How I Spent My Summer Vacation by Jenny Lewis
by Alex Teitz
2016 has been a busy year for Jenny Lewis. In February she announced the formation of her record label, Love’s Way Records. In March she began touring with NAF. In August she will be touring solo. In September she starts touring with The Watson Twins in honor of the 10th Anniversary of Rabbit Fur Coat.
What is NAF? NAF is Nice as Fuck. It is a 3 piece band with Lewis on keyboard, and vocal effects ,Tennessee Thomas on drums, and Erika Forster on bass. Thomas is formerly of the band The Like. Forster is known as being one of three parts of Aur Revoire Simone. In a departure from her other projects, Lewis does not play guitar in NAF.
Tonight’s show was both intimate and crowded. It was held at the DBG stage which is sunken in and surrounded on 4 sides by grass. This area is filled in by the crowds who bring wine, picnics and an appreciation of music. The VIP area faces the stage. NAF were preceded by the theme song to Jemm and the Holograms. They came on stage and immediately began singing. A couple of songs in Jenny introduced Tennessee. Tennessee then introduced “Cookielips.” “Cookielips” is a song not found on the NAF album and is about getting the crumbs in a relationship. The rest of the show consisted of all the songs from the album including “Higher”,” Angel”, and the single “Doors.” Lewis moved around the stage and even lay down for a moment during Higher. She was smiling the entire set.
The set ended upbeat. NAF did “Guns” with Lewis trying to get the audience to sing along to the chorus of “I Don’t Want To Be Afraid/ Put Away Your Guns.” It is an apt statement for today. NAF ended with the NAF theme which is a great excuse to swear onstage but also has a strong women’s theme. NAF has a dream pop feel and is dominated by Lewis vocals that have always stood out. For info visit https://www.facebook.com/NAFtheband/
Posted in Live Show Reviews Tagged with: Jenny Lewis, NAF, review
There are many myths in the music world. Tour nightmares and dreams make up a lot them. You imagine being on the road with your best friends as a lovefest of drinking, sex and music. That is rarely the case.
Amy Fleisher Madden has known the music world. She started her own music label, Fiddler Records, at age 16. She later became an A & R person signing bands including Dashboard Confessional, New Found Glory The Higher and more. One Million Miles is her book.
A Million Miles is about Maddy Traeger, an underage music fan, who starts her own label and gets to tour with her favorite band, Crimson + Clover. Maddy is an ad hoc tour manager who has to sell merch, dealer with the venue owners for money, deal with the all male band’s issues and still get them from point A to point B. In addition she must contend with heavy drinking, drugs, keeping the band in line to perform and stay faithful to their significant others. She also has to keep her parents informed and question whether a musician back home likes her.
Madden flawlessly describes the feeling of a tour. There is the cramped, underslept journey in the dirty van. Every day is a new place. There are the wild fans, drunken nights and sweaty days on the road. Madden sets the book in 1999, a changing period in the music world. Napster is taking over and bands like Jimmy Eat World are huge.
After reading the book one wonders how much of Maddy is Madden. How many of the road stories were altered to protect the guilty. It is the fact that one has to question, that makes A Million Miles a great read. It gives both the dream and the nightmare with clarity and humor enough to feel like you are there. It is a tender, nostalgic and melancholy journey. This is coming of age story on the road. Any YA who who dreams of the music world should read this book as a guide and warning to any road tours in the future. The tour stories are timeless. For info visit www.amillionmilesbook.com
Posted in FEM Books Tagged with: A Million Miles, Amy Fleisher Madden
Misterwives at March 9, 2015 at Bluebird Theater – Denver, Colorado
by Alex Teitz
A half hour before doors a line of 100 people waited outside the theater. The majority were near the minimum age to get in, 16. They were texting, talking with friends, etc… If one listened carefully a whisper could be heard. “Is she alright?” “She missed some tour dates.” “What will happen tonight?” The questions hung in the air.
The openers varied. Handsome Ghost is a two piece from Boston doing a mellow emo folk. All the songs were ballads and were sung in a slow, purposeful manner. Borns is an LA five piece with strong songs and an intimidating stage presence. He stands well over six feet tall.
