February 2012 Archives

There are only one or two old-school record stores left where I live, the types  that carry deep catalog and such. I always like to browse the “various artists” sections there, because if you find a good one, you can really get your money’s worth. There is one label who carries a number of box sets that has  always intrigued me, and that is Cleopatra. I have bought some individual Cleopatra titles before, but had yet to get one of their box sets. I finally took the leap with the four-CD Dark Box, and I must say, it turned out

Phillip Phillips, Heejun Han, Colton Dixon Stand Out As Idol's Top 13 Males Compete

The competition kicks off: is there anyone out there watching?
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Tonight’s the night approximately 20 percent less of you than last year actually care about– the start of American Idol’s live performances, which to me is the official start of the season. There’s very little lead-in or nonsense for a change and we get right to our first performer, so let’s get started and see how they did. I know everyone’s big on comparing Reed Grimm to last season’s jazzy, multi-instrumental Casey Abrams but he reminds me more of Paul McDonald from the same season. He’s slick, has natural showmanship, always vocally solid and a bit of a lovable weirdo.

'Voice' Runner-Up Dia Frampton Finds Her Voice on 'Red'

Debut album from The Voice's season one runner up, Dia Frampton
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Her voice and it's unique sound are what made Dia Frampton a talent to be reckoned with on last years break out television show The Voice. With her trusty mentor Blake Shelton guiding her every step of the way, Dia broke out as the star of Team Shelton and made it to the finals of the innagural season. Dia would finish second to Javier Colon, but in many people's minds she was the star to come out of the group of four finalists. Her rocking rendition of Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" is one of the highlights of the

Jazz Review: Amy Cervini - Digging Me, Digging You

An homage to Blossom Dearie that swings, swings, swings.
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Filled with humour and wit, Amy Cervini’s Digging Me, Digging You is a loving but never hokey homage to Blossom Dearie. Dearie (1924-2009) was one of those jazz singers adored by people “in the know.” She counted Miles Davis, Gil Evans and even John Lennon among her famous fans and amassed quite a career for herself with her playful renditions of classic songs and sprightly originals. Cervini, a Canadian expat who is no slouch in the humour department herself, takes to these Dearie tunes with a vibrant sense of rhythm and step to go with the quick-fire funniness. The lyrics,

Review: Otis Taylor - Contraband

Taylor at the top of his form on 'Contraband'
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In the Ray Charles biopic Ray, Jamie Foxx's Ray Charles character says the reason people love country music is because it has great stories. That ritual of great storytelling is at the heart of so many traditional musics, a way of retelling the history of a people before easily reproducible written copies was accessible to the masses. Great storytelling has been downplayed in contemporary blues and other components are accentuated, some good and others less, but it's one of the characteristics that makes Otis Taylor's music feel traditional even as he builds his sound using instruments not often associated with the

Why Miley Cyrus Covering Dylan Is A Good Thing

The starlet covering the master might make your head explode, but I'm still smiling.
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Chimes of Freedom: Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International is a 4 disk, 75 track set featuring dozens of interesting artists covering Dylan. I just got it a few days ago and I haven't had the time to fully digest it yet so I won't say much about the album as a whole but I did want to spend some time on one song: Miley "Hannah Montana" Cyrus' performance of "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go," a classic from Dylan's timeless Blood On The Tracks. When the tracklist came out the internet went nuts

The Voice 2: Last Of The Blind Auditions; Let The Game Begin!

The teams are set...
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Tonight’s the night on The Voice that we finally get to put these Blind Auditions behind us, as mentors Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, Cee-Lo Green, and Adam Levine complete their teams of 12. Whitney Myer kicks things off with “No One” and gets the attention of all four mentors, with Adam turning first and that wins her over, she’s Team Adam.  The Shields Brothers have two things that set them apart from the pack: They’re a brothers duo, they’re rockin’ and they annoyed me more than anyone else this season. That’s quite a feat on a show with Cee-Lo and
I suppose the big title for this week comes from The Cranberries, who return with their first new album new album in 10 years. They had a nice run of hits throughout the '90s, beginning with the love "Linger." I actually saw them live once. They were opening for someone. It will cost you all more money than you have to get me to admit who that was. Either way, they're back with a new set and its out this week. I'll be stunned if our own Mat Brewster doesn't find a way to get himself a copy of

DeepSoul: Phyllis Hyman - "What You Won't Do for Love"

The jazz/soul vocalist's interpretation of the classic tune illustrates how she could make a familiar song her own.
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Once in a while an artist appears who seems as if she truly belongs in another era. She transcends easy-to-define genres, instead carving out her own sound. While some audiences may appreciate such originality, other listeners may not have access to a more unusual artist. After all, she may not receive radio airplay due to her inability to fit a specific format. This was the case for Phyllis Hyman, a gifted R&B/jazz vocalist who never found her niche. Her tragic suicide in 1995 cut short a fascinating career that spanned from Broadway to the concert stage, where she lent her

Review: Carolin Widmann & Alexander Lonquich - Franz Schubert: Fantasie D-Dur, Rondo h-Moll, Sonate A-Dur

Fascinating collection of works from the legendary composer.
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One of the more notable features about recordings on the ECM New Series classical imprint is the artist’s tendency to shake things up a bit. Often we will find the musicians linking various, unrelated compositions together in unexpected ways. This can take the form of placing current works next to established classics to illustrate the themes. Or, as in the case of the new Carolin Widmann (violin) and Alexander Lonquich’s (piano) Franz Schubert: Fantasie D-Dur, Rondo h-Moll, Sonate A-Dur  release, the pieces may all be written by the same composer - at very different times in his career. In this

