Neile's Favourite Music of 2000


This is my list of top discs of 2000. Warning--it's very long.

Contents


Neile's Top Favourites of 2000

Neile's Top Favourites of 2000 Eliza Carthy, angels & cigarettes This is Eliza's first pop album after years of traditional work, and it goes to show that she has the chops and talent to spare for both genres. This album reminds me so much in vocals and overall sound of Linda Thompson's solo album, _One Clear Moment_ that it's uncanny, but it doesn't have the dated sound of that album, and it uses strings--strings!--in a way that works for me rather than detracting from the songs. The songwriting in intriguing--she's getting lots of press about the songs that begins, "I've given blowjobs on couches" but the album is much more than that--though it does have a touch of gritty gut honesty that that line exemplifies. Hannah Fury, The Thing That Feels This is a disc I utterly obsessed on this year. Hannah Fury is like "Hammer Horror" Kate Bush crossed with Tori Amos' piano work. The section of songs based on Gregory Macguire's _Wicked_ is really evocative of the feel of the novel for me and besides that, they're fine songs on their own. First of June, creepy, crawly things [CD-R album] Another obsession, and another Tori-like sound, though Tori with an acoustic or more mainstream rock band, not so electronic on her own band sound it now. I'm sad that I have to make the Tori comparison but the sound is rather Tori-esque, sounding mostly like "Little Amsterdam" from _Boys for Pele_ . The album is odd and enjoyable. Sounds like Christine Fellows, 2 Little Birds The best songs here are brilliant, haunting, all those wonderful things. Kind of like Cat Power or Kristin Hersh with a touch of Veda Hille. Very indie feeling. The disc as a whole is a tad uneven, but when it's good, it's great, and this is overall extremely promising. Patti Smith, Gung Ho This is Patti Smith back to the height of her powers. I think I like this one even better than her fine _Gone Again_ or at least as well, and at least as well as my favourites of her early work. I can't believe how wonderful her reappearance is. We've listened to this steadily since we got it. Classic rock. She proves she will be able to rock and to galvanize people into the new millennium. Broadcast, The Noise Made by People I'm not sure how to describe how this is different from their first album. In many ways it's very like _Work and Non Work_, but seems even a step closer to a light kind of pop with all kinds of wonderful echoes of '60s jazzy-pop. A collection that can be take as superficially delightful pop, or listened to more deeply for the experimental, haunting undercurrents. I love this. Great soft vocals, too, and the band was interesting live. Laika, Good Looking Blues A new Laika disc! Very much in the same vein as their earlier discs, which is delightful to me. I could listen to their intriguing mix of vocals, electronics and traditional instruments forever. Well, at least one wonderful disc longer now. Full of great hooks. Highly recommended for anyone who like ectronica. Basque, Radiate I love this gorgeous mix of vocals and bass. Seely, winter birds This is really lovely. Seely sounds like early Stereolab in many ways, but really is all the things I like about Stereolab and none of the things that I've grown less interested in over time. Really lovely vocals, good songwriting--sort of updated '60s pop ethereal. They deserve to be better known, on ecto and elsewhere. I think this one is even better than their first disc (even though there are some male(!) lead vocals here). "Planes circle do" and "sandy" seem the epitome of their music, and I particularly love these songs PJ Harvey, Stories from the City, Stories From the Sea That's a wonderful rough pop album, full of great PJ Harvey vocals and for the first time I can _really_ hear the Patti Smith influences in her work. A great album. 1999 Tops Discovered this year: Terami Hirsch, All Girl Band I have been listening to this disc with embarrassing frequency. A captivating mix of sounds, strong piano, interesting vocals, and intriguing lyrics. Jorane, vent fou A new obsession. Discoveries of the year--the artists whose albums spent many weeks in my disc player this year: Splashdown Hannah Fury Terami Hirsch Jorane Marvin Pontiac basque The Galerkin Method Josette's Eye Christine Fellows First of June Disappointments of the Year: Cat Power, The Covers Record I love Chan Marshall's scattered way of approaching music, but none of these covers do anything for me. --Neile ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Neile Graham ...... http://www.sff.net/people/neile ....... neile@sff.net Les Semaines: A Weekly Journal . http://www.sff.net/people/neile/semaines The Ectophiles' Guide to Good Music ....... http://www.smoe.org/ectoguide Date: Sat, 8 Apr 2000 15:44:07 -0700 To: ecto From: Neile Graham Subject: Belated January report Cc: Bcc: X-Attachments: Iva Bittova, Divna slecinka, Ne Nehledej, bile' inferno When Neal went to the Czech Republic I begged him to find any Iva Bittova he could for me, and the bounty was these two discs, and a 2-disc set she did with vaclavek, _bile' inferno_. If you've heard any of her work, you know what these are like: experiment and definitely odd, but nonetheless somehow melodic and compelling. S he is unique and her music is a delight. See http://www.smoe.org/ectoguide/guide.cgi?artists/bittova.iva for more info. Jill Cohn, the absence of Moving This was a disc that came in for review for The Ectophiles' Guide, and when I was previewing it to describe it for reviewers, I thought it was too pop for my tastes, but suddenly discovered several of the songs had caught my attention, and I learned if I listened to it starting with the second song, I liked it quite a bit. I even bought my own copy. (What is it with artists and the first one of two songs? I guess they mean those to be the pop hooks that will attract people but so often they totally turn me off. But then, I don't much like most pop.) Anyway, Jill Cohen has a kind of Sarah voice and sensibility but a slightly wider range of style. I recommend her strongly to anyone who likes the pop side of ecto. See http://www.smoe.org/ectoguide/guide.cgi?artists/cohn.jill for more info. jr, Songs of Angels JR is a local artist whom I got interested in because she's part of the Persephone's Circle group. I got her first cd ep last year, and now she's released a full-length cd. Her sound is stripped down and focuses on her rich deep voice Joan Osborne-ish voice and her electric guitar work. The songs