Wednesday, May 24, 2006


by Frank Gualtier -- 05/24/06, 06/17/06

alūWhen I first listened to alū's album Infomercial Gasmask I half expected to hear somewhere in it the voice of the Red Queen doling out precocious warnings. Since then it has grown on me for reasons more than just the seemingly inexplicable gothic predilection we humans share and has prompted me to want to write about it.

Before all else alū is a master poet of genius insight. She unfurls strips of mobius verse such as "If you could tell the voices in your head there's nothing wrong, we would talk for hours in our sleep all night long" from Big Box, little box on felicitous wings to be more than just a simple statement of 'id riddance'.

This album is filled with such exquisite pros and explores many dark facets of loss and surrender to inevitability. I hope to see alū issue a book of poetry. I've never purchased such a thing but from her pen I surely would.

The music is a fusion of many elements such as trip-hop, electronica, pop, jazz, rock and world. I've never heard them fused in quite this way and would therefore appropriately call the style 'alū'. The bass lines and harmonies ride rhythms laden with everything from strings to bells and koto. Percussion ranges from large hall effect format to the more electronic and highly syncopated. And lightly woven in and out is a hint of jazz flavor that seems to radiate from some of these rhythms and perhaps some of the rhodes-like keys.

And what a voice -- alū's timbre sounds hauntingly like Annie Lennox with the occasional enunciation reminiscent of Anna-Lynne Williams. It is often paradoxical being both lonely and comforting. It is always intoxicating.

A final point of interesting curio is that the album is divided by time signature with the first four songs in triple meter and the remainder in duple.

I highly enjoy and recommend Infomercial Gasmask and alū currently has a new album in the oven slated for a 2007 release.

Links for alū:

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Martha Berner

by Frank Gualtier -- 05/21/06, 06/17/06

Martha BernerI thought I'd post here in the sub'blurbs a short little review I just submitted to CD Baby for Martha Berner's This Side of Yesterday CD (complete with spelling errors).

"Martha Berner - This Side of Yesterday

* * * * * Americana Folk at it's Best

Combining the basic ingredients of heartfelt driving folk with a lightly peppered contemporary edge Martha Berner has crafted a collection of Americana classics. She takes very simple piece parts and assembles them in ways that project powrful emotion into the listener. (I call it the 'Sheryl Crow Effect') Her rhythms impart a sense of motion that pull you along on journeys she sings about with poetically clever and charming lyric. Her harmonies are often beautifully simple such as the A, G, A, G alternating chords that pulse like the engines of a living train driving the mains of 'Lady of Plenty'. And like her melodies they are always catchy. You'll find yourself humming this music when shopping, out walking, and maybe even in your sleep. Her voice is wonderfully suited to her music and bleeds with confidence and comfort. This album, and Martha Berner, are Americana Folk at it's best."

Martha was also the genius behind the Friend of Howard CD which contains a couple of songs, as good as everything she does, not heard on 'This Side of Yesterday' and is touring with The Highway Girls this summer.

Check out her website also. And, as cool as it is to click on the lightswitch, if you like Martha as much as myself click on the little radio as well.

Links for Martha Berner:

Saturday, May 20, 2006


Kelly 06/20/06

KellyKelly does more than just support independent talent. She embraces it.

She's a life lesson as well. Don't just visit her page -- visit every page on her list. You'll see her smiling face there spreading joy, again and again.

I should live so long that I might learn to be half the person she is.

Kelly -- you are the rose in an ocean of daisies.

Ivy York 06/20/06

Yes I'm an Ivy York groupie -- what are you jealous?

See the latest in sonic fashion by clicking the image to the left for an eyefilling six and a half minutes of Ivy York's 06/14/06 live performance at Filthy McNastys! She rocks!

Stop the jealousy and spread the fashion -- copy the code below and paste it into your profile and yes myspace friend, you can be a chic Ivy York groupie too!

UPDATE -- Ingrid Michaelson 05/29/06

Ingrid Michaelson -- Girls and BoysIngrid Michaelson's latest album 'Girls and Boys' is now available at CD Baby! I just bought a copy -- what are you waiting for?

