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article by: Michael Canter

23 October 2008

CD Review - The Seedy Seeds

Tremendous Electro/Chill/Pop & Dance

The Seedy Seeds are Mike Ingram & Margaret Weiner. Combining banjo, accordion and toy keyboard beats, The Seedy Seeds create positive, melodic, danceable Indie music that is equally at home alongside pop-punk, alt-country, and lo-fi. Their web site proclaims, "They don't know you, but they already like you". Well, you can say the same, but take a listen instead and you will find yourself instantly captivated.

Following the success of their debut indie release "Change States" (2007), which earned them a well deserved pair of Cincinnati Entertainment Awards (Best New Artist and Best Experimental/Electronic Band), "Count The Days" creates a beseechingly avant garde blend of diverse pop music that's not quite rock, not quite dance, and not quite lo-fi. In fact, trying to define a genre for "Count The Days" is practically pointless. It's so rich with sincerity and melody, genre seems almost irrelevant.

By incorporating banjo and accordion into this effort, The Seedy Seeds have created a hybrid sound that is a confluence of bluegrass and electro-pop. A great example is the extremely catchy "Winter 04", a whimsical valentine with a bouncy groove banked on an underscored bass combined with a nifty lead banjo. Its mildly artsy/americana sound is just right for indie kids who like their beauty a little rootsy.

This CD contains so many highlights I don't know where to begin. "I'm Asleep In All My Dreams" is an ambient excursion into electro-chill-pop, and shows the bands ability to pen a cleverly ironic lyric or two. "The Push" is very engaging melodically, and incorporates an array of hooks without breaking stride and an amazing, albeit short, banjo solo. "The Feeders" and "Dandelion" display exceptional somnambulant balladry, with the latter showcasing a wonderful accordion solo to boot.

The Seedy Seeds even give a shout out to their hometown with the picturesque "Oh, Cincinnati"

"Count The Days" works because it infuses minimalist production and very original instrumentation that compliment its smart lyrical content. The hooks are expressive and memorable yet not overbearing. The vocals are clear and crisp, the harmonies are razor sharp and overall it's just a great disc to listen to. "Winter 04" and "The Push" are definitely the highlights to this disc. "I'm Asleep In My Dreams" is just as wonderful, and in fact, nearly all of the songs can be categorized as above average or better. "Count The Days" is must have for your indie CD/MP3 collection.

18 October 2008

CD Review - Exceptional Edward

Uber-Cool Brit-Pop That Rivals Its Predecessors

Lost At Sea

Click To Purchase At CD Baby

The term Brit-Pop is one of those slightly nondescript terms coined by some laconic British music journalist in an attempt to define a key moment during a transitional period of U.K. based rock and pop. It happens all the time, really. Think grunge, punk, electronica and trip-hop - all offshoots of previously defined genres. The terms are endless and coined as a result of critics and fans scrambling to sub-define and culture the music they love. Nonetheless, Brit-Pop, which emerged from the Manchester pop music explosion of the mid-eighties, is defined as pop music with a decidedly British slant to it. That's where Exceptional Edward fits in.

Influenced by such contemporaries as Oasis, The Verve and Radiohead, with perhaps a little Death Cab For Cutie mixed in, Exceptional Edward has hit its collective stride with the release of "Lost At Sea". The song that first caught my attention is "Home", a judicious intersection of infectious, searing guitars and sentimental vocals that leads to a stunningly breathtaking crescendo - I could only imagine how amazing it would be to hear this song performed live. That being said, the entire CD is brilliantly memorable, featuring a number of intelligent, sweeping epics and catchy singles. Indeed, Exceptional Edward covers the entire Brit-Pop spectrum: anthemic ("Good People"); enigmatic ("Never Come Down"); intoxicating ("Home"); atmospheric ("Buried By Gray") and hypnotic ("The Sea Captain").

"Lost At Sea" makes an indelible imprint on the Brit-Pop genre that is decidedly American, and cements their place in a resurgence of that movement. In fact, the song "Good People" stands shoulder-to-shoulder with any of the previous efforts that influenced Exceptional Edward's sound. The whole disc has a seminal, uber-cool feel to it that is reminiscent of the richly-textured, ethereal debut release by The Verve, "A Storm In Heaven", which coincidentally tops my list as the Best Of Brit Sound.

I dare you to try and listen to this disc just once (you won't be able to). Yes, it's that hypnotically entrancing. In fact, I may break out The La's, Radiohead, Oasis, The Verve, K.L.F. and Exceptional Edward's "Lost At Sea" and have my very own Brit Sound Saturday Night.

