The other day I got that kind of email that music bloggers love to get… an email from an artist’s management saying, “Hey… you know, I’ve noticed from your blog posts that you like xyz… and I think you might like some of my client’s stuff. Want to check it out?”… and you actually do love the client’s stuff.
(Side note: to management… if you’re going to approach music bloggers, make sure that you’ve actually read the damn blog. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve got emails about artists I’ve already posted about, or one that even said “Hey, I sound like Howie Day. You probably won’t know his stuff, here’s a link”… Srsly? Ahem. Rant over)
The point is, that in this case the email came from Shannon over at Brick Wall Management… and not only did she do everything right, but the client she thought I might like was Ari Hest.This is the kind of email I love getting. Where management has actually got my tastes damn spot on.
Um. Ari freakin’ Hest? Only someone I’ve been a fan of for ages… around 6 years or so, I would say, ever since I first heard “Aberdeen” from “Come Home” way back in the day. So of course, I was thrilled when Shannon told me that Ari’s just dropped a new album, entitled “Twelve Mondays”.
After listening to the album for about an hour, I twittered: “Just been sent the new ari hest album to review. there’s a song on here that’s possibly the best thing he’s ever done, in my opinion.”
Yeah. It’s that kind of album.
Official music video for “Dead End Driving”, from the new Ari Hest album, “Twelve Mondays”
First off, some more background on “Twelve Mondays”:
Back in 2008, Ari started out a trailblazing experiment called “52“. Basically, what “52” entailed was recording (and releasing) a new song every week. Fans then voted on their favourite tracks, and twelve of those were collected into the album, “Twelve Mondays”.
That such an album could have come out of “a song a week” project is, quite simply, astounding, and only hints at Ari’s songwriting prowess.
Oh… and the best thing Ari’s written? Well, the whole point of the “52” project was that different songs would appeal to different people. So you should probably head here to purchase the entire album to decide for yourself.
For my money though, “The Weight” will go down as an all-time Ari Hest classic.
Alex Dezen has always had that special knack. A kind of effortless personality that connects with the listener, in a very personal way. And I think that this album, finally, is opening that up to a wider audience.
Well, no… the reason I’m revisiting the topic is that today, Alex sent me the “exclusive track” that I’ve heard whispered. The b-side title track of the album, “One Last Century”. And I can’t stop listening to the damn thing.
Rarely a song comes along that, for some reason, I can’t write about. But this is one of them. It simply knocks me over. I’m the feather, and Alex’s voice the breeze. I’m not sure where it’s taking me, but I can’t wait to find out.
So of course I had to share it with all of you. In keeping with Alex’s vision for this album… spread it around. Tell your friends. This song needs to be heard.
Over the last month or so, I’ve been involved in building up The Damnwells official site again, which had somewhat fallen into disuse (apart from the forums, which unfortunately were lost in the changeover). Anyway, over that time I’ve gotten to know Alex from the band, and listened to his visions for this new record, “One Last Century“. After being dropped by their label (not once, but twice), they decided it was time to do this their way. To get the music heard, finally. When the guy talks about this album, it’s like there’s a light shining on you, you know? Like the world could be this way, if we just hope.
I want to see that hope justified today.
Spread the word, in whatever form you can. Call your friend up and tell them. Send an email to people you know who like kick-ass music. Send an email to people you know who like crappy music, and need to be educated. Send an SMS to random numbers. Drop flyers where you can, and then run away. If you have a blog, then blog about it. Use your social media profiles to mention it. For those of you on twitter, tweet it. Whatever you can do, let people know about this record.
I want to see The Damnwells succeed. I want to see this model succeed. Artists are waking up to the fact that they need to embrace new ways of marketing their material, but it’s ultimately up to us, the consumer, to control the way that market goes.
I’m not going to review the record today. Suffice to say I’ve been spinning it again and again the last week or so, so that tells you how much I’m enjoying it. But today I’d like you to listen to it, without any of those damn “music blogger preconceptions” floating around in your head. Maybe in the next week or so, I’ll manage to grab a few moments of Alex’s time, and ask him to put down a few words about this record, from the recording process to the final release. But for now, I just want you to listen to it. So go here and get it now.
Bugger. You know, I go offline for a few days, and I miss out on all the cool emails. A few days ago, Tim from the All-Leo Digital Agency (who have a super cool website, by the way) emailed me to let me know that one of their acts, One EskimO, would be performing a live gig at ‘The Big Night’ at Proud Camden, 7pm on Tuesday 10th February, and would I like two free tickets to give away to the readers of Burgo’s Music Blog?
As I say… buggeration. It’s the 9th of February today, and far too late to set up a giveaway/competition for free tickets. But that doesn’t mean I can’t spread the word about these guys in the meantime.
Although I hadn’t heard of these guys before Tim’s email, in the short time that I’ve had to listen to some of their material, I have to say that One EskimO have certainly impressed me. Their tunes are that ambient kind of music that perfectly complements a bed time cuddle with a new partner. You know the kind I mean. That first couple of cuddles with a new partner in bed, where everything could still be slightly awkward. Where you’re still trying to figure out how to be completely comfortable around each other. And god, why are there suddenly all these awkward silences? We were fine at dinner. Wow, this would be so much better if I at least had some music on, so there wasn’t all… this… silence. They’re that kind of perfect music.
From their press release:
One eskimO is a unique musical creation that combines gorgeous animations and beautiful music.
The unique musical band One eskimO is produced by Rollo (Faithless). One eskimO is a 4-piece band headed up by Kristian Leontiou. His fantastic musical sound is then added to a series of 10 animations charting the adventures of eskimO and his band – the giraffe, monkey and penguin.
