3/28/2013 2:48:55 PM
Lauren Mann & the Fairly Odd Folk
Over Land and Sea
Available April 9th through Wanderer Records
Lauren Mann and her fairly odd Calgary crew are set to release their Over Land and Sea album this April and there’s hardly an instrument or sound they’ve left from the mix. Ukuleles, violins, violas, banjos, cellos, trumpets, vibraphones, melodicas, bassoons, trombones, flutes, drums, guitars, glockenspiels, clarinets, whistling, pianos, background vocals, hand claps, and Lauren Mann’s alluring, melodic voice all blend gorgeously in this collection of folk-pop.
The album's poppy, whimsical tune “How It Goes" would be well suited as the background music during an bright, early spring stroll in the park. But, as catchy and fun as it is, the airy instrumentals shouldn’t fool you. Mann’s lyrics are dynamic and poetic. She comes bearing a message. She’s ready to talk about life and about death, heartache, and all of the unanswered questions. The whole journey. And she somehow manages to do it with a bittersweet ethereal feel that leaves you feeling uplifted and ready to submerge yourself in this wild life while it’s here.
A sort of gentle call to action, Lauren encourages, “I’ve said my goodbyes / there’s no turning back / I keep singing this melody to keep my heart intact / and I know that we will never know / how the world keeps going how it goes / and all this time we spent waiting for our lives to happen / is time that’s been wasted while the world keeps moving and changing.”
Lauren Mann & the Fairly Odd Folk aren’t going anywhere soon. Their infectious melodies will be on repeat for some time and in your head much longer.
Lauren Mann & the Fairly Odd Folk Tour Dates
3/21/2013 2:14:35 PM
The Very Best of the Pogues
Now Available at Shout Factory
Punk is not simply a musical style or fashion aesthetic; punk is a look in the eye. The Pogues proved this without a doubt upon forming back in 1982. Fronted by Shane Macgowan—in songwriting, singing, and swaggering antics—the Pogues often outdid the Sex Pistols in their excesses.
Despite the Guinness-fueled shenanigans, no punk band—actually, few bands of any sort—has ever written as many beautiful ballads as the Pogues. Paul McCartney may be the pop song maestro, but MacGowan should be crowned the king of the sentimental sad song.
They’re all distilled down in the The Very Best of the Pogues, form the Christmas carol “Fairytale of New York” to the rousing, life-affirming “The Sunny Side of the Street.” A Yuletide greeting and life-affirming punk anthem? It’s all part of what makes the Pogues special. One can always quibble with the choices on a greatest hits disc, but this collection does what it should: makes you yearn for more.
3/21/2013 12:46:56 PM
The Wilderness Available Now on Lefse Records
Chilled out, enchanting, and spooky, Cemeteries’ first official album offers a welcome haunting. The solo project of Kyle Reigle, Cemeteries creates a soundscape in which mellow percussion gets layered with synth and guitar, where ethereal vocals lend dream pop a drafty feel. Reigle composed The Wilderness from an apartment bordering the woods and industrial wastelands at the edge of Buffalo, New York – a setting that seems to match the stark, lonely majesty embedded in the album’s sound.
As one might expect of a name like Cemeteries, the music is steeped in an awareness of both life and mortality. Lyrical references to seasons, temperature, and natural surroundings comprise almost every track. Album opener “Young Blood” swells with longing as Reigle sings, “I can still hear the whisper / of the cold and snow in winter / when I sleep.” Songs like “Summer Smoke” reference our kindest season, though their tone sustains the album’s wintry feel. And while the title track rides on a twist of upbeat folk, lyrics allude to long, chilly nights. Despite all the reference to cold and winter, there is something inviting and hopeful here. Musically, the album is a deep breath, capable of bringing awareness to the moment in a way that seems to slow time.
Reigle is selling The Wilderness and other works kickstarter-style on his blog to raise funds for studio time. The next album is already written, he reports, and a tour—with additional members Pete Zamniak and Jonathan Ioverio for live shows—is in the planning stages.
1/11/2013 3:20:43 PM
This post originally appeared at Shareable.
Cateura, Paraguay is a town built on garbage. Located on top of a landfill, its residents make their living recycling and selling items that have been thrown away. Illiteracy rates in the area are high and many turn to drugs and gangs. When local teacher Favio Chavez decided to teach the town’s children to play music using his own instruments, he soon had more students than instruments. The solution? He started teaching the students on instruments upcycled from trash and the Recycled Orchestra was born.
Made up of young people playing homemade instruments—particularly striking is a cello made from an oil can, repurposed wood and a meat tenderizer—the orchestra provides beauty, direction and inspiration to its members and the town’s other residents. There’s a sense of pride that exudes from those who have helped to make the instruments and being able to play music in an area where a violin is worth more than a house has proven to be no less than transformational to the youngsters. As one musician says, “My life would be worthless without music.”
The subject of an upcoming feature-length documentary titled Landfill Harmonic, the Recycled Orchestra has become a darling of the Internet as of late. The trailer for the film has been making the rounds, illuminating the resourcefulness and innovation that humans are capable of and challenging us to rethink our disposable culture. It also serves to remind us that every person has something to offer when given an opportunity. As Chavez says, “We shouldn’t throw away trash needlessly. Well, we shouldn’t throw away people either.”
