Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sarah Jaffe

I'm a sucker for girls with guitars. Denton, Texas born singer-songwriter Sarah Jaffe is most definitely a girl with a guitar. But there's also something more brewing behind those piercing green eyes. Her captivating stage presence, a wonderfully aged voice that brings to mind the stylings and inflections of Emily Haines, Missy Higgins and New Buffalo and beautifully simple folk songs that effortlessly work their way into your gut.

Ever Born Again [from 2008's Ever Born Again EP] Right-Click, Save as...

Sarah's full-length Kirtland Records debut, Suburban Nature, will be out in May. In the mean time she'll be flexing her vocal chords as she opens for Norah Jones on six upcoming tour dates.

Clementine [from the forthcoming album Suburban Nature]Right-Click, Save as...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mouse Fire

Lakeland, Fla. based Mouse Fire had it all going on with their 2007 Lujo Records debut Wooden Teeth. Critics poured superlatives over them like a chunky oatmeal bath. Their strong sense of self as a band was applauded. They were the local band to watch. And then their front man decided he wanted out.

Instead of curling up in paralysis, the three remaining members forged ahead with conviction. They toured relentlessly--opening for, among others, Margot and The Nuclear So and So's, Colour Revolt, win win Winter, Matt Pond PA and Inkwell in just a few short years. Now's their time to shine as a refined trio--their sophomore album hits shelves this May and they're currently touring the country to support its release.

The biggest difference that immediately strikes me through the headphones is current front man Shane Schuch's buoyant vocals in comparison to Joey Bruce's hushed, velvety tone. It's almost as if a plug has been tucked into a socket. That's not to discredit Bruce's contributions to the band, but Schuch brings such vivid life to the new batch of songs. "Hungry Like A Teen Wolf" has one of those jangly tambourine synth-beats that is begging to be heard in a crowd of drunken fans.

In fact, most of these dance floor-ready songs posses that intrinsic quality of being aided by a live performance. Check out for yourself when Mouse Fire storms through New World Brewery in Ybor on March 6.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Get out your hair brushes

Kelly Clarkson's fourth (and likely final) single from 2009's All I Ever Wanted was finally sent to radio today. "All I Ever Wanted" sees its release nearly six months after "Already Gone," her third single which spent eight weeks at #1 on Billboard's Adult Pop Chart, was first premiered. The new single, the album's title track produced by Louis Biancaniello and Color Me Badd's Sam Watters, is a whopper of a pop anthem with a thumping bass line ala Spoon and funked up electric guitars.

The real powerhouse here is Clarkson's layered pipes--feisty, husky and thirsty to plow the field of label suits that lay in her path. This was an immediate favorite of mine when I heard the album and, for the record, I'm partial to candle sticks when belting out my favorite pop tunes.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Concert review: Blind Man

The lack of uploading is based on a number of things--Brandi Carlile rocking my world Thursday night would be one of them--and the following review is another. Help a blogger out? My first published review is available at Creative Loafing now. Follow the link!

Concert review: Blind Man’s Colour, Sons of Hippies and MillionYoung at New World Brewery (with pics)

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ana Egge

For an artist that's received such fervent critcal adoration and praise from artists as revered as Rox Sexsmith, Buddy Miller and Lucinda Williams, North Daktoa born singer-songwriter Ana Egge is surprisingly low-key. It's probably safe to say that's been largely by choice--Ana's been releasing music since 1994 to stellar reviews. Now based out of New York, her blend of folk-rock is a mix of social commentary songwriting and lush, velvetly vocals that have a remarkable comparison to one of my favorite Aussie gals, Butterfly Boucher, and a sweeter Gillian Welch.

With seven albums under her belt--includng 2009's Road to My Love--Ana has flexed her folk sensibilities on the Loretta Lynn-inspired ("Farmer's Daughter") to pop/rock ("Storm Comin'") and Sunday-morning soul complete with "(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay" whistlin' ("New Tattoo.")

Oh, and she built her own guitar. You know, just your average chick.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Aleshea Harris

A few weeks ago I attended a demo listening paty as part of my first official assignment as an intern at Tampa's Creative Loafing magazine. There were three budding groups/musicians that shared the best of their demos with a group of CL editors and local music buffs.

While everyone delivered great performances--17-year-old Dominique Pecchio (who goes under the music moniker of The Sepia Sound) absolutely charmed me when she dropped her pick and bashfully bent down to get it--Aleshea Harris' thought-provoking poetry and honey-drenched vocals were enough to make me melt into my seat.

Aleshea's demo, "Back Roads," was clearly an anti-war sentiment, but it never came off as preachy. The room fell silent as she effortlessly sang a three-song set of spoken-word soul. Aleshea earned her degree in theatre from the University of Southern Mississippi and has spent most of her adult life working as an actress, poet and songwriter. She recently began incorpoating guitar in her performances to more effectively promote herself as an artist. She's a perfectly adept guitar player, but her presence as a live performer lies in her voice. Her husky alto reminded me of a young Odetta and, truthfully, the subtle way she bent her notes was pure bliss to my ears.

Aleshea also devotes her time to music education. She founded Bag of Beans Productions-- an endeavor to foster creativity in young minds by holding various workshops in classrooms and organizations.

Head over to Aleshea's MySpace to purchase he EP Back Roads or her most recent release No Gun--a mix of poetry and song.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Edie Carey

Vermont born singer-songwriter Edie Carey didn't always have her sights set on music. It all changed during her freshman year at Barnard College when she spent her evenings listening to Jeff Buckley, Ani DiFranco and Lisa Loeb play in The Postcrypt Coffeehouse. Then, during a year spent studying abroad in Italy she taught herself how to play the guitar and spent her spare time performing in the street. Just that small taste of being a musician gave Edie the push she needed to pursue a career in music.

Her first album, The Falling Places, was a subdued acoustic offering. Three albums later and she's found a comfortable ground between simplicity and production--the songs that comprise her 2006 record Another Kind of Fire are propelled by her earnest singing and heartfelt songwriting.

Edie returns to the jam-packed Cayamo Cruise for a second time in a matter of weeks, but before she departs for sea she'll be in St. Pete on Feb. 19 at the Craftsman House Gallery.