Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Jenny and Tyler grow leaps and bound in songwriting on the amazing 'Faint Not'

March 30, 2011

I’ve been following Jenny and Tyler for some time now. I’ve heard their music, seen them live and talked with them. Their charming folk-pop fell a little to the more serious side of the Weepies, and that was just great.

Faint Not blows everything out of the water. It’s almost not worth it to compare their new work with their old songs, because they’re just so much better. In one album, they’ve matured from a duo making fun and romantic music to a band crafting powerful songs.

They make this very clear on opening track “Song For You,” which unfolds from a gentle mandolin and guitar strum to a pounding, enveloping track that includes drums, bass, piano, guitar, mandolin, dual lead vocals and choir background vocals. I usually hate cymbals, but when the drummer starts mashing the crash in the high point of the song, it gives me goosebumps. When I turn it up loud, I forget to breathe.

The incredible part about the opener is that it’s not even the best track on the album. “Song For You” has powerful instrumentation, but its lyrics pale in comparison to the devastating “Faint Not” and “Through Your Eyes.”  Even though “Through Your Eyes” doesn’t have as marked a music crescendo, the emotional power wrenched out in the phrase “No one else has to know/about this” is incredible. The desperate cling to hope that is “Faint Not” resonated with me almost instantly. The great piano and guitar work helped out, of course; the gorgeous music video just put it over the top.

Jenny and Tyler share the vocal duties much more comfortably on this album than in previous efforts; they’re growing into themselves as a songwriting duo, and it shows in dynamic, powerful songs that draw from raw and honest wells. There are no maudlin breakup tunes here; instead, they ask deep soul and life questions. Just an attempt at lyrical depth makes me perk up; successful shots at it are simply remarkable.

The love songs have been cut down in number, but “As Long As Our Hearts Are Beating” bears more weight than their previous charming tunes. When you’re married you get to know each other pretty well, and while it shows not just in this song, this love song seems more real for the shared experience it’s grown out of.

The songs of Faint Not are an astonishing jump from their previous work. The whole album hangs together with an excellent flow, which is the sign of attention to detail. No matter if the songs are fast or slow, these tunes make my heart pound. Their newly fleshed-out tunes are head and shoulders above their old stuff, and above almost everything else I’ve heard this year.

Faint Not is a deep, meaningful folk/pop triumph, and it’s only their third full album. You’re forgiven for the clapping and jumping around you’re doing right now. Okay, maybe that’s just me.

For the Love of Pop

April 24, 2009

Marc Sirdoreus, aka Marc with a C, is a giving person. The entirety of his newest album, Losing Salt, is available for download on his website. In fact, he has done this with all of his albums, and there are nine of them. If your first reaction to this is “say whaaat?” then don’t worry – you weren’t the only one.

It seems that the reason for this is simple – Marc loves making records, and he loves getting them out there, no strings attached. Marc describes himself as a “prolific artist by nature,” a statement that can’t be denied when you look at his recent releases. There’s also the option of donating to Marc for his musical generosity.

Losing Salt is definitely another Marc with a C staple – a DIY manifesto full of acoustic, witty pop songs, most of which tell a story. It opens with the hilarious “I Will Repossess Your Heart,” in which the narrator threatens to take a girl’s heart by physical force if necessary. Its bubbly delivery combined with lines like “they will crack open your ribcage and take it away surgically” should crack up any listener. “Chicken Pox & Star Wars Guys” is one of my favorites on Losing Salt for several reasons: it’s undeniably cute, it’s super catchy, and it name-drops Boba Fett. The song is from the perspective of a little kid stuck inside because he’s got chicken pox, and all he wants to do is play with his “Star Wars guys outside.” Combine this concept with a heavy dose of pop fun, and that’s gotta be a recipe for success.

“You’ve Got This Curse” has a great chorus, even if it doesn’t quite match the tone of the rest of the song. The verses feel a bit unsettling, but the chorus is upbeat. It’s a little incongruent, but the overall song is still fun. “He Left You for a Punk Rock Girl” is another narrative song with funny lyrics, but Marc with a C can’t fail in this category, so I say, keep ‘em coming. This one’s got falsetto background vocals that add to the humor.

Marc’s voice sounds nasally at times, but it actually works with his type of songs. His vocals sound really good in the ballad “You Do Not Exist,” which I’m pretty sure is about an obsessive guy with an imaginary girlfriend. I’m not really feeling the spacey “Magazines” because it doesn’t fit in with the rest of Losing Salt, and it’s too long. But despite this, the album closes with on a strong note with “If These Walls Could Talk,” where Marc harmonizes quite nicely with himself. Its snarky, sometimes frantic, delivery matches the lyrics: “if these walls could talk they probably would have nothing much to say,” and later, “my neck hurts from all the ways I slouch.” I can’t believe that this song is autobiographical though – Marc just seems too darned motivated and driven. Check out his latest release on his website, and give Marc with a C some love for giving out his music so readily.

Attention Planet Earth: Corinne Gooden is Absolutely Amazing!

March 2, 2009

Released in 2008, All My Days is perhaps the most heartfelt album I’ve reviewed this year. Corinne Gooden’s voice has a warm country twinge which simply arrested me on first listen. Her voice is intimate and makes you have to sit and listen. Corinne’s feelings are obviously completely entwined in her words and notes. It’s impossible to listen to All My Days without feeling along with her. Corinne has a rare gift for drawing you in and letting you feel her love, her happiness, her pain, her heartbreak, and her hope.

Corinne’s voice can be haunting, especially on track three, “All My Days.” Corinne sings a melody here that’s so innately familiar, yet original in its own right. Her voice is painted over a perfect tapestry of her interlocking acoustic guitar and what seems to be a keyboard, the latter of which begins and ends the song. The drums provide perfect accentuation to the notes and lyrics. The lyrics are perfect, the chorus saying: “All my days/a world which pushes down the pain/I cannot make this go away/all my nights/a dream that haunts my sleep again/I cannot seem to make you stay.” Simply beautiful. Make no mistake – “All My Days” is a hit.

But Corinne doesn’t stop here. All her following songs are great (as well as those preceding “All My Days”). “Come This Far,” rocks pretty hard. The bridge is very powerful and Corinne’s voice really shines here, offering a nice contrast to “All My Days.”  “Come This Far” also lets her accompaniment shine; they really help Corinne to reach high in this album.

“17th Street” is a tragic yet beautiful song dealing with something many struggle with. The song is about how people pass a homeless man on the corner  in their cars, completely ignoring him. Corinne isn’t accusatory – she admits she does the same, and that this is even normal. The tragedy lies just in the fact that it’s normal. This song takes this example to expose the numbness in the human heart, a numbness which makes us forget that we need each other.

Corinne is talented as a songwriter and has the ability to draw the listener in and make him or her feel. I would definitely like more people to know about Corinne Gooden, because she is simply amazing. She is the best female vocalist I’ve heard this year, hands down. She has crafted the kind of album where, after listening to it, you feel like you know her.

She has song samples on both her site and her MySpace – be sure to check them out!

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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