Free Your Mind, Today!

September 20, 2011

Katie Herzig’s freshest album, “The Waking Sleep,” hit the stores today with its official release. Herzig celebrated yesterday evening with a launch party at Mercury Lounge in Manhattan.

The album comes with a lovely booklet filled in with photographs that are just my style – quotidian, simple, and elegant all at the same time. The dedication is also my speed, with lots of thanks in every direction. Ms. Herzig credits her mom as a lyric-lover for our ability as listeners to make out most of the words, which I find adorable. I do have one question, though. Where are the other Ten out of Tennessee folks (ToT’ers) in the dedication? If they’re such a close-knit, world-changing music collective, why aren’t more of them mentioned? I’m stumped.

What I’ve found so remarkable about this album is Herzig’s uncanny ability to remind me of all sorts of artists and specific songs, and the sum of the parts is a strikingly unlikely combination.

“Free My Mind,” the first single off “The Waking Sleep”

“Free Your Mind” – This track, the first song of hers I heard her play at the HighLine Ballroom with the ToT gang last Saturday night, reminds me of The National lyric, “My mind’s not right…” from “Abel,” her voice reminds me of Allie Moss, and the orchestration toward the end reminds me of a Trent Dabbs’s tune I can’t place, perhaps “Wishful Thinking”…

“Make a Noise” – Well, this one’s simple — it flat-out sold me on the album.

“Way to the Future” – This track is surprisingly Austra-esque. Some hella good production. Danceathon!

“Best Day of Your Life” – “I’m gonna race you to the fence, to the fence. I’m gonna race you to the fence.” Now if these “race you’s” don’t remind you of Elizabeth & the Catapult’s “Race You,” I dont know how any of this is going to remind you of anything.

“Wasting Time” – “It’s easier wasting time than breaking hearts you love.” Also, “Fate is just math, choosing sides.” With her soft, high voice, she delivers these straight-to-the-point aphorisms, encapsulating the heart of problems we’ve all had to deal with. Her voice here also reminds me of some songstress I can’t recall.

“Midnight Serenade” – This one’s peculiar — the reminder is almost Blonde Redhead, but also Sarah Slean at certain moments, and definitely Marketa Irglóva on “I Have Loved You Wrong.” I always notice, “There’s a world between these words and how we use them.”

“Oh My Darlin'” – Here with the crisp voice, or at least crisp pronunciation, she turns into Rosi Golan twin. Additionally, she waxes Rosi Golan -esque in style, too. Then, there’s the classic standards style — the build in the overarching “Doo Doo Doo’s” made me think of perennial children’s songs). In fact, the “Doo doo doo’s” are pretty much identical to Manu Chau’s “Minha Galera,” and the “Oh my darlin’, oh my dear, the times is hard, but…” bit just reminds me of the vaudeville part of The Newsies. It all definitely makes you want to “go back to the younger days.”

“Closest I Get” – … More Marketa…

“Waking Sleep” – This track’s got noisier, more distracting background instrumentation. Still Marketa…

“Lost and Found” – This little baby’s strong suit is great instrumentals, which feature the Ten Out of Tenn band/crowd took advantage of as part of the closer at the H. B.. What a catchy, amped up, emotional, cathartic… well… experience. “Oh, I’m afraid of the world I’m in.” That part always gets me.

“Daisies and Pews” – This bonus-y track/finish to the album completes the downward arc of the resolution to “Lost and Found.” It’s a gentle calm with soothing humming, distant. And then Katie’s voice breaks the far-away with the quite close. Apparently, as the title indicates, this final track is much more directly Christian, a modern Benediction of sorts, and why not when you’re already on the Nashville scene, or uh, map, or what-have-you? It seems Ms. Herzig took some cues from Ms. Amy Stroup, who it seems started out on the Christian side of the Nashville music-verse. Ms. Herzig here has woven some similar underlying beliefs into her current songwriting. Then again, aside from the pews and perhaps the line, “making sense of all the good news,” one can’t entirely tell that the wording is specifically Christian. After all, the strong refrain, “fire in my soul,” is subtle enough that you could add your own interpretations, as all the Abrahamic faiths have similar imagery and language. I think the neatest part of this track is the use (apparently) of chimes.

The fact that Ms. Herzig’s voice is reminiscent of so many contemporary artists is actually very much to her credit. This quality puts her at the head of the pack in terms of versatility and makes the album an exciting adventure among the various artists recalled in all the different catches of her voice from track to track. For fans of hearty folk, from Rosi Golan to The Swell Season, this little gem is worth tracking down. And in Katie’s own words,  “[Don’t just stream the songs.] Support the artist.”

The production and instrumentals are fantastic, as well, and in the end, there are no better words to capture the essence of the album than upbeat, inspiring, and catchy, definitely catchy. I woke up the morning after hearing “Free My Mind” both live and on CD with the chorus zinging about in my head, and I’ve gotten other parts of her songs stuck in my head the last few days, too!

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Summer Cool Down

July 27, 2011

…Or Cool Up as the case may be. Even cool off. Cool on? Like “Rock On!” but for summer?

1.      Design Taxi shared something super-cool today, as always. Simplistic graphic takes on the celebrities of the fairytale world:

Designer Christian Jackson…

…of Square Inch Design has given me some hardcore image delight this afternoon.

Et tu?

2.      My favorite folk darling, Rosi Golan, has been hard at work wrapping up soon-to-drop album, Lead Balloon, and collaborating with some knock-out teams (The Wild Honey Pie, The Voice Project) on creating cinematic treats to accompany some of the tracks. See, see?

