Thursday, August 17, 2006

Updates on past posts...

Just a quick few notes...

  • I learned last night from Looking At Them ( and she from Pink Is The New Blog) that Nina Gordon who I wrote about on the 7th, is expecting her first child, a girl, in November...congratulations, Nina!
  • And I learned this afternoon from Songs:Illinois that Lullaby Baxter, whom I wrote about on August 3rd, is back and has recorded a new album entitled "Garden Cities of Tomorrow" that is being released on August 22nd! She has a new site set up here, and you can download a song from the new album, link below...
Lullaby Baxter - "Rattled Little Clam"

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Emm Gryner: The Summer of High Hopes

This week I pre-ordered the new Emm Gryner album "The Summer of High Hopes". I was unaware it was even coming out until I visited her website on a whim and learned the news and was prompted to sign up for the autographed pre-order immediately.

I discovered Emm Gryner via a Lilith Fair compilation back in 1998. After hearing that song I got her one major label release "Public" and fell in love with it. It was heavily played in my stereo for at least a year after getting it and was one of the "must have" CDs on trips and such. I couldn't stop listening to it, it was so damn catchy! Since then my favorite has become her first covers record called "Girl Versions" in which she covered songs by male artists and did them in the melancholy piano ballad way that I love so much. I should also note that she did this before Tori Amos did her Strange Little Girls album with a similar concept. Emm's covers are really extraordinary, recorded live with just her, a piano and the occasional help of the cello.

These days Emm is also participating in a side project called Hot One with film musician Nathan Larson (a.k.a. Mr. Nina Persson), who was the lead guitarist for Shudder to Think. It is very different than the normal Emm fare, leaning more on an edgy rock feel, somewhat political in nature, It's not the Emm I love as far as I can tell from the few tracks that play on their site. Knowing she was participating in Hot One was why I was not expecting a new album so soon, but I can't say I am not excited about it. I don't have any tracks available from the new release but you can listen to a few on her website as well as listen to new ones and download a few old songs on her MySpace page.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

The Comfort of Redheads

I've been feeling under the weather off and on for the past week. Today's been the worst and sometimes, when family and loved ones are not around for comfort, I can find comfort in music. Unlike many people, a "cheer me up" song (meaning fast and upbeat) isn't really in order when I am not feeling well. I prefer a pretty delicate voice soaring through some melancholy lyrics that just feels like your stereo is giving you a hug. I thought I'd share a few of the songs that make me feel that way and while I was uploading them I realized that they all happen to be sung by redheaded women, I am not sure how that worked out...but hey, why not?

Tori is my favorite among favorites. Actually, a friend and I were discussing music and how we both have favorites, but that we tend to not even want to put our favorite artist in the "top albums" or even "top artists" list because they are above and beyond the rest of the list, it should be a given...and Tori Amos is that for me, there is no competition so it seems silly to even put her on such a list. She is definitely a musical hug, when I am down, you go for someone who understands, someone comforting, and there's definitely a maternal feeling I get from listening to her...she cares. This song isn't the most "uplifting", but on more than one occasion when I've not felt well I have wanted to listen to it over and over, so go figure? It's actually about a girl Tori knew in high school who overdosed on drugs but the parents all thought she must have committed suicide. This girl was, Tori says, the nicest person she had ever met, not judgmental, a friend to all and so it was quite a shock to everyone when she was gone. There is just something about the tone of the song though that feels very warm to me, a feels like someone saying "it matters".

Patty Griffin would be 2nd or 3rd on a favorites list. I listen to her albums and shake my head with amazement at her songcrafting abilities and her phenomenal voice because I just can't believe how much like a legend she already feels to me. Among music critics and musicians she is highly respected but outside that realm not many people seem to know her and it's a damn shame. I've seen her play twice, the first time she was opening for Emmylou Harris and it was the only time I ever saw there be a standing ovation and an encore for the opening act...amazing. This song in particular is my favorite. I have often imagined making my own holiday cards featuring a picture of the farmhouse I grew up in covered with snow, and inside the card would be:
May you dream you are dreaming in a warm soft bed
And may the voices inside you that fill you with dread
Make the sound of thousands of angels instead.
Simply beautiful, she has quite a gift and this song is a great showcase for that gift and the lyrics are very warm and comforting.

Neko Case is a modern classic, not unlike Patty Griffin, really. Neko Case has found a way to capture a timeless essence in her music though, and gives a powerful spin to her country-style. She is the vocalist of the popular band, The New Pornographers, but before she signed on to do that she was already busy making her own amazing music and getting thrown out of the Grand Ol' Opry for taking her shirt off. God bless ya, Neko. This song is the closing track off her amazing Blacklisted album, it's beautiful, sad, and simple. It makes me feel calm and at home.

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