Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Artist of the Week Trifecta

The heat index is back up into the triple digits throughout most of the Midwest. Lawns everywhere are parched and the days remain long and languid. I don't feel like going outside, I've got a ton of work to do at my real job and, rather than writing, I've just been, well, rehearsing I guess. I haven't played in front of a real audience of non-relatives in a very long time. And it's amazing how your very own lyrics can fly out of your head in a flash or you muff a chord change you've played a hundred times. Honestly, I'm in awe of folks who seem to perform effortlessly as breathing.

Speaking of which, I spent a good deal of time listening to Reverbradio and Grooveshark this week. One of the fun things about diving into a sea of mostly DIY music is "discovering" an unsigned artist who could be the next big thing. At a very least, it's easy to find more than a few folks who are going to have exciting careers which I will enjoy following.

One is San Francisco area singer/songwriter Aoede (Lisa Sniderman, who also has a bitchin' blog). With a vocal style similar to Feist or Fiona Apple, her songs are more lush and ornate than either. She also writes some seriously catchy hooks.  "I Lost You Win" builds from a simple melodic piano riff into into an almost Bell & Sebastion like baroque pop arrangement with a chorus that is just stuck in my head. In "Fairy Tale Romance" and "Crave Me" Aoede shows a playful side that is warmer and more intimate than B&S as well. It kills me that I'll be in San Fransisco the next two days and she has no live dates.  Maybe next time.

One of the most intriguing artists I've stumbled across is the UK's Steve Thompson, who has apparently been kicking around the hallowed streets of Liverpool for the last twenty years, both solo and in various bands. You can hear some pub rock roots as solid as Brinsley Schwarz, but Thompson's sound is decidedly more sophisticated. His song "It's O.K" sports a catchphrase chorus over a stomping rhythm that sounds a bit like Wilco meets Oasis, as does "Do What You Like" (featuring a subtle, but infectious synth riff you don't hear from most guitar driven bands).  Thompson recently released Cartoon Life, a six song EP and I look forward to hearing more.

Last, but certainly not least, please check out Emmeline, a Dallas singer/songwriter whose music transcends more than a couple of genres--almost always an indicia of originality.  Some of her songs are distinctly piano based and she reminds me a little of Sara Bareilles as a singer and Vanessa Carlton as a songwriter, as for example, in "Where the Light Is."  As they say in Swingers, her vocals are money.  This girl can flat out sing.  Give her the musical hand of a producer like Linda Perry (who helped pilot Carlton's studio work) and I'd wager what's left in my 401k she'd be unstoppable. 

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