Archive for the ‘Artist Spotlight’ Category

Wine and Alchemy: World comes to Flag

wine-and-alchemyToday I walked into Bookmans (a local used book store and internet cafe) today, which is a pretty regular occurrence, and I was greeted by something a little irregular. A world band called Wine and Alchemy had invaded dressed as Gypsies. As the acoustic guitar and accordion harmonized, their vocalist and belly dancer flitted around the cafe. They played a variety of  Greek, Armenian, “Gypsy”, Flamenco, and Middle Eastern styles while here, and they did it really quite well. They hail from San Antonio, and brought some delightful gypsy fun to the mountains of Flagstaff.  You can find some tracks to listen to at I would highly recommend them to anyone that appreciates world folk music.

Spotlight: Mokshya

mokshya_promoMökshya (Pronounced Moke-she-ah) is, simply put, a metal band. Hailing from Flagstaff, Arizona, they combine a message of acceptance and love with anger and disdain toward the core of this countries beliefs and systems. When I put their promo cd into my computer to listen to for the first time, I had no idea what I was in for. After hearing the first 10 seconds, I was forced crank my stereo up. I was absolutely delighted with what I got. Mökshya is not one of your run of the mill garage metal bands. These guys show real promise and real talent. They write intelligently, it’s not all guitar solos, and it’s not all thrashy, thrown together chords. All in all, I couldn’t be more pleased with Mökshya. I can only hope that I hear more music from here in Flag that shows as much promise as these talented musicians do. You can find more tracks by Mökshya on iTunes, where they have released their debut album, “?We the People!” They punch you in the face with their tunes and leave you begging for more.

Mökshya – “Blacklight”

Spotlight: Team Genius

Team Genius / Courtesy of Fanatic PromotionAh, gentle-but-active pop music — Team Genius, who released the Hooray EP on Feb. 26, are the perpetrators of some fairly simple music, but that doesn’t mean they don’t create something addicting, too. Of course, this much is likely obvious: Much music, historically, has been simplistic, and some of it has been successful. Big surprise. Still, Team Genius provides an interesting perspective on the matter, with their irreverent indie pop taking on a variety of historical styles without much concern for public opinion. That’s where the band’s strength is, I’d argue, but given I have heard relatively little of their music, I can’t honestly make a quality assertion in one direction or another. At any rate, they’re worth writing about if just for the chance to include their over-the-top, quirky photograph. It’s a bit creepy, really.

Team Genius – “Sing Song” | download

Team Genius – “I’m Just An Idiot” | download

Released This Week: The OaKs – Songs for Waiting

The OaKs - <i>Songs for Waiting</i> The OaKs
Songs for Waiting
March 4, 2008

The OaKs, previously the subject of a spotlight, self-released Songs for Waiting Tuesday. Opening track, “The Two Calls (of Dietrich Bonhoeffer)” — posted below for download and streaming — isn’t rough, and it’s certainly not too soft. The historical narrative, written by one of two founding members, Ryan Costello, is, at the very least, interesting. The arrangements involved in this new release are well planned, providing a listening experience that’s bound to impress.

The OaKs / Photo by Steven Taylor, Courtesy of Fanatic Promotion

The OaKs – “The Two Calls (of Dietrich Bonhoeffer)” | download

The OaKs – “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” | download

Spotlight: MGMT

MGMT / Via MySpaceSeveral tracks I’ve been into recently are by the New York-based duo MGMT. “Weekend Wars” starts off as a nice acoustic piece, with melodies and drums not out of place in ’60s music. At :51 the tracks starts to move into different territory, and soon the first chorus starts to hint of the epic heights the song will eventually reach. For me, this occurs at 2:28, as Muse-esque synth arpeggios gently glide over beautiful melodies. The track shifts into a steady march at around 3:21 as the group sings the song’s last message. Overall, the tracks reminds me of The Beatles vs. Muse.

“Time To Pretend” is a little different idea. It starts out with synthpop sweetness and sounds just like a Mates of State song, but with perhaps a wider variety of color and sub-melodies, each of which is a treasure hidden within the layerings of the song. The lyrics are taking a shot at the typical rock star stereotype. This mellow, danceable tune should have you nodding your head with joy.

Spotlight: Colin Stetson | Frantic jazz evocative, but dangerous to public

Colin Stetson / Courtesy of Fanatic Promotion
New History Warfare, Vol. 1 Releases March 4 on Aagoo Records

Let’s get one thing straight: it’s not everyday one runs into music like this — nor should it be. Colin Stetson performs a frantic, solitary-instrument jazz on the bass clarinet and bass saxaphone, and while it’s certainly not bad, it ventures far into the realm of experiment: This may be a good thing for you and I, but if the common man were to hear things like this on a regular basis, a backlash not unlike reactions to Frankenstein’s Monster might be unleashed. Still, the two tracks posted below, “Letter to HST” and “Groundswell” are interesting, evocative, and all those other adjectives you look for in music. Be warned, though: It’s not your grandpa’s jazz.

Colin Stetson — “Letter to HST” | download

Colin Stetson — “Groundswell” | download

Spotlight: MEN

MEN / Courtesy of Girlie ActionJD Samson and Johanna Fateman of Le Tigre fame are making music under another name: MEN. Funny, I thought only one was a man. All bad joking aside, MEN produce a distinctive, fun electronic sound. “Make It Reverse” and “Shake Off,” both posted below for listening and download, are fun, addictive tunes that safely balance a modern perspective (or is it post-modern?) and a 1980s throwback feel (you know, in the vein of electroclash.) MEN are currently touring North America with Hey, Willpower.

MEN — “Make It Reverse” | download

MEN — “Shake Off” |download

MEN on MySpace

Spotlight: Apillow | Ambience, minimalism make mark in small-run release

Apillow / via MySpaceLet’s get one thing straight: I like ambient, I like shoegaze, and boy, do I like post-rock. That said, you may have found many of the posts here to be of such a nature. What can I say? At any rate, today’s spotlight focuses on Apillow, a band with elements of all three styles I just expressed an affinity toward. Patrick Lacharité, of Below the Sea, is the sole producer of this quiet, uninvasive minimalism created in the fall of 2007. Leaves Winter Alone, released in October 2007 on thisquietarmy records, is limited to 200 initial CD-R copies by the label, so clearly, this isn’t out there to make a quick buck. Apillow embodies that appealing independence that too often goes missing from music generally: Even notoriously independent artists worry about making money from their music. For better or worse, Lacharité seems untainted, providing a fair bit of clarity to the world through soothing ambience.

Apillow — “The Dark” | download

Purchase Leaves Winter Alone
Apillow on MySpace