are all a little similar, but this collection of songs is wonderful, and slowly coming into focus in my head. She has such a strong voice and her songs grow on me, too. Recommended to anyone who likes the soulful side of ecto. Splashdown Halfworld [single] Splashdown Redshift [EP] Splashdown stars and garters Someone emailed The Ectophiles' Guide about this band and I immediately downloaded some files and fell in love with their music and the lead singer's voice--it was only after that that I noticed they'd had a couple of mentions in ecto weeks earlier. If anyone is wishing Rainbirds would be more productive or easier to get in the U.S., well, this woman's voice is a ringer for Katharina Franck, and the music is fairly Rainbirds-like, too (in other words, far-ranging, edgy but pretty, not the standard verse-chorus-verse but still melodic). Jim says she sounds like a cross between Franck and Dolores Riordan of The Cranberries. I mostly hear Franck, but what a voice! This I think has been my favourite discovery of the year so far. Rebecca Campbell, Tug We got this for Christmas, but I didn't have time to listen to it then. It's an odd collection--very abstract and more like her work with Jane Siberry (though not as mainstream jazzy) than her previous work with Three Sheets to the Wind or Fat Man Waving. It takes a while to come into hazy focus, but is worth exploring. --Neile Mime-Version: 1.0 Date: Sun, 14 May 2000 15:53:39 -0700 To: Ecto From: Neile Graham Subject: Neile's very very late February 2000 Report Sender: owner-ecto@smoe.org Precedence: bulk Aisth, four downloaded demo tracks I am totally in love with a band named Aisth that is on mp3.com--the bad news is that they haven't released anything yet, not even one of http://www.mp3.com's DAMs. Darn. I especially love their song, "Box" and for a long time listened to it at least once a day. I'd love to hear more from this band. It's electronica, trip hop, ectronica, whatever you call it, and the vocals are great and the songs, especially "Box" stick in my head. First of June, _creepy, crawly things_ [CD-R album] Very odd and enjoyable. Sounds like Tori Amos and I guess I hear that, but it seems like all too easy a comparison, and there's more going on here than that. The sound is rather Tori-esque, sounding mostly like "Little Amsterdam" from the _Boys for Pele_ era. I find it compelling listening. The singer's voice is sort of muffled (she's got a slightly smoky voice anyway), and unfortunately the sound quality generally isn't too great (don't know if that's because of the CD-R or because it won't play on my boombox and I've mostly been listening to it on my computer speakers). I like the quality of the songwriting a lot and how they put their sound together. I obsessed on this one for several weeks. Samples available at http://www.mp3.com and http://www.clones.ca/~foj. Christine Fellows, _2 Little Birds_ The best songs here are brilliant, haunting, all those wonderful things. Kind of like Cat Power or Kristin Hersh with a touch of Veda Hille. Very indie feeling. The disc as a whole is a tad uneven, but when it's good, it's great, and this is overall extremely promising. http://www.endearing.com. Larissa Dalle, _piscean_ / Crushed, _The Closed Room_ EP / Collaborateur, _Tempest_ These are all eps with various incarnations of Larissa Dalle and bands. She does a stripped down indie melodic kind of pop, a little like the best of Cat Power. Her sound is offbeat but caught my attention on first listen to the sound files. I recommend her eps to anyone interested in untraditional pop. I really like these and found that they continue to grow on me. http://www.larissadalle.com. Ninety Nine, _767_ This has a real indierock Lois-like sound overall. The vocalist has a similar style and the sound is stripped down. The occasional addition of xylophone & vibraphone give it a slightly off-kilter Pram-ish feel, but the dominant instrument here is electric guitar. I really enjoy this one. Shellyz Raven, _Desolation_ [homemade CDR from available mp3s] This is classic Gothic rock with nice vocals and nicely constructed songs. I really like this. I would definitely buy a regular album from these people. April Lisa, _Herculisa_ [CDR EP from mp3.com] Odd, catchy, fun, quirky. She doesn't have the greatest voice but she has a fun sense of humour with both her lyrics and her instrumentation. Definitely not for everyone but I really enjoy these few songs. Rosenberg 7, _R7_ Their overall sound reminds me very much of Varrtina, though perhaps a little toned down. They do sounds like they're having lots of fun, singing their sparsely accompanied folk songs. The "7" part of this is that there are four voices, a cello, a viola, and a fiddle (though there really are 8 members in the bands since there are two violist who alternate, at least in the recorded version of the music. Highly recommended for fans of Nordic folk. Milksop Holly, _Time To Come In_ We didn't like _Milkweeds_ (her first album) much at all, but _Time To Come In_ is good. Her voice is very like Rebecca Stout of The Shakers and the much is a find of indie folkrock that's low key and pleasant and sometimes delightful. Michaela Foster March, _Fairy Tales & the Death of Innocence_ This is an odd mixture of Michaela Foster Marsh's smoky-strong vocals, emotive singing style, electronic background noises, and pop (sometimes better than others) lyrics. Sometimes it works brilliantly, as in the cabaret-ish "Time Bomb" and the anthem-like "Naked in the Water" but sometimes it just feels overwrought. She reminds me of a slightly more conventional Rebecca Timmons who misses a little more often (there are a couple of songs I hit the forward button on) than Timmons does. Still, interesting, and some of these songs really stick in my head. Lisa Richards, _Not Quite So Low_ Another uneven one for me, as this tends toward sounding a little country-folkie for my tastes. I discovered her through someone mentioning her mp3.com tracks, and I think those are the best on the disc. I really like her song "I Don't Think so", about abuse--it manages to tell a story rather than being simply didactic as so many songs about issues are, and I like a couple of others quite a lot, too, but others I can live without. She has quite a sharp voice, which some people will like more than others. Karling Abbeygate, _Tin Town_ / _Glory Girl_ Karling has a kind of overall Kate-like sound but doesn't seem to quite have a handle on how to use it effectively yet. _Tin Town_ is her first album, and I would recommend avoiding it unless you like the whole of _Glory Girl_, her