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Alt Rock





Fiona Silver unveils her "Swoon" song and you're sure to swoon too

This past weekend Fiona Silver released her latest single (most of the profiles written to date about the native-New-Yorker-turned-bottle-blond-R&B-and-soul-belter refer to her as a “spitfire” so I’m going to resist that trend oh whoops..) and it’s another corker, a contemporary throwback closing-credits-ready mood piece with some seriously soulful feels (the track was recorded in Atlanta with Randy Michael as co-writer and producer) that’s something like a classic girl group number sans the girl group and it's very appropriately titled “Swoon.”

And by feels I mean it’s an aching atmospheric ballad full of gently caressed drums, shivering strings, mellow groove low end, mournful organ chords, and crying electric guitar (dig that heavy reverb and tremolo not to mention the subtle yet sublime note bends in the solo). And that’s even leaving out the classic-Americana-high-lonesome-style-whistling towards the end, all of which echoes the lyrical content about “deep black skies” and “cry[ing] lovebirds” and the like. And in the chorus, when Ms. Silver reveals that “everyday / from midnight to noon / autumn to June / you make my heart swoon,” not only do you actually believe it but you also feel it because this song is a straight-up declaration of lovesick blues that’s more along the lines of Hank Williams than Doris Day when it comes to coping with the blues (tho' the latter could get a bit emo when she was down for it).

And hell, I’m down for it. In fact I’m sincerely hoping that “Swoon” is the first advance single from an album (or an EP, I'll even take an EP) to be titled Staring Pensively Into Your Whiskey Tumbler While Thinking About What Could Have Been, Or What Still Might Be, Against All Odds, Because You’re A Hopeless Dreamer That Way. Because who couldn’t use an album by that title right now or any time really...

…which is precisely why artists like Fiona Silver (or Lou Ann Barton, or Bettye LaVette, or...maybe just check out Brooklyn-based Dala Records' roster for more contemporary examples) are still necessary in this world, artists who write songs for cutting a rug at the juke joint on a Saturday night and songs for chain smoking Lucky Strikes alone at the kitchen table on a Sunday morning, songs that evoke and update the universal sentiments of dance-ready R&B and good time rock ’n’ roll and gutbucket blooz for modern types who're still cool for cats. (Jason Lee)

photo credit: Michael Lavine; HMUA: Paige Campbell 

 





Alt Rock

Time: 
08:00
Band name: 
Manwolves
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
https://www.facebook.com/ManwolvesBand/
Venue name: 
Mercury Lounge
Band email: 
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Superkick "Sweety"

Alt Rock trio Superkick have released a new single and video called "Sweety".

This is the work of Mike Vaughn (guitar/vocals), Joey Mirabelli (bass/vocals), and Tom Ruby (drums).

Superkick will be performing with Damager at The Sinkhole in St. Louis on December 11th.

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A Very Special Episode usher in change with "Fix Your Hearts Or Die"

Reader’s note: This write-up is the first of two pieces on A Very Special Episode’s album Fix Your Hearts Or Die, the second of which is a profile and interview with music photographer/video director/general polymath Jen Meller who's worked extensively with AVSE and who generously provided the image above.

The recent holiday got me thinking “what’s it all about, Alfie?” and here’s what I came up with after binging on chicken tamales from my local taco truck washed down with a few El Presidentes in the middle of the night. Halloween is all about transformation—much like a tamale emerging from its protective corn husk, and yes I’m over-reaching—with kids transformed into demonic pixies looking for their next sugar fix (ok, not such a big change there) and adults transformed into monsters and witches and sexy EMT workers, etc. with the open secret being how it all serves as an excuse to fully inhabit the freaks we already are inside (by “playing pretend” oh the irony) all the while peeling back the façade of normal life and exposing it’s oft-monstrous or just plain weird nature, not to mention our too-frequent complicity in playing the roles we’ve been assigned.