‘The eskimo, the giraffe, monkey and penguin decided that they would all head out and travel above the seas, past the moon and the planets and venture out through the stars. They would travel together on the eskimO’s special ark. For this was no ordinary ark, this was a dream ark…’
One eskimO’s soft musical tones are already attracting attention from both a younger and older audience. The fantastic animations were produced by Passion Pictures (the team behind the highly successful Gorillaz), and have already won a 2008 British Animation award.
Below, a live video of the band performing their upcoming single, “Kandi” (which is simply gorgeous), and below that, the official video for their “Hometime” track, which shows off the animations.
All in all, if I was in the area, I’d go and see these guys tomorrow. So, if you are… why don’t you?
Ok ok, I’m going to be upfront here. I’m probably a bit biased about this track, as ever since the days of The United States of Leland (seriously… this is a criminally underrated film), actor Ryan Gosling has been… well, probably my favourite actor. So when I heard news of him being in a band, called “Dead Man’s Bones“, along with bandmate Zach Shields, I was impatient to finally hear some of their material.
The two have just released a video on their myspace page, called “In Your Room”. And you know what? It’s fantastic. Describing their sound as a mixture of Gothic, Gospel and Showtunes, and their influences as “disney haunted mansion, doo wop and 60s girl groups”, it’s like a joyous celebration of Halloween all over again. And I like it.
You know, I wasn’t sold on Samantha Crain… not quite, despite the major promise that I heard in her release “Confiscation EP“. It was undeniable that there was major talent in there, but for some reason, it just didn’t seem to reach that “critical mass” point, where everything comes together in this wonderful, glittering moment, you know?
That was… until I saw this.
Now, I’m excited.
Samantha Crain’s new album, “Songs in the Night” is due out April, 2009. You can bet I’ll be watching with interest.
For some reason, if you’d asked me last week whether I had posted about William Fitzsimmons on this blog before, I would have sworn blind that I had discussed his 2006 album “Goodnight” sometime in 2007. However, I recently received his 2008 album, “The Sparrow & The Crow“, and was preparing a post when I looked back through this blog archives – trying to find my past post – and I realised that I must have dreamed the whole thing.
But you know, for some reason that’s kind of fitting. William Fitzsimmon’s work has that ethereal, floating quality from which the best dreams are made.
Fitzsimmon’s path towards music reads like some kind of fantasy tale filled with destiny. From his site:
William Fitzsimmons is one of the oddest people you will ever meet. Born the youngest child of two blind parents, William was raised in the outskirts of the steel city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Due to the family’s inability to communicate through normal visual means, William’s childhood home was filled with a myriad of sounds to replace what eyes could not see. The house was suffused with pianos, guitars, trombones, talking birds, classical records, family sing-a-longs, bedtime stories, and the bellowing of a pipe organ, which his father built into the house with his own hands. When his father’s orchestral records were not resonating through the walls, his mother would educate him on the folk stylings of James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, and Simon & Garfunkel. By the completion of his youth and schooling, Fitzsimmons had become well-versed at a variety of instruments, at the minor expense of social standing, interactional skills, and a knowledge of proper shaving technique.
William Fitzsimmon’s music has that heart-string-tugging, ever so fragile quality to it that makes for the best of tunes. When you hear his voice, there’s almost a caution there; as if you exhale too loudly, you might frighten this wonder away. Watch the below video of Fitzsimmon playing “It’s Not True” – from his “Goodbye” Album – on DeepRockDive to see what I mean…
Enough about the past… let’s look at Fitzsimmon’s latest release, “The Sparrow & The Crow”. Put simply, it’s a wonderful album. I mean, really, that sums it all up.
But, to go a bit deeper: The Sparrow and The Crow is an album with some heart-wrenching stories behind it. Like his past releases – namely “Goodnight” and “Until We Are Ghosts” – the album deals with some incredibly personal tales. Not surprising, when you consider that the album, in Fitzsimmon’s own words, was “written first and foremost as a confession and apology to my former wife“.
I recently came across a wonderful interview with Fitzsimmon’s where he related this story:
The Sparrow and The Crow – Are you comparing relationships of the heart to the flight or actions of birds? What’s the concept of the album?
I’ve always thought symbolism was a wonderful literary tool for getting across meanings in a more substantive and tactful way. I think it allows one to be concise and pointed in meaning, without sacrificing clarity for an aesthetic sake. The main idea for the record title came on a drive I was taking out in the country here in Illinois. I noticed a couple birds flying together against a strong wind and suddenly, one of the two turned and flew away, leaving the other one alone. For some reason it just seemed rather poignant and explanatory to everything I had gone through in the last couple years. I don’t know, maybe I was just really tired. But for whatever reason, it hit me pretty hard. I spent a lot of time soon thereafter looking into the historical and myth-related meanings of certain birds, and came upon a couple (the sparrow and crow) that seemed to fit the nature of the story I was trying to detail. Specifically, the sparrow is my former wife and I am meant to be the crow. And as I’ve committed myself to be honest in the process of telling such a serious story, I can say that the album is the tale of my failed marriage and the process of trying to start life over again.
Anyway, on to the tunes themselves. I’ve included two songs below, for you to get a taste of the album. Both these songs are taken from the second half of “The Sparrow and The Crow”, which is – in my opinion – where the album really kicks into uber-awesomeness. Fitting, I suppose, considering that the album is telling a story. Really, if this was a screenplay, these songs would be playing during the final “resolution” stage of the film.
The first, “They’ll Never Take The Good Years“, is perhaps the song with the most acceptance on the album. The second, “You Still Hurt Me” is a song with which we can all wistfully relate. Listen to these songs. Seriously. They may just help you.