second, so much that you need more. Myself I found I liked only parts of _Glory Girl_, mostly the tunes that were available at http://www.mp3.com, so I might have been just as happy not to have ordered the discs from her. Certainly not to have ordered both of them. Oops. Various, _Wizard Women of the North_ A sampler of Northside's (http://www.noside.com) female artists. A great taste of a lot of wonderful musicians. --Neile - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Neile Graham ...... http://www.sff.net/people/neile ....... neile@sff.net Les Semaines: A Weekly Journal . http://www.sff.net/people/neile/semaines The Ectophiles' Guide to Good Music ....... http://www.smoe.org/ectoguide Mime-Version: 1.0 Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2000 21:15:41 -0700 To: Ecto From: Neile Graham Subject: Neile's March Music Riport (late late late, yeah yeah) Sender: owner-ecto@smoe.org Precedence: bulk March was kind of a sparse month for us. Patti Smith, _Gung Ho_ This is Patti Smith back to the height of her powers. I think I like this one even better than her fine Gone Again, or at least as well, and at least as well as my favourites of her early work. I can't believe how wonderful her reappearance is. We've listened to this steadily since we got it. Classic rock. She proves she will be able to rock and to galvanize people into the new millennium. Halou, _Sans Soucie_ They're calling a companion disc to _we only love you,_ one of my favourite ectronic discs of 1999. This is some remixes, demos, a cover, various rarities, etc. Damn they're good. Penelope Houston, _Once in a Blue Moon_ A new rarities and demos/outtakes disc that I've been listening to a lot. It's not as great as _tongue_, of course and I have a lot of the rarities material on it in other places, but it's still fun folk/rock with Penelope Houston's wry, energetic look at life. Aiko Shimada, _Another Full Moon_ This is quiet but energetic and dramatic jazz-touched pop. Aiko Shimada has a wonderful voice, and a way of putting together songs with gentle hooks--so gentle you don't even know they've caught you until they're buzzing in your head and you're delighted to hear them when you drop this in the player again. This is my third Aiko Shimada album and I'm glad to have each one of them. Cat Power, _The Covers Record_ This is a little too loose and sloppy and drifty for me, and it didn't come into better focus on more listenings. Jim doesn't like her cover of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", while I actually liked--a very different, almost non-recognizable rendition, but overall this is a disappointment, especially considering how much I liked her previous album. --Neile np: Aiko Shimada, Another full moon - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Neile Graham ...... http://www.sff.net/people/neile ....... neile@sff.net Les Semaines: A Weekly Journal . http://www.sff.net/people/neile/semaines The Ectophiles' Guide to Good Music ....... http://www.smoe.org/ectoguide Broadcast, _The Noise Made by People_ I'm not sure how to describe how this is different from their first album. In many ways it's very like _Work and Non Work_, but seems even a step closer to a light kind of pop with all kinds of wonderful echoes of '60s jazzy-pop. A collection that can be take as superficially delightful pop, or listened to more deeply for the experimental, haunting undercurrents. I love this. Great soft vocals, too. Highly recommended. Laika, _Good Looking Blues_ A new Laika disc! Very much in the same vein as their earlier discs, which is delightful to me. I could listen to their intriguing mix of vocals, electronics and traditional instruments forever. Well, at least one wonderful disc longer now. Full of great hooks. Highly recommeneded for anyone who like ectronica. The Avengers, _died for your sins_ Penelope Houston's punk band! Not to be missed by anyone who likes this type of music. (Available through her website.) Michelle Cross, _My Name is Not Cinderella_ I really like her live material--so far, by quite a bit more than this ep. Which shows promise (good songwriting, nice vocals, nice piano work), but is basically fairly derivative. Sort of a Tori Amos/Sarah McLachlan: she has a kind of Tori voice but her songs are slightly more mainstreamy and Sarah-y. EXCEPT her live stuff, available through her web page. That seems far more highly individual and intriguing, almost cabaret-like. Not sure why they chose the particular songs on the ep instead--maybe because they're clearly more commercial. Too bad, because her other stuff is far more interesting. This I like well enough to keep it, but if it weren't for those live tracks I wouldn't be watching what she does next as closely as I am. mp3.com for samples of the disc, but do go to her web page for the live tracks. Dudley, _Public Nudism_ [official CDR] Dudley, _Are Our Oars Out?_ Dudley, _Doin' Jack_ [official CDR] Quirky folky/rock stuff interesting folk/rock I discovered on mp3.com and finally broke down to buy the discs. It reminds me a bit of early Jane Siberry--that sense of playful/angsty/wry delight. Not sure which of these I like best--they all have a few really catchy ones. Another mp3.com band, so check them out. Josette's Eye, _Alibi Clock_ A kind of indierock fusion of Sleater-Kinney and Tori Amos. Intriguing enough to become a minor obsession for me. Songs and lyrics full of hooks, a song clearly about Tori. Some spoken word pieces that I can live without, but overall a strong debut album. Recommended. Also mp3.com. Moist, _Creature_ I got this because I loved David Usher's solo disc so damn well last year. Have hardly listened to it. Sigh. I'd rather play the solo disc for about the 1000th time. Pamela Zero, _Given Time [CDR]_ Pamela Zero, _Promotional Preview: LB_ Quirky experimental/a cappella stuff that's sometimes reminiscent of madrigals but frequently feels very contemporary as well. People have mentioned her on ecto before--years ago, but she deserves to be mentioned again. I'm watching for her new album, which is due out soon. Interesting and different approach. Check out samples on mp3.com. Sarah Harmer, _You Were Here_ The music on this initially was not much to my taste, but I do love Sarah Harmer's voice and sensibility enough that I've taken the time to like the music better. It took me a while to like parts of her Weeping Tile work, too. There's something about Canadian folk/rock... I don't want to like it but I nearly always do. Maybe it's in the Canadian blood or cultural training. --Neile Mime-Version: 1.0 Date: Sun, 16 Jul 2000 