Then it was the moment of truth. The questions would be answered. Mandy Lee, lead singer and bandleader of Misterwives had missed two tour dates due to illness. She was back tonight. Lee bounced onto stage and dived right in. In the hour fifteen minute show she rarely stopped moving while singing songs from the band’s full length album Our Own House.
The band is a cohesive unit. They are Eitienne Bowler on drums and percussion. William Hehir on bass. Marc Campbell on guitar. Jessie Blum on trumpet, keyboards & accordion. Not given big credit in the album credits is Michael Murphy on saxophone. In the tour he plays a vital role. Murphy and Blum make a bold horn section and turn this rock band into a more seasoned Motown sound.
Misterwives played most of the songs on the album and never lost energy. “Ocean” had a brilliant light show of blue and green that fit this ballad perfectly. “Not Your Way” began with Lee doing push ups while talking on stage. She said the song was for “Society setting standards for women…and men that are BS.” Most of the band did chorus line kicks in unison at one point in the song. “Reflections”, one of the main singles, Lee credited the local radio station for playing it. “Hurricane” began with a wondrous keyboard intro. “Queens” came near the end of the set and began with Lee saying she may not feel physically well, but was mentally awesome. The encore is an amazing number which has to be seen live. We won’t give it away.
Lee is a ball of energy on stage. Tonight she was not at full health. There were times when her voice was hoarse and felt strained. During “Not Your Way” she squirted honey into her throat. During the last couple of songs she did have a small cough.
Misterwives is a Motown infused rock band on stage. This is not as evident on the album. They play with non-stop energy that is never boring. Lee was out. Now she is back and needs to get stronger for the shows ahead. For info visit www.misterwives.com
Posted in Live Show Reviews Tagged with: misterwives, review
Booking The Library: A Guide for Entertainers, Musicians, Speakers & Authors
by Jessica Brawner
Reviewed by Alex Teitz
Touring is a challenge for any musician. It involves getting out of your comfort zone and going someplace new to establish a fan base. The prep time can be more complicated and stressful than expected. The rewards can be plentiful or few. When most musicians thing of touring it is to bars, clubs and other big venues. This book is not about that.
Booking the Library is a compact and comprehensive guide on how, why and what challenges there are in booking within the library system nationwide. The guide is actually 2 guides: one on booking for schools & libraries; one on booking in general and survival on the road. It is set up in a clear and logical manner. It begins asking the reader/musician if booking for libraries is even right for them.
The guide is filled with testimonials, checklists and facts. A guide, by its nature, should be easy to pick up and find exactly what you need. This book has that. It gives the reader sample contracts, letters, e-mails that can be customized. It also has tips that are useful for the beginner or pro. Booking The Library makes the point that booking to this selective niche is a way to supplement touring revenue and time.
The author of Booking The Library has a wealth of experience. Brawner ran a successful booking agency that handled over 50 acts for many years. She has toured the world independently and with the Peace Corps, She has moved on from the music industry and is focused on other elements of writing and touring.
Booking the Library is an indispensable guide for most musicians. The practical elements (contracts, sample letters, etc…) are unique to the niche and are not found in any other source specific to musicians. The touring tips, marketing, sales may be found in other sources. Here they supplement what is directly useful. Booking the Library is not meant to be the “be all” guide to touring for every venue. It is a specific guide to a specific niche that should be immediately helpful to any musician. Copies in both print & Kindle can be found an Amazon.com
Click this picture to buy this book on Amazon.com
Posted in FEM Books
By Alex Teitz
Edison is a 3 piece indie folk rock band from Denver. Sarah Slaton is on vox and guitar. Dustin Morris is on mandolin, trumpet, vox and drums. Chris Cash is on bass, vox and keys. All the songs were written and performed by Edison. The EP was mastered by Mark Downie. It was engineered and the intial mix was done by Robert Skelton. The final mix was done by Taylor Mesple. Ghosts is a 4 song EP.