"Flicker" - Rosi Golan

I love the overall effects of bokeh, blurriness, oversaturation, and overexposure. The amateur photographic elements closest to my heart! Ha! I’m just not sure what she’s doing hanging out with that gigantic dust bunny. Kidding! What’s more, not only are teal pastel streamers the cutest thing ever, but I like the use of the colorful umbrellas hung up in the trees and swaying in the wind. Why? Because when I trekked into the city to see her play Rockwood in March, it was the most disgusting, sopping wet with puddles galore… kind of day. I believe she played both the tunes being released in video form that night. And she certainly joked about that awful rain! Okay, fine…

…I’ll admit I’m a sucker for umbrella art anyway, but try to forget that and just watch the simple, seated, serene session! Love, love, love!

3.      Bri Emery of DesignLoveFest tweet/blogged about her pal, Skye Whitley, and her jaw-drop-gorgeous necklace designs made with found animal bone. Check it!

White-Tailed Deer Jawbone Necklace ("Evelyn")

4.      Have you listened to Austra yet? Officially banded together sometime in 2010, they’re already knocking socks off in every direction (much like the Pied Piper design above, come to think of it!). Lead singer Katie Stelmanis brings with her a decade’s worth of sharpening her teeth on the ol’ performing bone, so sayeth Last.FM, at least. Hype Machine, in typical fashion, has a lovely repository of their tracks and some delicious remixes, too. I’d say “Lose It” is a good place to start, but  “Beat and the Pulse” is also hella dance-worthy. Actually, that’s kind of a silly thing to say – they’re a dance-hit machine! I’m just dying over here! Can’t get enough, no way. AUSTRA!

…COOL ON!

Sadness is My Girl

March 6, 2011

Well, aside from the gap between today and yesterday’s fun post, that hiatus was a bit longer than two days! Oops!

So let’s hit the ground running, with…

Music News (or, if you prefer, Reports from the Turtle):

Charmar… Yup, still pregnant!

*NEW* William Fitzsimmons album out March 22nd (U.S.) – lusciously titled Gold in the Shadow.

Via @indabamusic: Queens of the Stone Age, the rock band responsible for the hit, “No One Knows,” have apparently admitted that they allegedly performed an appendectomy on a fan backstage in Munich.

Umm…yeah.

All the Rest

“My wounded rhymes make silent cries tonight…”

Speaking of fresh albums, let’s talk Wounded Rhymes. The buzz of Lykke was wearing off when HypeMachine previewed the album Wounded Rhymes for a week pre-release. By the time I heard the whole thing, I wasn’t impressed. “I Follow Rivers,” played thirty-plus times, had kind of exhausted me, I guess, and even in spite of the exhaustion, that particular song is the powerhouse on that album, so it largely overshadowed everything else on my first listen-through. And then, post-release, listening to it on Zune, I found the album growing on me. I’ve also found myself having difficulty refraining from crooning the chorus to “Sadness is a Blessing,” the track whose lyrics are responsible for the laudably original title –- “Sadness is my boyfriend. Oh sadness, I’m your girl.” This track is all the more meaningful for me, having read SPIN’s cover-story interview (mentioned in the previous Lykke-centric post), in which she describes how her sorrows have shaped her music. (“[S]orrow, the only lover I’ve ever known.”) As such, I have decided I dig this new Lykke Li album, after all. That is, with one heck of an exception. By this I mean… I enjoy Wounded Rhymes, with the exception, and I stress with the exception, of “Unrequited Love,” which is just too whiny for my tastes. The way she lingers on words and draws out the spaces leading in to the chorus, and, well, let’s be honest, the lackluster quality of the subject of unrequited love, which has been done to death in music for centuries!…  it just doesn’t cut it for me. It makes for impossible listening. I skip it every time it comes around. As for the album as a whole?  I’d say it’s a superb addition to Ms. Zachrisson’s growing oeuvre.

“I gotta feeling… tonight’s gonna be a good, good night!”

And I’m not just quoting lyrics! I’m serious! Tonight, Rosi Golan is playing Rockwood Music Hall. And! Alex Wong is playing at the stage next door after Rosi finishes her set. I’m so excited! This will be one heck of a worthwhile trip to the city! Will definitely post photos and other tidbits after the shows!

“Sometimes I feel like I am drunk behind the wheel, the wheel of possibility – however it may roll. Give it a spin, see if you can somehow factor in… You know there’s always more than one way to say exactly what you mean to say.”

Moving into some territory we haven’t yet covered here on the Turtle’s music blog…

My favorite nineties bands are the ones that are still going, still kicking. I’ve found Gin Blossoms radio on Last.FM radio to be a great overarching station to tune in to all my favorite nineties bands (e.g. The Goo Goo Dolls, Tonic, The Wallflowers, Fastball, Sugar Ray, The Barenaked Ladies, etc.)! Check it out sometime, yo.

And why are Gin Blossoms so named?

According to Wikipedia, Gin Blossoms “took their name from a photo of W.C. Fields, which bore the caption, ‘W.C. Fields with gin blossoms,’ referring to what appeared to be the actor’s gin-ravaged nose, but was actually a skin condition known as rosacea.” Ha ha ha. Quite a story for a band naming! The stories aren’t always so entertaining. But those that are, they’re usually delectable!

Okay then, that was one jam-packed, if a bit jumpy, post! Until next time, folks!

Now if I could just get the crazy-cool word, “sriracha,” out of my head!

I have decided I dig it, after all.with the exception of “Unrequited Love,” which is just too whiny for my tastes. The way she lingers on words and draws out the spaces leading in to the chorus, and, well, let’s be honest, the lackluster quality of the subject of unrequited love, which has been done to death in music for centuries!…  it just doesn’t cut it for me. It makes for impossible listening. As for my review of the album in general? Superb addition to Ms. Zachrisson’s growing oeuvre.