Deep, huh? Or, to put a more positive spin on it, Halloween is an all-American spin on Old World carnivalesque rituals, not to mention Caribbean and South American Carnival traditions, where trickster figures rule the day and where established identities are subverted, taboos broken, excesses accepted, and existing power relations turned on their head. Check out Mikhail Bakhtin’s Rabelais and His World if you got time and wanna read more about it but I’d better move on for now.

Or, as lead singer/lyricist Kasey Heisler of A Very Special Episode puts it on “Fuck Everything,” a track off Fix Your Hearts Or Die, the band’s debut full-length release: “I’m here but I feel like I’m losing me” and it’s not an isolated sentiment, because the notion of identities being up for grabs, potentially transformed and power relations along with them, pops up again and again in Kasey’s lyrics—like on “Cowboy” where she rebukes the song’s titular cowboy in such terms (“you know you had my going / tell me exactly who I am / to keep yourself from knowing”) or on “Weather the Storm” which evokes volatile weather systems as a parable for weathering change (like H.G. Wells said "adapt or perish" or in other words "fix your hearts or die") or on “Fire Walk With Me,” a mood piece that samples dialogue from the film of the same name in which Laura Palmer routines transforms from “goody two shoes Laura" to “very naughty girl Laura" when the sun goes down ("night time is my time") while suffering at the hands of evil, powerful men on both sides of the spectrum.

Related to this theme, it’s perhaps worth noting how by day Ms. Heisle works as an elementary school teacher—and how even outside of the classroom she often wears the wide-open yet indecipherable smile of the grade school teacher that says “no matter what kind of severe behavior problems you happen to have I’m still going to whether the storm”—but come evening, once onstage, and who knows maybe in the teachers’ lounge as well, she transforms into an alternately snarling/smiling rock ’n’ rolling bass-playing demon, a pixieish Gene Simmons with severe bangs but minus the compulsion to bang all her groupies. (to my knowledge, that is, not really my business anyway!)

Lyrics aside, it’s in the music where AVSE really drives home the theme of transformation, for rarely does a band captures volatility/mutability so potently in sound with guitarist Patrick Porter in particular having perfected a pedal-heavy playing style that makes you feel like you’ve entered the eye of a hurricane and been sucked into its vortex and passed into another dimension, assisted by Chayse Schutter’s powerful, nuanced drumming and Kasey’s dynamic bass-ing. 

And while loud-quiet-loud dynamics aren’t exactly a new thing, what sets Mr. Porter’s playing apart from many of his post-Pixies indie guitar brethren is that instead of changing from quiet to loud and back again on a dime, he’s got this thing of gradually morphing and warping the sound from one stage to another like a molting insect in a way that feels organic and highly visceral—who knew there were so many shades of white noise, ranging from etherial to abrasive?—for one example check out “Introspectre” with it’s oozing, mewling, turned-inside-out flanging musical timbres to hear what I’m getting at here, not to mention the vocal echo effect that sounds like someone left their vinyl copy of Fix Your Hearts Or Die out in the sun for too long.

For another example, go no further than album-opener “DFP” (down for pack-hunting?) which could and should serve as the soundtrack to a horror-movie werewolf transformation sequence. From the opening moments of the track the sense of tension is gradually ratcheted up bit by bit (“consume my brain and make it spin / don’t recognize the place you’re in […] there’s a sound that’s humming inside / a feeling that something’s not right”) until finally after several minutes the full on full moon lycanthropic metamorphosis takes place (from about 3:13 to 4:03 to my ears) after which a sudden state of calm descends and it sounds like the song may be over (AVSE are pros at the fake-ending fakeout) before a concluding coda that sounds like a wolf baying triumphantly at the moon. (Jason Lee)





Alt Rock

Time: 
5pm
Band name: 
Earl Grey
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
https://www.facebook.com/theearlgreyband/
Venue name: 
Hart Bar in Brooklyn
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