Ghosts is a passionate longing collection of music. In four songs the listener is drawn into a world of why’s and how’s. It is also one of the best expressions of why simpler is honest and heartfelt. “San Jose” is a ballad that begins with a gentle guitar and vocalization. “Ghosts” is a stirring arrangement that brings in trumpet and mandolin. “Be Someone” is the most upbeat bringing in mandolin and guitar. “Simple As Sleep” ends with multiple horns.
What drives Ghosts is the lyrics. These are taken from Sarah Slaton’s life. They are painful and reveal a life searching for meaning and place. The songs ask questions and give answers in a direct theme throughout the EP. Many of the most meaningful and memorable songs from the best songwriters (James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Melissa Etheridge) involve the most painful and heartbreaking times of their lives. Slaton has a lock on this and is destined to join that group soon.
Ghosts is a testament to simplicity in honesty. The arrangements are beautiful and haunting. The lyrics speak directly to the soul, and the music lives on afterward. Ghosts should be a lesson to other musicians on how to strip everything to the core, and let it shine. It should be in every collection for 2015. For info visit www.facebook.com/listentoEdison
Posted in Album Reviews
What if you could do it all over again? If you had the memories of the past and the wisdom of experience, would you make the same choices? That is the question Stacie D’Erasmo brings up with her latest book Wonderland.
D’Erasmo is an Associate Professor of the MFA program at Columbia University. Her prior books include Sky Below, Tea, A Seahorse Year and The Art of Intimacy. D’Erasmo demonstrates the art of a superb writer in that the images she conveys are full masterpieces in the reader’s mind.
Wonderland is different from D’Erasmo’s prior works. It is a journey into that surrealistic world of modern rock music as seen through the eyes of a former rock star returning to the road. Anna Brundage is the flawed protagonist. She did two albums in her youth. One was a critical and commercial success. The second was a work of art that few understood. She then disappeared. Her comeback tour is more of a fluke, spur of the moment that forces Anna to look backwards at her journey.
Wonderland is filled with the characters of rock music. There are the temperamental band members who have their own issues. There is the legendary rock force. There is the avant guard musician of the hour who makes YouTube videos. There is the beleaguered tour manager. There is even the up and coming band who is booking bigger tours. Throw these characters into a small European tour that includes large music festivals, dive bars and upscale clubs and you have part of the adventure Anna is on. The meat of Anna’s story is her loves. They include her past relationships, her wild upbringing and outrageous family. These are the heart of the book and best read, not talked about.
is the journey not often talked about. Everyone knows the rock star’s return, but not enough ink has been given to if that rock star is a woman. This is a rare glimpse backstage into a world everyone wants to know and few experience. The real life comeback stories are plentiful from Patti Smith, Kathleen Hanna, Kim Gordon, Juliana Hatfield to name a few. D’Erasmo’s fictional account is visceral and alive from the opening song to the encore. This is a must read for any up and coming artist to grizzled veteran. For more info visit www.hmhco.com
Posted in FEM Books Tagged with: Wonderland by Stacey D’Erasmo
Mates of State at Larimer Lounge January 31, 2015
All Photos by Sara Hertwig Copyright 2015- http://sarahertwig.portfoliobox.me/
Scenes of Kori Gardner & Jason Hammel from their recent show
Posted in Live Show Reviews Tagged with: Larimer Lounge, Mates of State
By Alex Teitz
I recently saw an exhibit of an old master painter. In his youth he would pile on paint as if to make paintings sculptures in oil. As he grew older he applied a lighter touch knowing that it is not the quantity of oil, but how & where it is applied that makes a masterwork. The same can be said of Jessie Kilguss with Devastate Me. This is Kilguss’ fourth album and it reflects a lighter & more precise touch.
Kilguss works with a skilled band. On guitar, keyboard and vocals is Jason Loughlin. On bass, keyboard and vocals is John Kengla. On drums, percussion and vocals is Bob Heath. All the songs were written by Kilguss and John Kengla. The arrangements were done by Kilguss and the band. Devastate Me was produced, engineered and mixed by Joe Rogers and mastered by Joe Lambert.
