Album Review: Thorny Devil by Kristin Shout and Smoking Kitten

Album Name: Thorny Devil
Artist: Kristin Shout and Smoking Kitten
Year/Label: 2006 / Independent

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Review by Anna Maria Stjärnell

I wrote about an EP by Ms. Shout a few years ago and was impressed. It was a class act, and thankfully so is this full-length debut.

We get a country flavour alongside the cabaret stylings.

Opener “The Rise and Fall of Casper Jones” is all mariachi band grandeur alongside Link Wray guitars.

The title song sees Shout singing passionately to a softer backing. She and her band have a real creative synergy on these songs.

“Mobster in Costume” is a cabaret track with words of crime and an addiction to danger. Shout s a superior chanteuse in any style and this suits her well. The lonesome sound of “Tale of a Texas rancher” is deeply moving. Shout’s voice approaches the longing of Lucinda Williams.

Kristin Shout and Smoking Kitten’s debut is fierce, passionate and I strongly recommend it to almost anyone.

Posted on February 23, 2006

Track Listing
Listen to track samples
1. The Rise and Fall of Casper Jones
2. Thorny Devil
3. The Sixth of May
4. Mobster in Costume
5. Sleeping Chair
6. Spaghetti Chanson
7. Tale of a Texas Rancher
8. Amphibian
9. Ride
10. Dimanche

[Kristin Shout Official Site]


New Discovery – Holly Brook

Here’s some info I got about this new artist. I’ve heard her and I think she’s really good. I’ll be getting her CD for review soon so check back in a while for the review.

The sultry vocals and poignant lyricism of Holly Brook has finally begun its emergence onto the music scene. For years now, this 20 year old singer-songwriter from Wisconsin has been documenting her life’s trials, tribulations, and triumphs into lyrics that are at once strikingly personal, yet universally appealing.

One of her songs, “What I Wouldn’t Give,” made its television
on the WB show “Related” on Monday, February 6, 2006.

Holly’s Myspace

Holly Brook Official

I’m able to show you some videos and stuff too!

Holly Brook “Giving It Up for You” Audio:

“Giving It Up for You” 56k

“Giving It Up for You” 128k

Holly Brook “Curious” Video:

“Curious” 56k

“Curious” 100k

“Curious” 300k

“Curious” 450k

Side note: I MUST mention how very cool I think it is that she offers a Flash OR HTML version of her website. Big stars for her 🙂

Album Review: Radar Screen by Katie Terrio

Album Name: Radar Screen
Artist: Katie Terrio
Year/Label: 2006 / Independent

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Review by Amy Lotsberg Producer of Collected Sounds

This is the second CD from Boston’s Katie Terrio. Her first being “Songs from the Overground” .

My first impression was that she plays bluesy, gutsy rock. But the further I got into this record it felt more pop centered. Either way, it’s very good.

Katie has an interesting voice…in a good way. Both voice and melody reminds me at times of Merrie Amsterburg particularly on tracks “Bird” and “My Turn”. I think “Bird” is actually my favorite track on the whole record.

“Letters” is quite radio friendly and one that will stick in your head.

This CD was produced by Adam Steinberg who also worked on Amy Fairchild’s CD, “Mr. Heart” (among others). The Fairchild CD is one of my all time favorites, and the production is part of the reason. It just sounds so clean, so professional…I don’t know…but really great. It lets the music and the voice shine without one ever overpowering the other. “Radar Screen” has the same qualities.

These are fun songs that even if you like them at first, will grow on you with repeated listens. I know this is one I’ll keep in rotation for a long time.

Posted on February 21, 2006

Track Listing
Listen to track samples
1. Lipstick Baby
2. Letters
3. Bird (Bonus Track)
4. (Can I) Please Come Home
5. My Turn (Bonus Track)
6. Everything You Are
7. Getting Out of Here
8. Out of Fame
9. Keeper
10. I Do Too
11. Memory (Bonus Track)

[Katie Terrio Official Site]


Album Review: Moving, Not Leaving by Cantrell Maryott

Album Name: Moving, Not Leaving
Artist: Cantrell Maryott
Year/Label: 2006 / Independent

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Review by Amy Lotsberg Producer of Collected Sounds

Cantrell Maryott has released a very nice jazzy pop (or is that poppy jazz?) record.

She has a clear smooth voice that at times reminds me of Emmylou Harris, especially on “Carry On” which has some really nice harmonization.

In looking at her web site, she seems a really interesting person. Not only does she put out jazz records, but she also does chanteling. This is described on her site as “…singing the songs of sacred spaces. It is about hearing voice reflected in a room, it is as much the sound of the room as it is the song.” She is also a mixed media artist…sort of sculptures, hard to describe. So clearly a very talented woman. Oh and she co-wrote all the songs on this record. Quite impressive I must say.

