Archive for January, 2009


A New Friend – The Parkington Sisters



These five sisters from Massechusetts began their musical education early. Citing their parents and family as key influences and practicing their instruments from an early age, the sisters have developed into an extraordinary five piece band whose stripped down sound is characterized by their beautiful vocal performances and harmonies. The blend of calming string instrumentation and angelic vocals on “Deerheart” results in the most soothing environment imaginable. The sisters also tackle the Jeff Buckley version of “Hallelujah” and pull it off particularly well, capturing Jeff’s haunting vocal style perfectly. According to their home page they also do a version of Radiohead’s “High and Dry” which I would love to hear but unfortunately does not appear on their website or myspace page.

Listen to “Deerheart”, “Hallelujah” and more on their website.


Matthew Good Wraps Up Recording of New Album, Vancouver



In a post on his website on Thursday, Matthew Good apologized for his recent lack of posts and cited the reason as “trying to wrap things up by Saturday”. The upcoming release by the Canadian music icon is titled Vancouver and is said to be a concept album based on the city Matt has lived in for most of his life.

2007’s Hospital Music saw Good reaching new audiences in the U.S. The album’s first single, “Born Losers” was featured as the Single of the Week on the American iTunes store and debuted at #17 on the iTunes charts. No release date has been set for Vancouver.

Read my review of Hospital Music here and check out Matt’s website/blog here.


Marianne Faithfull Covers The Decemberists



For her upcoming album, Marianne Faithfull recorded twelve songs written by others, among them songs written by Neko Case, Brian Eno, Morissey and this song, The Crane Wife 3 by the Decemberists. This is a pretty decent cover if you can get over Marianne’s voice. The song features Nick Cave whose voice practically drowns behind Marianne’s howl. I’d much rather hear the song covered by Nick Cave featuring Marianne Faithfull. Listen to the song over at stereogum.


A New Friend – The Rayographs



Admittedly, I have never been a huge fan of female vocalists outside of Beach House’s Victoria Legrand’s haunting pop melodies (or the ones with undeniably amazing voices, say…Amy Millan or Leslie Feist) but I am never opposed to checking out female-fronted bands. While Rayograph’s guitarist/vocalist Astrud Steehouder doesn’t really fit into either of those groups, her voice captivates you and brings you into The Rayograph’s realm of dark psychedelic rock. Check out these two songs from the band’s first 7″.

The Rayographs – Hidden Doors.mp3
The Rayographs – Gold Light.mp3


Nickel Eye – The Time of the Assassins



I had no hopes for this album upon hearing Nikolai Fraiture’s unimaginative name for his solo debut persona. Nickel Eye, really? Not to my surprise, I found the album to be pretty much equally unimaginative and for the most part extremely bland. The album kicks off with a grooving bass line and subsequent drum beat and simple guitar strumming that gives the impression that what follows will be an exciting and head bobable record. All hope is lost upon hearing Nikolai’s monotonous drone of a singing voice. An image of him half asleep, effortlessly holding the mic up to his mouth with one hand and balancing his head on the other perfectly accompanies the music in my mind. According to Nickel Eye’s myspace page the album is supposed to be influenced by Neil Young, among others. While Nikolai has certainly inherited the legend’s nasally voice, it lacks the emotion and passion that is apparent in Neil’s singing. “Fountain Avenue” is particularly painful.

Aside from a few catchy guitar and bass hooks here and there, the entire album sounds effortless. It seems that Nikolai took a bunch of demos of Strokes’ songs that didn’t make it on 2006’s mediocre First Impressions of Earth, assembled a band to flesh out the songs a little more, wrote some lyrics and recorded it all in the same day. Uninspired. Repetitive. Painful.

[Rykodisc; 2009]


Frightened Rabbit – Poke


Frightened Rabbit’s Midnight Organ Fight rapidly became a favourite of mine since I first heard just recently, not sure how I missed it last year. This is one of the most depressingly beautiful songs I have ever heard and a great example of the songwriting skills of Scott Hutchison. While the quick succession of guitar plucks could easily be the background music to lyrics opposite of what they are, it also serves as the perfect accompaniment to Scott Hutchison’s tale of a broken relationship. The song is full of magnificently penned metaphors for the decline of the relationship (“I might never catch a mouse and present it in my mouth”) and some surprising word choice (cannot recall a song as beautiful as this that uses the word “cunt”).

Frightened Rabbit – Poke.mp3


Bon Iver – Blood Bank EP



To me, Justin Vernon’s music as Bon Iver sounds like if TV on the Radio did an acoustic album, or if Stephen McBean (of Black Moutain) and Ben Bridwell (of Band of Horses) came together to record their vocals over Sam Bean’s (Iron & Wine) acoustic strumming. At least this is what I thought one year ago when I first heard the terrific For Emma, Forever Ago. On the Blood Bank EP, Bon Iver is heard slightly more experimental and exploring new instrumentation.

Opening tune and title track “Blood Bank” is without a doubt, both lyrically and musically, the best on the EP; “That secret that you knew but don’t know how to tell / It fucks with your honor and it teases your head”. With a single guitar and minimalist drum beat, “Blood Bank” begins the record on a high note that won’t again be reached over the course of the EP. In fact, if one were to graph the quality of this record against time, it would be a steady down slope until it crashes at the bottom with the annoyingly horrendous “Woods”. “I’m up in the woods, I’m down on my mind” sings Vernon in an auto-tune voice that would fit more appropriately on 808s & Heartbreak. Yes Justin, we know you were in the woods, no need to repeat the same line a dozen times – maybe you should try to find a new place for inspiration. “Beach Baby” has all of the ingredients that would typically make a good Bon Iver song but somehow doesn’t deliver. Third track “Babys” borderlines on annoying with its repetitive instrumentation and long intro.

The Blood Bank EP is mostly a disappointment after For Emma; the only shred of saving grace being the beautiful title track. Here’s hoping for something better on the sophomore release.

5[Jagjaguwar; 2009]