Bluesman Louisiana Red Dies At Age 79

Blues icon Iverson "Louisiana Red" Minter made more than 50 years in storied career...
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2011 was an incredibly painful year for blues fans as we said farewell to legends like Pinetop Perkins, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, David "Honeyboy" Edwards, and the great Hubert Sumlin and 2012 has gotten off to an equally sad start as we bid farewell to Etta James and today we learn that Iverson "Louisiana Red" Minter has died at age 79. Many bluesmen have harrowing biographies that foreshadowned their lives as itinerant musicians rambling from place to place, making their blues wherever they could find a nickel or a quarter. Even with all those tales -- some legendary, some real

Spring Standards Plan May 1 Double EP Release, Stream "Here We Go"

I'm getting spring fever for yellow//gold
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Check it out, kids, new music from the fabulous trio that is The Spring Standards is on the way and in a genius marketing maneuver, it will arrive during the season what is spring. They are releasing twin EPs called yellow and gold as a single release: yellow//gold on May 1. If you're curious about what these two mini sets have in store, you can check out a song called "Here We Go." You're even encouraged to dance along, although we claim no responsibility for any uncoordinated dance injuries or YouTube embarrassment if your co-worker two cubes over catches you and posts it online. Exercise appropriate caution, people!

UK Trio Keane Return With 'Strangeland' May 7, First CD In 4 Years

Can they recapture the magic of their debut?
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British trio Keane is returning with their first new record in four years when they issue Strangeland May 7. With apologies to my hero Noel Gallagher, I loved Keane's first record Hopes And Fears. Sure it was lightweight but the combination of Tom Chaplin's soaring, too-pretty-by-half vocal melodies and Tim Rice-Oxley's piano arrangements made me want to go somewhere only I knew. Yes, I would have sustained innumerable, serious, sinister assbeatings if my meathead metal friends caught me listening to it back in the day but I got lost in the gooey pop confection in a way that rarely happens to me.

Plenty Of Life in Mark Lanegan Band's 'Blues Funeral'

Long live the king...
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Mark Lanegan's reign as one of my favorite vocalists and member in good standing in the Josh Hathaway Pantheon Of Eternal Musical Greatness continues uninterrupted with Blues Funeral, his first album under his own name since 2004 Bubblegum. I've spent an awful lot of time listening to this record since its release one, because I'm quite taken with it and two, because I've struggled to find ways to explain what it is I love about this record beyond being a Lanegan enthusiast. Most of his early solo records were heavy on acoustic-based singer/songwriter compositions that served as a distinct counterpoint to

CD Review: Tony Bennett - Isn't It Romantic?

A collection of some of the crooner's most romantic tracks.
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Tony Bennett has had an over 60-year career singing some of the biggest and best love songs ever written. Now, 15 of those tracks are collected on the new compilation, Tony Bennett – Isn’t It Romantic? The collection is culled from Bennett’s 1970s period with nine of the 15 tracks from his two acclaimed albums with the late jazz pianist Bill Evans. The disc opens with “Make Someone Happy,” originally from Together Again, his second album with Evans. Bennett delivers an impassioned vocal against Evans’ brilliant, understated accompaniment. This is the sound of two masters on top of their respective
It's been awhile since we checked in with the biggest albums at blues radio but we resume our weekly check of the charts and I'm thrilled to see our friends Kilborn Alley Blues Band in the Top 5 with their latest record Four, one of my Best Albums of 2011. I can't say enough good things about Kilborn Alley's record and it's exciting to see the album catching on with blues listeners nationwide. The album topped the radio charts atLiving Blues, as well. It's such a great roots-oriented record that embodies the feeling of the blues without being a slave to

Review: The Fall - Ersatz GB

The Fall's latest is another step forward for the amazingly versatile Mark E. Smith.
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The Fall’s latest release Ersatz GB is the group’s 29th  studio album. Their first, Live At The Witch Trials came out in 1979, and there have been so many permutations of the group since then they could fill a book. The Fall has always been the Mark E. Smith show, he is the only constant in the band’s 33 year history. If one were to include the various live recordings, compilations, and Smith’s two solo records, the total number of releases is over 100. I mention all of this because one might expect the level of quality to have declined

Review: Ribozyme - Presenting the Problem

And the problem is...
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If you took a little Tool, some nebulous Nine Inch Nails, a smidge of Filter, and some Alice in Chains sludge and stuffed it into a blender on a low setting, you’d end up with Norway’s Ribozyme. The band’s Presenting the Problem is as good a place to start as any, I suppose. Their latest release is 10 tracks of generally undemanding hard rock music. No Cookie Monster stuff, no death metal to scare the children, no flashy prog bits. Ribozyme came into existence in 1998 and is now a trio. Original members Kjartan Ericsson (guitars and vocals) and Bård

Get To Know Your 2012 American Idol Top 24; Learn How To Vote For Your Favorite

Everything you need to know to get dialed in for the season's remaining episodes...
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Now that American Idol has set its Top 24 (to be changed to a Top 25 on Wednesday’s live show) semi-finalists we can finally get down to business and set this train in motion.  Top 13 Guys compete for your votes on Tuesday, February 28; Top 12 Girls compete Wednesday, February 29; with the Finalists announced Thursday, March 1, on FOX.  Things finally start chugging along nicely and we can likely expect another week of two nights for performances and a drawn out elimination show. I hope they have ramped up the spectacle this year and give us some