CD Review - Corinne Gooden

Nashville Heartache, New York Soul

All My Days

Click To Purchase At CD Baby

Strong lyrics, tight arrangements and powerful, unforgettable songs make "All My Days", the debut CD by Corinne Gooden one of the best indie/folk/rock releases of 2008. These are songs that really sneak up on you--simple, yet effective and alluring melodies that serve to reinforce the powerful, bitter truths of the masterfully written lyrics. Every cut is moving and executed with finesse. I often speak of defining moments in contemporary music, and this CD has one - the electric guitar solo on "Come This Far" which drives the song home, and the keyboard solo at the end that emphasizes the dispirited heartache of pushing a loved one away. This is pure, wistful eloquence that is both guileless and mesmerizing.

Another great song is "17th Street", a moving piece written about a man who lived on the corner of 17th Street and 5th Avenue in New York City. Said Corinne, about this song, "I walked by him every day on my way to and from work, and although I never spoke to him, he became a regular fixture in my day. So sad, he literally lived on cardboard boxes on the corner, and in the cold winter months, he would wear plastic around his hands and feet. One day he wasn't there, and for about a week I wondered if he was going to come back. He did, for about another month, but then he was gone for good. It was an especially cold winter that year, and I figured that the shelter services found him dead, and had to take care of him. He really touched my heart, first of all because he was a survivor, but secondly because it really showed me how callous we as humans become to situations and people like that, how it just becomes a normal everyday thing. We stop noticing that there are people out there that need help, and there are people much worse off than you or me. The song just kind of came out as a reality check more than anything, and it serves as a reminder to me to stop and notice how good (and bad) life can really be, and to really love the people in my life, and love what life has given me............"

Though the strength of this release is Corinne's evocative vocals, the instrumentation and production are equally strong. Some of the songs are bluesy-folk balladry, some are country or country/pop hybrid - all are outstanding. "Goodbye" is an amazing song capable of crossing over into the pop or country genres. "You've Got Me" is an instantly memorable song with a country feel; catchy lyrics, stunning vocals and a great acoustic guitar/piano combination. The title song, "All My Days" is pure heartache. "17th Street" is a moving and reflective observation of people living on the fringes of society.

"All My Days" is an intriguing assortment of songs that are instantly engaging and unforgettable. This an intensely personal effort that includes several moving pieces that recall life, loss, hope and regret, and the bittersweet reminiscences of love and the reckoning that comes with standing at a crossroads. Better yet, the CD stands out thanks to a strong melodoic appeal owing to the strength of Corinne Gooden's emotional vocal delivery and first-rate songwriting.

08 October 2008

CD Review - Papa Mali

....Of Voodoo Blues, Soul Redemption & Good Bourbon

Do Your Thing
Click To Purchase At CD Baby

"a magically crafted grimoire of voodoo space blues" (New Orleans Gambit)

It's not often I start a review, immediately stop, pour myself a rock full of my favorite bourbon, and then continue said review - especially when I start said review at 5:28 am. But then if you had heard the song "Sugarland" by Papa Mali, you'd likely join me. Ernest Hemingway I am not. Yet I could not continue without my liquid accompaniment.

First things first - "Do Your Thing" is a release that deftly deviates between roots rock, delta blues and voodoo soul. This is a compelling effort with a rough ache that seeks and believes in redemption. Yet in a world that may be merely nothing more than sexual innuendo and steamy eroticism, facing global recession that leaves us all just hurling towards an inevitable apocalypse, we have two choices........drop to a knee and beg for salvation or get up to that there crossroads and sell our souls to the devil. After listening to this disc I am left wondering which is exactly the correct choice.

This effort is remarkable in that it moves seamlessly through it's varied styles. "Honey Bee" is a wonderful jazz piece that would fit perfectly in a movie like "Sleepless In Seattle". The sultry "Girls In Bossier City" is a steamy trip into the bowels of New Orleans, pure sex and spectacle. "Sugarland" is a toe-to-toe stare down with the hounds of Hell, wonderfully dark, brooding and perilously unregenerate. "Do Your Thing" adds an incredible echo to the vocals that creates a dreamy, ethereal effect and really stands out.

I first connected with Papa Mali after hearing the song "Girls In Bossier City", a gritty song with simmering guitar work. But everything on this release is a soul-stirring, dark and mysterious glimpse of New Orleans roots music, rife with soulful slide guitars and visceral vocals. Mali invites the city's most celebrated musical ambassadors including Henry Butler, Kirk Joseph and Monk Boudreaux to participate, and for good measure.

Said Mali, "We played together live right there in the room, all of us sitting together, and of all the things that I've been involved in musically it is perhaps my proudest moment. Of all the things I've recorded that may be the highlight right there."

A highlight indeed. If you've never experienced delta blues with a touch of an upbeat jazz tempo, or if your experience is limited to Dr. John, take heed. This is Robert Johnson with modern production; Pinetop Perkins with a seedy edge; in short, an echo-drenched, sonic joy ride which transforms contemporary jazz into a heavenly combination of roots, blues and voodoo electronica.