Devastate Me is a lyric driven album. The overriding them is love lost either through time or physical distance. Kilguss’ vocals recall Emmylou Harris or Allison Krauss. The eight tracks in the album evoke a lush emotional landscape. The strongest arrangements are found in “A Safe Distance From You” & “You Didn’t Do Right By Me” with the former being guitar driven and the latter keyboard based. The strongest songs are “Red Moon”, “I’m You Prey” – which screams as an album single, and “City Map.” These songs wrap the listener in a world of lyrics that is poetical and familiar. “Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight” is a reflection of Kilguss’ childhood on a farm and makes the memories fresh and golden.
Jessie Kilguss is not a household name and that is a crime. Devastate Me
is the work of an artist coming into her peak. Overproduction is not a problem here. A light but firm touch is evident throughout. For info visit www.JessieKilguss.com
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Jessie Kilguss – Devastate Me
By Alex Teitz
Ex Cops sophomore album is a pop dance explosion. Every song is filled with hooks that catch the ear and don’t let go. Hidden behind the danceable music are complex lyrics that make this a songwriter’s dream.
Ex Cops is the duo of Amalie Bruun & Brian Harding. The album was produced by Billy Corgan and Justin Raisen. The album features Ariel Pink and L.P.
Daggers is 11 diverse tracks. “Black Soap” & “White Noise” open the album. Both are dance pop songs including “White Noise” which is ironically about wanting to be alone and quiet. “Daggers” & “Burnt Out Love” are powerful ballads. “Daggers” has a sublime drum bridge while “Burnt Out Love” has heartbreaking lyrics on the dead feeling when a relationship is done. The two guest tracks are ballads. “Wanna Be featuring L.P.” is a love song about the love that sneaks up on you. “Tragically Alright Featuring Ariel Pink” has a faint 60’s feel in overlapping vocals and keyboard dominance. “Teenagers” and “Pretty Shitty” are dance songs on different subjects. “Teenagers” is about being as wild as a teenager. “Pretty Shitty” is about being treated wrong in a relationship. “Rooms” could practically be a hidden track because it is simply magnificent. It is about growing out of a relationship and alternates between male & female vocals. It is one of the strongest tracks on Daggers.
It would be a mistake to typecast Ex Cops as synth pop dance band. Most of Daggers could easily be found at a dance club but the real gems are the ballads. The influence of 90’s alternative rock is found in Daggers but it is not confined to it. Hints of the 60s & 70s music eek in. This is neither Smashing Pumpkins nor Chvrches. It is the wild blending of both and much more. Daggers
demonstrates the range of Ex Cops as a band. Hearing that range means the boundaries of what is possible in the future are limitless. For info visit http://excopsmusic.com
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Ex Cops – Daggers
By Alex Teitz
Pale Hands are a dreampop couple out of Massachusetts. Jen Johnson is on lead vocals and takes a different course from her previous projects of Velah and Static of the Gods. She is joined by her husband Mike Latulippe. Dreampop is a wide genre filled with everyone from Cocteau Twins to CHVRCHES. Pale Hands carves out their place in it their full length debut Spirit Lines.
Spirit Lines is a nine track album. It has the required elements of dreampop with keyboard, distort, synth, percussion and a range of beats. What sets it apart is Pale Hands haunting lyrics and Johnson’s woven vocals. Lead single “Under Over” is about a couple fighting mental illness and goes from subtle melodies to echoey vocals. “Juventud” has a strong beat and background vocals layered with keys. It is about a relationship in trouble. “No Stars” is the strongest song on the album and has a danceable beat mixed with percussion and rattle. The lyrics are sublime and beautiful. “Elemental” is the weakest track on the album. The arrangement is overproduced with layering vocals that are overwhelmed by too much instrumentation. The lyrics are strong and empowering but are not working in the mix. The best songs on the album are “Locusts”, “Juventud”, “Seismic” and “No Stars.”