I also highly recommend Ingrid's previous release 'Slow the Rain'.

UPDATE -- Ivy York 05/22/06

Ivy York -- In Your ArmsI had to twist her arm 'til she squeeked but the video link will be going back up! If you wonder why this excites me so -- watch the video! Scroll down for details.

UPDATE -- Ivy York 05/20/06

Ivy York -- RetroRavi tell's me that they're working on a new video for Retro, a song 'Ivy wrote about a poignant scene near the end of the movie Brokeback Mountain'.

Visit Ivy York and let them know how much you love them. And bug them to put the 'In Your Arms' video back up!


by Frank Gualtier -- 05/20/06, 06/17/06

Mooli -- Clea LlewellynMooli blends the talents of Clea Llewellyn and Ben Copland into rich trip-hop beat and groove driven music sans the drizzle and thunder of gothic tears and arrows (...of outrageous fortune...) often associated with this and like genre.

Of Clea's voice it might be said they broke the mold. Rich and laden with breath and smoke it drives Mooli in a soulful manner. I'm fanatic for technicals so I get an extra win listening to her perfect vibrato and it's unimperiously masterful execution.

Their One Design EP is a Limited Edition of extremely low issue and no plans for replication. Better get this while you still can.

They are currently working on their debut full length album Concubine and are in the midst of works for the video 'Save You' which is currently slated for release later this summer of 2006.

For more information visit their website and check out their forum.

If you want sneak previews of Concubine in glorious high sample bit rate sound you can download 'San Francisco Rain' from

Links for Mooli:

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Bird York

by Frank Gualtier -- 05/18/06, 06/17/06

Bird York

Look who's on a

Wicked Little High

In a single word Bird York is luscious. Her sultry jazz tinted alto is smoked in soul and her copper locks set the perfect fire. I've seen her compared to many, including Sia, but as an old time Anita Baker fan -- if I had to try and give you some idea of her tone color that's probably the general direction I'd scoot you. Along with other talents she's a serious quadruple threat -- this woman sings, is a songwriter, an actress, and looks good enough to buckle the legs of a solid oak table.

To find out more about the unique composite that is Bird York check out her website and don't miss her video "In The Deep".

Click the banner above to purchase her Wicked Little High CD.

She also has two other CD's available:

The Velvet Hour © 2005 Blissed Out Records
Bird York © 1999 Blissed Out Records

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

by Frank Gualtier -- 05/17/06

If you enjoy short reviews along with links to where the music being reviewed can be purchased click the Reviews tab to the left.

If you're an artist wanting to be reviewed they will apparently be accepting submissions again as of this June 1st, 2006.

For those like myself who hate reading 10 pages of fill for 10 lines of goodies they keep things properly short and meaningfully to the point.

This is where I found

Ingrid Michaelson

who has already been blogged by 'hello pocket people!'

Check out her 2005 CD 'Slow The Rain' at CD Baby and her latest release 'girls and boys' at the El Train Entertainment Store.

CD Baby

by Frank Gualtier -- 05/17/06

CD Baby

I also want to include a plug for CD Baby, possibly the best place for buying CD's by independent artists. I just started using them recently and am blown away at how easy they are to use, how friendly they are, and how fast their shipping is. Items may be received on the thought probability matrix and you'll have to retroactively order them once they arrive - well... close anyway. Additionally, and get a load of this kids - all the samples I've seen thus far are 2 (that's right TWO, duece, 1+1) minutes long! If you need a longer sample than that to decide then you're just asking for free music. It beats Brand X samples which often miss the parts of songs for which I'd have bought CD's had I not heard them elsewhere. Finally, they claim to pay more to the artists than other CD stores. If that's true (C'mon, would a Baby lie?) then you're giving an extra boost of green directly to your favorite artists and not Brand X and that keeps them off the streets longer and gives them more time to make music. If you send them a love note they may just vote you the most awsome person alive - they did me. CD Baby you rock!

