Album Review: (We Are Now )Seated In Profile by Half Asleep

Album Name: (We Are Now )Seated In Profile
Artist: Half Asleep
Year/Label: 2005 / Phantom Sound & Vision (and Unique Records, France)

[Buy at Amazon]

Review by Anna Maria Stjärnell

At first, Half Asleep seems to be an all too apt name. Gradually the band’s finely woven arrangements start to make themselves known. The minimal accompaniment and the singer’s siren voice make the music work. It’s easy to compare them to Low and Red House Painters.

“1/4” is an especially gorgeous song, the piano and strings weaving a spell.

“Marie 1 and Marie II” is a soft hush of a song, Valerie Leclerq’s singing like a softer Nico.

“Fourteen Footprints: So You’ve Changed Your Mind” is a celestial hum of a song. Valerie’s barely audible, but her presence is strong.

“Morning Dust Soon” is a neat folksy song with lovely harmonies.

Half Asleep may lull you into sleep, but the dreams will be sweet.

Posted on February 3, 2006

Track Listing
1. We Used To Fear Your Voice (And The Drilling Machine)
2. Un Quart
3. D’invisibles Courtisants
4. Marie1 & Marie 2
5. Fourteen Footprints : So You Changed Your Mind
6. Microwaves
7. Searching The Pavement
8. I’m Watchin’ Tv/Tv’s Watchin’ Me
9. Morning Dust Soon
10. Fingers Are Forks
11. La Fin De L’inertie A Pretty Bee

[Half Asleep Official Site]

Album Review: Chansons by Lauren Carter

Album Name: Chansons
Artist: Lauren Carter
Year/Label: 2006 / Independent

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Review by Anna Maria Stjärnell

Actress Lauren Carter’s debut as a singer is a very nice ep. She sings Edith Piaf’s “La vie en rose” in a breathy voice but still makes it persuasive.

Kurt Weill’s “Youkali” is present in a lovely version too.

Her own “Strategy of Tragedy” fits in well in its charmingly innocent way. Carter sounds very sweet as she seeks the heart of tragedy. She’s still finding her voice, but I think she’ll get there. Carter’s an ingénue rather than a femme fatale in this setting.

“Les Ruptures (Partings)” ends the ep nicely.

Time will tell if she’ll make a full-length album and what direction that will take.

Posted on February 3, 2006

Track Listing
Listen to track samples
1. Intro
2. La Vie en Rose
3. Youkali
4. Strategy of Tragedy
5. Les Ruptures (Partings

[Lauren Carter Official Site]

Album Review: A Week Of Kindness by George

Album Name: A Week Of Kindness
Artist: George
Year/Label: 2005 / Pickled Egg Records

[Buy at Amazon]

Review by Anna Maria Stjärnell

Suzy Mangion and Michael Varty make up George. Mangion’s also sung with Arbol and Piano Magic. The band’s sound is gorgeous and the use of odd instruments helps.

“The Living Sound” is reminiscent of This Mortal Coil, the flagship band of 4AD. Mangion’s whispery vocal and Varty’s harmonies work well together.

“Now You want to settle down” is a haunted lullaby. Like most of the songs here it moves slowly but surely towards the listener.

“Sunday Painter” sounds curiously antiquated. The old-fashioned feel is charmingly executed though. It’s a thirties style music hall song.

George is clearly a band that’s good for these stressful times. Their magic lies in their ability to create a soundworld of their own.

Posted on February 3, 2006

Track Listing
1. The new and better heart
2. My fear keeps God a-hiding
3. The living sound
4. Now you want to settle down
5. Vanishing sounds of Britain
6. Sunday Painter
7. Spend my time
8. Song of degrees
9. Fabula
10. Supercharge
11. Closets of all
12. Joy could be here
13. This will not stop
14. Older too

[George Official Site]


Album Review: The Secret Life of Spiders by Switchyard

Album Name: The Secret Life of Spiders
Artist: Switchyard
Year/Label: 2005 / Independent

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Review by Anna Maria Stjärnell

“Silent Passenger” starts this record with an almost unnatural sweetness. Rachel Bellinsky’s vocal drifts over the backing, siren-like.

“Two Things” is a scary lyric set against a placid melody. The band’s skills become apparent here.

“Salt of the sea” is intriguing and jazzy. I’m reminded of Elysian Fields and Bellinsky even has some of Jennifer Charles’s languor.

“Tamarindo” is a fine example of understated heartbreak. Bellinsky whispers and still she’s eloquent.

Glenn Danzig’s “Hybrid Moments” is covered. I’m not familiar with the original, but surely it never sounded like this.

Switchyard prove themselves to be a great band and this is a classy record.

Posted on February 3, 2006

Track Listing
Listen to track samples
1. Silent Passenger
2. Two Things
3. Virgins
4. Never
5. Salt of the Sea
6. All Wrong
7. Tamarindo
8. October 21st
9. Hybrid Moments
10. Swimming

[Switchyard Official Site]


Album Review: Calling for Rain by Lori Cullen

Album Name: Calling for Rain
Artist: Lori Cullen
Year/Label: 2006 / Independent

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Review by Anna Maria Stjärnell

Lori Cullen has released two solo records and a jazz record with the Ron Davis Trio. This new record sees her cover songs and add two originals.

Her jazzy style is very pleasing. “Alone Again Naturally” by Gilbert O’Sullivan is treated to a soft, forlorn version. Cullen’s voice and the use of a trumpet suit it perfectly.

Her own “Away so long” is a dreamy song that recalls Jane Siberry.

“Pussywillows Cat-tails” is sweet and understated. Cullen’s voice is lovely, she does the breathy innocent thing without being too cute. She has poise, like Rickie Lee Jones.

“Tied up in the Yard” is quietly suggestive.

The evergreen “Moon River” gets a wide-eyed reading.

Cullen pulls together a cohesive work from all this varied material. She’s worthy of your time.

Posted on February 3, 2006

Track Listing
Listen to track samples
1. I Think It’s Gonna Rain Today
2. Alone Again Naturally
3. Me and My Arrow
4. Away So Long
5. Two Grey Rooms
6. Pussywillows Cat-Tails
7. Waltzing’s For Dreamers
8. You Fascinate Me So
9. Fall
10. Tied Up In The Yard
11. Moon River
12. Blue Skies

[Lori Cullen Official Site]

Mystery reunion

I received this from one of my contacts in “The Biz”. It’s a little video that is an announcement, of sorts, for an upcoming tour. He wasn’t allowed to say much about it, (like who the band is, and dates) but told me I can post it here. It’s not too difficult to figure it out. In fact, I guessed before I even opened it just by the URL name. But here you go:

Watch the video in WMV form

Watch the video in MPEG

I know I’m looking forward to it :)