Michigan native Rachel Brooke’s latest album A Killer’s Dream is an excellent evolution in the development of her unique sound and direction. Her haunting and sensual vocals with sparse and eerie arrangements make for a deadly combination. Think Loretta Lynn, Bessie Smith, Peggy Lee, Hank Williams, Robert Johnson and Buddy Holly thrown into a haunted Honk Tonk with ghosts and whiskey and you’ll get a hint of what her music feels like. She’s so original that you actually have to hear her to understand what I’m saying. Backed by a truly great band on this album, Viva Le Vox, Brooke’s voice and songs on A Killer’s Dream are a true piece of art.
If the opening guitar on the Dum Dum Girls’ new EP End of Daze is any indication, Dee Dee (guitar, lyricist, and lead vocals) had a bad 2012, but she has picked herself up, dusted off her coat, and taken brave steps forward. This six-song EP began after the band recorded their second album Only in Dreams and while Dee Dee was coping with her mother’s death. End of Daze is also another magnificent example of the Dum Dum Girls’ powerful psych-shoegaze-wall of sound girl group kaleidoscope. Read More
I’d heard that Chan Marshall, otherwise known as Cat Power, was making her new album and played a few tracks for a friend. The friend told her it sounded like every other Cat Power record and that she needed to challenge herself to make something different. If that’s true, I’d like to kiss her friend because Sun is a fantastic record. Layered with electronic beats, vocal effects, and synthesizers (as well as Marshal’s usual great lyrics and haunting voice), Sun is a wonderful new direction for one of the best singer-songwriters in the game. Read More
The Chromatics are an electro band that sound like something you’d hear while walking back to your car at three a.m. after a brief rainstorm cooled off the August humidity but left enough of it to remind you that its mind-numbing effects would soon return.
Trust me, you’ll agree with me once you hear Kill for Love. The album starts with the best cover of Neil Young’s “Into the Black” I have ever heard. I challenge anyone to find a better one. The lovely, hypnotic Ruth Radelet seems born to sing it. Read More
I don’t know how Erika Wennerstrom has done it, but she has somehow made an album even better than her last one. The latest incarnation of the Heartless Bastards (Wennerstrom – lead vocals, songwriter, guitar / Dave Colvin – drums / Jesse Ebaugh – bass, Mark Nathan – guitar) has launched Arrow and I urge you to let it pierce your heart. Wennerstrom’s powerful vocals have returned with vigor. The first track, “Marathon,” is the loveliest pep talk I’ve ever heard. Wennerstrom lets us know that it has been “a long way home,” but she has returned (from, it’s been reported, a break-up) with rediscovered strength. Read More
The debut album of Christy Hays sounds like anything but a first effort. Drought is a fully formed piece of work that showcases strong songwriting, artful storytelling and truly beautiful songs. From Illinois to Alaska and Nashville to her now-home Austin, Hays has no doubt gathered wisdom and soul discoveries on her journeys and she shares them here in a no-nonsense record filled with strength and clarity. Hays sounds and feels somewhat like a grittier, earthier and more in-depth Norah Jones. But Hays affects you in places that Jones never could. Read More
One sign that an artist is in the realm of greatness is the ability to leave the listener wanting more. Chelsea Wolfe has done that to me twice this year. I aim for her lips and I get her cheek. I hug the air. I zig when I should zag. Now you see her, now you don’t. She’s a darkness, just out of reach. So I look upon you with the squinting eyes of suspicion, Chelsea Wolfe. You sure know how to string a guy along. You’re like nailing rain to a tree. Temptress! On October 16, Wolfe released Unknown Rooms: A Collection Of Acoustic Songs, which is…well, exactly that. These are intimate, subdued songs, found wandering the internet in search of their proper resting place. Read More
Penny Ney joined the Austin, Texas music scene in her late teens during the Armadillo World Headquarters heyday. With almost an immediate welcome, she found herself performing at the Headquarters and Paramount Theater and opening for folks like Delbert Mclinton and Bobby Bridger. Read More
Stop what you’re doing. MNDR has released her first full-length album. MNDR, otherwise known as Amanda Warner and Peter Wade, have dropped Feed Me Diamonds on a world that probably didn’t realize it needed this electronica record. If you could liken this debut album to a boxing match, this is a right cross to the jaw of Nicky Minaj two seconds after the opening bell. The opening salvo, “#1 in Heaven,” was inspired by Patty Hearst and her post-arrest request to tell her compatriots she was smiling and to “send them my greetings.” It’s a bold claim to other women in the world of electronic music. MNDR isn’t just the queen of the world, she’s queen of the cosmos… Read More
Not to be confused with the Mynah Birds (the legendary Motown group featuring Rick James and Neil Young…Yes, in the same band.), the Mynabirds are a fantastic music collective led by the lovely Laura Burhenn. Burhenn’s voice is mesmerizing, ranging from torch song sadness to trip hop groove to kick-back-a-shot-of-bourbon rock. The Mynabirds’ new album, Generals, is their sophomore effort and there isn’t even a hint of “sophomore slump.” It’s more like “sophomore stun,” because it’s a stunning record about karma. Creating bad karma, reaping what you sow, turning away from sin, generating good karma, and loving without fear are all explored by Burhenn and her crew… Read More