Monday, May 15, 2006


by Frank Gualtier -- 04/30/06, 06/17/06

LijieAnyone who knows me knows I'm a pushover for a good voice. Well I found another one that is just incredible. Her name is Lijie and her voice is strong and sultry with just a tinge of smoke. It's tempting to compare her to Rachael Yamagata but Lijie is another one by which you'll later compare others because she's got a sound all her own.

Her music has a style and beat that draws from contemporary pop rock but is thankfully pushed to a more personal place without losing it's beat. She is a songwriter beyond her years in expression and production.

I hear everything from Fleetwood Mac to the Pretenders to Laura Branigan in her. And all of it fresh.

Check her out at CD Baby Lijie - Roam

Links for Lijie:

Monday, May 08, 2006

Ivy York

by Frank Gualtier -- 05/08/06, 06/17/06, 08/14/07

Ivy YorkIvy York is the latest thing that's been on my mind and in my iPod. I'm always drawn to a nice voice and hers grabbed me like a magnet.

She has shades of Christina Amphlett (Divinyls) forged into the upper registers of something like an Ambrosia Parsley (Shivaree). How she manages to keep such a potential powder keg of sugar south of the saccharine zone is beyond me but she does and it's breathtaking -- no insulin required.

I personally shy away from cover bands but had read that Ivy and bandmate Ravi Panesar wrote their own music. To be sure I asked Ivy herself and was told -- "yes we do write and produce all of our own material". That's all I had to hear.

My favorite IY song is 'In Your Arms', a really warm and highly danceable strut that sort of takes me back to the 60's-70's. Despite the oohs and ahs and guitar fills, it doesn't sound overly retro to me. Perhaps just retro enough. I can see why they're sometimes compared to 'The Cardigans' but I would add - "without the jagged edges."

The song 'Whatever Happened' has a rich rounding sound almost reminiscent of a leslie at times and is colored with the equal spritz of sometimes-sad and always dreamy vivacity that permeates all their music.

All tracks I've heard could readily sprout those lover's "this is our song" legs on both warm sunny beach getaways and dead of winter ski lodge retreats.

Finally, these are all exceptional mixes. You hear nothing but the dreamy heartfelt music and vocals of Ivy York.

Check Ivy York out on myspace and her website.

You'll be able to download songs and I believe she even has a disc available upon request.

UPDATE -- I finally took a gander at Ivy York -- The In Your Arms video and was sorry I waited.

If you thought the song was addictive and endearing and made you ache for that someone special then the video will snap you like a twig. You're thinking, what could be better than hearing Ivy sing `I love you`? I'll tell you what could be better -- Watching Ivy sing `I love you` right in your face !*swoon*! So go check it out and bring snacks because you'll want to keep checking it out. Over and over and over...

On a more technical note the quality is stunning. At full screen it looks sharp as DVD to me and the sound is on par.

Don't wait like I did -- this is one trip you will not regret.

Clips from 'In Your Arms' the video


Links for Ivy York:

Monday, May 01, 2006


by Frank Gualtier -- 05/01/06, 06/17/06

Tastes like electronica / folk ("Bedroom Folktronica" ~Jessica Peters).

Petracovich -- Jessica PetersAccording to the Petracovich Myspace profile Petracovich is: "Jessica Peters - keys, bells, vocals and programming. Tad Wagner in the studio - guitars, keys, programming, sound effects Andrew Giacumakis and Eric Herzog play drums in the studio. Heather Houseman plays cello live at shows"

With exception of Debussy and Chopin (Clair De Lune and Fantasy Impromptu, respectively) Jessica Peters does the writing (she credits Chad Stone with the chords for the bridge to 'Driving Home') and is the primary voice of Petracovich.

I hear so much in this music and so well forged. There are Beatles vibes in the many of the beats and punctuating melodies. A distinct Russian flavor is infused into the music of songs like Others an almost conventional waltz with an ethereal quality that conjures both kinds of spirits, smiles, and the most charming atmosphere of a song you might hear in being played in your favorite little bar.