16:25:27 -0700 To: Ecto From: Neile Graham Subject: Neile's May & June Music tra la X-MIME-Autoconverted: from quoted-printable to 8bit by smoe.org id XAA26098 Sender: owner-ecto@smoe.org Precedence: bulk X-MIME-Autoconverted: from 8bit to quoted-printable by smoe.org id XAA26120 Hi, all-- Here are my mostly inarticulate comments about the music I collected during May and June. --Neile Jorane, _vent fou_ A new obsession: Jorane, a Quebeçoise cellist and singer. Really amazing music. It's unique, but to give a point of reference, to me it sounds like Iva Bittova meets Kate Bush. Jim says she sounds like early Lion and the Cobra-era Sinead O'Connor to him vocally. Whatever comparisons you can make, this is compelling, beautiful, experimental, and just plain lovely. The stuff of obsession. Some samples are available from her website, which you can get to eventually through http://www.jorane.com or more directly through http://www.tacca.com/jorane/index.html. It's a really wonderfully evocative disc, truly beautiful and fierce, though gentle at times, too. Highly, highly recommended. Sheila Nicholls, _brief strop_ Which is indeed stroppy kinda angry/wise woman-yelling/yearning at the world. I like her lyrics, too, except when she waxes too didactic (only in a couple of the songs). Pop/rock. You can get a sample from her web site if you sign up for her mailing list. Highly recommended, though I'm not sure it's something I'll listen to forever. Hand to Mouth, _weightless_ Their sound is smooth and kind of Joni-Mitchell jazz/folkie/pop. Lovely and creative enough to keep me listening, at least with _weightless_. I highly recommend that disc over their two previous discs, though, which while pretty didn't seem as distinctive and focused to me. This one is really gorgeous. Highly recommended. Ninetynine--ninetynine This is Ninetynine's first album, which I picked up because I liked _767_ so much. Also clearly indierock sound but quite different in sound now from her former bandmates, Sleater-Kinney. And worse, I'm not going to be any good at articulating that difference. Anyway, I like this quite a lot. Perhaps preferring _767_. But now she has yet another new one that I have on order...maybe by the time I have all three I'll be able to find some useful words about this. Recommended. Sleater-Kinney, _All Hands on the Bad One_ While I don't like this one as much as _The Hot Rocks_--it's got a much lighter feel--this is a lot of fun. Straightahead indie rock. Recommended. June Tabor, _A Quiet Eye While I love June Tabor's take on traditional material, her contemporary folk and jazzy things just leave me cold. In other words, I like part of this disc a lot, and the rest of it doesn't do much for me. Sigh. Only recommended for June Tabor fans, or someone like me who likes part of it enough to ignore the other part. Mime-Version: 1.0 Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2000 02:21:10 -0700 To: Ecto From: Neile Graham Subject: July cds Sender: owner-ecto@smoe.org Precedence: bulk Hi, all-- These are the discs we collected in July. Of these I've played The Marvin Pontiac, Ninetynine and Anet most often. --Neile Waterson:Carthy, _Broken Ground_ (from 1999) Another wonderful album, with a quite different version of "Raggle Taggle Gipsies" than those I've heard before. The family combination is quite wonderful--all three participants (Norma Waterson, Martin Carthy, and Eliza Carthy) are wonderfully talented and at home with their material. Pooka, _Spinning_ (from 1997) This one went quickly out of print. Pooka have a certain awkwardness that is disarming and quirky and works on their folkrock/pop sound. This album feels more poplike than _Pooka_ (their first disc), but still distinctively off-kilter and odd and charming. I like it. Anet / Annette Ducharme, _Tortured_ (1997/2000) After belatedly discovering that this was still available by mailing the sales address at Anet's http://www.anetmusic.com website, I ordered and got a copy quickly. This is a strong follow-up to Bloom/Don't Argue With Her (this previous disc is known under both names) and is very much in the same vein: Anet's strong vocals, hooky songwriting, energetic rock sound. I highly recommend this disc to anyone who likes lively, interesting pop/rock. Faithfull, Marianne, _Vagabond Ways_ While what Marianne Faithfull is doing these days doesn't affect me as strongly as, say, Broken English, I still really like her voice and her interpretations of songs. This is a good album, and a welcome addition to our Marianne Faithfull collection. And as Jeff Hanson said here earlier, the songs are very appropriate to her personality. Ninety Nine, _180o_ This album is a combination of driving indierock sounds and things that sound more toward the Laika end of things (though not electronic) and a little more drifty. I really like the way she constructs songs--they don't often stick in my head, but are always highly listenable. Marvin Pontiac, _Greatest Hits_ It is odd, compelling stuff, creative out of the velvet grit of "Pontiac"'s voice and sensibility, and the words and tunes. Funky, blusey. Wonderful. Songs that really stick in your head. Young Marble Giants, _Salad Days_ This is a collection of what are basically home demos. While it's really better to find a copy of _Colossal Youth_ if you can, _Salad Days_ is still a fascinating glimpse into this band's wholly original sound and style. Minimalist and far out/ahead of its time. Sound is at times a little iffy, which reflects the (primitive by today's standards) technology they were using to record it, but that very primitive nature suits the music magically--they take great advantage of it. Mime-Version: 1.0 Date: Mon, 18 Sep 2000 17:55:37 -0700 To: Ecto From: Neile Graham Subject: Neile's August discs Sender: owner-ecto@smoe.org Precedence: bulk Basque Basque Basque Radiate When I downloaded a bunch of their tracks from mp3.com I kind of liked them but wasn't particularly enthralled despite Craig and a couple of other people's enthusiastic recommendations. But they sent their discs in to the Ectophiles' Guide for review and I always listen to discs that come in for review, and damn, but these caught me and I had to send away for my own copies. And since then they've dominated our disc players. Gorgeous music, which is great as both background music and intense listening. Deaf School Liverpool 2nd Coming We have loved Deaf School for years now but their strange sarcastic pop music has never been avialable on cd to our knowledge, until now. I found this on when I was browsing a local store that has a big import