I'm pretty sure I got those correct despite the swamp in my head.

Treat your ears and give Danni Carr and 47 Miles a listen.

Links for Danni Carr:

Friday, July 28, 2006

Ali Bartlett

by Frank Gualtier -- 07/28/06

Ali BartlettIt was Mark Collins of the Live365 Internet Radio station Women of the '90S who pointed me in the direction of Ali Bartlett. He's a man on a mission not so unlike my own. He set an awful high bar this time.

It seems lately every time I hear something I'd swear was steeped in the American heartland it turns out to be by way of Canadian blood. Ali Bartlett exemplifies this as her Canadian veins are flowing rich with song. As well she has one of those once in a lifetime heard exemplary voices. A voice that is intoxicating to the point of near wreckless abandon and so mesmerizing I think she might stop a few hearts.

It's a smoky voice -- near the neighborhood -- with a somewhere between and Tanya Tucker. It's one of the most uniformly textured voices I've ever heard and very full. When she sings the "ment" of "judgment" (nearly spoken) in the song radiant the lushness of it nearly cuts you in half.

The songs that were on her myspace player when I arrived were Alright By Me, Common Criminals, Lay Me Down, and Radiant -- the last of which features on backing vocals.

Much to my surprise I found out that she writes her own music and the songs I heard were her own. The surprise was justified and I think you'll agree because it's rare to find either a voice or music of this high a caliber. To find both dwelling in the same person? The odds must astronomically disfavor such phenomenon.

My favorite song is Lay Me Down. It oozes acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin (barebones minus fiddle) drenched spirit. It's got a soft.2.3.hard.2.3 rushed catch-up rhythm that I swear projects scenery right out of a small calm in a big storm of the and era American deep south. Like many songs that actually were from 1930's America it sings idealistically with the chorus "lay me down -- won't you stay here beside me -- your wandering heart -- found". If we're not on the same page try listening to the soundtrack of This song would have fit nicely with the overall flavor I believe.

She definitely covers more territory but the orbital path seems to be centered around and with flavors dictated by how far she strays into the alt-* / progressive-* space.

I'd bet a large sum that were she to put out an album comprised entirely of her songs it would be one of those "not a single weak track" affairs.

Finally -- she seems always to sound a bit somber regardless of the mood. I think it's just how she chews her words with that lush smoky voice. Ali herself calls it "optimistically sad". She nailed it.

Click here and to listen to her. Go encourage her. Go tell her you love her music and you want more.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


by Frank Gualtier -- 07/19/06

Ivy Left

First note the 'early days' coiff and snarl.

Next take a gander at the comfortable footwear and trenchcoat holding up that stance -- a must for those physics defying style mic lean-ins.

Finally the sound. I have it on authority that Ivy York is nearly finished with her new album! Get ready because soon you'll be able to buy it and hear what a rock star sounds like!

Go visit Ivy York for a preview and listen to her new song Not The Last Time.

Something Special to Spread Around
Now Linked Directly to the Video -- Click and Play

Ivy York
In Your Arms

-- Put This on Your Page --

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Divine Madness

by Frank Gualtier -- 07/17/06

The Divine MadnessHanging out on MySpace has it's perks. I recently caught wind there of The Divine Madness and while I can't attest to their mental status I can say that I'm enamored with their music.

Fronted by the captivating voice of two time Victoria Mazze they sound something like a cross between and Celeste Lear with a bit more lean towards and darkness. Victoria's voice is breathtaking with a curiously original yet familiar that makes me think of a hybrid between and Lijie.

Victoria Mazze (VOX), Chris Cano (Drums) and Chris Ride (Keys) make up the band. They write and perform their own material and credit "JOHNNY BURKE & RAIN" (Guitars) as "special guest stars".

They currently have one 4 track compilation out with the Precious EP and the debut full length Secrets is due out soon. Last I read it was up in the air but they may be releasing Secrets as a double disc.

A video for the song Closer is included on the DVD for the movie "Bram Stoker's Dracula's Curse" and can also be viewed on their MySpace profile. This is well worth the time even if you're on dialup as it cache's after one run and you can replay it with no streaming glitches after it buffers up fully the first time.

I've embedded the stream of the video below.

The Precious EP can be purchased from their online store or their MySpace profile (see the links below).

If you haven't heard The Divine Madness you're sorely missing out on some really good music.

Links for The Divine Madness:

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Fire and Reason

by Frank Gualtier -- 07/14/06

Photo by Jena C.
The Fire and ReasonWith the recently released self titled debut The Fire and Reason kick a beat you can dance to, it up like and have a soft spot for celebrating dark grooves.

Fronted by the tantalizing voice of Bella Saona TFaR is a group of four highly talented individuals who's combined prowess yields a well oiled sound machine that is part , part and a little bit . This inherently implies such flavors as and .

I had already seen their video for the song Go and was impressed but when I got ahold of the and played it I found that they are not simply one hit dazzlers. The impetus of what I first found carries through.

