Samuel Johnson said the prospect of hanging concentrates the mind wonderfully, which is why I thought that verbally burning my ships on Friday would be just the kick I needed to transform a vague idea into actual, written reality. If you say it out loud, you have to do it, right?
Here’s the thing, though: While I love to talk about music and all manner of audio arcana, the idea of doing a regular music blog suddenly became daunting, so much so that I thought, “Shit. I have no ideas to inaugurate this blog with sufficient impressiveness. What am I going to write?” I could ‘fess up as to how late I left this, but I shall not. I honestly don’t know how this will evolve, or if it will, but for the moment, I thought I’d focus on sharing good stuff I find with folks who’ve yet to stumble across it. (I’ve also gone back through the archives and tagged any posts having to do with other people’s music with “Music Monday,” too; mine is under “Creations.”)
I thought about doing a run down of music I picked up in 2012, but that amounts to 17.48 GB, some 1676 songs, and that’d take awhile. So I decided to narrow it down to these women artists to start, and see where it goes from there. I hope you’ll bear with me while I find my feet.
It is my intention to create Spotify playlists of all the artists I blog about on Music Mondays, and you will find it at the bottom of the page. You have to have Spotify to listen to it, but you can download the Spotify client for free, and listen for free (with commercials, which are only mildly annoying). This allows me to share the music most easily, and the most legally. My username is “kristiecunningham” and you can add me if you want to find the playlist.
And now, the artists!
I can’t tell you now where I first ran across Rumer…might’ve been a free release of the song “Slow,” which had me hooked from the get-go. Rumer is the vocal love-child of Karen Carpenter and Dusty Springfield, and I’m sure she’s heard that before, because the songs she does, both new and classic covers, all carry the sensibility of the musical eras those women were popular. Ordinarily, it’s a bad thing when honey crystallizes, but that’s probably the best way I can describe her. The warmth, richness, and clarity of her voice are a treat in the auto-tuned and distorted soundtrack we find ourselves in these days.
I tend to look through the new releases every Tuesday…or did when I was stuck at a desk all the time, but have decided to make a habit of it again, because you occasionally find some really good stuff that way—like Elizaveta. Elizaveta caught my eye because of her single name and the way it was spelled. I like her voice, and her pop music with more classical underpinnings. It’s interesting without being terribly serious. Evidently, she is studying opera, but singing this for fun (and maybe rent money?) Originally, she put out a short EP, and then this year fleshed it out to a full-length album.
Garrison Starr was not a new find for me this year, but she did have a new album out this year. I first met her when she opened for the Indigo Girls at City Limits, a once-great eastside music venue here in Tucson that used to book amazing bands, and is now living a somewhat zombified incarnation as an event hall you can can rent, though I’ve never noticed that anyone ever does. So sad to fall so far. Anyway, this young, brash-yet-vulnerable guitar player took the stage and held us all in thrall for her half-hour set before she stepped off the stage to try to sell her CDs and t-shirts. I ended up buying both, and got to talk to her (or gush at her…whatever) for a few minutes while I did. She gave me a very firm handshake, and I walked away fan enough to be one of a handful of people in the audience when she later headlined a Club Congress show. When she asked for requests, I was the only one to ask for a song by name. I cannot overestimate the power of the meet-and-greet with fans post-show. I realize it’s not always possible for various reasons, but for a music nut like me, and a performer myself, it’s huge, not to mention inspirational, to meet people who are living the dream, and doing it well (at least to the outside, untutored eye). I guess I can’t speak for everyone, but in my case, I have to say it creates fans for life. I buy all her albums. Garrison seems to be still trucking away on the difficult indie route, but she is talented, real, and is well worth seeing live if she ever comes your way.
Audra Mae and the Almighty Sound
I first heard Audra Mae and the Almighty Sound on KXCI, a song called “Jebidiah Moonshine’s Friday Night Shack Party,” (I think Fiona Apple must’ve named the song) and I was dancing in the car. I keep a pen and a pile of my old business cards in a cubby in my car to write down snatches of lyrics of songs I hear on KXCI to look up later (because radio stations do a crappy job these days announcing what they play), and it happens probably once a week. Anyway, I dig women rockers, and Audra Mae definitely qualifies—she’s got just the right amount of grit and plenty of power. I can occasionally approach the outskirts of rock, but my voice doesn’t really lend itself to that genre without extreme stress and a sore throat later, which is not really the kind of thing you want to keep up if you want to keep singing in the long run. Anyway, her eponymous album is just fun. You want to put it in the CD player on your dash, step on the gas, and hit the road.
The Dum Dum Girls
Another Tuesday iTunes find in 2011, I think. I was compelled to check them out because their name was so appalling. Naming a band, like naming a child, is a really important task, because if you have any luck at all, and people start to learn your name, you’re stuck with it, to the Goo Goo Dolls’ everlasting chagrin. I didn’t expect to like their music, but they surprised me with a sound reminiscent of the Go-Gos, the first all-girl rock band to those of us too young to remember the Runaways. And I dig their guitar. They put out a new EP this year called End of Daze.
I hope you check these out, and let me know what you think, and share your own finds, in the comments, and that we ultimately can introduce each other to a lot of great new music. That’s how it works today—music succeeds by word of mouth from fan to fan, and I trust my friends’ recommendations over anyone else’s. Unless they’re from Ghost.*
*Just kidding, bro.