American Idol Has Its Top '24' And I'm Trying Hard To Care About Any Of Them

The Top 24 means 24 contestants, right? Stop me when you've heard this one before...
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The American Idol judges brought this season’s hopefuls to the Vegas show Le Rêve: The Dream before offing the remainders to get to the Top 24, which by now you’ve heard will be a (short-lived) Top 25 in a “we stole this from The X Factor” move. Yes, you heard me correctly: in what may be the proverbial final nail in American Idol’s coffin or perhaps just the latest “jumping the shark” moment, Idol has decided to give us a Top 25 instead of a Top 24 this season. After the Top 12 Girls and Top 12 Guys were

Norah Jones Announces Tracklist For 'Little Broken Hearts,' Due May 1

LP #5 for one of my favorite voices on planet earth...
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Norah Jones has announced a new album due for release May 1 called Little Broken Hearts, produced by Brian "Danger Mouse" Burton. This isn't the first time DM and Jones have collaborated, Jones having contributed vocals to the excellent Rome "soundtrack" album Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi released last year (also making vocal cameos on that record was Jack White). Their work together led them to work together on this new 12-track Jones record with all songs being co-written by the pair. Also appearing on the record is one-time Beck drummer Joey Waronker. Hearts follows up Jones' The Fall, the first Norah record I

Counting Crows Release Underwater Sunshine (Or What I Did On My Summer Vacation) April 10; Offer Free Track Download

Counting Crows issues covers album this spring...
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Counting Crows are going it alone, leaving their longtime label Geffen, and they're ready to issue their first new album since the stunningly great Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings with a 15-track collection of covers they've titled Underwater Sunshine (Or What I Did On My Summer Vacation) on April 10. I guess I've called my shot and admitted my deep affection for Counting Crows so hell yes I'm excited about this. Covers have long been a part of the Counting Crows' musical language, often interspersing them with their own songs like including Bruce Springsteen's classic "Thunder Road" with "Rain King" or segueing in

Jazz Review: Chris Brubeck's Triple Play - Live at the Arthur Zankel Music Center

An inter-generational jam session well worth catching.
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Chris Brubeck’s Triple Play brings the house down with Live at the Arthur Zankel Music Center. Recorded in June of 2011 in Saratoga Springs, New York, this recording captures the playfulness and energy of jazz, Delta blues, Tin Pan Alley music, and even a trace of ragtime. Triple Play is comprised of bassist/trombonist/pianist Chris Brubeck, guitarist Joel Brown and multi-instrumentalist Peter Madcat Ruth. Special guests include Joel’s father Frank Brown and Chris’ legendary father Dave Brubeck. The younger Brubeck is, like his dad, a hell of a musician. He stunningly plays through some of his father’s classic pieces and fluently

Review: Denes Varjon - Precipitando

Three pieces bridging the music of Franz Liszt with current composers.
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Last October 22 was the 200th anniversary of the brilliant composer Franz Liszt’s birth. The new ECM release Precipitando by pianist Denes Varjon is something of a tribute to Liszt, and features an incredible interpretation of the composer’s “Sonata in b-minor.” The piece is considered Liszt’s crowning achievement, and the beautiful piano of Varjon certainly does it justice. The sound of the instrument alone is so crisp and clear, yet it is Varjon’s playing which makes the piece truly come alive.  Denes Varjon’s affiliation with Liszt stretches back at least 1984, when he attended the Fernc Liszt Academy of Music

Al Lerman Has A Winner With 'Crowe River Blues'

Unpretentious blues with some genuinely stunning harmonica work
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Al Lerman is a musical journeyman in the finest sense. A founding member of Fathead, one of Canada’s premier blues and funk outfits, he’s an experienced performer and an accomplished songwriter, equally adept on harmonica, guitar, and saxophone. As a sideman for hire, he’s worked with a veritable who’s who of Canadian blues legends; here he’s backed by a few of the finest, including bassist / producer extraordinaire Alec Fraser and drummer Bucky Berger, with Lance Anderson contributing keys and accordion. Lerman claims he never thought to put out a solo album until he found himself playing more and more

Al Lerman Has A Winner With "Crowe River Blues

Unpretentious blues with some genuinely stunning harmonica work
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Al Lerman is a musical journeyman in the finest sense. A founding member of Fathead, one of Canada’s premier blues and funk outfits, he’s an experienced performer and an accomplished songwriter, equally adept on harmonica, guitar, and saxophone. As a sideman for hire, he’s worked with a veritable who’s who of Canadian blues legends; here he’s backed by a few of the finest, including bassist / producer extraordinaire Alec Fraser, drummer Bucky Berger, with Lance Anderson contributing keys and accordion. Lerman claims he never thought to put out a solo album until he found himself playing more and more solo

Music Review: Dailey And Vincent – The Gospel Side of Dailey And Vincent

Gospel so immaculate it transcends belief …!
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Certain people own certain catchphrases.  Bart Simpson and ‘cowabunga’ are inextricable.  No one can utter ‘mother$#@*%&’ with quite the authority of Samuel L. Jackson.  And if there’s any justice on earth, the phrase ‘heavenly harmonies’ shall hereby and henceforth be allocated to the sublime vocals of Jamie Dailey And Darrin Vincent. Dailey And Vincent are well-known in the bluegrass world, where, along with home and heartbreak, faith forms one of the genre’s cornerstones.  Here, though, they expand the instrumental palette beyond the relatively restricted all-acoustic standard.  There’s piano, percussion, and both a string section and a brass section – instrumentation