Pleased To Meat You -- Guts of the Beast

The composite breaks down like this [Left to Right]:

Photo by Jena C.
The Fire and Reason

Thomas Buchmueller -- [Bottom]

Steve Narvaez --

Bella Saona --

Chris Bielfeldt --



Do You Hear What I Hear -- The Voice

Bella's singing reminds me of a bird as it darts in and around the trees in a forest not once hitting a single branch on the way. She often s notes just a few pennies low and emphasizes the 'tween's in downward . It's a style that adds to the dark TFaR atmosphere and gives her a distinct flavor that is somewhere between and . Perhaps better stated as a flair. As well she tends to sing away from any backing or s. I don't want to get too heavy on the but it's like running blind. If you can do it flawlessly it's beautiful. If not it's bloody. Bella doesn't have a scratch on her. Watch her face when she sings and you'll witness it visually as she shows the grace and control of someone like with expressions that echo the emotions of the song and not expressions that echo the challenge of singing the song. The closest voice comparison I've heard is to . Barely close to Bella's unique voice but it gets you in the neighborhood.

Beat It -- The Rhythm

In the can be heard a fair amount of rolling that reminds me of the style of 's . The ic seems at times like a forward from 's . Combined with a that tracks it, frills included, it is itself something of an evolutionary class bred from creatures like 's . These guys pump a rock solid and clean you can feel in your bones.

Careful With That Axe Eugene -- The Guitar

The work is impressive for many reasons. One is that you hear several types of sound. Crunching, clicking, s et al. Another is the use of obviously selective equipment and which leads to s of that completely kick your while retaining a crisp and clean demeanor with each catchy and jabbed out . In tandem with the just mentioned and some aspects a solid foundry is framed for each .

All Together Now -- The Sound

They have an interesting A B A thematic style of alternating between lush, yet always clean and tight, sonic assault and beat with suspended hollows which gives an interesting intermission kind of effect. It's also highly anticipatory as you can feel the strength of the carry on as if to say "take a breath -- you are going to need it". Fantastic and dramatic -- one of many classic styles and TFaR have it mastered.

They also remind me just a tiny bit of but it's difficult to articulate the exact reason. Given that they are it's no surprise. That is to say that they are a composite of many aggregates that they have into their own style. This can be demonstrated by consciously picking out the components and surprising yourself that they were even there because they blend so well into the overall feel. Yes that was a thopping out a ... Smooth integration.

What Are Words For -- The Song & Lyric

The aspects of the s are often dark and always either poetic as in Go with "I know you'll be fine making good on all those promises we now leave behind" or in the spirit of fun such as Faux Party's "Give me the sound, Give me the beat -- I want to see NYC dancing on the street". For those who love culture there's the Sin Drogas entirely in Spanish.

Whip It Good -- Live Performance

My personal TFaR favorite is the Go for which they have a live performance video of on their MySpace page.

The Fire and Reason
TFaR performing Go live on June 25, 2006 in , .

Well written and superbly performed the of The Fire and Reason is suited for , and just plain old fashioned listening pleasure.

Links for The Fire and Reason:

Monday, July 10, 2006


by Frank Gualtier -- 07/10/06

What do you say about a band and their music when just about everything obvious has been said already?

That's a tough one but I'm about to put my thoughts to words on Belladonna's debut album Metaphysical Attraction -- let's see what happens.

Belladonna is:

Luana Caraffa -- VOX
Dani Macchi -- Guitar
Alice -- Piano
Cherry -- Bass
Stef -- Drums

The first thought that went through my mind on hearing Belladonna was "deliciously androgynous voice". That was the clearly disambient voice of Luana Caraffa beckoning my ear's attention. Or chewing on it. Her sexually infused voice dives immediately into the primal and sings lullabies to the animal that resides there with a real lean towards the basic instinct buttons.

Resurrect my soul is the Belladonna song that catches my attention the most with it's thought provoking verse. Here's a snippet:

"In my eschatology
You're Jesus in disguise
I am the Magdalene
You crucify"

These are impressive pros regardless of how you file them in your book of ethos and hearing them through Luana's voice -- a deeply tormented soul is chillingly conveyed.

The music is equally demanding of attention. It's basic dark with a edge and a solid beat. In some ways it's reminiscent of 's Bloodletting album. The lyrics are dark -- swaying and melding lust, love, pain, death, struggle and in ways that are poetically intoxicating. Yield to the draw (and you will -- this is not ) and you'll find these lyrics are the obvious product of passion and intelligent philosophical thought. In fact just as I was writing that line I caught wind of Belladonna's MySpace blog in which it's stated that Luana is a "philosophy graduate and scholar". That vein runs thick as blood through all of Belladonna's verse.

Step away from the tree to look at the forest and Belladonna as a band is rock solid.

From a production standpoint Dani has done an outstanding job. I'm especially picky on the mix and the balance here is just perfect.

Belladonna's Metaphysical Attraction is a welcome addition to my collection. I highly recommend you make it part of yours.

