Friday, February 09, 2007

Maria Taylor

One of my favorite bands is Azure Ray. It is composed of two women, Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor. Both ladies have recently set off on their own to work on solo records, but I will admit that Maria has always been my favorite half of the Azure Ray team and my preference held true for me for their solo efforts as well.

Maria's first solo record "11:11" was beautiful and was very much in the same vein as Azure Ray but with a perhaps less somber air about it. Maria has recently announced a new solo album is to be released in March, on my birthday no less! Her new record is to be called "Lynn Teeter Flower" after a childhood friend of hers. They are offering that all pre-orders of the new album made through the record label, Saddle Creek, will be shipped out a full two weeks before the actual release date. I am eagerly awaiting it as the available tracks from the album are all classic Maria quality. I am excited.

For anyone unfamiliar with Azure Ray and Maria and what to expect, they are somber, what some might call "slow-core" music. A very soothing voice over moody and ethereal music. The lyrics are the selling point for me, though. They have some beautiful crafted stories and feelings within their songs that seem to get at something deeper than just the same ol' love songs, even if the song IS a love song. They often leave me feeling haunted and connected to something bigger than this world. I can't say enough about them really.

Check out some of Maria Taylor's solo tracks:

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Sarah Shannon

Today marks the release of Sarah Shannon's new album "City Morning Song". I will openly admit that I am not an avid follower of Sarah's, in fact, the majority of the reason she interests me at all is because I adore her old band, Velocity Girl. Velocity Girl is a great mid-90s band based out of Washington D.C. that made awesome high-spirited rock/pop songs. If you find yourself in a used CD store in front of a copy of their album "Simpatico" yourself a favor and buy the thing, okay?

There was a large gap in time between the break-up of Velocity Girl and the release of Sarah's self-titled first solo record in 2001. That album, though decent in its own respects, was a bit of a disappointment for anyone looking for new Velocity Girl material. Sarah's voice is bold and bright, but it reminds me more of the voice of a talented high school musical star than it does a rock star. Her voice worked well over the vibrant beats and fun lyrics of Velocity Girl, but I think they have a lot harder time managing themselves over more mellow songs which populate her solo work. I won't pretend to have heard her new record other than the title track, though, so I am only judging her first solo effort.

Despite my lackluster review above, I still want to promote Sarah and I still think she is definitely worth a listen. There are a few gems on her first record, and I am sure City Morning Song will have some as well.

You can preview her new album and download a zipped copy of the title track 'City Morning Song' at her record label website, Minty Fresh.

Otherwise, here are some tracks from her self-titled album:

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