selection. And I'm so happy! This is a live disc done as a kind of reunion, but it has a lot from the double album of theirs we have on vinyl, _2nd Honeymoon/Don't Stop The World_ and this sounds good. Almost as good as a release of the double album. They're kind of like 10cc in their sense of humour and ability to craft a funny pop song out of their humour. The Galerkin Method (self-titled ep) A really wonderful, strange eclectic mix of worldish/rock/experimental sounds that comes out feeling whole and delightful. This is a shortish ep CDR that came in for review for The Ectophiles' Guide and once I heard it I knew I needed to get a copy for myself. Hard to describe what it sounds like--Land of the Blind with dulcimer? Shai nO Shai with more of an early Danielle Dax sensibility? I've been playing this to death. Jane Siberry Hush First I have to confess that I am really really tired of the kind of music that Jane is doing right now. For someone who changed styles between each album, it feels to me like she has been doing the jazzy rock torch style forever now. I've loved all her albums up to and including Maria, but the only reason I bought this disc was to support her for old times sake. [I even put my copies of the _tree lips child_ set and _teenager_ up for sale because I never listen to them and am never likely to.] However, this does have a couple of tracks which I actively enjoy. Faint praise from someone who has adored her work since I first heard _No Borders Here_ in the early '80s, but that's how it goes. Denny, Sandy No More Sad Refrains Already commented on this one to the list. I really do highly recommend it to those unfamiliar with Sandy's music and to those who want it for the rarities.. And two I'd missed that I got from mp3.com last spring after listening to their samples there excessively: Mailorder Bitch, _186k_ A discovery through mp3.com, their only disc is a d.a.m. from there. Not as harsh-sounding as you might think from their name, I'd say this is great energetic, harmonic rock. The vocals are mostly pretty baby-voiced, but not in an offensive or over-the-top way (meaning they're not Cranes or Altered Images though I like both of those bands a lot). I really like this collection--not only does it show promise, but if you count the ability to write catchy tunes as a sign of maturity, this ep shows the band has already arrived somewhere interesting. Some of the later tracks are more triphoppy. Sacred Raisin Cakes, _What You Want_ A mix of folkie-sounding electronic stuff with more electronic pop. The vocalist has a nice touch and makes the songs come alive. "Neurotica" is the first one that made me really stand up and pay attention to them in the midst of a bunch of mp3 downloads, but all of the songs have hooks and great moments. This is another time when the only music available from a band is a d.a.m. from mp3. This is 8 strong tracks, though "Cold Comfort" may tend a little more towards plain folk than I usually like, on repeated listens I got quite fond of it. And after many, many listens I still love "Neurotica". --Neile n.p. Kathryn Williams, _Little Black Numbers_ (first listen--thanks Geoff--but I really like it so far--soft, folky pop n.r. David Almond, _Kit's Wilderness_ (brilliant stuff, this and _Skellig_, highly recommended for fans of Alan Garner and William Mayne). ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Neile Graham ...... http://www.sff.net/people/neile ....... neile@sff.net Les Semaines: A Weekly Journal . http://www.sff.net/people/neile/semaines The Ectophiles' Guide to Good Music ....... http://www.smoe.org/ectoguide Mime-Version: 1.0 Date: Sun, 12 Nov 2000 18:32:43 -0800 To: Ecto From: Neile Graham Subject: Neile's September Discs Sender: owner-ecto@smoe.org Precedence: bulk Hi, all-- In an unusual twist, a post entirely about music. Here is the embarassingly lengthy list of my September acquisitions. In alphabetical order no less! Comments & responses welcome! --Neile Badly Drawn Boy, The Hour of Bewilderbeast I read about this disc in a couple of UK sources and everyone seemed to be talking about this male singer-songwriter as a new folkpop sensation. So when I found the disc used, I snapped it up. Well, to folk here on ecto this kind of folkpop is old news, and though much of this is pretty catchy and interesting, I wouldn't say it was all that spectacular. Still, if you like this kind of music, it's a fine example. Bjork, Selmasongs Though it's a soundtrack, it's definitely Bjork. (Well, the overture track is definitely a generic overture track). "I've Seen It All" especially could be something off _Homogenic_. So I would say it's definitely worth getting for Bjork fans. It's unlikely it will be anyone's favourite Bjork album but it's more than just a soundtrack, too. Holly Cole Trio, Treasure 1989-1993 This is a collection of hits and previously unreleased tracks, and is a great compilation for someone who wants a taste of Holly Cole and isn't enough into her jazz to have it all. That's why I bought it it--because I'm not a jazz fiend, and one disc is enough, so I'd rather have one that is her own favourites and hits. A fine collection. Ani difranco, swing set [ep] I'm such a git that I'll buy remixes and singles sometimes just to get a song by an artist that doesn't appear anywhere else. This is one of those cases. It has two versions of "swing" (a song I like quite a lot) but these are just a radio set (which doesn't have the rap section--yay) and the album version. It also has a remix of "to the teeth" which starts with a looped gunshot, well, I already thought the song was remarkably unsubtle so I don't much care for this. I do like her live version of Woody Guthrie's "Do Re Me" and Phil Och's "When I'm gone". I tend to like the first version I hear of any song best, so maybe because I like them so much because I don't know the originals, since I don't like her version of Dylan's "hurricane" so very much but she sure sings it with passion, though. Cranky me. Thea Gilmore, Lipstick Conspiracy The Lipstick Conspiracies reminds me very much of Thea Gilmore's first album that I also quite liked, Burning Dorothy. They're very in the angry woman contemporary folk mode that so many artists are working in now, but there's something fresh about Thea Gilmore that I really like. It's the combination: her tunes and lyrics and her voice are strong and she manages to make them edgy without being strident. A breath of fresh air. Gjallarhorn, sjofn This is very like Ranarop, their first disc, which I also really liked. For fans of the more quite side of Garmarna (but still