Links for Belladonna:

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Emilie Autumn

by Frank Gualtier -- 07/02/06

Emilie AutumnMy first impression of Emilie Autumn was that perhaps I'd stumbled upon a classically trained violinist gone renegade . I'm still uncertain if that was entirely incorrect but after a bit more ear time and research I'm finding she's more like a red hot onion with enough layers to fill a thick book.

She's a musical prodigy, has , is a classically trained and skilled violinist (she also plays a mean keyboard), a wicked composer with a fiercely passionate writing and performing style, a poet and an entrepreneur. As well she has one of the widest timbre ranges of any vocalist I've ever heard and can sound like anyone from to and anything unique or relative in between.

On A DayHer performance and compositional skills can be heard on her 'On A Day: Music For Violin & Continuo' album which she recorded at age 17. On it she plays pieces by , , , as well as three Emilie Autumn original compositions. Bach, Corelli, and Leclair were composers from the era. Ortiz was from the period. Emilie's compositions here fit more into the baroque style with their s.

By The SwordIn 2002 she released 'By The Sword' as a 9/11 inspired charity single. The disc, more an EP than a single, contains a total of four songs -- one of them in audio and video format. Written on 9/11 the title track is a goose bump raising tribute to those lost -- and those left behind on that awful day. She has this song available for free download in full on the 'By The Sword' section of her web store.

I want to mention a little more about this song because it really put a lump in my throat. Both for it's lyrics and the beautiful job she did with the music. It features an intro and inlays of style fiddling that is mournful yet biting in a way that churns the inner fire. Both a lament and a rally it's set to a strong beat, solid music, and poetic lyric that'll put a lump in your throat too and run a chill down your spine when she sings:

"For in this brotherhood I still believe
And for the ones we've lost my soul will grieve
Yet through the world alone I wander
For I know somewhere
I will find my brothers
By the sword I swear"

EnchanteOn 'Enchante' she covers a lot of ground and you get to experience a wealth of that timbre range I mentioned.

As for that ground you get everything from near with 'Chambermaid' and 'How Strange' to - with 'Ever' and 'If You Feel Better' to the -- of 'What If'. There's also 80's-retro, , and vibes threading through this album.

Opheliac EPShe explores still more of her expansive vocal and genre palette on her 'Opheliac EP', the precursor to either a larger work of the same name or the same thing under a different label -- something pending label negotiations. Here she dives into some pretty dark / water with songs like 'I Want My Innocence Back' and 'Liar' and navigates not far from the zone with 'Opheliac'. She jumps genre's completely with dark yet electro-classical style of 'The Art of Suicide' and goes completely ( et al) with 'Marry Me' -- a song that would lyrically make proud. I'm not even sure how to explain 'Misery Loves Company' but there's a strange companionship it seems to share with 'Opheliac' in that I think these songs are both sprinkled with just a hint of . 'Swallow' is sort of dark with it's use of the word 'giddyup' painting an exact image of it's rhythm.

It's very hard to get all her fingers and toes stuffed into one little genre box. Fortunately Emilie does that herself and calls the genre of her latest work "Victoriandustrial".

She's a fascinating study as a person and her music is easily pleasing to a pretty diverse audience.

According to her banners she's offering the 'Opheliac EP' as a special signed fans limited edition. I just clicked a banner and bought myself copy and got this nifty auto conf back:

Hello you lovely deadly thing!

Just a note to say thanks so much for ordering my new Opheliac EP, and please stay
tuned to the website for news of the full album soon to come...shipping is a bit
delayed due to a robbery that has left the Traitor Records office in shambles and
us replacing a good amount of gear, but please know that we have hired more staff
to get all the backorders out the door as quickly as possible. I might add however
that there are some hidden extras on the EP that I hope will make it worth your

Thank you for being an incredibly awesome fan and supporting victoriandustrial music
and the bloomered girls who make it...can't do it without you...

I'll see you out there on the road very very soon...

With Love & Bloody Crumpets,
Emilie Autumn

This is her best work to date -- click a banner (see below) and get one for yourself!

Your Sugar Sits UntouchedFinally -- I did mention that she was an entrepreneur. In addition to trinkets, apparel, stickers, stationary, buttons and tote bags -- she has a book of poetry available called 'Your Sugar Sits Untouched -- teatime poems by Emile Autumn'.

I don't usually travel beyond the music but a visit to her record label Traitor Records left me impressed enough with all it's widgets and gadgets that I just had to pass a few along.

See the links below the banners. Emilie Autumn is one hell of a musician and I am highly entertained by her. You will be too -- check her out!

Emilie Autumn Banners

Are You Suffering?

Are You Suffering?

Are You Suffering?

Links for Emilie Autumn:

Friday, June 30, 2006

Cool Banners

Don't Get Caught With Your Pants Down

Knowledge Is Power

Learn About Vashti's Music

Click the Image and Empower Yourself


Don't Skirt the Issue

Spank Your Page With It

Spread the joy and spank your page with this!