1. “Delightful” – Katie Garibaldi. A delightfully honest reflection on how to live life in this crazy world.This sweet-sounding song beautifully combines acoustic guitar strumming with Garibaldi’s unique voice.
2. “Alaska” – Tina Refsnes. This thoughtful folk tune starts off with minimalist guitar instrumentation and slowly expands to include a rather full orchestral accompaniment. “Alaska” is a lovely track that provides just the right amount of cheer for a rainy day.
3. “No Last Call”– Emily Rodgers. A contemplative, melancholic folk tune with alt-country influence coming out in her use of pedal steel. The long length of the track gives off a feeling like it may just be an endless beauty. When it comes to a close, you are left wanting to return to its peaceful arms.
4. “Little by Little”– Niamh Crowther. Crowther’s soaring sopranic voice pairs well with her playful instrumentation. Similar to the likes of Regina Spektor, Crowther hits, holds, and transitions through very high notes; it’s rather awe-inspiring.
5. “Miami”– Kara Ali. Soulful, jovial, and refreshing, the funky instrumentation of “Miami” makes me want to groove. Ali’s voice is this interesting combination of Mariah Carey and Joss Stone. This is a great ode to a fun American city.
6. “Cormorant”– Dana Falconberry and Medicine Bow. I love this song; it feels very Birdy meets Fleet Foxes with some Dirty Projectors thrown in. Heavy on the banjo and bass, this track combines unique instrumentation with quizzical lyrics and a powerful voice. Fun all around.
7. “Oliver”– Brooke Bentham. This simple, lovely singer-songwriter track will steal your heart with its raw vocals and compelling lyrics. I can truly feel the warmth emanating from this song.
8. “Tonight”– Ashley Shadow. This is a great example of how Ashley Shadow makes music that builds and climaxes magically, akin to The War on Drugs. And Shadow’s coy alto female voice correlates well with the male background vocals entering at the chorus.
9. “Next To You”– Dannika. Sit back, relax and chill out to this track. Dannika’s unassuming vocals paired with the guitar provide a perfect example of casual feminine rock.
10. “Late to the Party”– Heavy Heart. Another chill rock song, this female-fronted rock band makes great rock music. The crisp electric guitar steals the show from the start, but the layered strings certainly deserve an honorable mention.
11. “Midnight Blue”– Candace. Although the vocals are great, the instrumentation shines on this track. It makes me want to take a drive, roll down the windows, and let the wind mess up my hair as I listen to this song.
12. “Cementville”– Annabelle Chairlegs. This song radiates fun. The vocals are very reminiscent of the female from the B-52s, with raucous screaming to boot. I’m especially in love with the boldness of this song; feels very third wave feminism.
13. “Lies”– ¿Qué Pasa? With quaking electric guitar, sultry vocals and punchy lyrics, “Lies” oozes sex appeal. The multitude of false endings leaves you thinking it’s over and then the seduction starts up again. It somehow feels like something that Quentin Tarantino could have used in a Kill Bill Vol. 1 fight scene.–Krisann Janowitz
Singer-Songwriter Christie Belanger has released her sophomore EP For Whomever, From No One. The EP’s sound is a combination of sweet soul and flirty folk: Belanger’s voice has a soothing soulfulness, while her instrumentation remains unique and playful.
“Darker Days” starts off the album with Belanger saying “1,2,3,1,2,3”. It’s such a simple thing, but it’s what really drew me in: the opening starts the listener off to expect a cute playfulness to the album. A banjo-heavy instrumentation then falls into place, followed by Belanger’s surprisingly soulful voice. All in all, the track has a sweetness to it that sets the tone for the rest of the EP.
The combination of Belanger’s calming voice and folk instrumentation make For Whomever, From No One a relaxing EP to listen to. Belanger’s voice has a soulful Joss Stone quality to it. Belanger doesn’t reach for any crazy notes or riffs; rather, her voice has a soothing casualness that sounds effortless. A pattern in her songs, Belanger adds in fun onomatopoeia such as “da da”’s (“Porcelain”) and “Mmmm”’s (“Pioneer Moon”) that only further add to the EP’s charming feel. In “Sideways”, a folky drum set keeps the driving beat and both the electric guitar and organ serve as unique additions to the sound.The last track “You Gave Me Your Hand” has a wonderful Jack Johnson vibe to it in the instrumentation and overall relaxing feel.
Colour the Atlas is labeled an alternative/trip hop band, but I find it more accurate to compare the liveliness found on Amethyst to 2000s UK rock. And the more thrilled I got about this revelation, the more I thought vocalist and key player, Jess Hall, resembled the one and only pop-punk princess, Avril Lavigne. Don’t let this confuse you though–Colour the Atlas may involve a recently-retired pop punk sound, but they’ve put a contemporary, soulful spin on it.
It’s more than the texturizing of swelling piano, emotive guitar riffs, and rocky percussion–the vocals most effectively aggrandize emotion. “Scared” features head-turning male and female vocals that somehow never compete with the pop-rock instrumentation. Hall’s voice soars on “Lighter,” where her confidence in range is Aguilera-esque. And “Sweet Harmony” takes the amplification down a notch with a pairing of breathy, smoky male and female vocals.
Variance in instrumentation peaks during “Hold Me Down,” a charming mix of luscious vocals, rich bass, and even glimpses of soulful guitar lines that are all initiated by exotic bits of percussion. Lyrics like, “Hold me down and make me feel/Take me anywhere but here/Show me love and show me fear,” give this track soul.
But it was “I’ll Be Your Lover” that clung to my heart like a Joss Stone song. Once the beat drops, there is a No Doubt feel that had me hooked, especially with the breezy vocals that drift through the dreamy trip-hop. I can imagine “I’ll Be Your Lover” as the opening song on the Ten Things I Hate About You soundtrack. It’s a pair of high-waisted jeans, a crop top, and short/spiky hair in song form.
Colour The Atlas hasn’t missed their time; they’re just bringing it back, alternative/trip hop style. —Rachel Haney
Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of instrumental music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.