very lively, just not as electronic). Wonderful vocals, great musicianship. I'm sure they'd be great live. The songs here are a wonderful collection of traditional material--the stories make me wish I understood Swedish--with African drums and didgeridoo. It all comes together and makes for a fascinating, visceral sound. Heather Nova, Wonderlust (live) If, like me, you didn't like Heather Nova's last studio album, _Siren_ much, you can take heart fron her new live disc (not yet released in the U.S.), _Wonderlust_. Heather Nova has always shone live and she knows it (hence the fact that this is her third official live release), and she definitely does shine here. This is most material from _Oyster_ and _Siren_ but even the _Siren_ material sounds good to me, which confirms my belief that it was the production that ruined _Siren_ for me (well, I also had some acoustic versions of the material on singles that also confirmed this). Anyway, this isn't startling different than her other live discs and it contains yet another live version of "Sugar," but I'm not going to complain--I love this. Niamh Parsons, In My Prime She has a lovely voice for traditional tunes. She has a rich evocative voice and that Sandy Denny-like knack of singing the tunes in a way that makes the lyrics come to life. I recommend her work to anyone who likes traditional Celtic and English music. This particular disc has some really lovely songs, and a range of them from lively ones to heartbreaking ballads. I particularly like her versions of "In My Prime", "Green Grass It Grows Bonny". Hmm, I started to list nearly every song on this album. It's a good one. Pram, The Museum of Imaginary Animals Pram are just so off-kilter sounding, always. Each of their albums is different, but off-kilter in the same way and full of interesting and unusual--but musical--sounds, and Rosie's odd vocals and lyrics. I especially enjoy this album, though I've liked all of theirs. It has an unusual and intriguing energy, especially "Mother of Pearl" and "Play of the Waves". Delightful. Purr Machine, Ging Ging It's noisy like Caterwaul. More electronic. But it still has that wonderful raspy Betsy Martin voice. Yum. Play loud. There are some quiet and delightful songs, too. But lots of noise and even some trip hoppy sounds and flavours, some crunchy ethereal sounds and flavours, but with that scratchy, wonderful voice. Rosewater Elizabeth, Faint I got this because of strong recommendations from ectophiles several years ago, and because I really like the band Rosewater Elizabeth morphed into, Underwater. _I Could Lose_ was one of my favourites from last year, and it's more in the ectronic mode. This is quite atmospheric and Gothic compared to that but it has the same interesting sense of structure, and the same great vocals. Recommended for any Goth lover. Parts of this remind me a little of Big Hat. I prefer their Underwater incarnation, but this is highly listenable. cecil seaskull, whoever If you are an indierock listener and don't mind babyish voices, this is for you. Quite a lot of the time it's for me, too. Cecil Seaskull used to be in Nerdy Girl, so if you liked them, you'll like her solo work, too. Stripped-down, indie sounding, quirky. Yell-singing mocking "I love him! He's perfect!", several soft sincere-sounding love songs, almost Liz Phair-like in the flat honesty of her statement. There's a song in French, too (Seaskull is from Montreal). The tunes are always catchy, and the tunes mostly earnest. Good listening. Seely, winter birds This is really lovely. Seely sounds like early Stereolab in many ways, but really is all the things I like about Stereolab and none of the things that I've grown less interested in over time. Really lovely vocals, good songwriting--sort of updated '60s pop ethereal. They deserve to be better known, on ecto and elsewhere. I think this one is even better than their first disc (even though there are some male(!) lead vocals here). "Planes circle do" and "sandy" seem the epitome of their music, and I particularly love these songs. http://www.seelymusic.com Sohre, Marika This is a hard one to pin down as far as a description goes. The vocals are ethereal, sometimes lively, sometimes sultry, and the music ranges from pop, ethereal, world, some progressive sounds with sometimes elements of all of these within one song. The first song is quite pop, but the rest of what follows to me is appealing. The disc is full of interesting vocals, percussion, accordion, and unpredictable songs. Definitely a disc that comes into more focus the more you listen to it. Switchblade Symphony, The Three Calamities This is one I picked up because I've been interested in some reviews I've read of Switchblade Symphony's works, and picked a disc of theirs almost at random. They are a crunchy ethereal band, of the noisier Cocteau Twins genre. Good vocals. I enjoy this one but it doesn't knock me out. kathryn Williams, Little Black Numbers Little Black Numbers is a wispy collection of jazz-touched folk/pop songs with hints of Stina Nordenstam and Beth Orton. So far I quite like it, though I'm not often in the mood for something quite so quiet, and quiet things don't always catch me but this does. I think because of the nice production touches. Shannon Wright, maps of tacit The song that catches me most in this album is the one that I found first as an mp3 sample and that let me to decide to buy it, but I still like the rest. It's the kind of music that requires attention to appreciate, though. The album starts off sounding like a kind of slightly softer Cat Power with a Liz Phair-like voice, and it has that same stripped-down indie feel that those two artists have. The overall tone is quite plaintive, so when I'm not listening closely I get annoyed by it, but when I am listening to it, I find the tunes and style really catches me. