Fun fact: Almost two years ago, I started the Quick Hits feature with Anna Madorsky‘s Talk is Cheap. I used it as a forum to feature bands that were worth listening to but that I didn’t have a bunch to say about for one reason or another (an EP, a limited release, a sound-in-progress, an easy recommendation, among others). Anna Madorsky’s Triumph & Symphony is definitely not an EP, at an hour-long 14 tracks, but it is easy to recommend. Madorsky has largely dropped the dreamy aspects of her pop, going for a straightforward, piano-based singer/songwriter vibe here. Her distinctive vocals get a higher place in the mix, and that will intrigue some and turn some away. She also leans heavily on piano for the songwriting here, which is a good thing: she previously split time between guitar and piano, and still does that some here, but the best songs are on piano (“Civil War,” “Both Feet In,” “Oh My Friend”). But if you’re a fan of Amanda Palmer, Regina Spektor (especially her darker work), or the like, this will be right up your alley.
Jim Ivins Band‘s Everything We Wanted delivers seven songs of modern pop in the vein of Matt Nathanson, John Mayer and the Goo Goo Dolls. The release doesn’t shake up a formula that has worked for them in the past: guitars chime, drums crash, and vocals cut through the mix to deliver the payoff melodies. “The Sight of Fire” hinges on a nice lyrical turn and a solid chorus, becoming the standout here. “Emergency” plays up the drama with a bass intro, insistent drum thump and distorted vocals before crashing into one of their heaviest rock’n’roll sections. As it clocks in at under two minutes, I would have loved to hear more of this sound, but perhaps it points to where JIB is headed in the future. The pop songs on Everything We Wanted are fun, upbeat and ready to be heard by a larger audience. You can check out a free JIB sampler at Noisetrade.
As I come to the close of another year here at Independent Clauses, I find that I have not written as much at IC as I have in other years. Life is always about finding a balance, and it often seems that my balance changes as soon as I find it. In short, I say every year that “this was a year of flux,” and honestly, they all are. This year was no different, but it also resulted in less posts. Who knows what the next year will bring?
Because of my post shortage, I have stuff that never got posted as it should have. So, I’ll be posting “quick hits” for the next couple posts: reviews shorter than the average IC review, but still important. Here we go.
Anna Madorsky’s theatrical take on dreamy pop incorporates the cold atmospheres of trip-hop and energy of punk. Her unique amalgam draws comparisons to the Dresden Dolls in “Evidence of Me,” Bjork in “Verb” and Fleetwood Mac in “An Ass for Every Seat.” Her piano pieces fare better than her guitar compositions, as her expressive mezzosoprano carries the ivory-led songs with a refreshing confidence.
The best example is standout track “The Unreliable Narrator,” which leans on a heavy, complex drum beat and deft piano work before bringing in fuzzed-out guitar work and synths for a propulsive, yet mesmerizing, effect. Talk Is Cheap is recommended for fans of strong-willed female singer/songwriters (Ani DiFranco, Fiona Apple, et al).
Brutal honesty moment from the critic: looks matter. If you’ve got a cool name, cool art, or a cool one-sheet, I’m going to be much more likely to listen to your album than not. It’s simply a feature of listening to so much music. If you’ve got a stack of thirty albums, all of which you’ve never heard of, you’re going to want to pick one somehow. And you’re going to want to pick one that’s good. So, instead of listening to one track from every CD, the visuals mediate. Because someone who puts lots of attention into their visuals is going to pay attention to the details of their music. Just a note for all the aspiring artists out there.
That’s inspired because Anna Madorsky hooked me with her art and then doubly hooked me with the genre name “dream-punk.” Liking dream-pop and punk, I thought I’d give “dream-punk” and listen and see what it sounds like. Even though Incantantion doesn’t exactly live up to the dream-punk title, it is a solid dream-pop release. Continue readingAnna Madorsky enchants with Incantation…
Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.