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Tori Amos “Flavor” (from the forthcoming ‘Gold Dust’)

31st Aug 12 (Fri) Leave a comment

Tori Amos is turning into too serious of an artist.  I still love her, though… here’s the premiere video for “Flavor” from the forthcoming album Gold Dust, out on Deutsche Grammophon on October 2nd, 2012.

~Dan – np: dredgThe Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion

* Favorite Vocal Albums of 2011 *

29th Dec 11 (Thu) 6 comments

I’ve been buying less music… or, at least a lot less mainstream (major label) music. This is also my fourth year now that I bought more instrumental CDs than vocal CDs. I think as I get older, I am drawn more towards jazz and other instrumental forms of expression. For that reason, the favorite vocal albums list goes first this go ’round. Hopefully my spilling out of music that I like finds interest with someone else. But if not, thanks for stopping by… check out the artists’ webpages, Facebox pages, yadda yadda yadda. A lot of these also made it on to my 2011 Mix CD (free streaming/download).

OK, now on to the best of what’s hit my ears this year…

Honorable Mentions: Iron & WineKiss Each Other Clean, Tres MtsThree Mountains, PomplamooseThe Album You Bought At Our Show (Thanks for That), MC FrontalotSolved and The RootsUndun.

BjörkBiophilia :: It started with an iPhone / iPad app… I was skeptical, but it turned out to be a really cool app and a really cool album.  I don’t think the actual music broke any new ground for Bjork, but her willingness to approach technology and manifest an album initially with a new format is what will keep her in the forefront for me.
Elysian FieldsLast Night on Earth :: Brooklyn-based sultry art rockers Elysian Fields don’t really tour outside of NYC often.  Jennifer Charles and Oren Bloedow find their way to Europe on occasion, but most U.S. fans only really have their studio albums to sate their musical desires.  This is their sixth full-length album in their near 16-year career.  Well crafted, well produced, lush vocals and folk meets dusky jazz.
BlackfieldWelcome to My DNA :: I was disappointed that I couldn’t make it out for this tour.  The album is good, albeit a little disjointed compared to their other two albums (probably due to Aviv Geffen doing more of the writing versus Steven Wilson who was busy with his solo album – see #9 below).  Nice orchestration and a solid offering from Blackfield.
Dream TheaterA Dramatic Turn of Events :: I almost didn’t buy this album.  I’m glad I did, but I’m still pretty pissed at the band for choosing to continue without founder/drummer Mike Portnoy after he expressed an interest in a short hiatus/breather.  They picked up a drummer I like (Mike Mangini, who i saw play with Extreme in 1995), but a BIG piece of what I loved about DT (after Kevin Moore left in 1994) was Mike Portnoy’s energy.  With his absence, I’m liking them less and less.  The album is good, but it’s way more bitter than sweet to me.
Foo FightersWasting Light :: Dave Grohl is a modern rock genius.  He rocks, he hooks, he continues to put out great music.
Steven Bernstein’s Millennial Territory OrchestraMTO Plays Sly :: A trumpet-led tribute to Sly and the Family Stone with guests vocalists.  This superb collection is less funk, but still quite enjoyable.  My favorite is the Antony-sung “Family Affair.”
Florence + the MachineCeremonials :: Soulful baroque-rock chanteuse won me over with their first album Lungs, even though I didn’t pick it up this year.  Her second album solidifies her as more than a fluke.  The album is dancey and dark.  Great for fans of Tori Amos & Kate Bush!
IncubusIf Not Now, When? :: Incubus took some time off so guitarist Mike Einziger could work on his degree at Harvard and singer Brandon Boyd could put out some art as well as his solo album.  They regrouped and put out an album that had a similar vibe to the ocean-groove Morning View.  They aren’t breaking new ground, but they still have a solid position in my ears.
The Jelly JamShall We Descend :: The supergroup of Ty Tabor (King’s X), John Myung (Dream Theater) and Rod Morgenstein (Dixie Dregs) finally found some time to hit the studio!  The result is an excellent rock album…
ChevelleHats Off to the Bull :: Chevelle are a sleeper in my collection.  I almost write them off and then with each album, I think how stupid it’d be to write them off.  Great hard rock with a vocalist that reminds me of Maynard (Tool, etc).  I really need to see this band live – I’ve yet to have a the chance…
My Brightest Diamond & Murat EyubogluLetters to Distant Cities :: A short spoken word album, featuring the words of Mustafa Ziyalan.  Words spoken by Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), backing music by Murat Eyubolu, with two songs sandwiching the poetry – one by MBD and one by Clare & the Reasons.  A great arty piece.
 