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Neile Graham ...... http://www.sff.net/people/neile ....... neile@sff.net Les Semaines: A Weekly Journal . http://www.sff.net/people/neile/semaines The Ectophiles' Guide to Good Music ....... http://www.smoe.org/ectoguide Mime-Version: 1.0 Date: Sat, 2 Dec 2000 16:38:32 -0800 To: Ecto From: Neile Graham Subject: Neile's October music Sender: owner-ecto@smoe.org Precedence: bulk Mandalay, instinct I loved Mandalay's _empathy_, which seemed to me a lovely gentle pop twist on ethereal music and trip hop. But this has gone just a little too gentle and a little too pop for me. It's amazing how when you go in that direction there isn't much to distinguish this from the pop-ized rhythm and blues that dominates MTV and all. No Guy Stigsworth on this album--maybe that's what made the difference with the first. Only a couple of songs seem to me to get beyond the surface prettiness and approach the depths of the first album: "simple things" and "what if i". http://www.mandalay.co.uk Mia Sheard, reptilian The overall sounds is like a slightly muddied Katharina Franck singing more mournful songs that the usual Rainbirds fare. I have Mia Sheard's first album, with love and squalor, too, and I think this one is a little stronger overall. The songs are dramatic and strong and with a lot of range but take a while to come into focus--they're just not exactly hook-laden (though "Cover Girl" and "Call Me," a song that appears on both of her albums, certainly are). Despite the fact that it takes a while for the songs to come into focus, this isn't by any means difficult listening hour and they certainly have grown on me. Her vocals are good, and her voice unusual. There's another similarity that I can't quite pick out, besides the Katharina Franck resemblances. Perhaps some Jane-like resemblances in her songwriting. "Call Me" should be a big hit. http://www.miasheard.com The Violet Hour, Galdr [mp3.com DAM] This is acoustic, The lead singer's voice has some real Natalie Merchant moments, but the band's sound is quite different: Heavy bass, shimmery/drivey guitar rock. A little electronic but not electronica. This would be a really good buy for anyone jonesing for some Natalie Merchant but would like to hear her try different material. Check out the samples at mp3.com! I got this because I downloaded the samples and they really grew on me. Waiting For Her, neon... Plus [mp3.com DAM] This is another indierock band with a sort of pouty-voiced (well not always) singer in front of some lively instrumentation and some creative, catchy songwriting that does more than just the usual verse chorus verse. I found it catchy. This is another band I listened to on mp3.com and got stuck on the samples enough that when they released their collection on mp3 DAM, I bought it. Check them out, too. Anne O'Meara Heaton, Spoke From The Heart [mp3.com DAM] After I heard the track "Spoke From the Heart" at mp3.com/anneomearaheaton I had to get this mp3 DAM cd. Well, that's clearly the best song on this but there are still some other wonderful moments. I can't tell you how many times I hit repeat to hear "Spoke From the Heart" again, though. The songs on this collection hit a certain Tori-like sound (I later got her live disc which is more varied and individual). She's a pretty good pianist, and this is clear here. She's a pretty good songwriter, too, and this shows, too, though there are a couple of real clunkers of lines in here for me; "Who You Are" is particularly sophomoric and annoying lyrically to my tastes. The biggest detraction from the strengths of this disc for me is that she sings everything in the same way: a really breathy, pushing kind of singing that is like a certain mood of Tori's but she doesn't vary it as much as Tori does. Still, these are quibbles--this is a strong first collection, and the live disc that follows shows that she's growing as a songwriter and performer. It's easy to quibble about a disc when there's already a better one available by the artists. A lot of ectophiles are really going to like this one. Martha and the Muffins, Danseparc/Mystery Walk This is a reissue of the third and fourth Martha and the Muffins album and if you are at all tolerant of dance-flavoured music (I would say that both of these are far more than _just_ dance music, especially at the time they came out) I highly recommend these. Extremely lively and creative and great vocals. These are actually my two favourite Martha and the Muffins albums, even over _This is the Ice Age_ with their biggest hit "Echo Beach (Far Away in Time). How can you not want songs titled "Several Styles of Blonde Girls Dancing" and "Boys in the Bushes"? Really, both of these albums are great and now they're on one disc. Just after we'd gone through the hassle of recording these from our turntable onto CDR, too. kaitlyn ni donovan, cannibal spirit (cassette only) Kaitlyn Ni Donovan calls this her Goth album, and it does have a quiet, shadowy Goth spirit (songs are called "solitude", "until hereafter", "uncle fester", "the place", "free", and "overgrown graveyard") and some occasional deliberately eerie moments, but still bears a strong resemblance to her later work. The songwriting doesn't yet show the assurance, poise, and individuality ofthe _dinner with bosch_ cassette ep and _songs for 'three days'_, but the way she puts levels of sound together is already impressive. A must-have for Ni Donovan fans. There's a possibility that this and dinner with bosch will be later re-released. Marianne Faithfull, Dangerous Acquaintances This never came out on cd in the U.S. but is available in the U.K. This is album after the incredible _Broken English_ and is a wonderful 80s pop classic. This is certainly one of the most radio-friendly of Marianne Faithfull's albums and is full of delightful, catchy songs that I'm sure would have wide appeal if this album were better-known. Classic Marianne Faithfull of this era, and highly recommended if you can find it. I think it's every bit as good as (and perhaps better overall than) _A Child's Adventure_. Also got some other reissues; Jethro Tull's _Aqualung_, and Cat Stevens' _Mona Bone Jakon_ and _Teaser and the Firecat_. Nostalgia is a wonderful thing. --Neile ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Neile Graham ...... http://www.sff.net/people/neile ....... neile@sff.net Les Semaines: A Weekly Journal . http://www.sff.net/people/neile/semaines The Ectophiles' Guide to Good Music ....... http://www.smoe.org/ectoguide Carthy, Eliza angels & cigarettes This is one of my favourite albums of the year. And probably 2001 since it didn't come out in the U.S. until recently. This is a mix of great songwriting, Eliza's voice and vocal confidence truly coming into its own, and a great foray into pop for the first time from someone who has mostly done traditional folk. There is a little folk influence in itm but much less than you'd think with the exception of Eliza's fiddle playing. She knows pop and has the foksinger's trick of making some beautifully heartwrenching vocal moments. If you know Linda's Thompson's solo work, it sounds a lot like an updating of that in many ways. Or there are moments that sound a lot like Kirsty MacColl. But Eliza is her own woman, and this album is a knockout. Sam Brown ReBoot Much of this feels