Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The RQ Mid-Year Review: Amber

5. Lavender Diamond - Imagine Our Love

Last year, I think I put ‘You Broke My Heart’ from Lavender Diamond’s previous EP release Cavalry of Light on nearly every mix CD I made. If any of the recipients happen to read this, know that it wasn’t meant in any literal sense; I was just obsessed with this song and its strong female vocals and piano melody. With this release, ‘Open Your Heart’ is the new ‘You Broke My Heart’. Non-heart-related songs are also just as enjoyable.

4. Ola Podrida - Ola Podrida

This doesn’t even register as a 2007 release for me considering songs from their album have been available on their myspace over a year ago now. Ola Podrida started off as a solo-project by filmmaker David Wingo, and as the number of band members grew, so did the instrumentation, particularly the percussion. I originally paid attention to this album due to a comparison to 16 Horsepower, and though Ola Podida is softer and has a lesser level of intensity, I can see similarities in the folky, piano laced music with a subtle country twang. To me, this is atmosphere music no matter where I am, or what I’m doing. It makes surroundings appear subdued, and prettier, and lately that seems to be my favourite kind of thing.

3. Jana Hunter - There’s No Home

For some reason, I have a thing for Texan musicians. It’s somewhat unfortunate that for a lot of people, Jana Hunter is known before anything else as another Devendra by-product. Not so unfortunate I suppose is that this connection - which originated from a split release the two artists released in 2004 - is now getting her the attention she deserves on her second release. There isn’t too much difference between this and Black Unstaring Heirs of Doom, aside from the level of production and even this is only slight, which I think best brings out her haunting vocals. I’m just a sucker for lo-fi.

2. Woods - At Rear House

This is certainly the most accessible of any Chrisian DeRoeck and Jeremey Earl’s recordings, after a limited number of Mountain-Goats-esque releases on cassette. Unlike the Mountain Goats, vocals are rarely in harmony, but in a good way. There is also a large focus on the instrumentation and almost accidental surrounding noises. I like it when artists capture their sound on an album cover, and Woods do it here. It’s warm, simple, and quite unstructured and oddly placed.

1. Electrelane - No Shouts No Calls

When thinking of an alternate dimension where I would have copious amounts of musical talent that extends further than an impeccable talent for handclapping and whistling in tune, I imagine the result of my abilities to sound just like Electrelane. Electrelane is just it for me. Not-so-perfect female vocals, loud keyboards, multiple tempo-changes, occasional banjo, and SAXOPHONE. They’ve proved they can master fast and loud, but also that Verity can actually sing and that their range is something to be impressed by. I have loved the subtle progression they’ve had between albums over the years, and you can tell the difference between this release and Axes. No Shouts is more upbeat, and doesn’t have that angular feel that set the mood for their previous.

Honourable mentions to: Alela Diane – Pirate’s Gospel, Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha, Avey Tare & Kria Brekkan – Pullhair Rubeye, Great Lake Swimmers – Ongiara.

Items that would have shaken this list: Minus Story - My Ion Truss, had it only been released a week earlier.

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