Below are two of my reviews on Petracovich:

(FIVE STARS) something fresh - it's okay to breath now, September 11, 2005

Petracovich, aka Jessica Peters with a little help from her friends, is THE most refreshing new singer/songwriter (artist) to hit the underground for some time. The songs are not all standard formula driven and seem to define themselves. At the same time there are distinct retro vibes hovering in songs like 'Birds in Flight' where there can be heard rhodes-like keys and even some good old hand claps in a sort of beatles reminiscent fashion. A good listen, however, will prove that at the heart of the matter is a sonically unique creature that is more than just the sum of it's 'vibes'.

Peters' voice is without compare. Like a sonic charmer she frequently conjures forth feelings of childlike innocence for some secret place where ancient souls are just being reborn. Often softly spoken in song she can ethereally haunt you and hug you at the same time. Like a best friend she whispers secrets in your ear that seem to know how to unravel your deepest secrets and at the same time at your side so as to never leave you cold or empty. Interestingly enough all I need say about her harmonies, melodies, arrangements (her style) is this: read what was just said of her voice.

She compliments the music with an equally alluring style of lyric. An example poked it's head above ground in the 8/31/5 episode of the television series 'Over There' in the beginning of the song 'Nighttime':

"Night time
Journey to the moon
On the back
Of a big firefly
Take me up above the city
Your hair
Picks up all the lights
Tropical fish in the sky
Take a ride, take a ride, take a ride, take a
Come on
Take me for a ride
Open window's the sign
Staining blue, soaked into my cotton skin

This is the perhaps the most enchanting collection of songs you'll find for miles in any direction.

Finally, Petracovich just released a new CD, 'We Are Wyoming'. Amazingly it equals the first and exudes as much kinship to it as both will to you. Like one more step in a path to somewhere undoubetly wonderful. This is a journey you'll want to take.

Cheers all - hope this useful.

(FIVE STARS) Welcome to the good stuff, December 3, 2005

Jessica Peters, aka Petracovich and Co., is worthy of the ear of anyone who appreciates being moved deeply by voice, melody and lyric. It is difficult to aptly describe this music. It is, to me, Jessica Peters writing and singing in a style called 'Petracovich'. Traditional sounds mixed with synth and the most gorgeous voice blend in what I suppose some might compare to songs that went big from epic movies like Dr. Shivago only modernized in a way you might imagine Azure Ray would perform them. Oddly enough I also catch glints of Beatles influences in her music as well. Got all that?

If you want to see Jessica sing one of these songs go to
and see how Ted Mills has painted the song 'Others' into posterity.

I mentioned more about Jessica's voice in my review of her other release, Blue Cotton Skin. Summary: Childlike Innocence, Whispery, Like an entity - reaches right out and touches you. Hard to drag that horse around with more adjectives. You just have to hear her and be touched by her to understand. If you do and you're good with articulation then please come back here and do her some justice with a better description.

With lyrics like:
Oh time is short
Nothing really works
We're staying up
So late that it hurts
from 'All I Have To Say' it's difficult to listen to some songs at some times without getting a bit choked up. While Pink Floyd proved that the emotional "drive by" is often desirable, more often than not Jessica's voice will be there to pick up the pieces so it's safe to close your eyes and fall into this music.

All told this rates amongst the 5 best artists I've got my hands on in the past decade and I buy a lot of music covering a wide range of styles. Jessica you are a gift. The rest of you unwrap her and see, you'll be amazed.

I hope this was helpful. -fcg-

Links for Petracovich:

Molly Dean

by Frank Gualtier -- 04/19/06, 06/17/06, 08/14/07

Tastes like folk.

