This is a new type of post, one that I think is far more relevant to the way I (and many other people) are discovering and listening to music these days. This type of posting/review will highlight artists who are using social media to share their work. These artists are sharing their albums and allowing you to support them on bandcamp, and/or crowd-sourcing their work on any number of platforms. These shifts to social media platforms and away from (largely) failing record labels, support a certain philosophy of freedom and creative connection that I have embraced wholeheartedly. We have embarked on a period where music-lovers and musicians can be more connected than ever on a global scale, and – to quote the great Patti Smith – "people have the power." The most exciting thing about all of these shifts, in my opinion, is the knowledge that these platforms for direct connection and funding are open to people trying to complete any number of projects. This isn't musician exclusive!
Without further ado, here are three talents I have stumbled across through the twitterverse and blogosphere. I am sharing one album, one song, and one campaign. Keep your ears and eyes on these artists, and support them if you have a minute to type a thoughtful comment on their websites, or the ability to drop 'em a little dough.
Kellie Lloyd of Australia is a friend of a friend (Kate Wilson, drummer for the Laurels), and in April she released a solo album: Magnetic North. The album is a true mix of sounds and moods.
On my first listen, I heard quite a lot of Alina Simone in Magnetic North.
There is a touch of theatricality in Lloyd's voice, and the pensive
brooding that Simone has down pat. But then you bump into a song like
"Constellations"; it is joyous in the way that sleeping on an air
mattress in your unpainted, first apartment is joyous. There is also
something reminiscent of the best of Thievery Corporation and (it may be a bit of a leap to pair these artists, but bear with me) early
Sleater-Kinney on much of Magnetic North. Lloyd moves from gnashing guitars ("How To Get There") to understated, yet loyal piano ("We Are Made Of Stars") without the album ever feeling choppy.
It was while listening to "Constellations" and then "Your Heart is a Hunter" that I realized the power behind this album is not driven by a description of "major life events," in the sense that many artists will write break-up albums. Instead, what I love about Magnetic North is that Lloyd skips the grand poetic gestures and focuses on the beauty of truly lived moments. On songs like "Dead Mans Hand" Lloyd recreates a dream sequence from many individual junctures. This sort of collage-ing is what she does throughout the album, and it makes it more interesting with every listen.
Beards are a folk-rock act from Nashville who I discovered through a Twitter post that I cannot seem to find again (I'm sorry! Kudos to the person I follow who posted their music. If you stumble upon this review, do not hesitate to take credit). The song "Blue Collar Blues" is from their 2011 release, We Grow Old. What I enjoyed about this song is the way the band sets up a stereotype of the genre (for example, in the lines where the narrator drinks too much to go to church the next morning) and then twists that stereotype just enough to make the song a bit rebellious (the narrator admits he rarely does go to church). You can purchase this song for $1 on bandcamp, but if you like it, you should take a little time to hear the whole album.
7 Toy Pianos: HC and the A's Need 1. a piano, and 2. you is a Kickstarter campaign by New York City based band, Heather Christian & the Arbornauts. The campaign was tweeted a few days ago by Amanda Palmer, and I found myself drawn to the a cappella(esque) with soul tune that the band put together to tell the story about why they need a piano. Great stuff. If you would rather support Heather Christian & the Arbornauts by buying their music, they also have a great bandcamp page where you can listen to the entirety of their 2011 album, Cabinet.