Jason LudwigTanglings :: Jason Ludwig returns to the Cincinnati music scene after his 2010 band break up (Noctaluca) with two full-length albums (Tanglings and Lost in Love).  Tanglings is my favorite of the two, but they’re both quite excellent.  Well-produced, well-arranged, creative singer-songwriter that reminds me of a cross between the pop of Glen Hansard (of the Swell Season and the Frames) and the creative of Daniel Johns (of Silverchair). If you don’t like these albums, I’d be surprised.
Hotel LightsGirl Graffiti :: Darren Jesse was the drummer for Ben Folds Five, and wrote one of my absolute favorite songs for them – “Magic” from The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner.  He puts down the sticks and picks up the guitar and vocal duties for Hotel Lights.  This is HL’s 3rd album, and he continues to impress me with his versatile skills.  Poppy indie rock.
EisleyThe Valley :: The long gap between The Valley and their last album was trying for the band.  After many contract dispute with their former label (Warner), they were finally set free.  Many bands don’t make it out of contract disputes alive – it’s easier to break up sometimes.  Well, thankfully it’s difficult for Eisley to break-up, as they’d still see each other at holidays and family get-togethers (the band consists of 3 sisters, a brother, and a cousin).  The Valley picks up where 2007’s Combinations left off.  Alt-pop-rock goodness.  Vocal duties traded off between sisters Sherri & Stacy…
Tori AmosNight of the Hunters :: This was Tori’s first album on classical label Deutsche Grammophon.  I was skeptical at first, not because of the classical bent.  I knew she could handle that… I was skeptical due to the first artwork that looked plastic (which sadly stayed) and her last studio album was a lackluster (IMO) holiday album (blech).  Tori enlists her daughter Natashya on some vocals, and delivers one of my favorite Tori albums since 2002’s Scarlet’s Walk.
David BazanStrange Negotiations :: Continuing in his solo expressions after the official ceasing of Pedro the Lion, David Bazan manifests wit, a sharp tongue, and a questioning mind into his DIY-indie rock.  This year, he toured quite a bit, solo and with a band.  An album last year (Curse Your Branches), an album this year, and another on the way.  He’s slogging away, trekking all over the country, and making some great music on the way.
Steven WilsonGrace for Drowning :: Porcupine Tree frontman Steven Wilson is a hard worker.  Whether he’s producing albums for others or making albums & touring with PT, Blackfield, No-Man, Storm Corrosion, or solo – he’s always busy each and every year.  This year brought his second solo album and a small tour.  The album is a bit more stripped down from his other projects.  It is reminiscent of Pink Floyd in spots – specifically this song “Home in Negative.”  He also rocks out a bit in the almost two hour double album… check out the video for “Track One” here (it’s a bit bleak then startling).  Gorgeous work.
WussyStrawberry :: Well, I was super happy when I found out that Wussy was putting out their fourth full-length studio album this year. They’re a fantastic rock quartet made up of Chuck Cleaver, Lisa Walker, Mark Messerly, and Joe Klug. They write catchy, poppy choruses and meld it perfectly with Midwest Americana-meets-indie-rock grit (or “Midwestern drone” as their press says).   Vocal duties are traded off with Chuck (of Ass Ponys) and Lisa (of Magic Words).