Spirit Lines will not be for everybody. One hopes the lyrics are not autobiographical since most of the songs are about fighting in bad relationships or situations. Johnson’s vocals bring to mind young Aimee Mann. Pale Hands are a bold entry into dreampop. Their beats and synths are danceable and hide heart retching lyrics. Lyrically Pale Hands stands alone. For info visit www.facebook.com/wearepalehands
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Pale Hands, Spirit Lines
By Alex Teitz
It is hard to put labels on the Jane Thatcher Band. They exhibit a wealth of styles and techniques in very subtle ways. The band is Jane Thatcher on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, Andrew Hoyle on drums and percussion, Frank Pryor on bass, Mike Hyland on electric guitar, and Tom Gershwin on trumpet and keyboard. All four men also do vocals. The EP was written and produced by Thatcher. All songs were written and recorded by Tim Gerak except for the live recording of “New Year’s Day” which was recorded by Nick Velharticky and mixed by Shawn Hertel. The mastering was done by Tim Gerak.
Hunter’s Loneliest Fool is a seven song EP that gives a taste of the talent within the Jane Thatcher Band. Almost all of the songs are love songs. They tend to have Thatcher’s distinct repetitive chorus but are filled with arrangements uncommon to the folk/rock form. Thatcher also gives her band a lot of breathing space and they thrive in it. This noticeably stands out with Tom Gershwin’s trumpet solos in “Hunter’s Loneliest Fool”, “Remind Me”, and “Are You Mine?” Thatcher has pleading vocals that make her songs of questions heartfelt confessions. “Are You Mine?” lists all the professions that can’t tell two loves if they are together. “Remind Me” asks for assurance in love. “Yellow Wood” is a statement that time may last longer than a relationship. The strongest songs are “Twister In The Dark” a ballad offering up love in the chaos of life, and “Settle Down” which mixes a 50’s ballad core with almost Mexican percussion.
What labels do you put on the Jane Thatcher Band? Her vocals are reminiscent of Sheryl Crow and Ani DiFranco. Her music is folk rock with jazz arrangements and a deep respect for her fellow musicians. Her songs are filled with heartbreaking lyrics on the search for love that are both questioning and melancholy. What Jane Thatcher could do with a symphony orchestra or a full length album stretches the mind. The best label to put on the Jane Thatcher Band is a masterpiece in progress. Hunter’s Loneliest Fool is a panel of the Sistine Chapel. The full work is yet to come. For info visit www.janethatchermusic.com
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Hunter’s Loneliest Fool, Jane Thatcher Band
By Alex Teitz
Little Jackie is a ball of energy that grooves to a beat found in the early 70’s. Little Jackie is Imani Coppola and Adam Pallin. All vocals were recorded and produced by Coppola at The Oven. All songs were mixed by Eber Pinheiro and mastered by Fred Kevorkian. There are some exceptions: “Sweet” was produced and mixed by Tim Myers. “Hater’s Club” was produced by Adrian Harpham, Richard Maheux and Coppola. All other songs were produced by Pallin.
Queen of Prospect Park is a quick moving album that keeps the toes tapping and is hard not to dance to. It captures a style and feel that is close to Diana Ross. The slowest of the ballads on the album are still quick paced. It is hard not to grin, and laugh to some surprising lyrics. The entire album is filled with horns, backup singers, bells, chimes and keyboard beats.
Queen of Prospect Park is 12 treasures of songs. “Sweet” has a slight tropical flare to its repetitive swooning love song. “Hater’s Club” has some lyrics naming names of popular villains in a song that is about missing someone. “Oprah Winfrey” is a comment on celebrity that is as funny as it is quick. “Move to the Beat” is a dance ballad with imaginative ways to describe that nervousness on the dance floor. There is also the gem of a cover, “Dream A Little Dream.” The strongest songs are “Sweet”, “Oprah Winfrey”, “Big Bad” and “Move to the Beat.” “Sweet” being the lead single.
Queen of Prospect Park
puts Little Jackie in a new place. It is a strange mix of Diana Ross, Rene Marie and backup vocals mixed with creative lyrics and a fast pace. It feels like it could be played on a turntable in the 60’s or 70’s. Above all the album is fun. It is filled with music that pictures a larger band with a larger sound. For info visit www.facebook.com/littlejackie
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Little Jackie, Queen of Prospect Park