Sunday, March 15, 2009

Just enjoy the show

I've been loving the self-titled debut from Australian singer-songwriter Lenka this weekend. The album is a whimsical blend of strings, bells, horns, piano... all with a wry message of realistic heartache in the endearing lyrics. In that way, Lenka reminds me of Aimee Mann, though her voice is much breathier and more melodic than Mann's.

Though this is only her debut, Lenka has garnered tons of critical support. After playing at the prestigious Hotel Cafe in LA (a venue that has launched lots of quirky female singer-songwriters recently), her songs were adopted as media darlings and made the requisite appearance in Gray's Anatomy, among others.

All the accolades are warranted in this case - the sound is happy, catchy indie-pop but the message is deeper than you'd expect. When she sings "The writing's on the wall/ you gave nothing and I gave it all/ But I want something better/ And I won't let this burden bring me down," there is a truth that belies the light poppiness of the music.

Check out her MySpace page to listen to a few of the tracks or watch the video for "The Show."

Happy listening!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Crack the darkest sky wide open

And speaking of great music in advertising, I saw a sweet Liberty Mutual ad during American Idol tonight that features Hem's "Half Acre" - another amazing indie gem with medieval folk influences. (Is anyone sensing a trend?)

I first heard about Hem thanks to my favorite movie of all time, Elizabethtown. (Hem is not featured on the soundtrack, but they do make an appearance on one of the mixes that Claire makes for Drew's road trip - yes, I'm that geeky for Cameron Crowe movies.)

You can listen to "Half Acre" on their MySpace page, along with a few other songs, all of which make a lovely companion to the Sleepy Rebels.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Maybe unbelievable

Have you seen this JC Penney ad?

The song is "Unbelievable" by the New York-based Sleepy Rebels and you can listen to two different versions of it on their MySpace page, plus a few other songs by this up-and-coming band. They somehow manage to mix a 1920s radio sound with medieval English folk with indie pop (!) for a result that is totally charming ear candy.

Their album is called World Record - check it out!

Monday, March 02, 2009

The ladies of alt-country

It's a very fine line for me between the "good" country music (singer/songwriter-style, grassroots-Americana, lyrical alt-country) and the downright twangy, trite and silly "modern country." Here are three women who do it right and do it well:

Tift Merritt

If Marilyn Monroe ever showed up in a dive bar to sing about a man that done her wrong, you'd have Tift Merritt. An airy, adorable voice (and beautiful, fleshly figure!) meets the blues. One of a kind.

Shelby Lynne

Lynne's music can swing wide from angry rocker to quiet folky stuff, always with that hint of alt-country thrown in. This song almost sounds like an old standard, with elements of classic jazz in it. Easily my favorite of her repertoire.

Patty Griffin

Patty Griffin is the total package - that raw, true voice that rises above the simplicity of song and haunts long after the album has stopped. In a world of false emotion, there is nobody more authentic than Patty Griffin. Every song is great. I just picked this one because of the high sound and video quality. Listen to that voice!