Tuesday, February 17, 2009

ONA's Quick Takes, Vol. 2

One Note Ahead's Quick Takes was such a good idea that I'm having a hard time understanding why I didn't do it again. Maybe I've gotten such a solid fan base that I forgot some people can't or don't want to read full-length articles and therefore might be missing out on some great music. It's about time that I offered a fast glimpse at the artists I've reviewed since.......August, 2007? Has it really been that long? Damn.

If you remember the last "Quick Takes," you know that these artists cannot be established superstars, and their tracks must be available for legal download. I focused on iTunes last time, but this time I care only that their tracks can be downloaded individually from a well-known, easy-to-access digital music service. Because some of these artists were included in the previous roundup, I'm changing the format a bit to reflect the releases reviewed since last time. And there'll be a little surprise at the end.....


Band: The Swimmers
Album Reviewed: Fighting Trees
Sounds Like: Indie pop/rock with dreamy vocals, spirited instrumental work, and oft-mysterious lyrics. Sunny harmonies abound.
Key Tracks: Go with "We Love To Build" and "Pocket Full of Gold" for your serious moments; choose "Goodbye" and "St. Cecilia" when you want something a little out of left field.
Full Feature: http://onenoteahead.blogspot.com/2008/03/album-review-swimming-into-trees.html

Artist: Jake Snider
EP Reviewed: Green Lights For Granted
Sounds Like: Piano-driven singer/songwriter fare with a wide range of influences, performed by a teenager who sounds more mature than anyone his age has a right to.
Key Tracks: Personally, I can't get enough of "How?" and "Early Morning Somewhere," but in truth, the whole EP is strong.
Full Feature: http://onenoteahead.blogspot.com/2008/09/cd-review-snider-gives-green-light.html

Artist: Matt Duke
Album Reviewed: Kingdom Underground
Sounds Like: Dark, brooding rock and quiet, pensive folk, all with a pop-friendly coating.
Key Tracks: "Sex and Reruns" has "radio hit" written all over it. "I've Got Atrophy On The Brain" is the angry rock anthem. "Rabbit" or "30 Some Days" should satisfy your folkier inclinations.
Full Feature: http://onenoteahead.blogspot.com/2008/09/album-review-duke-and-his-kingdom.html

Artist: Gillian Grassie
Releases Reviewed: To An Unwitting Muse (EP); Serpentine (album)
Sounds Like: A classically-trained opera singer delivering brainy pop and folk-rock songs with jazzy inflections, all while accompanying herself on a Celtic harp. I couldn't make this stuff up.
Key Tracks: So hard to choose! How about "Mr. Houdini" and "Steps" from the EP; "No Answer," "Silken String," and "Tamlin" from the album. Nope, I'm not satisfied with that list....
Full Feature: http://onenoteahead.blogspot.com/2008/09/spotlight-on-gillian-grassie.html

Artist: April Smith
EP Reviewed: Live From The Penthouse
Sounds Like: A half cutesy, half snarky 20-something of the 2000s listened to her parents' and grandparents' vintage pop records and suddenly became inspired to develop her own cabaret act. Again, I couldn't make this stuff up.
Key Tracks: "Wow and Flutter" and "Colors." But come on: there are five tracks on it. Just buy the whole EP.
Full Feature: http://onenoteahead.blogspot.com/2008/09/ep-review-april-all-year-long.html

Artist: Andrew Lipke
Album Reviewed: Motherpearl and Dynamite
Sounds Like: Equal parts sad-sack folkie and emotionally overwhelmed rocker.....but generally, more fun and more compelling than that description implies.
Key Tracks: Folk-wise, "On My Way" makes my day. Rock-wise, I find "Mindgames" and "Get It Over With" most interesting, but if you have a short attention span, choose "The Barker Song" instead.
Full Feature: http://onenoteahead.blogspot.com/2008/10/album-review-lipke-volume-three.html

Artist: Tim Laigaie
EP Reviewed: Out of Focus
Sounds Like: A sensitive singer/songwriter and a macho rocker in one man, with lyrics that are, well.......unique. By the way, it's pronounced "lay-shay."
Key Tracks: "Eyes Wide Shut," "City Bred Cowboys," and "For All The Lovers" are my top picks.
Full Feature: http://onenoteahead.blogspot.com/2009/01/ep-review-laigaie-in-focus.html

Band: The Guggenheim Grotto
Album Reviewed: Happy The Man
Sounds Like: British and American folk-pop garnished with sounds from various other genres and cultures, all marinated in a distinctly Irish combination of tragedy and whimsy.
Key Tracks: It's one of the best albums I've ever reviewed. You should buy the whole thing. But if you really don't want to, I'd select "Fee Da Da Dee," "Just Not Just," and "The Girl With The Cards" as a sampling. Actually, just buy the whole album.

And now, the surprise....

Last July, I wrote about 2008's XPN Festival. Here's a mix of songs which represent the way I remember that mind-blowing event. To be honest, I don't have all of these songs in my personal collection nor do I even know all of these songs expertly! These are just the songs I most associate with the festival and if you hear them in one form or another, you'll at least have a soundtrack to the experiences I documented.

Jim Boggia, "To and Fro"
The Brakes, "Supermarket" and "Into The Ground"
Dar Williams, "The Babysitter's Here"
Alejandro Escovedo, "Put You Down" and "Always A Friend"
The Redwalls, "Modern Diet"
Jesse Ruben, "A Lack of Armor" and "Point Me In The Right Direction"
Nicole Atkins, "Maybe Tonight" and "Love Surreal"
Amos Lee, "Sweet Pea" and "Arms of a Woman"
Back Door Slam, "Come Home"
Ingrid Michaelson, "Die Alone" and "The Way I Am"
Matt Nathanson, "Come On Get Higher" and "Answering Machine"

Enoy the music.

See also ONA Year In Review: 2008 and 2008's ONA Live (the latter is last November's blog archive; scroll down to the bottom and work your way up).

Copyright © 2009 S.J. Dibai. All rights reserved.