Molly DeanMolly Dean was an easy choice for me. Her guitar playing is good enough to stand alone and so are her voice and her songwriting. It's a pleasant surprise to find all three in the same person. Her voice is a shade lighter than someone like Fiona Apple (some will disagree with me on this I'm certain of it) but I can see where some might draw comparisons to Fiona and to Norah Jones. Molly stands out in my head so much however that I'd be tempted more to say that Norah Jones sounds a little bit like Molly Dean. She has one of the best vibrato's that I've heard and unlike so many others she is 'vibrato aware', using hers with a conscious skill to add without overwhelming. The production on her Resonate CD (I couldn't locate her first CD - sorry Molly - sorry me) is sparse really but again it's obviously a conscious effort, and a smart one at that. So as well this particular CD is 'production aware'. Another find that I am very pleased with.

Links for Molly Dean:


by Frank Gualtier -- 04/19/06, 04/24/06, 06/17/06, 08/14/07

Tastes like folk/alt-rock (kinda dreamy / kinda southern).

Gileah TaylorGileah's music is haunting, like a sunny day in a heartbreaking dream, and comforting like a series of warmly remembered lullabyes. The songs overall are simple in how they're served and yet there is a special complexity in how she paints emotion with blissfully memorable melody and an uncanny sense of how to push chords around so that they in turn push the heart around.

There is a review at her website that mentions the childlike aspect of her voice and they hit the nail square on the head. They mention a hint of Bjork in her voice and sure enough, it's trace, as a perfect spice should be, but it is there.

I would add myself that her voice is not entirely unlike Jessica Peters of Petracovich. I am utterly taken and overwhelmed with this artist.

To paraquote that same review I would say that she has 'cast a spell over me'.

Note: The review mentioned above was written by CD Baby's Tamara Turner for Gileah's Golden Planes CD.

Links for Gileah:

Eliza Lynn

by Frank Gualtier -- 04/27/06, 05/02/06, 06/17/06
Photo by Dale Roberts
Eliza LynnPart I

I find it infinitely easier to write about music that I'm listening to while the writing occurs. Seems obvious enough.

Right now I'm listening to samples of the complilation Frisky or Fair by Eliza Lynn.

Tastes like blues/jazz/bit-o-swing.

I happened upon Eliza Lynn early yesterday morning. I had headed into the waters of solo female blues artists and twenty or so frights into the murk she came out of nowhere like a crack in the clouds letting a bolt of sunlight into a precarious storm.

CD Baby quotes a review by Bob Gottlieb written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange with regard to her Frisky or Fair release. Here's part of that review:

"This disc surprises (pleasantly) right from the git-go. There is the picture on the cover of the disc of a red haired, freckled, fresh-faced country girl, and then, the disc opens with a tune that sounds as if it is out of the Cab Callaway song book (including muted cornet)."

She certainly furthers and expands that with songs like Honeysuckle, a song that drips with a bluesy strutting electric guitar. This one took me back to the 60's when they used to project psychedelic scenery behind bands and dancers. Eliza Lynn's voice adds a slightly more jazzy edge to it and brings it back in line with the genre theme of the compilation. It's a delightful and memorable song. At the time of this writing she has the song available as a full download on her website.

She's got miles of soul in her voice and she writes her own music. And like a bolt of sunlight peering into a tempest she's a breath of fresh air. No easy task in a genre that has been so well established as to be caricaturized and permanently etched into our cartoon backbrains (literally - listen to a lot of those blues and jazz tunes behind the old 'Looneytunes' cartoons).

Here you can hear several two minute samples of Frisky or Fair.

Part II

I've written a bit about Eliza recently in my 'Touring the Indies' blog post (see above) on Eliza Lynn based on CD Baby's 2 minute samples and the song Honysuckle which I was able to download in full (see the blog - you can do the same). Today the full 'Frisky or Fair' cd arrived and here I am again beyond helping myself for want of expression.

Straight away I want to mention a couple of genre comparisons that ran through my mind when I was writing that blog but that I don't think actually made it to my fingers. One is to 'The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band'. Anybody remember the song 'Mr. Bojangles'? Eliza has a great deal of that flavor coursing right through the heart of much of her music. Another comparison that I think would not be out of line would be some of the music of 'Maria Taylor'. Two songs from Maria's '11:11' solo debut, 'Hitched!' and 'Speak Easy' come to mind specifically.