RadioheadThe King of Limbs :: I could probably put an “indie” icon next to Radiohead… I think technically they put TKOL out by themselves.  But they’re a huge superpower of a band.  I like this record, but I’ll admit that it’s still sinking in… I need to give it some more spins.  This album spawned a seven 7″ vinyl remix set.  The video for “Lotus Flower” also spawned a silly “Thom Yorke dancing” meme… one of my favorites being the tennis/fish and the “Single Ladies” editions.
Jeffrey FoucaultHorse Latitudes :: Jeffrey Foucault is a favorite Americana artist that I got turned on to by singer-songwriter/storyteller Peter Mulvey.  Jeffrey and Peter work together in the band Redbird (with David Goodrich and Jeffrey’s wife Kris Delmhorst).  I didn’t pick up Jeffrey’s albums until the past year and a half.  He’s definitely more on the cusp of country than I tend to traverse, but I dig his authenticity, poetic wit and charm.  He’s a delight on stage and a fantastic John Prine-esque songwriter for the new generation.
OpethHeritage :: Mikael Åkerfeldt hangs up the cookie monster vocals and “Swedish death metal” rattle and puts out a solid heavy metal album that is a tribute to his progressive metal ancestors.  I’ll admit, I miss the heavier side, but it’s still good to see Mikael evolve.
Over the RhineThe Long Surrender :: For those that don’t know Over the Rhine, they started out as a four piece in Cincinnati in 1989 and put out their “post-nuclear, pseudo-alternative, folk-tinged art-pop” indie debut ‘Til We Have Faces in 1991. After about a decade as a four-piece, Ric Hordinski (guitars) & Brian Kelley (drums) left.  Karin Bergquist (vocals) & Linford Detweiler (keys) carried on the Over the Rhine flame throughout the years… moving away from a rockier feel to a more folky-pop-Americana thing. What I like about Over the Rhine is they continually change and evolve into a different band with each album and each outing. I’ve seen them rock out, I’ve seen them jazz it up, I’ve seen them happy, I’ve seen them somber, I’ve seen them celebratory, and I’ve seen them tell stories that will make you laugh and cry.
dredgChuckles and Mr. Squeezy :: I love this band.  I hate the album title, but I love the band.  Modern progressive rock, tons of talent, thoughtful lyrics, none of that “prog wankery” that is generally detestable.  While it’s hard for them to follow-up the stunning The Pariah The Parrot The Delusion (from 2009), this new album does a hearty job of maintaining their quality rock standards.
My Brightest DiamondAll Things Will Unwind :: Shara Worden (aka My Brightest Diamond) took some time off since her last album – 2008′s A Thousand Shark’s Teeth.  She put out some stunning collaborations in the past three years (see #15 above) including her first kiddo; so the lapse in studio work was a-OK.  On this album, Shara teams up with NYC-based ensemble yMusic to create a lush backdrop for her gorgeous voice.  I can’t praise this album enough!
PusciferConditions of My Parole :: Tool / A Perfect Circle frontman Maynard James Keenan makes wine and makes other music in his time off from Tool and APC.  I loved Puscifer’s debut and the subsequent EP, but this album tops it all.  It’s a brilliant record, recorded in one of his wine cellars with his friends – featuring backing vocals from Carina Round.  It’s self-released by Puscifer music with a small distribution partner (available in indie shops, primarily).  The tour this year was great (I caught Seattle), and I’m glad they’re heading out in the spring again (I’ll be at Portland).

