Album Review: From the Padded Cell of Suburbia by Apryl Electra

Album Name: rom the Padded Cell of Suburbia
Artist: Apryl Electra
Year/Label: 2006 / Independent

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Review by Amy Lotsberg Producer of Collected Sounds

This is one instance where the cover image has you expecting something other than what is actually inside. Judging by Apryl Electra’s look I was expecting punk or at least hard-ish rock. But this is actually more of a pop-rock album. A great one at that. I’ve been pretty addicted to it since I first listened.

There’s just enough edge to her music to make her really interesting while still being pretty close to mainstream appeal. Plus she’s a piano player and that’s always appealing to me.

Great strong, yet pleasant voice. The songs are very well written and interesting. The songwriting reminds me a little of Jonatha Brooke (especially on “Kiss the Wind”) but more piano based and with a harder edge.

“Who’s Keeping Score” is kind of discordant and very cool. She puts just enough electronica in to jazz up the songs a little without overpowering them.

This is a great record for those who enjoy well written pop-rock music with great vocals and lots of energy.

Posted on January 18, 2006

Track Listing
Listen to track samples
1. Easy As Pie
2. Kiss the Wind
3. Who’s Keeping Score
4. Tie-On Wings
5. A Little Something
6. Don’t Want It Back
7. All I Know
8. Double Standard
9. Payback
10. Make Me a Lady
11. Slight of Hand
12. Down the Line
13. Close Enough
14. Risk It

[Apryl Electra Official Site]

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Album Review: L’epanouissement (EP)by Chloe White

Album Name: L’epanouissement
Artist: Chloe White
Year/Label: 2006 / Independent

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Review by Amy Lotsberg Producer of Collected Sounds

I’m not sure what I was expecting but it wasn’t this.

Chloe White can really rock! I’d say that there’s a bit of R&B edge to her version of rock. But that might just be because she doesn’t have the classic rock voice, it’s better. More of a smooth sultry tinge to it. She doesn’t just scream she belts and it’s great.

“Leave You” is a solid rock song. I was expecting the rest of the CD to follow suit, but it really doesn’t.

“I Want You Tonight” is more of a dance song. A little disco-ish. Reminiscent of the Pointer Sisters.

“Sadie” is a nice R&B ballad while “That Kinda Love” is pretty funky. So the record is a bit schizophrenic, but I think that’s OK because since it’s an EP is less a concept records and more of a way to show what Chloe White is capable of. Which is a good solid record.

Note: I searched for the word, L’epanouissement online and found nothing, but the liner notes imply that is means The Blossoming, presumably in French, Google confirms this.

Posted on January 18, 2006

Track Listing
Listen to track samples
1. Leave You
2. I Want You Tonight
3. Sadie
4. That Kinda Love
5. Chain Around Your Heart
6. Chain Around Your Heart (Reprise)

[Chloe White Official Site]

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Album Review: Dharma Dream by Bob & Wendy

Album Name: Dharma Dream
Artist: Bob & Wendy
Year/Label: 2006 / Independent

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Review by Amy Lotsberg Producer of Collected Sounds

I’ve reviewed Bob & Wendy in the past and have always enjoyed their CDs. In fact, it was this group that made me realize I actually liked Americana music. Back then I thought that was just a new word for country.

This album seems to have swayed a little from that classification. I think this is more straight folk. Contemporary folk, not protest song-folk. At any rate they’ve put out another great record.

“Will o’ the Wisp” is a great song with which to open the CD. Wendy’s comforting voice is in top form here. It’s so nice to pop in something that you just know you’re going to like and hear that familiar voice again.

The songwriting, as usual is superb. Slightly dirgy, grungy and so unique. I’ve heard hundreds of records in the past year and nothing sounds like this. Honestly. They use not only guitar and voice, but also strings including the cello and mandocello (I’d never heard of it either, but it’s lovely).

The lyrics are as well thought out as the tunes. The liner notes say that Wendy wrote these as part of her spiritual journey. The themes are lovely: Loss, discovery… Sad at times, but always intriguing.

I was happy to hear “Still Small Voice” again as that was the first song I ever heard of theirs and I still love it. It was track one on their first CD, Behind the Blue.

“Beginner’s Mind” is another new favorite of mine.

If you take a listen to the tracks here and like what you hear, you’ll like the whole record. Then if you do, pick up their others as well. You won’t be disappointed.

Posted on January 18, 2006

Track Listing
Listen to track samples
1. Will o’ the Wisp
2. Crescent Moon
3. Liberation Bound
4. In My Wake
5. Beginner’s Mind
6. Little Buddha
7. The Veil
8. Haunted
9. Nothing
10. Poison
11. Still Small Voice

[Bob & Wendy Official Site]

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Concerts: Dar Williams (plus) in Hollandsche Rading

Artist: Dar Williams

Date: January 17th, 2006

Opening Act: Caroline Herring, Lynn Miles, Alana Levandoski

Venue: Paradiso

City: Hollandsche Rading, The Netherlands (Amsterdam

Review by Massive

On January 17th, I travelled to Amsterdam to see Dar Williams and three guests, including Lynn Miles. Here is my review:

I saw the lovely Dar Williams in concert in Amsterdam. She was not alone, though. There were three other wonderful women with her: One whose name I cannot remember, but she was Canadian. And then Lynn Myles and Caroline Herring. The unknown girl was the first to perform. She did a nice setlist, even though it was a little bland at times. Still very nice.

Then the amazing Lynn Myles, who said she loved being back in Holland. She played a great setlist, and I love it when she stomps her feet. Her songs were very catchy. But what was the cutest, and also the funniest of the whole evening was the fact that all four women had some very funny and cute anecdotes throughout the evening. Lynn introduced a song as saying “This is the anthem when you’re an adult and you have a nervous breakdown and you move back in with your parents. Oh, no, don’t laugh. It’s not too late. It could happen to you!”.