As well, and as true, there is Bob Gottlieb's review (which I read as quoted at CD Baby) where he mentions Eliza's cd starting out as if right "out of the 'Cab Callaway' songbook". He captured the flavor of the opening song, 'Not 10 Miles', perfectly right down to the muted horn.

What sets Eliza apart are her voice, which perfectly reflects what she is singing, a charm all by itself - this girl can sing, and her ability to de-caricaturize these genre giving distinct and vivid personality and colorful flow to each song. She is an impressive songwriter both in music and in lyric.

'Frisky or Fair' is one of only a small handful of cd's I've had in my player over the past several years that has remained in place for no less than 10 complete runs (where it is still playing as I write this) because I cannot get myself to take it out. While it is true that I always come back to music I really love, it is a marvel to me that I am able to not only sit and listen to any one cd for so long but that it just sounds better each time I hear it.

I am thoroughly addicted to Eliza Lynn's music and am eager to hear more from her.

Links for Eliza Lynn:

Martha Wainwright

by Frank Gualtier -- 04/14/06, 04/24/06, 06/17/06

Tastes like adult acoustic/electric folk/country/alt-rock/alt-pop fusion. Chew...

Martha WainwrightMartha Wainwright writes and sings the way most people think but don't speak. The surge of emotion that comes through in her voice reminds me of how a child reacts when opening a gift that causes emotional response (good or bad). The song G.P.T. sports a perfect example with "...and she's got a name. i don't care" sung in a way as to conjure an image of Martha actually stomping her foot and then smiling because she got it out of her system. These 'my heart is an open book' deliveries are disarming and often quite seductively charming.

I've seen many genre attached to her name including 'Alternative & Punk' but to me she sounds like a mostly acoustic folk/country fusion with lyrics that might earn the 'punk' moniker.

She sings several songs with backup from her cousin Lily Lanken. Lily and Martha compliment each other's voices like a craving that makes your mouth water. Each ingredient good but when they swirl you squirm.

So natural - so real - so contagious.

Links for Martha Wainwright:

Rosie Burgess

by Frank Gualtier -- 04/26/06, 06/17/06

Rosie BurgessRosie Burgess is a folk musician and story teller of impressive prolificacy and wit. She conjures such lines as "clouds are ganging up on me ... outside the people swim through rivers of the aching skies" with apparent ease and delivers them with uncontrived charm.

Her music is sincere and detail laden. I would be hard pressed to believe many, if any, of her songs were made without a good amount of thought and feeling. Of course as said she is witty and I can imagine her rifling off thoughts at twice the speed of most mere mortals. This also shows in the size of her songbook. I counted four compilations (at least 34 songs) she's produced thus far. You just can't write as many songs as she has of such quality without being very quick, very intelligent, very deep - or old as dust. She is nowhere near the latter.

Most of her songs are thoroughly saturated with guitar(s) and her voice(s). There are other things usually laid in sparsely such as winds and percussion but much of her material is just her and guitar.

Her guitar playing is something worthy of note in it's own right. Along with slide she has two very distinct styles in which she wills the guitar to her bidding. One is delightfully percussive with both picking and strumming and the other is a very fluid resonate picking style (think simon and garfunkle for example). When I was first listening I managed to begin with several songs that were very sparse and percussive - a one woman show summoning up a band from just her guitar. Then I ran into her use of separate percussion and it just threw me into a wonderful place. How one woman draws so much from so little is an amazing thing to hear.

She has a wonderful voice that is spendidly articulate. You can actually understand what she's saying. It's a soothing voice that's a bit breathy at times and jumps into a lovely falsetto now and then.

She has a rather impressive number of full length downloadable songs at her website and it's my hope that perhaps I've said something to inspire at least a few people to go and have a taste of this inspirational and heartfelt woman. I bet the standard question 'is the glass half ...' will always be answered 'full' by anyone who's just had an earful of Rosie Burgess.

Be sure to see the store at her website. She's generous in giving others a chance to give her a serious test run and much more music is available for purchase there.

Links for Rosie Burgess: