Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Merry Ellen Kirk

Attention A Fine Frenzy fans, and everyone that enjoys brilliant and pretty piano enriched folky pop songs. Meet Merry Ellen Kirk, an incredibly talented singer-songwriter that grew up in Mongolia, but now lives in Nashville. Even if I tried, I could not describe better what her music sounds like than she writes about it herself in her masterpiece of a biography that is in itself is worth reading, so don't skip down the music without giving your eyes a treat as well.

Sometimes at night fireflies light up; and so we catch them and put them in a jar. Living beings they are, and lamps they become until they burn out and die. They serve one purpose--to entertain. A song holds within itself a certain power of the same measure. When it is created, it holds captive the thoughts and ideas, emotions and inner turmoil of its creator...over time the song grows and evolves, and though it may mean different things to different people, its final end is to give the listener pleasure. And so, here you are---my jar of fireflies.

"Invisible War" is my first jar...a collection of some of the first fireflies I ever caught; mostly they were just sprouting their wings in that time, learning all about life, exploring the world, and frolicking about with me in fascinating places like Mongolia, where I lived until I was eight. Really I caught the first specimen in this particular jar when I was fifteen--"Song of the Open Road"--based on the Whitman poem of the same name.

Now, at 20, I'm always chasing around a few fireflies at a time, attempting to master the art of capturing the most elaborate creatures. The idea is that the better the creature, the longer it will stay alive and the brighter its light will shine. We need bright light, see, because it's dark sometimes, very dark.

I have dreams about how the world should be. Indeed we live in a place which was meant to be beautiful; though we oftentimes ruin it ourselves by default. In science there is the idea of entropy--the tendency of things toward disorder. If a vase is sitting on a little table, it's quite probable that it could fall off and shatter into a hundred pieces, if not rather unlikely that all those pieces would jump back together again and shape themselves once again into a beautiful vase--unless of course someone worked very hard to glue it all back together into something new and different.

Unfortunately the implications of this in real life are much more complicated than a single vase shattering to the ground. We see natural disasters that destroy and reshape lives; wars, rumors of wars that create tension and dissension between people groups; poverty, disease, starvation, and everything that lies between.

These are the things which burden my heart, and the things which I've always felt compelled to express through my music. If all I do in life is shine a little light into the dark spaces of the world, my time on earth will certainly not have been wasted.

So I catch fireflies.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Agápē Rose

The by Nick Drake, Sufjan Stevens, The Innocence Mission inspired Agápē( pronounced ah-gah-pay) Rose began as the recording project of Justin (songwriter, vocals and guitar) and Lindsay (lead vocals) Dallriva. They recorded their first songs in spring 2007 in Hattiesburg, MS. In 2009 the band's song "Scars Like Medals", from those first home recordings, appeared in a new feature film from in Denmark called Vanvittig Forelsket(Love and Rage). The song was later nominated for Song of the Year at the 2010 Robert Awards in Denmark. They have plans to release new music in 2010 from recording sessions in Nashville, TN this year.

@ Hattiesburg, USA
♫ Indie, Folk, Pop
♥ Scars Like Medals (mp3)
▸ Myspace

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Maria Due

Another lovely singer-songwriter hailing from Scandinavia, discovered through MySpace. Maria Due grew up outside of small town of Lillesand as a simple farm girl with a passion for dreaming and singing. She discovered popular music through a random meeting with a boy with a band in the local zoo. Her skills on the organ got her into the band, and she discovered the magic of finding good melodies and playing them together. Later there were other adventures, but this experience never lost it's shine, and she kept on playing and singing with people she met. She went to France and discovered independence, she went to Oslo and discovered studies, and then she discovered the guitar. The sound of an unknown chord made new songs come to the surface and she started gathering her own band. After a while she was ready with "All the Other Birds" on her side. The God for Random Things then sent her into Duper Studio with Yngve Sætre, who produced her debut album: "Kissing in Public". Which she oh so proudly presents. Musicians include Berit Kristoffersen, Ole Ludvig Kruger, Yngve Leidulv Sætre, Eirik Askerøi, Øystein Bergsvik and Matias Monsen. The music is tipping between French sixties cheerfulness, American seventies longing folk, Stereolab electronica and Jens Lekman indiepop, and landing as a sincere and personal expression.

@ Oslo, Norway
♫ Indie, Folk, Pop
♥ Come To Me (mp3)
♥ Hagerty Square (mp3)
▸ Myspace

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Vonder & Bloom

Sometimes the best things in life happen when you don't expect it. Three years ago Nina Ebbenhout (31) and Caroline Ouwendijk (27) sat in the same Amsterdam tram on their way to a singer-songwriters contest where they both were enrolled. They talked and the immediately felt connected. Already in the locker room before the contest, they heard that their voices blended together perfectly. And in the months afterwards Nina (piano, classically trained at the Utrecht Conservatory) and Caroline (guitar, Americanists, a lawyer and musically self-taught) noticed what they added to their individual songs: magic. Vonder & Bloom, which means “a bridge to growth” was born. The first year they wrote songs and performed as a duo many times, months which made them grow as duo and discover their own sound. When their amazing debut album “Simple Peace of Mind” now in stores everywhere, was finished before last summer, they decided to tour the Netherlands in a bus, for five months singing their briljant first single “Brilliance Of You” to everyone they met on their way. Not without merit, as they signed with Pias Records this February. Their amazing debut album “Simple Peace Of Mind” was released late March and features twelve subdued intimate tracks full of beautiful harmonies that will only need a few seconds to convince you to see that these girls together indeed are a bridge to growth, the growth of something that’s massive already.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Free Music: Emily Fehler

Emily Fehler is an up and coming singer-songwriter from Boston. She is currently attending Berklee College of Music which she will be graduating from in 2012. She is signed with Act So Big Forest records and released a selftitled EP in 2008. Her so far untitled, full length debut album is being mastered and will be released somewhere in the coming months. On her free selftitled EP produced by Jonathan Alonzo and Dave Maddocks, Emily plays the guitar, keyboard and dulcimer and is supported by Jonathan Alonzo (Bass, vocals, 12-string, electric guitar, keyboard), Kay Berthoff (percussion), Rion Hover (drums), Kabir Vermouth (electric guitar, lap steel). Emily sounds like a younger mix of Maria Taylor, Feist and sometimes Joni Mitchell Some of those together with Regina Spektor, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Elliott Smith she considers as her influence when she sings about love, life, earth, travelling and everything in between.

1. A Look In Your Direction
2. Your Mother's Quilt
3. Can't Get Enough
4. Man Of Constant Silence
5. Roots
6. Hold Your Fire
7. Stay
8. Mother (mp3)
9. People, Places, Things (mp3)


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Melanie Penn

Sometimes you can't remember where you found your music, but if the music is great that all does not count anymore. When I discovered Melanie Penn's debut album, back in January (I just checked it on it was on repeat for at least a few days and I was and am still loving every single song on it. Composed mostly of originals Wake Up Love her debut album, is a fun, well-arranged pop gem. The arrangements pull conceptually from a whole host of singer/songwriters – a dash of Sufjan Stevens, a heaping scoop of Paul Simon, and references to Sixpence None The Richer, Over the Rhine and Emmylou Harris. The front half of the record has some of the more adventurous ideas, like “Wake Up Love,” with it’s Russian dance breakdown near the end, while the second half gets a little more intimate and straight-forward. So don't forget to try the free album sampler and buy the album if you like it.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sally Seltmann

Have been loving Sally Seltmann ever since I listened to her first album as "New Buffalo" (be sure to check that project out as well) Now she's back, with a great new album filled with beautiful folky pop songs that I instantly loved. She seemed to have moved away from the more folky sound of her previous albums and embraced a lighter, poppier sing-a-long, almost 60's inspired sound that perfectly suits the coming warmer and sunny days.
Sally Seltmann is an award-winning songwriter and singer. She has previously released albums and performed under the name ‘New Buffalo’, and is well known as the co-writer of the Grammy award nominated hit song ‘1234’, performed by Feist. Sally now returns with Heart That's Pounding, her first album as Sally Seltmann. Previous recordings by Sally as New Buffalo include her debut EP ‘About Last Night’. Following her debut EP, Sally wrote, arranged and produced her first New Buffalo album ‘The Last Beautiful Day’. The album features performances from Beth Orton, and the Dirty Three’s Jim White, who plays drums on three tracks on the album. In 2007 Sally released her stunning second New Buffalo album ‘Somewhere, anywhere.’ She wrote and recorded the songs on a century-old piano, in the studio she set up inside a flower-flanked shed in her own backyard. The album features guest vocals from her husband Darren Seltmann and Kellie Sutherland. As New Buffalo, Sally has toured in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia, performing her own shows, as well as supporting artists including Cat Power, The Concretes, Broken Social Scene, Bright Eyes, Stars, and Feist. Sally's newest treasure "Heart That's Pounding" was released a few days ago, be sure to consider this as your soundtrack for the coming summer.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Nic Dawson Kelly

Sometimes you discover great new upcoming talents by attending gigs of your favorite artists. (sometimes you don't haha) The same happened when I found out that a Nic Dawson Kelly is going to support Laura Marling in Amsterdam this coming monday.
Born up north in Sheffield, and now residing in the south where he switches his time between Brighton and Reading, Nic has lived all over, travelling from place to place and taking in Derby, Leeds, Reading, Brighton, Galway, London, Argentina and France along the way. “Due to all the moving about I didn't get too much of a solid education, what I did learn was from my father’s bookshelf and the records that I'd hear from the back of the car. My first tapes were Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers and Dylans "Street Legal" but I suppose influences would run through a wide range of people. Dylan and Waits the obvious. Describing himself as “a polite tear-away in youth who saw enough courtrooms to thankfully grow out of it!” Nic has worked more crap jobs than he cares to remember, “just to keep myself afloat and carry on doing what I loved doing...writing.” It is this experience which brings such a refreshing sense of honesty to Nic’s songwriting. “I try and write, musically, what I see. I suppose it's a simple as that. Writing how I feel or react or suppose is ongoing, conflicting almost. The songs on the record are changeable, a snapshot of the last few years.” Having already gained a reputation as a mesmeric live performer, Nic has played on bills with the likes of Jamie T, Laura Marling, Adele, Jason Molina and Richard Hawley, and a UK tour is currently being planned to coincide with the album’s release, although don’t expect the live show to be a carbon copy of songs from the album: “When they're played lived they may be different. That's a show after all, right?” Well I honestly can say that I'm really looking forward to seeing the live interpretations of his songs this monday. Meanwhile I'll continue on listening to his amazing debut album called ‘Old Valentine’ that was released last October. Thanks Laura, for introducing me to this incredibly talented singer-songwriter.

@ Brighton, UK
♫ Acoustic, Folk Rock
♥ Marilyn (mp3)
▸ Myspace