The songs are nice, melodic and easy going. This recording is very relaxing.

Stand out songs: “Carry On” and “Three Miles into New Mexico”

Posted on February 21, 2006


Rating: 4 Stars
Comment: Beautiful voice. I listened to her cd several weeks ago playing it repeatedly one bright sunday. for the rest of the week her songs stayed with me particularly the cut Long Way Home.Nice,tight,finely crafted music. The last song On This Morning was very evocative,I felt like I was suspended beneath a jeweled night sky. I look forward to her next cd.
name: T. Wolf McArdle on Friday, March 10, 2006

Rating: 5 Stars
Comment: The first time I heard “Amelie” I cried. Every time I hear it now, it’s like running into a dear friend I haven’t seen in several years.Magic.
name: Rome Hamner on Sunday, March 12, 2006

Track Listing
Listen to track samples
1. Do You Remember
2. Carry On
3. Amelie
4. Fire in the Heart
5. Three Miles into New Mexico
6. Long Way Home
7. Forever
8. Home
9. On This Morning

[Cantrell Maryott Official Site]


Album Review: Grrrls with Guitars Vol. 3 by Various Artists

Album Name: Grrrls with Guitars Vol. 3
Artist: Various Artists
Year/Label: 2006 / Maximum Music Group

[Buy at Maximum Music Group ]

Review by Amy Lotsberg Producer of Collected Sounds

When I got this CD, I took a look at the artists here and had heard of only one of them! I saw Coco Love Alcorn many years ago when she opened for Ani DiFranco. I was pretty blown away, but it seemed she had kind of disappeared. So I was looking forward to hearing her here. I was not disappointed. I think her contribution “She’s Beautiful” happens to be my personal favorite here.

Most of the songs on this compilation fall into the rock-folk genre. But there is also a touch of bluegrass, country, swing, and jazz.

Another one that really stood out to me was “Day 4” by Christa Couture. She has a very appealing, comforting voice.

“Big Wet Moon” is by Nadine Davenport who is the brains (labor?) behind this whole compilation and the showcase behind it. This is a really fun song too.

This is a very nice combination of artists, styles and songs. Anyone looking to learn about new artists should definitely check this out.

Posted on February 21, 2006


Rating: 5 Stars
Comment: Barley Wik can rock me to sleep any day.
name: honeypie Thursday, February 23, 2006

Track Listing
1. Lavina Brown – Anne-Louise Genest
2. Diamonds – Shiloh Lindsey
3. She’s Beautiful – Coco Love Alcorn
4. Slim Pickins – Kim Barlow
5. Empty Boxes – Taylor James
6. Let’s Call It a Day – Rae Armour
7. Release Me – Hector
8. Big Wet Moon – Nadine Davenport
9. It’s Raining Again – Yael Wand
10. Bad Luck Day Baby – Po’ Girl
11. Perception – Green Tara
12. Ten Thousand Miles – Loud
13. This Time I’ll Forgive You… Again – Ash Riot
14. Leslie – Kristia Di Gregorio
15. No Hope in Hell – Barley Wink
16. Day 4 – Christa Couture

[Grrrls with Guitars Official Site]

Album Review: Chronology by Frances Mai-Ling

Album Name: Chronology
Artist: Frances Mai-Ling
Year/Label: 2006 / Independent

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Review by Amy Lotsberg Producer of Collected Sounds

Frances Mai-Ling is one of the first artists I ever spotlighted on Collected Sounds six years ago when this site began. So we’ve kind of worked together lo these many years. But she’s been making music for even longer than I’ve known her.

The record opens with a spoken word piece called “WALLS”. It’s lovely.

She has said herself that singing is not her strong suit, that she considers herself a pianist first. But I will say that her voice has improved. It sounds very nice especially on Track 3 where there’s a nice soft touch to it. That’s really a very pretty song all around. The piano part is enchanting.

One thing that has not changed is that she remains a very good piano player. These songs are beautifully written, complex and interesting.

“The Girl” is one track that’s been on other releases in the past. It’s an upbeat interesting song. Interesting in that it’s got different movements…she could have taken this song and written at least two different ones, but she put them in one. I like it when that happens.

“Firecracker” has the most amazing intro. I just love it! In fact the entire piano part and melody are fantastic. I think this is my favorite vocal song on this record.

“Understatement” sounds to me like it belongs in a film. She makes great use of the minor notes and dissonant chords. This is my favorite instrumental piece here.

I think this is Frances Mai-Ling’s best release yet. I’m really enjoying it.

Posted on February 21, 2006

Track Listing
Listen to track samples
2. Homage
3. Hold On
4. The Girl
5. Tears In My Palm
6. Firecracker
7. Not To Be This Way
8. Conversations By Myself #9
9. Understatement
10. The Commitment Song

[Frances Mai-Ling Official Site]