Check out the 2011 Mix for some samples, click the Amazon buttons for other samples, and support the music if you like what you hear!

My Other Favorites of 2011 Recaps:

~Dan – np: Trent Reznor & Atticus RossThe Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Tori Amos “Carry” video + pre-order + tour updates

18th Aug 11 (Thu) Leave a comment

The first track to get video treatment for Tori Amos’ upcoming Night of Hunters album is the final track, “Carry.”  Sonically, it’s a lush stringy ballad – quite fitting for Tori’s move to classical label Deutsche Grammophon.

I’m curious how the rest of the album is, but I guess I’ll have to wait until it hits on September 20th.  The CD, CD/DVD deluxe and vinyl versions are currently up for pre-order on the Amazons (digital/mp3 download version to follow).  Tori’s Fall tour dates are below as well.  I’m still bummed about no Oregon date, but hope there’s a 2nd leg added at some point…

Night of Hunters tracklist:
01. Shattering Sea
02. SnowBlind
03. Battle of Trees
04. Fearlessness
05. Cactus Practice
06. Star Whisperer
07. Job’s Coffin
08. Nautical Twilight
09. Your Ghost
10. Edge of the Moon
11. The Chase
12. Night of Hunters
13. Seven Sisters
14. Carry

Tori Amos 2011 Tour Dates:

09/28 – Helsinki, FI @ Ice Hall
09/30 – St. Petersburg, RU @ Oktyabrsky Hall
10/02 – Moscow, RU @ Crocus Hall
10/04 – Luxembourg, LU @ Den Atelier
10/05 – Paris, FR @ Le Grand Rex
10/07 – Milan, IT @ Teatro Arcimboldi
10/08 – Rome, IT @ Auditorium Parco della Musica
10/10 – Hamburg, DE @ Laieszhalle
10/11 – Berlin, DE @ Tempodrom
10/13 – Warsaw, PL @ Sala Kongresowa
10/15 – Eindoven, NL @ Muziekgebouw
10/17 – Amsterdam, NL @ Carre
10/18 – Amsterdam, NL @ Carre
10/20 – Oslo, NO @ Sentrum Scene
10/21 – Copenhagen, DK @ The Royal Theatre
10/22 – Copenhagen, DK @ The Royal Theatre
10/24 – Lucerne, CH @ KKL
10/25 – Vienna, AT @ Stadhalle F
10/26 – Frankfurt, DE @ Alte Oper
10/28 – Antwerp, BE @ QEH
10/29 – Brussels, BE @ Bozar
10/31 – Essen, DE @ Philharmonie
11/02 – London, UK @ Royal Albert Hall
11/03 – London, UK @ Hammersmith Apollo
11/04 – Manchester, UK @ Apollo
11/06 – Glasgow, UK @ Royal Concert Hall
11/08 – Belfast, UK @ Waterfront
11/09 – Dublin, UK @ Grand Canal Theatre
11/29 – Atlanta, GA @ Cobb Energy Performance Arts Center
12/01 – Philadelphia, PA @ Academy of Music
12/02 – New York, NY @ Beacon Theatre
12/03 – New York, NY @ Beacon Theatre
12/05 – Washington, DC @ Constitution Hall
12/06 – Boston, MA @ Orpheum Theater
12/08 – Toronto, ON @ Massey Hall
12/10 – Chicago, IL @ Chicago Theatre
12/13 – Vancouver, BC @ Orpehum Theater
12/14 – Seattle, WA @ Paramount Theatre
12/16 – Oakland, CA @ Paramount Theatre
12/17 – Los Angeles, CA @ Orpheum Theatre
12/18 – Los Angeles, CA @ Orpheum Theatre
12/21 – Austin, TX @ Bass Concert Hall
12/22 – Dallas, TX @ Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie

~Dan – np: The Swell SeasonStrict Joy

Tori Amos – Night of Hunters (Sept ’11)

4th May 11 (Wed) 3 comments

Tori Amos is a chameleon – changing her musical style (slightly) and her outward appearance (usually more than slightly).  Trouble is lately she’s been putting out long-ass albums of mostly mediocre work, as far as I’m concerned.  Oh for the heydeys of the 90s and early 2000s.

Well, she has a new one in the can entitled Night of Hunters, and it’s coming out in September 2011 on Deutsche Grammophon, a German classical label.  Behold the art for her upcoming tour (and presumably the album)…

update 6/22 album art

Um, is she human?  Is she plastic?  As far as the album, here’s the press’ slant…

“It’s a 21st century song cycle inspired by classical music themes spanning over 400 years. I have used the structure of a song cycle to tell an ongoing, modern story. The protagonist is a woman who finds herself in the dying embers of a relationship. In the course of one night she goes through an initiation of sorts that leads her to reinvent herself allowing the listener to follow her on a journey to explore complex musical and emotional subject matter. One of the main themes explored on this album is the hunter and the hunted and how both exist within us.”