After that, Caroline Herring did her set. Her songs were a little more introvert, but I loved her Mississippi accent. She did a duet with Lynn Myles, but I am unfamiliar with most of these women’s work so I couldn’t tell which one it was.

After each of them played for a good half hour, it was time for Dar to come on. She opened with Beautiful Enemy, followed by So Close To My Heart. By this time, she started having trouble with her guitar. She finally figured it out. After that, the cutest anecdote followed. I can’t quote it word for word, and it isn’t nearly as funny as when Dar tells it but bear with me. She started by saying that when she started covering the Fred Eaglesmith song “Wilder Than Her”, it became a lesbian theme song. Many people thought she was a lesbian back then, and she always said that she was married to the woman who sang in the original with Fred Eaglesmith. And who is that woman who sings in the original with Fred Eaglesmith? Lynn Myles! So she said she might now have a problem with her husband and son, but that she would like to invite her long lost lesbian lover on stage. Lynn Myles came on stage, kissed and said “Well, lets not kiss like Madonna and Britney here.’

They then started the wonderful song Wilder Than Her. It was a really unique experience to see both the ‘original’ singer and Dar singing it. At one point, Dar stopped singing to retune her guitar real quick. Lynn looked at her and Dar said “Oh, yeah, just keep on singing. I think you know this song”. Ahaha, that choked me up with laughter”.

After that, she kept having more and more troubles with her guitar. And as she kept retuning, she kept telling stories about how she got the guitar, and how God had shown her the apocalypse by breaking her old guitar. After a while, she gave up and asked the audience if anyone had a guitar with them. A couple of minutes later, Caroline Herring came running on the stage and gave her her guitar which was a lot bigger than Dars guitar. She looked very tiny when she wore it, but at least it worked. She continued for a very nice and wonderful concert with songs like Empire, Echoes, February, Mercy Of The Fallen, The Babysitter’s Here and When I Was A Boy. It lasted a good 50 minutes.

All in all, considering I only spent 10 bucks on a ticket, I say that 2.50 an artist was a very good deal. It was a great show, and I hope she makes good on her promise to now return every year.
Editors Note: a little detective work shows that Alana Levandoski is the other woman who played with these ladies that evening.-AAL

[Dar Williams Official Site]

Album Review: Mary Ann… by Regina Spektor

Album Name: Mary Ann Meets the Gravediggers and other Short Stories
Artist: Regina Spektor
Year/Label: 2005 / Transgressive Records

[Buy at Amazon]
[Buy at Amazon UK]

Review by David Adair

This New Yorker and sovereign of the anti-folk genre has completed her first album for Transgressive Records. It has been approached as though it is a debut album; with a proud display of new found strident defiance of musical norms and hearty cooing, even though this sovereign has been spinning round the music scene and the web like a love-struck black widow for many years. Regina’s commanding narrative style makes you sit up listen and take notes, as sinister tales are espoused. For example, the exposure of empty feelings that comes with having everything in ‘Poor Little Rich Boy’, as well as a sordid look at love and deception with the aid of a porcupine analogy and crisp country/folk backing, by way of ‘Mary Ann’.

Pitching a tent betwixt the rugged, yet calming clarity found in Diane Cluck and the un-tameable yearnings of Bjork is where you will locate the album’s sound, for the most part. Regina displays a sultry knack for telling a tale, with a minimal but catching accompaniment. There is no better example of this than the plucky ‘Daniel Cowman’; containing a strolling and slightly eerie piano element that highlights succinct observations made about the destiny of death. The dark nature of PJ Harvey looms around many a corner to help instil intrigue, although this artist is far more playful in her darkness.

A pinging piano riff is thrown around in ‘Lacrimosa’, to meet up with the more soulful and stretchy vocals that deliver the catchy and pleading lyrics;

“Hi, I’m Icarus, I’m Falling….
Dooowwwnn, man for judgement must prepare me.
Spare, oh God and mercy; spare me.”

Now that more dramatic leanings of a mysterious performer are in the public domain, a cult-like following cannot be far behind, surely?

Posted January 17. 2006

Track Listing
1. Oedipus
2. Love Affair
3. Poor Little Rich Boy
4. Sailor Song
5. Mary Ann
6. Prisoners
7. Consequence of Sounds
8. Daniel Cowman
9. Lacrimosa
10. Pavlov’s Daughter
11. Chemo Limo
12. Us

[Regina Spektor Official Site]

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Album Review: Living Room by Ruby Slippers

Album Name: Living Room
Artist: Ruby Slippers
Year/Label: 2005 / Groosion Records

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Review by Anna Maria Stjärnell

Ruby Slippers have a nice, relaxed sound and singer Molly Kummerle has a great voice. Their style is loungey with jazzy undertones.

The groovy “Stay with Me” opens the album confidently. Guitarist Andy John(who also plays digeridoo and Theremin) and drummer Robin Tolleson provide a nice backing.

“Stop” is a slow, languid drift of a song. Kummerle’s sensuous lead plays well off the backing.

“Snow Day” has a neat lyric and the singer’s deep voice is very soulful here. Andy John plays a nice harmonica as well.

“This Plastic Life” examines a failed relationship well. This makes a strong debut.

Posted on January 16, 2006

Track Listing
Listen to track samples
1. Stay With Me
2. Disease
3. Stop
4. The Moose Walks
5. Snow Day
6. Deep Sea
7. Sing
8. This Plastic Life
9. Christmas Day
10. Folded Laundry
11. Purity Burns
12. Miss Celie’s Blues

[Ruby Slippers Official Site]

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