Review: Goatwhore - Blood for the Master

With a name like Goatwhore, it has to be good...
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Goatwhore, rumoured to be Rick Santorum’s favourite band, kicks your teeth in to start Blood for the Master and never looks back. This, the band’s fifth studio recording, is an attack of the blackest of black metal proportions. Goatwhore formed in 1997 in New Orleans, with singer/guitarist Sammy Duet bringing together a crew of otherworldly metal demons to play in service of the Dark Lord. Through their many years of destruction, a few line-up changes were in order. Of the original line-up, only Duet and vocalist Louis Benjamin Falgoust II remains. Drummer Zack Simmons joined in 2004, while former Ritual
Tonight’s episode of American Idol will be the most meaningful and productive yet as judges Randy Jackson, JLo, and Steven Tyler begin whittling 42 contestants down to 24. The Top 24 (comprosed of 12 Boys and 12 Girls) will be finalized tomorrow (Thursday) night and next week is the start of the live performances. The contestants have to perform solo in front of the judges one last time, then the judges deliberate and assess each contestant’s journey and performances thus far. First to learn their fate is Jen Hirsch who has had a solid run so far and flown

Between the Covers: Bruce Hornsby covers Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, the Coasters, Van Morrison and More

Bruce Hornsby covers just about everybody in concert.
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Since I write a series dedicated to cover songs its obvious I'm a fan, but most of my favorite artists are ones who perform a lot of covers as well. Sometimes those covers come in the studio but more often than not they come in a live setting. I truly love to hear a great cover done in a concert. It is refreshing. It is surprising. When done right it can knock your breath right out of your lungs. It also allow us to understand an artists influences, when someone covers a song we can assume they like that song

Jack White Announces Solo Debut "Blunderbuss" Due Apr. 24; Video For First Single "Love Interruption" Unveiled

Former White Stripe main man readies first solo album...
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Jack White continues to be the hardest working man in the music business, launching numerous hit bands and collaboration. The former White Stripes main man is turning the attention to himself when he launches his debut solo record Blunderbuss via his own Third Man label on April 24. He recently released the first single, "Love Interruption," from the upcoming 13-track set via iTunes, Amazon, and other digital outlets and has now unveiled the complete tracklisting and artwork for the new set. "Love Interruption" is a moody piece with acoustic guitar and electric piano providing the majority of the instrumentation with White

No Such Thing As Bad Press: Adele Continues Digital Dominance At iTunes

Top 10 songs and albums at iTunes Music Store for the week ending Feb. 20, 2012.
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Adele has been in headlines since the Grammys for performances, middle digits, daddy issues, and boyfriends, current and past. She's also made comments about taking time off or not before starting her next record. My advice: go on holiday, love. You have three singles in iTunes' Top 10 and your album is again/still #1 (and your debut is #4), holding off Whitney Houston in the first full week since her tragic passing. Rest the voice and take your time, is what. Houston represented at #2 on the singles and albums chart this week, as well. The non-Adele and Whitney

'The Voice' Dark Horse Alert: Keep An Ear On Naia Kete

The blind led the blind for most of these two hours of blind auditions...
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This week's episode of The Voice finds megastar mentors Christina Aguilera, Cee-Lo Green, Blake Shelton, and last year’s winner Adam Levine vying for the most distinct voice and standout talent as their build their teams of 12. I’ve watched this episode three times in its entirety and it just never felt cohesive or fluid to me at any moment in time. So instead of my usual step-by-step recap, we’re doing a broader overview. While the judges seem to have been downing Hooch between takes and are giddy and ridiculous (albeit infinitely entertaining), flirting with each other, and loving median

Jimmy Burns Anything But Stuck On "Stuck In The Middle"

Burns' latest release a deeply satisfying listen...
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Stuck In The Middle is Jimmy Burns first studio album since 2003 and follows his excellent live set Live at B.L.U.E.S, released in 2007, which is when I was first introduced to him. Burns says in the liner notes he has been reluctant to do covers on his records, believing his own material suits him best. Personal tragedy took a toll on him when his wife of 44 years passed away after battling lung cancer. The grieving process diminished his appetite for writing new material but he found himself reenergized by connecting with songs by other artists and so for the first
I'm having some trouble finding many releases that look particularly interesting to me this week. It's a shorter list overall than we've seen of late and there just doesn't seem to be much likely to get me in the buying mood, which is fine because I've spent my allowance about 4x over. I needed a week to sit out (or in this case spend maybe just a wee bit less). A pair of Chicago blues legends have teamed up for a new record from our friends at Delmark Records and I am so having one of these. The great, great Eddie

DeepSoul: The Sylvers - "Fool's Paradise"

Unfairly branded as a "disco group," The Sylvers produced some of the most underrated and funky tracks of the early 1970s.
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Until recently, I thought of the 1970s group The Sylvers as a disco group; after all, their biggest hit was the 1975 dance track "Boogie Fever." Yet before that danceable song, the group recorded some funky, sophisticated tunes that receive little to no airplay today. Their 1972 single "Fool's Paradise" announced the arrival of another talented family group--at various points, nine out of the ten Sylvers children performed in the band--but also introduced listeners to the talents of songwriter Leon Sylvers. Hailing from Memphis, Tennessee, the Sylvers came from a musical background. Their mother was a former opera singer, and exposed her kids

Philip Glass - The Essential Philip Glass CD Review

An excellent introduction to the work of this seminal composer.
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I first became aware of Philip Glass when he released Einstein On The Beach, way back in the mid-seventies. At the time, I was strictly a rock and roll kid, but the opera received so much attention in the rock press that it really intrigued me. Not enough to plunk down the bucks for a four-album set mind you, but enough to keep his name in my head. When I finally came across an album of his in the used bin at a local shop, I figured it was about time to see what all the fuss was about. That

Huntsville's G-Side Looks To Stars With "Spaceship"