I’ll get it.  I mean, I’ve signed a contract with my 20 year old self to buy anything Tori Amos ever puts out.  I just hope to Talula that it’s good.

~Dan – np: Celldweller2011 Groupees EP

My Brightest Diamond with Blind Boys of Alabama

12th Jun 10 (Sat) Leave a comment

If you head over to the Asthmatic Kitty website, they have a streaming video of My Brightest Diamond (aka Shara Worden) singing “Jesus” with the Blind Boys of Alabama on Australian TV…


http://asthmatickitty.com/news.php?newsID=588

As you can see from the video, she’s about to pop… so, I guess the next project she has been working on is about to come out.  I don’t know if the album… um… er… child is a boy or a girl, but here’s hoping it’s a healthy and happy baby diamond.

Other news snippet… Tori Amos is releasing a live DVD from her 2009 Artist’s Den performance in NYC.  It’s available for pre-order via Barnes & Noble at this time… not elsewhere (yet).

~Dan – np: Imogen HeapEllipse

Artists of the Decade – 2000s (#21 to 25)

1st Jan 10 (Fri) 5 comments

So, I can’t / won’t do a Top XX Albums of the Decade… it’s probably more “can’t” than “won’t.” There are so many great albums from the past 10 years… but, what I can do is recount the artists that have been my chief form of musical pleasure for the past 10 years.

But first…

Artist of the Decade – Special Mention

Dweezil Zappa only had a couple albums in the 2000s, but he gets a special call out for carrying on Frank Zappa‘s music since 2006. Dweezil & Co have toured for the past three and a half plus years, playing Frank’s music in a new setting each year. I hope this continues. It’s a fantastic tour, every time I’ve seen it.

~*~*~*~*~

Artists of the Decade – Honorable Mentions

Tori Amos ~ In the 1990s, she ruled. I still love what she does, and she’s very important in the foundation of my musical interests. The fact that she’s still active with albums and touring all throughout the decade gets her an honorable mention.

Her best albums of the decade…

Celldweller ~ He’s only released one regular album in the entire decade… had he done more, he’d probably make the proper 25 list. Despite the one album, he has released a mostly instrumental soundtrack, a handful of internet-only singles and Eps and a skad of remix CDs and EPs. He’s been far from lazy. I look forward to the 2nd full length Celldweller release sometime in the 2010s.

His most excellent debut and instrumental “score” release…

Iron & Wine ~ I got into Iron & Wine mid-decade, but immediately fell in love with Sam’s flourishing vocals and interesting guitar work. He has a beautiful whispy voice, a penchant for storytelling, and a great eye for videos (prior to music, he taught film down in Florida, and the videos he’s produced for his band and other bands have been fantastic).

My favorite release of his this decade…

King’s X (and related solo & side projects) ~ Between the regular band albums, all three solo members’ albums, the side projects, the live albums, and the indie demo issues – there are probably close 30 releases in the 2000s. Prolificity abounds. This is one band that keeps on ticking, and for that, I am grateful.

A few gems from this decade…

Derek Webb ~ Creative and exploratory since leaving his first band, Caedmon’s Call, Derek continues to push the boundaries of what a singer-songwriter is supposed to do. His latest, Stockholm Syndrome, is a fantastic exit from the 2000s and entrance into the 2010s. Rumor is that he’s working on one (or multiple) Caedmon’s Call-related releases with his old band, too… should be interesting.