12/4/2012 4:13:43 PM
The Complete Columbia Album Collection
Available on Sony/Legacy (Dec. 4, 2012)
Many a jukebox was packed full of Johnny Cash’s Columbia albums
throughout the latter half of the last century. Sony/Legacy has now compiled
nearly 60 percent of the Man In Black’s work, covering more than 30 years and
60 discs worth of Cash’s music and fit it into a significantly more compact
Johnny Cash: The Complete Columbia Album Collection gathers
63 discs of Cash albums, concerts, songs and soundtracks. From his debut with
the label The Fabulous Johnny Cash in 1958 to Highwayman 2 with
Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson in 1990, everything Cash
released on Columbia
is included here. If that’s not enough for the Cash completist, there’s several
discs never released in the U.S.
While the box set isn’t a definitive career collection-his
Sun Records and American Recordings albums are not included-it’s as close as
one could hope to get. Several Sun singles are found within, and live albums
recorded in a Swedish prison, Prague, London, and New
York are presented for the first time.
All of the classics and standards can be found here,
including At Folsom Prison, the
excellent Ride This Train concept album, as well as all of chart topping
singles. But the real gems are those you don’t hear on the radio and would have
a hard time finding in record bins.
Hearing cash speak Swedish between songs is as big a treat as his
familiar baritone on “I Walk the Line.” While there is bound to be chaff among
the wheat in a career as prolific as Johnny Cash’s, the often overlooked works
more than make up for the plentiful nostalgia pieces he produced in the ‘80s.
And one can track a career that ventured from country to Americana, gospel to rock and roll, Christmas
tunes to children’s songs, comedy to uplifting spirituals.
The box set preserves the original album art and liner
notes, formatted to fit a CD. There’s also a 200 page booklet to accompany the
decades’ worth of music.
11/9/2012 1:23:42 PM
Ben Sollee is a musician with a thrilling cello-playing style that incorporates new techniques to create a unique mix of folk, bluegrass, jazz and R&B. He's also known for views on environmental stewardship, speaking out against mountain top removal and touring New England by bicycle last summer. His latest album Half Made Man is out now on Tin Ear Records.
Growing up in Kentucky I didn't feel particularly empowered as an individual. I lived in the suburbs of Lexington and my family bought most of our food from Sam's Club. Thankfully, I was fortunate enough to pickup the cello in public schools at the age of 9. My relationship with the instrument and music now takes me all over the world: from Lhasa, Tibet to Lawrence, Kansas. It has connected me with thoughtful people and their unique ideas. On this particular day, the cello brought me to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC to exercise my voice as a concerned citizen.
Like nearly everyone, my attention lately has been focused on Sandy and all of her devastating effects on communities along the East Coast. There are so many people dealing with fundamental challenges in their lives at the moment: food, shelter, clean water, etc. These are things that are not debatable or points of policy; they are human needs. The presidential election diverted our attention, but I hope that we'll remember to keep the human-to-human conversation going. That's what we truly need to sort through natural disasters, healthcare policy, education, or anything as a country. We are too often willing to sacrifice honest, sincere discussion for winning and losing teams. And everyone's voice is important! Performing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial was my way of expressing that desire:
Watching this video I get the knot in my stomach all over again; the feeling of moving against the grain. It can be intimidating to speak up, but it is also invigorating and self-realizing.
10/24/2012 1:40:54 PM
Available on Woodsist (Sept. 18, 2012)
Jeremy Earl likes to stay busy. The falsetto-prone singer and founder of the hazy folk band Woods has spearheaded a release by the group every year since 2006. Not creatively satisfied with just fronting the band, Earl also runs the successful record label Woodsist and hosts the annual Woodsist Festival at the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur. Some might take a look at these pursuits and see a man spreading himself too thin, while others might see an artist thriving in a culture bursting with free-flowing creativity. Despite this heavy output, Earl and the other three members of Woods have managed to create a new album, Bend Beyond, that is consistently engaging and artistically progressive.
All of the staple ingredients of a Woods album, like simple acoustic rhythms, reeling electric guitars, and Earl’s doubled lead vocals, find prominent positions on Bend Beyond. The instantly memorable “Cali In A Cup” employs each of these to great effect while adding a thick backbeat, wandering harmonica riffs, and a vocal hook as catchy as the best of them. On “It Ain’t Easy,” Earl picks lightly on an acoustic guitar to the stark accompaniment of a slide guitar and his voice. Reflective and earnest in his trademark casual manner, the lyrics rival some of Earl’s best – “It gets hard without much to say / A pile of stones in lieu of your grave / And ain’t it hard to say it ain’t easy / Lookin’ for different ways to makes things stay the same.”
While Bend Beyond still gives off a sense of the DIY ethos that has guided Woods in the past, the recordings here seem fuller and more realized than previous efforts. Luckily, the album contains several of those freewheeling and squealing beasts of guitar solos that have long come to help define the band’s sound, albeit they are now walked on a shorter leash. Bend Beyond improves upon the finest elements of Woods’ prior releases without stepping into the unforgiving trappings of a sterile and uninspired performance.
Ben Sauder is an Online Editorial Assistant at Ogden Publications, the parent company of Utne Reader. Find him on Google+.
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