A little slice of music from my adopted hometown...
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I don't encourage any of you, dear readers, to read any site other than BlindedBySound but I occasionally frequent other sites and I was shocked to learn there's an emerging musical act from my adopted hometown of Huntsville, AL and I'd never heard of them until I read about them at Consequence of Sound. I was a little less embarrassed when I read said article about this track from G-Side because what I know about rap/hip-hop couldn't fill a thimble, kids. I don't do rap but I'm told it's not leaving the musical landscape any time soon. I'm not

Paul McCartney Tackles Great American Songbook On 'Kisses On The Bottom'

Macca tackles The Great American Songbook.
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While making a name for himself as a pop rock musician, Paul McCartney has always been the least likely to shy away from a standard. Indeed, many of his own songs were written in this style from “When I’m 64” to “Honey Pie” to “You Gave Me The Answer” and he famously covered "Til There Was You" from the musical The Music Man. It is therefore not surprising that McCartney has finally decided to record his own tribute to the songs he heard his father play when he was growing up on his new album, Kisses On The Bottom. The

CD Review: Frank Sinatra - The Concert Sinatra

The Chairman of the Board takes to a movie scoring stage to make a classic album.
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The Concert Sinatra is a misleading title as it is not a live concert performance at all. What it is, however, is the sound of Frank Sinatra, Nelson Riddle and a large orchestra pushing the boundaries of recording technology for 1963. The album was recorded using 35mm magnetic film on a motion picture scoring stage. As stereo was in its infancy, multiple recorders were synchronized to take advantage of the full stereo spectrum. The master recording “Magnestripes” have not been used in any subsequent releases of The Concert Sinatra – until now. Recently discovered by producer Charles Pignone sitting unused

Garbage Gets Listener Supported, But Still Hates Love (Video)

Fan artwork adorns teaser for "I Hate Love" from upcoming new CD...
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We get another teaser from our friends Shirley Manson, Butch Vig, Duke Erikson, and Steve Marker as we wait for the first single from Garbage's first new album in seven (long) years, Not Your Kind Of People, due on May 15. Garbage asked its fans to submit artwork to be incorporated in a video montage for the song "I Hate Love," and the dark hearts and subversive mind came through in a big way. More importantly, we get to hear one minute of the upcoming record. There's not much to tell from that one minute but there are a few observations

The Spring Standards Issue Double EP 'yellow//gold' May 1, Stream "Here We Go"

I've got Spring fever, kids!
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Check it out, kids, new music from the fabulous trio that is The Spring Standards is on the way and in a genius marketing maneuver, it will arrive during the season what is spring. They are releasing twin EPs called yellowand gold as a single release, yellow//gold on May 1 and you can check out a song from the set called "Here We Go." We've got it right here for you to stream to your heart's content and I highly encourage you to do just that. If you're new to Spring Standards, so am I. They are a trio -- did I already mention that? -- comprised

American Idol: For Some, What Happened In Vegas Ended In Vegas

Down to 42 contestants...
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Tonight’s American Idol takes us to Las Vegas where the remaining 70 contestants sing and dance for Steven Tyler, JLo and Randy Jackson in hopes of not being instantly cut. They will be singing music from the ‘50s, after they perform with a group and costumes they will find out then and there if they make it forward. The first group up has Skylar Raine, Colton Dixon, Cari Quoyeser and Chase Likens and they’re dressed as if they’re going to a prom in 1955. Their song is “Dedicated To The One I Love” and while it wasn’t bad at all,

'American Idol' Hollywood Week Group And Solo Rounds: Next Stop, Vegas!

The field is winnowed down further as 'AI' preps for The Elvis Experience
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It’s Group Night again on American Idol and we’re in for crying, fainting, pleading, shattered dreams and belching. After zero singing last week, I’m looking forward to seeing some (good) singing and some of my favorites that haven’t been nearly enough screen time, like Colton Dixon. Groove Sauce is comprised of early favorites Reed Grimm, Creighton Fraker, Nick Boddington, Aaron Marcellus and Jen Hirsch and they kill it on “Hold On I’m Coming” with harmonies, memorable solos, capable backing vocals and even some clean choreography. I have a feeling all five are making it through and after accolades and

Adele Dominates iTunes Charts; Whitney Houston Makes Posthumous Push

Van Halen, Coldplay, Macca, and Minaj also present on Valentine's week iTunes Chart Watch
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It's been awhile since we last checked in with the world's largest digital music retailer and it turns out not much has changed since: you are all still crazy about Adele and her 21 record and I'm still not. The UK singer has three songs in the Top 10 Singles and both her albums are in the Top 10 on that chart. You've all gone all in on her and I'm still on the outside looking in on this phenomenon. Elsewhere, the passing of Whitney Houston has given the late, great vocalist the inevitable chart spike and we're sure to see

'A Different Kind Of Truth' Is The Same Kind Of Van Halen

"The Art Of Almost"
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The first new Van Halen record in __ years. For some, it's the first record since 1984 when our hero Diamond David Lee Roth departed the band for a solo career and increasingly bizarre behavior. For others, it's the first since Sammy Hagar left the band following Balance. If you want to be technical about it, we have to admit it wasn't just a bad dream and Gary Cherone did sing on a(n alleged) Van Halen album in the late '90s. Either way, it's been a couple minutes. I'm not sure what to make of reaction to the record in

