In Avant Garde, CDs, Classical Music, Indie, New Classical Music, Review on January 1, 2013 at 6:50 am
This has not been a year where a lot of things jump out at me. I guess it’s safe to say that I am not a great music journalist when not every recording comes out and speaks to me in such a powerful way. Other people seem to find various strong points even about music they find only marginally satisfying. I tend to be less outspoken. I’m also still the sole writer and operator of this page, so, that is another factor, when it is very difficult to have the ability to even make the time for every recording and rank them accordingly.
I also have to say that it’s really against my personal beliefs to have a list of “best” albums in an order that gives the impression that I think certain recordings are better than others. Yes, I do have favorites, but it’s tough when you want to make a big list, and you put really good albums at the bottom end of it. And what are the factors that put lesser or greater value on those picks, exactly? I had a list last year, and even though I swore that it was not a list in the order of greatness, I still had the Hilary Hahn Ives recording listed first. That was definitely pointed out right away, but I still feel that I broke my own rule for the sake of Hilary Hahn, almost to the point that I was being biased. I do really like her Ives album, but I suppose that it was easier to start with that. I randomly listed some other releases last year, some of which I actually reviewed on the blog and others I didn’t, but did hear beforehand. Leah Kardos’ Feather Hammer was, for sure, a dark horse candidate for album of the year, and, in my opinion, a debut CD (even though she’d made music previously as My Lithium & Me) that surely sounds like a recording that’s going to be a difficult one for Ms. Kardos to top in the years to come.
Getting back to 2012, I think it’s easier to just talk about the year in music when I look at it this way: There were quite a few really good moments, but this year for me, Silfra by Hilary Hahn and Hauschka is definitely the clear winner if I were to choose a winner. Being that I like HH and everything, that is a certainty, but when I heard about it and I saw the cover, I knew that it was not going to be like the rest of her catalog. Read the rest of this entry »
In Indie, Interview, Musicians, Rock on December 3, 2012 at 7:36 pm
Lisa Germano (wow, more than a singer-songwriter, she plays a variety of instruments as you well may know) is releasing a new album titled No Elephants in February of next year, and having heard it, I am blown away by her music yet again. Taking the path to a very self-made musical place has really taken her seemingly so far apart from the days when she was mostly playing sideman to John Mellencamp and appearing with artists like Billy Joel, Simple Minds, etc. Her efforts as a musician showed a person of prowess, but her music revealed much more complex pictures and a vulnerability that couldn’t always be fully expressed by a full rock band.
She had a few minutes to speak with me about some of this.
CM: I had a chance to hear the new CD No Elephants–For me, It is very hard to describe your music, even ever since your first album! I really enjoy it, and this new one is already a classic (My favorite tracks so far are “A Feast” and “Strange Bird”). It’s interesting for its brevity at 35 mins. and it leaves one wanting more. The thing that catches me a good deal of the time is your use of non-musical things and making them musical, and here the most obvious thing is the cell-phone interference static noise on a few of the songs. Can you talk about this and where you came up with this idea?
Lisa: On my new record No Elphants, I wanted to convey my confusion and frustration relating to people on cell phones, our abuse of communication and how this affects our relationship to the earth and its beings. So many people on their cells or computers. Not communicating is sad to me, so Jamie Candiloro and I found all sorts of sounds relating to this and added them into many parts of the record sometimes to me funny in a tragic sort of way. The communication with the animal sounds, cell and computer sounds dancing together is the point here..
Jamie is awesome–always finds what I’m hearing. Read the rest of this entry »
In Film, Indie, Musicians, New Classical Music, Peculiarity of Life on November 27, 2012 at 12:35 am
…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead
Hilary Hahn ~ violin
“To Russia My Homeland” (written by Conrad Keely)
Live at unknown venue, Moscow, Russia; 4/22/06
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Apologies for the shaky camera, this was shot in a rock club in Russia by either a roadie or a band member, not sure)
This is something I decided to post for Hilary Hahn’s birthday, and since I wasn’t too sure if most people had ever seen this clip, I thought now would be a good time. It’s something that continues to give me a very odd feeling for some reason. I’m not sure why since there are other classical violinists that play more than one kind of music all the time, but maybe it’s because I’m so used to the angelic image that Hilary Hahn puts out there whenever we see the classical performances that when I got a load of this, I was stunned. I knew that she’d played this piece on the album Worlds Apart and I even bought a copy of it (this was in 2005, so it was long before I ever became interested in downloading anything), but to see the way she moves here versus the way she moves in a regular fashion, you get the impression that she was possessed by something that combines Paganini with Jimi Hendrix (and it’s his birthday too, so, this is perfect for that as well). Between all that and this rather dark rocker-chick look with the loose hair and black jeans (and electric violin), it’s a moment in Hilary’s career that continues to provide great bewilderment, fascination and merriment for me, among so many other things she does, so, in a way this is the status quo.
Happy Birthday, Hilary Hahn!
In Folk, Indie, Interview, Musicians on November 20, 2012 at 4:48 am
Simple Minded Predators are (L to R) Rebekah Durham (fiddle, vocals), Miles Pittman (banjo, vocals), Bo DePena (guitar, vocals)
Simple Minded Predators are a group of players that are living in Brooklyn, though they are all originally from the South–Miles Pittman and Bo DePena are both singer/songwriters that met and jammed together and decided to add another when they met Rebekah Durham, a classically-trained violinist at a party, and as luck would have it, she also played really good fiddle music, and the group was born.
The group is still very much in its beginning stages, but please watch out for them and check out the music they do have available, it is really hot if you want to hear some great bluegrass and folk music. A clip from one of their gigs at Pete’s Candy Store that they recorded back in August (embedded on the bottom) is proof of this.
