Reviews

Jessi Teich: Album Review Twisted Soul


Soul / jazz singer Jessi Teich has taken a good chunk of Europe by storm (particularly France) and is poised to become your new favorite singer here in the United States.  Her voice ranges from smoky to sassy to sexy and her new album, Twisted Soul, is a welcome breath of fresh air to a music world dominated by carefully molded pop idols.  What’s most stunning about this record, however, is that it’s a story about a woman discovering she’s in the middle of and then leaving a destructive relationship (as Teich did before the record was made).  The record is so lovely that you can miss the underlying themes of domestic abuse and female empowerment.

The album was recorded in Paris, and it shows in the production values.  The whole record sounds like it could be heard while doing a Paris jazz bar tour one summer night.  Opening track “The Haunting” doesn’t have anything to do with the masterpiece horror film from 1963, but it does show how Teich’s voice can be haunting and get into your head.  “Think You Do” is a fun jazzy number with some great accordion work by Laurent Derache and piano by Thierry Maillard of the famous Thierry Maillard Trio (all of whom play on this record). Read More


Tamaryn Album Review: Tender New Signs


The last time I saw Tamaryn was at a Denny’s in Austin, Texas at three in the morning.  I had seen her, in all her pink-haired rock star glory, earlier in the day at the 2013 Austin Psych Fest – where she and her band had put on quite a good set of shoegaze.  I wanted to say hello to them, thank them for the set, and ask the lovely Tamaryn if she’d like to be interviewed in the future for Kick Ass Music Women, but I probably would’ve fainted at the first bat of her eyelashes, and I didn’t want to disturb them while they were trying to figure out what the hell “Moons Over My Hammy” is. Read More


Rachel Brooke: A Killer’s Dream


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.

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Dum Dum Girls Album Review: End of Daze


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


Cat Power Album Review: Sun


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


Ruth Radelet – The Chromatics Album Review: Kill for Love


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


Heartless Bastards Album Review: Arrow


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


Christy Hays Album Review: Drought


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


Chelsea Wolfe: Unknown Rooms & Live at Roadburn


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 EP Review: The Hardest Truth


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