Jazz Review: Lorraine Feather - Tales of the Unusual

What does it mean to be normal?
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What does it mean to be normal? In today’s age of technological saturation, the question takes on special meaning when there are countless examples of odd and even nasty behaviour out there. One doesn’t have to look very far to find a plethora of weird nuts wallowing in their own skewed sense of reality. Don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing wrong with the unusual. I revel in it, in fact, and apparently so does Lorraine Feather. The jazz vocalist’s latest, Tales of the Unusual, traffics in stories of the strange. Feather mines the tales for the humanity under the abnormality,

Chris Rene Streams 'New' Single "Young Homie," Digital Release Feb. 28

"Young Homie" is presented in its finished form and a new record is on the way...
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Chris Rene was the third-place finisher on the inaugural season of the USA version of Simon Cowell’s new pet project The X Factor and while he didn’t get the $5 million Sony contract or high-profile Pepsi commercial, he has fared quite well securing a deal with the Epic division of Sony records, under his former X Factor mentor, LA Reid. There has been speculation and rumors regarding Chris releasing a “new song of original material, written by Chris himself” on Valentine’s Day, February 14. For those paying attention you already know today is Valentine’s Day and alas…no new release; it
In my very first article in this series (in which I talked about a Bob Dylan cover) Josh Hathaway commented "It kind of had to be Dylan or The Beatles to start this, didn't it?" and he was absolutely right. I don't have the stats or anything but I'd be willing to say that the two pop artists that have been covered the most in the universe are Bob Dylan and the Beatles. This makes perfect sense to me since who wouldn't want to model the poetry of Dylan or the genius song craft of the Beatles?I love that the

New CDs For Your Valentine: Otis Taylor, Anne Akiko Meyers, Phenomenal Handclap Band, Amos Lee

Last minute ideas for your Valentine...
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Happy Valentine's Day, kids, and welcome to New Music Tuesday for this loveliest of days. Guys, if you haven't picked up something special for your ladyfriend, take a look at these titles released just this very day. I've become quite the fan of bluesman Otis Taylor and his unique brand of primitive blues. Taylor's latest work Contraband is about as deep blues as it gets. The title of this work is a familiar word but I never knew the connotation it had during the Civil War. "Contraband" was a term for escaped slaves who escaped across the Mason-Dixon line and lived in

Jordis Unga Stands Out On 'The Voice 2' Blind Auditions: Eat Your Heart Out, INXS:

From 'Rockstar:INXS' to 'The Voice'... could 'AI' or 'X Factor' be next if Unga doesn't win here?
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Tonight’s edition of The Voice once-again pits super star judges Christina Aguilera, Cee-Lo Green, Adam Levine, and Blake Shelton against each other as they compile teams of 12 of the best acts they’ve heard to take with them to the next round. The Blind Auditions begin with folk singer Sarah Golden, who is presented to us as a bit of a mystery. Viewers don't even get to see Sarah's face until the mentors start to turn around. She chose "You and I,"  and she gives it a country "twang" as Christina calls it. Cee-Lo and Blake both hit their buttons

The Best, Worst, And So-So of 2012 Grammy Awards: Beach Boys, Adele, Nicki Minaj, Springsteen

While Whitney Houston's death cast a pall over the ceremony, some memorable performances cut through the grief.
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Earning some of its best ratings since 1984, Sunday's Grammy Awards telecast fluctuated between somber and joyful moments, between the “old guard” and the relative newcomers, and between the powerful and head-scratching performances. What follows is an overview of some of the best and worst, and the so-so moments of the telecast: The Best: The Beach Boys reunion: Sure, the aging band might not legitimately be called “boys” anymore. Yet the newly reformed group showed they could still deliver tight harmonies, and listening to the fragile Brian Wilson croon his solo parts tugged at the heartstrings. The enthusiastic crowd reaction proved that “Good Vibrations” still resonates

DeepSoul: Whitney Houston - "Saving All My Love for You"

The 1985 track illustrates why the late singer was considered one of the best vocalists of her generation.
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Since Saturday, much has been written about the late Whitney Houston. Her addiction to drugs and alcohol ultimately robbed her of her voice, image, career, and life. While her spectacular fall overshadowed her talent for the past ten years or so, her powerful instrument will serve as her legacy. Her untimely death obviously overwhelms her fans and family with grief, but it has also prompted listeners to pull out their Houston albums and reminisce about her onetime reign over pop music. Many would cite “I Will Always Love You” as her greatest performance; while that certainly ranks among her best,

Coldplay Unveil "Charlie Brown" Video

Bright lights, big colors, and another singalong song from Coldplay...
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Check it out, kids! Your friends from Coldplay have unveiled a new video for the latest single from Mylo Xyloto, "Charlie Brown" and we're hosting it here for your viewing and listening pleasure. J and 11 both reviewed MX for us, both liked the record a lot, both liked this song. Sterfish identified it as one of his favorite albums from 2011. I'm less favorably inclined toward the record than those lads are but I'm overall okay with it. I'm always going to like Parachutes best and Viva La Vida was an astonishing, transcendent achievement. That's a lot to

How Whitney Houston Ruined Music

...and thank God she did
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My favorite vocal on a Rolling Stones record comes not from Mick Jagger or Keith Richards, but from Merry Clayton on the apocalyptic classing "Gimme Shelter." Go listen to that record some time and listen not to the great guitar interplay or the very fine performance from Jagger, but instead to Clayton's counter vocal. She sounds like her skin is about rupture, like her spleen is about to launch itself into orbit. She's singing as if the fate of the world depends on it. What's more amazing is that as she spins out of control, she never sounds like

Didn't We Almost Have It All: Whitney Houston Dead at 48

"I need you here to wipe away my tears..."
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Just hours before Clive Davis was to hold his annual pre-Grammy party, Whitney Houston was found unresponsive in her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. By around 4 pm, she was pronounced dead. She was 48. So where do we go from here? What is there to say through the tears and the shock? Houston had one of the best pure voices in music. Period She was the most awarded female vocalist of all time, landing six Grammy Awards, 22 American Music Awards, two Emmys, and 30 Billboard Music Awards among other honours. She sold over 170 million albums.