My faves from this decade…

~*~*~*~*~

Artists of the Decade

25 ~ Ben Folds (solo)

The Five were no longer at the turn of the decade / century / millennium, which left the name sake on his own. Ben Folds was one of the first to ditch the full length and rapidly release several EPs all in one year. He saw the writing on the wall for the eventual, slow death of the CD format… and his solo albums (all in the 2000s) were generally fantastic – yeah, they are always a few tunes on each one that are doozies. He ended the decade with a cute (and enjoyable) acappella tribute album to himself from various college singing clubs. I was skeptical, but once I got it, I was very pleased with the covers.

~*~*~

24 ~ Peter Mulvey

Peter Mulvey is one of my favorite singer-songwriters around. He’s a hard worker, touring all around from Alaska, the entire U.S. (including Alaska) and Europe.  He’s put out more albums to count on two hands in the past 15 years.  He started off the decade with the stunning The Trouble with Poets and ended the decade with the fantastic Letters from a Flying Machine.  He’s a truly wonderful storyteller, and if he comes near your town… GO!

~*~*~

23 ~ Opeth

From singer-songwriter to Swedish death metal… roar!  Opeth came along with the “getting into prog band Porcupine Tree” period of the decade for me (check in later for Porcupine Tree’s position).  The string of three Opeth albums produced by PT’s Steven Wilson rank among the BEST metal out there… ranging from melodic rock to sweeping progressive movements to the in your face “cookie monster” vocals.  The first in the series, Blackwater Park, may be my favorite metal album of all-time (sorry, Dave Mustaine, you’ve been trumped).

~*~*~

22 ~ dredg

I showed up early to a Coheed & Cambria show and was blown away by the opener… once I dug into dredg’s music, I really fell in love.  They run a tight ship of well-crafted, melodic neo-progressive rock music.  Gavin’s vocals and lyrics are a major selling point, too.  Their latest album (The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion) is my favorite album of 2009 – hands down.

~*~*~

21 ~ Holy Fuck

Starting out as a more experimental “live electronic” noise-jazz band and evolving into a more groove-oriented electronic jam band, Holy Fuck shot up on my hot list quickly.  Their 2nd full length is superb, and their live show is not to be missed.  Raw energy, dual keyboards, groovy rhythm section, crazy film-reel instrumentation, and uncanny dance-ability.  They’ve also embraced the vinyl comeback… score!

~*~*~

The rest of the decade recap to follow in the next few days… more musical variety awaits…

My Other Favorites of 2009 Recaps:

~Dan – np: Charlie Hunter Gentlemen, I Neglected To Inform You You Will Not Be Getting Paid

Oh, and for those who say that the decade ends at the end of 2010… meh. I’m starting with 0 and ending with 9 (like a LOT of people). Rationale: the 80s, the 90s… you don’t say the 80s went from 1/1/1981 to 12/31/1990 or the 90s from 1/1/1991 to 12/31/2000.

Derek Webb – Democracy Vol 1

21st Dec 09 (Mon) 5 comments

Before I get started… happy birthday, Frank Zappa!  Ya hozna!

OK, now on to the music news…

Derek Webb, whose Stockholm Syndrome is seriously gonna rank well in my soon-comingBest of / Favorite CDs of 2009” list, is doing something new for 2010.  He’s going to have a subscription music deal where he digitally releases cover songs each month… and subscribers get to pick the songs.  People who bought/buy a limited edition of Stockholm Syndrome over at the DW store got first crack at selections.

I already put in my votes a couple days ago… Chroma Key‘s “Colorblind” (longshot due to obscurity), Tori Amos‘ “Crucify” (that would pwn), and I think jokingly I put Opeth‘s “Blackwater Park” (even more of a longshot) – but I forget if I recanted and switched at the last minute to something else.  I’m pulling for a “Crucify” cover by Derek – I think he’d do it justice.

The cover songs will likely be a more stripped down, singer-songwriter style when compared to his 2009 record… but those are his roots and how I first got into him; so I’m stoked.  Plus… ya know, if he does Tori Amos’ “Crucify,” I’ll have his babies.

Derek Webb’s “What Matters More” video
{from Stockholm Syndrome}

http://www.derekwebb.com/

~Dan – np: Borah Bergman TrioLuminescence

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