Time for another New Music Revue wherein I pop my head out of my own … cave and see what’s going on in current music. I have liked every single New Music Revue I’ve ever done but I can honestly say this is (for me anyway) the most consistently good set I’ve posted. Bold=link. (Pictured above – Astralingua).
I like to kick these revues off with some upbeat stuff whenever I can get my hands on it. This tune, “Losing Sleep” is by a Canadian band named Altameda (æl-tah-MI-da). (Literally, every single person under 30 in Canada is in a band.) From their website:
“Respect for tradition with the sophistication to shake it off. Deadpan expression of a staunchly honest vision. Edmonton based Altameda (æl-tah-MI-da) have evolved into a band with a bold and unrelenting sound. It’s the culmination of experience, both musical and rawly human, that makes Altameda the band they are. Hitting festival circuits and stages across Canada and the UK, they’ve toured extensively since releasing their much-celebrated debut album, Dirty Rain.”
Here’s “Losing Sleep,” and it’s good to hear some guitar-riff-driven rock again. And it’s also got the power pop harmonies. Nice!
Astralingua in their own words, are a duo (Joseph Andrew Thompson and Anne Rose Thompson) based out of Denver who call their music “Space Folk. It’s a blend of pop, folk, classical and psychedelia – crafted, contemplative acoustic songs full of vocal harmonies meant for spacing out at night. Our influences are wide, but think Simon & Garfunkel and Skip James.”
Now that you gotta hear, right? S&G you doubtless know. Skip James was an old blues guy that Cream popularized by doing his “I’m So Glad” on their Goodbye album.
This song – and video – “Plunge” is quite unusual and has a haunting quality that I like. Per the band, George Martin’s string arrangement on “Eleanor Rigby” was a big influence on Joseph’s string arrangement in this tune. It’s hard to characterize this song but it’s got a mood and the more I listen, the more I like. Check it out:
This is all well and good Mr. Music Enthusiast you’re likely saying to yourself. That stuff is great but when are you going to feature a female blues guitarist from Croatia? Ha! Thought you’d never ask.
Meet Vanja Sky. According to her website, “Sky picked up the guitar just five years ago, inspired by an evening visit to a live music venue near her hometown of Buzet. “It was crazy,” she laughs. “There was a special energy in the air. I can’t even describe it. I decided I wanted to play guitar right then and there – and when I decide something, I just have to do it.”
She ordered a cheap guitar on the internet, began taking lessons from the guitar player whose performance had inspired her and eventually quit her job as a pastry chef to dedicate herself to music.”
Well, I bet she was a hell of a pastry chef but her voice and guitar are no less sweet. (See what I did there?). Here she is doing a live version of a song called “All Night.” She sounds like Fiona Apple cranked up:
“Are you ready for some rock and roll? Yeah. Let’s do it!” Yowsah. If in five years she’s already hanging with long-established bluesmen Mike Zito and Bernard Allison – who I saw at this year’s Lowell Folk Festival – then she’s got some chops and some props:
Some info about singer/songwriter Jason Masi: “He’s a DC-based singer-songwriter who got his start with his college band, Jubeus, playing a residency at The Lighthouse Cafe’ and opening for bands like Blind Melon, Everclear, SOJA, and Donna the Buffalo.
Masi started playing as a solo artist in 2010. He has an established East Coast following and enjoys making his full-time living performing music. He performs solo and with his band in intimate settings, ticketed club shows, festivals, and private events which keeps him busy playing more than 250 shows per year.
Masi cites influences that range from classic soul artists like Marvin Gaye and Bill Withers to folk and blues icons like Van Morrison and James Taylor as well as modern songwriters in the vein of Mat Kearney, Damien Rice, and James Morrison. His songs are often reflective and thought-provoking, yet maintain a free-spirited and lighthearted tone.”
This tune, “Tumbler,” is so uncharacteristic (you’d suspect) of ME’s tastes but I really like it. That “you’re my lover” refrain just sticks in my head. Calling someone that is so much more affectionate and intimate than say, you’re my girlfriend:
Don’t you just love upbeat, swing-y folk tunes? Me too. (Or as it’s called on SoundCloud, “Hillbilly-Baroque Folk Rock.”) Especially ones that say, “If you feel like talking shit be ready to deal with it.” The band No Sailor is for fans – it says here – of The Lumineers, Bright Eyes, Josh Ritter, Mumford and Sons, Vance Joy.
“No Sailor is the moniker of American singer/songwriter Kieran Garvey and his five-piece folk band. The band was formed while Garvey was living abroad in the idyllic capital Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Whilst going through a shattering breakup of the relationship that brought him there he met a savvy English expat who played bass and an exceptionally talented Slovenian violinist. Now with a band to keep him from moving home, Garvey soon found inspiration in catharsis and poured his experiences into lyrical form.”
“21 Rules” is about rules for living like “When you leave a bar don’t go back, never chase a girl, just call her back.” So much wisdom in a three-minute song! If you can sit still through “21 Rules,” alas you have neither heart nor soul.
Does everybody know Sharon Robinson? They should. Wikipedia: “Sharon Robinson is an American singer, songwriter, and record producer.
She is best known as a frequent writing collaborator with Leonard Cohen, although she has written songs for a number of other artists as well, including The Pointer Sisters, Aaron Neville, Brenda Russell, Diana Ross, Don Henley, Michael Bolton, Randy Crawford, Patti LaBelle, Roberta Flack, The Temptations, and others.
According to Ms. Robinson: “In honor of Leonard’s birthday, I have posted a new recording of the song, “Goodbye Stranger” that I wrote when Leonard passed away and that is part of the MAC (Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal) exhibit. I wrote it in hopes it would resonate with those who love his work.” Robinson spent six years on the road with Mr. Cohen so her paean is all the more heartfelt.
Not the Supertramp song, “Goodbye Stranger” is perhaps the most hauntingly evocative song I’ve heard in quite some time. One singer/songwriter I shared it with called it “achingly beautiful.”