More Barfing Than Singing On Night Two of 'American Idol' Hollywood Week

'Idol' a snoozefest on Night 2 of Hollywood Week...
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Tonight’s American Idol begins the most train wreck part of Hollywood Week: Group round! Where dreams are shattered, egos bruised, and stars are born. Tonight’s episode was high on drama and low on immunity and singing. Let’s recap, shall we? Symone Black ended the show last night with a bang, literally and leave it to good ol’ American Idol to turn that into a product placement dream for Coke….anyone have a Coke? Coke? Coke! She appears to be okay and is whisked to the hospital to be checked. While she’s away the judges decide she’s safe along with Jeremy
American Idol Season 11’s Hollywood Week kicks off tonight and over the course of three shows we will see the over 300 contestants whittled down to 70 for the semi-finals. Steven Tyler, Randy Jackson, and the lovely JLo take some time to give the large group a pep talk and a brief rundown of what they expect in this first round of “Hell Week.” Let the games begin! Ft. Lauderdale’s Johnny Keyser chooses Amos Lee’s “Dreamin” for his first time in front of the judges since the initial audition, he bored the tears out of me and the judges

Review: Cocaine Moustache - On the Mirror

A soundtrack for douchebags.
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Everybody knows at least one douchebag with a closet full of Affliction T-shirts and a litany of exaggerated stories about getting drunk and high every weekend. There are countless Facebook wall posts bragging about how wasted he got and pictures of his fake-and-bake face grinning like an idiot. He listens to Nickelback and gets in fights with people for making incidental eye contact with him. Somehow he has a really hot girlfriend, but she’s a comatose space cadet with a helium voice and he’s only into her for her fake tits and Costco card. He uses the word "bro" in

Jazz Review: Gary Smulyan - Smul's Paradise

An homage to organist Don Patterson swings with one voice.
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Making his debut for Capri Records, baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan mixes the power of his instrument with the light, swanky flavour of organ jazz. The resulting vibes of Smul’s Paradise are intoxicating and different. It’s not every day that one gets to hear a baritone saxophonist fronting what is essentially an organ trio, yet that’s the setup here. B3-Hammond player Mike LeDonne, drummer Kenny Washington and guitarist Peter Bernstein complete the group and their repartee clearly helps the album win its name. Washington and Bernstein are largely tasked with holding the rhythm down, but they offer so much more than

Jamar Rogers Shows Winner Potential On Night 2 Of 'The Voice 2'

Lindsey Pavao and Angie Johnson also make strong cases as the competition gets under way...
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We continue with Blind Auditions Night 2 (here's what happened on Night 1) on The Voice with our judges/mentors Cee-Lo Green, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, and Christina Aguilera (who is now Xtina from here on out) looking to pick up additional talent for each of their respective teams. After the four judges give us a jarring performance of a Prince’s greatest hits, we get not-a-couple Haley/Leland – (The Line) who perform as a duo and Blake Shelton is the only one to hit his “I Want You” button until the very end and the other three joined in. Blake yells, “Noooo!”

Van Halen, Paul McCartney, Mark Lanegan Band, The Fray Headline Feb. 7, 2012 New Release CDs

New Music Tuesday for February 7, 2012...
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February's first batch of new CDs is a big haul and I am so excited about a couple of these titles. Before we take a closer look and get to the full list, let's just mention a few of the names: Van Halen, Paul McCartney, Mark Lanegan Band, The Fray, Sharon Van Etten... That's a pretty good list of newbies. We've also got some John Coltrane and Queen re-issues out this week as well. If you've got money, I can help you spend it. If you've got money, it would please me if you would send it my way.

DeepSoul: MFSB - "TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)" and Don Cornelius' Legacy

The onetime Soul Train theme song reminds us how the show and Philly soul dramatically impacted culture.
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This week's DeepSoul not only spotlights a funky track, but also salutes an R&B pioneer: Don Cornelius, the Soul Train creator/host who passed away on February 1. From 1971 until 1993 (when he stepped down as host), Cornelius presided over the showcase for soul music, dance, and African-American culture. His deep voice, sharp suits, and unique lingo (“You can bet your last money, it's gonna be a stone gas, honey!” he would say during every episode) made him one of the coolest figures of the era. Quite frankly, Cornelius launched many R&B artists' careers, granting them national exposure at a time when other

The Soul Of John Black's 'Good Thang' Is My New Favorite Thang

A fun ride from start to finish...
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I’m a little late to The Soul Of John Black appreciation party, but let me tell you, since discovering TSOJB’s latest studio release Good Thang, I am not only a convert but a fanatical, practicing member of this faction. John Bigham is perhaps best known for work with Fishbone or as Miles Davis’ sideman but his resume also includes work on Everlast, Nikka Costa, and Eminem projects. Adding his alter-ego The Soul Of John Black to the mix shows he’s the consummate musician and artist with lyrics and silky vocals to match his sharp guitar and keyboard abilities. Good Thang is

Jesse Campbell, Tony Lucca, RaeLynn Emerge As 'The Voice 2' Premieres

Javier Colon won last season; did we see Season 2 winner on the post-Super Bowl premiere?
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The second season of The Voice premiered tonight directly after the most boring Super Bowl I’ve ever seen, with Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, Cee-Lo Green and Adam Levine returning as mentors/judges and the ever-irritating Carson Daly as host. For those not familiar with The Voice, it’s definitely as if American Idol and The X Factor had a baby and threw in a bit of a twist. The “twist” being that the judges don’t see who they’re picking, just going on instincts based on what they hear. They call this the Blind Audition. They each sit in highback chairs with