They are in the process of writing and recording their first CD.
The band had a few minutes to spare to speak with me via Skype Read the rest of this entry »
In Avant Garde, Indie, IndieGoGo campaign, Interview, Musicians, New Classical Music on October 26, 2012 at 4:59 am
When DC-area cellist Natalie Spehar met Canadian musicians Nikola Ragusa and Amelie Brodeur (both flutists; Amelie also plays other instruments), they found a lot of common ground as artists and decided to play together in Nat’s hometown of DC (BTW, they are also planning to do a show in Canada), and had such a blast with the performance that they have decided to do an album (which is slated to include the music of Villa-Lobos, Astor Piazolla and Marc Mellits), and with the help of IndieGoGo and you guys, they will be able to fund the packaging of the album. You can donate to this campaign up here or on the bottom. By the way, at this time, the name of the ensemble has yet to be fully decided (I think they should go with Écouter).
Natalie and Nikola had a few minutes to discuss the project.
CM: How did this project come about?
Natalie: This project was the result of a spectacular “tweet-up” really! Nikola and I met about a year ago when his online blog, Arts Avenue, was launched, and he interviewed me for a feature on the site. We had a great conversation and it was obvious to me right away that we shared a similar interest and enthusiasm for managing the administrative and marketing end of a freelance music career–and in particular, making connections and collaborations happen over the wonderful social media networks available today.
So, when Nikola and Amelie decided to take a tour that dipped into the US, we knew right away that we had to find a chance to really take our international friendship to the next level, and create something special that we could share with other music lovers. I jumped on booking one of my favorite recital spots in DC, Church of the Holy City, whose directors do a wonderful job themselves of sharing unique performances with the DC community–and we picked some rep, set dates, and made it happen! We had a great turn out and a wonderful time getting to know each other in the process, and knew right afterward that we needed to pursue the chance to do it again. This time, we’re flipping the travel adventure–and I’m going to Canada! We are looking forward to sharing music that we love with audiences there–and also investing time in our first recordings together to commemorate this friendship. Read the rest of this entry »
In Avant Garde, Indie, Rock on October 23, 2012 at 6:56 pm
The Velvet Underground
Live at the Tea Party, Boston, MA
March 15, 1969
I’ve heard this entire show, and virtually all of it is this good, but this is the climax.
Apologies for the abrupt cut-off at the end. Anyone notice the reference to Bo Diddley during the last 5 minutes or so?
In CDs, Indie, Musicians, Review on October 20, 2012 at 6:02 pm
I have to say that what I like about Matt Siffert’s EP Morningside right off the bat is that he gives you two straightforward tunes and then an instrumental that sounds like a music cue piece from the Rocky soundtrack–The piece I’m thinking of there is “Philadelphia Morning”, but this is “Daybreak in Alabama”, so, I don’t know if that’s a coincidence, but it’s like Matt Siffert read my mind and knew exactly what that piece would remind me of, and he instinctively knew my taste as well. Get out of my head, Matt Siffert!
“I Think of You Less” has a riff that recalls Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man” with its honky-tonk stagger. “Riverside Drive” and “She’s so Enthusiastic” seem to be much more in tandem with a sort of Billy Joel or Ben Folds if those guys were living in Williamsburg. Very good rock-pop chamber arrangements with a sweet cello and mournful French horn.
This being his debut EP, I look forward to Matt’s full albums.
Click here to buy/stream Matt’s EP Morningside
In Avant Garde, Composers, dance, Indie, Interview, New Classical Music on October 9, 2012 at 9:24 pm
Iceland’s Valgeir Sigurðsson, composer, producer/engineer, founder of both Greenhouse Studios (where he has recorded a huge list of artists such as Björk, Feist, Sam Amidon, and Hilary Hahn) and the record label Bedroom Community, has spared a few moments to speak with us about his own project titled The Architecture of Loss. An amazing work that is a collaboration with Stephen Petronio that premiered in NY earlier this year, it is also a compelling CD of music all on its own. You can purchase the CD up here or on the link on the bottom.
CM: First of all, to start off, thanks so much for this opportunity, it’s an absolute pleasure to get this from you!
The music on The Architecture of Loss CD is beautiful and stirring, and it plays really well as a stand-alone work. Can you talk about how this project came about?
Valgeir: Stephen Petronio, a New York based choreographer, invited me to collaborate on The Architecture of Loss with him and his dance company. He presented the title to me, and I wrote most of the score before he started the choreography–I wanted it to stand alone as a recorded piece as well. Read the rest of this entry »
In Avant Garde, Composer/performer, Contagious Sounds, Indie, Live Streaming, Musicians on October 1, 2012 at 11:41 pm
8 PM: Lisa Dowling
Dirty Thirty concert live at the Gershwin Hotel, NYC
Streaming live video by Ustream
In Avant Garde, Composer/performer, Indie, Interview, Musicians, New Classical Music on October 1, 2012 at 1:26 am
Australian-born double-bassist/composer/vocalist/DJ Lisa Dowling is about to turn “Dirty Thirty” and celebrate it with a concert on Monday, October 1st, kicking off Vicky Chow’s Contagious Sounds series at 8 PM at the Gershwim Hotel. Lisa will be giving people a really good cross-section of her great artistry, and as you’ll see on this page, there’s much that she has already done in that vein. She had some time to talk about that stuff as well as that great Ear To Mind concert we covered here at The Glass.
You may know her also from the two NY ensembles Concert Black and Heavy Hands, and her gig as a DJ, but just to listen to what she does on an instrument that doesn’t seem to get nearly as much face time as the cello, violin or piano, and adding other elements, you’ll see she is an amazing solo performer.
BTW, programming note: The Glass will be streaming the concert as it happens. Read the rest of this entry »