Alex Tronics - Electricals EP Review

Fantastic Scottish electronic music
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Alex Tronic is the nom de plume of Paul Croan, a musician who works out of  Edinburgh, Scotland. His latest release is the Electricals EP - a recording which contains some of the finest electronic music I have heard in some time. A four-track, 17-minute EP may not seem to be something worthy of a lengthy discussion - but this one is. Much like the AFX release Analogue Bubblebath, way back in 1994, this is an EP that is so creative as to nearly qualify as a full album’s worth of material. To be honest, one attraction for me is

Eugene "Hideaway" Bridges' "Rock And A Hard Place" A Pleasing Place To Find Yourself Stuck

Bridges' 2011 effort an Album Of The Year Nominee At Blues Music Awards
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Rock And A Hard Place is the 2011 release from bluesman Eugene "Hideaway" Bridges, a Texas-based nomad with family ties to the legendary Tina Turner who has been playing guitar since he was a child and touring on his own and with other bands for years now, releasing his first solo album in 1998. Bridges first came on my radar two years ago in Memphis on my first trip to the Blues Music Awards when he sat in with Nick Moss and his Flip Tops at the 2nd annual Nick Moss All Star Jam at the Rum Boogie Cafe. He

Melanie Amaro Shows Little "Respect" For Aretha Franklin Classic

Amateurish, cartoonish rendition of an eternal classic from Melanie Amaro...
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Melanie Amaro has done many things in her mere 19 years on earth: she’s survived a neglectful childhood which sent her to the Caribbean to be raised by her grandmother, persevered over bullies who mocked her Virgin Islands accent when she moved back to the States. Life spun even faster this past year with her appearance on the first season of the U.S. edition of Simon Cowell's X Factor competition. She got sent home during the Judge’s House round on The X Factor and after Cowell went back to fetch her, she eventually won the entire competition over Chris Rene and Josh

Gary Clark Jr. Releases Official Video For "Don't Owe You A Thang"

More Gary goodness as we wait for his brand new record...
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Gary Clark Jr. has released a video for "Don't Owe You A Thang," the second studio cut from his magical Bright Lights EP, released last year. The EP is a four-song release with the title track, "Thing," and two solo live performances. The first video was for the title track "Bright Lights," which we love. The video for it and "Don't Owe You A Thang" aren't going to win fans through audacious visuals or compelling storylines but you get to hear a great song by an artist who is about to blow up in a huge way. "Thang" is
American Idol auditions keep on truckin’ , this tme out to the Gateway To The West, St. Louis, Missouri which gave us Season Four’s mega-superstar winner, Carrie Underwood. Johnny Keiser is up first and hails from Pompano Beach, FL, goes to school in Orlando, and sings “A Change Is Gonna Come” and I’d say with that audition, he changed his life. He even riffed with Steven a little and JLo kept cutting him off to talk then said “keep singing!” He has the sun kissed, all-American look and the voice to more than back it up. I predict Top

American Idol Portland: Jermaine Jones, Britnee Kellogg, Naomi Gillies Win Night; Jessica Phillips Wins Hearts

Strong performances in City Of Roses as 'Idol' preps for Hollywood Week...
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Tonight the American Idol crew headed to the City of Roses- Portland, Oregon; this is the first time Idol has ventured up to this particular, beautiful Pacific Northwest city which is very close to the birthplace of HippyGirlHeather. Before I continue speaking in third person, let’s carry on and see what PDX had in store for us, shall we? We all know JLo loves Luther and so does Jermaine Jones, who performs a splendid rendition of “Superstar” in Luther’s style. It was a bit of a mess in spots but the potential in his lower, softer notes is really

Review: Lana Del Rey - Born to Die

Does Lana Del Rey live up to the alarming hype?
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The strange engine of hype has been fuelling talk of one Lana Del Rey for quite a few months, but I’ve somehow avoided most of the fervent, slobbering discourse. With the release of Born to Die, her second studio album and major label debut, the opportunity to explore what the fuss is about has come. The 25-year-old describes herself as a “self-styled gangsta Nancy Sinatra” and cites influences from Britney Spears and Kurt Cobain. According to an article from the worshipful NME, she still holds a babysitting job and leads a really normal life – or as normal a life

Garbage Release Trailer For 'Not Your Kind Of People' (Video)

Butch Vig, Duke Erikson, and Steve Marker talk about the new album; 2 new tour dates confirmed...
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Garbage announced this week their first new album in seven years Not Your Kind Of People will be released May 15 and they've released a brief trailer to give just a little sample of what is in store on the new record both with sound and words. The band was prepping for a photoshoot and the three lads of the band all took a few moments on camera to talk about the new record and the recording process for it. The good news? The long layoff seems to have energized them about being back together, in this band, at

Review: Rumer - Seasons of My Soul

Another brilliant UK talent hits North American shores.
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The dastardly United Kingdom may have been basking in the warm glow of Rumer’s Seasons of My Soul since November of 2010, but with an American release date of just a few days ago I figured it would be a good time to get acquainted. Rumer (Sarah Joyce) was born in Pakistan. She began her musical career in London with a folk band called La Honda, forming Rumer & the Denials shortly after in 2004. By 2007, an album of solo material entitled Coffee and Honey was released under her real name hit South Korea. Seasons of My Soul eventually dropped

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