pretty mainstream pop and kind of disappears in my mind because of that, but when the sound is simpler, as in "Breathe In Life" and "rainbow" this album has the power of my favourite Sam Brown album, _43 Minutes_. Simplicity suits her powerful voice. Most of the pop tunes here are fine and I still like her voice, but it's mostly not my thing. Dorris Henderson and John Renbourn There You Go! This is from the late 60s and is knockout stuff. I'd long loved John Renbourn's _Faro Annie_ album, so much so that it was one of the first lps we burned onto cd (mostly by patching together songs from various compilations) and Dorris Henderson sang on that collection and I liked what she did. So when I heard that this had been re-released on cd I jumped at the chance to get it. It's a really wonderful collection of American folk/blues with deep and lovely vocals and Renbourn's beautiful guitar work. Highly recommended. Means, Pamela Cobblestones Means, Pamela pearls I'm not a big folk fan, but I downloaded and mp3 of one of Pamela Means' songs and really liked it, so I bought these. I need more time for them to grow on me and I think I'd like to see her live. I definitely like the way she sings and attacks her guitar a la Ani Difranco, but I'm not so sure about her songwriting--it's just not my kind of thing. Steeleye Span Bedlam Born I really liked _Horkstow Grange_, the disc they put out just before this one, but this has already gone on the "for sale" pile Underwater This is not a film Ditto the previous, except in place of _Horkstow Grange_ put _I Could Lose_, which we both really loved. I know Steeleye Span is uneven, but I liked all of _I Could Lose_ and _this is not a film_ leaves me cold. Sigh. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Neile Graham ...... http://www.sff.net/people/neile ....... neile@sff.net Les Semaines: A Weekly Journal . http://www.sff.net/people/neile/semaines The Ectophiles' Guide to Good Music ....... http://www.smoe.org/ectoguide X-Sender: neile@pop3.sff.net Mime-Version: 1.0 Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2001 21:28:51 -0800 To: Ecto From: Neile Graham Subject: November in discland Sender: owner-ecto@smoe.org Precedence: bulk Hi, all-- Hey, these aren't late; I've just let them mature. Now to start working on December, January, and February and my 2000 year end report. --Neile Terami Hirsch All Girl Band I have listened to this disc with embarrassing frequency. I just happened to run across her sound files at CD Baby, and was intrigued enough to order the cd. It is full of interesting sounds. If you're interested in weird timings and off-beat songs, you might like this as much as I do. There are a few Tori-influenced soundings here, but she gets beyond that into her own individual music. Anyway, I like her a lot so far. Anyone still interested in hearing another girl with piano (at least mostly--there's lots more instrumentation, too) might want to give Terami Hirsch a listen. Her work is a captivating mix of sounds, strong piano, interesting vocals, and intriguing lyrics. There are sound samples at www.cdbaby.com/hirsch and www.terami.com Jorane _16mm_ I have to say that if anyone is going to try Jorane for the first time, do it with _vent fou_ rather than this one. As her comments about it have said, these are not really lyrics but vocalizations. The sound is more towards the loose/unstructure/experimental than the song-oriented pieces in _vent fou_. In fact, once or twice I found myself thinking that moments here seemed to me a little self-indulgent. Funny, because despite its extravagances _vent fou_ never seemed that way to me. I guess what I'm saying is that I'm happy I have this and I will listen to it but I'm guessing that people who are song-oriented won't like this so very much. I can tell I'll never like it much as I adore _vent fou_. It's much more abstract. Susan McKeown _Lowlands_ Susan McKeown's albums have tended to grow on me over time, but I loved this album from first listen. Her versions of traditional material are powerful throughout this album. It's truly amazing to me that with this album I'm appreciating her more and more and starting to make what for me is the ultimate comparison for a traditional singer and singer-songwriter--to Sandy Denny. Sandy Denny was a fine songwriter in her own right but was also an incomparable interpreter of traditional (and other neo-traditional and poprock) songs, bringing them to new life. This album shows Susan McKeown has the same power. If you get any Susan McKeown or any traditional album, get this one. Hannah Fury, _Soul Poison ep_ and _The Thing That Feels_ From the moment I first heard Hannah Fury's music I was stuck on it. Hannah Fury is like a Goth (yes, let's face it, this is the comparison she's going to get most often) Tori Amos. She has the piano chops of "Tear in Your Hand" and "Icicle" which is the Tori sound she's most like. But the lyrics are different--utterly, delightfully eerie and haunted. Hannah Fury's is an individual melding of the Gothic with Tori-like emotionality and Kate-like storytelling. _Soul Poison_ this is a strong debut, and is only slightly inferior to The Thing That Feels. I agree with Jeff Hanson that it is reminiscent of "Hammer Horror"-era Kate Bush--in fact, I think that is it's best comparison. Strong songwriting and vocals. Highly recommended. _The Thing that Feels_ is utterly amazing--particularly the section of songs based on Gregory Macguire's _Wicked_--really evocative of the feel of the novel for me and besides that, they're fine songs on their own. A strong collection and highly recommended for anyone who likes the idea of a Gothic Tori. Collide, chasing the ghost Even though woj recommended it and I liked the samples I heard I found that I couldn't listen to this disc all the way through at once. There's some kind of weird repetitive style that I just overload on. Elysian Fields Queen of the Meadow I like it a lot. More like their second disc than their first ep. PJ Harvey Stories from the City, Stories From the Sea That's a wonderful rough pop album, full of great PJ Harvey vocals and for the first time I can really hear the Patti Smith influences in her work. A great album.

Heaton, Anne O'Meara Live with Frank Marotta, Jr.

This live album is strong, more diverse, and less Tori-clone-like than _Spoke From The Heart_, but damn, it's missing that great title song. I can't imagine why she left it off! Anyway, in a couple of places here she sounds more like Ani Difranco than Tori; it's a little more folkrocky, and little more lively.

Discs I loved this year


Discs I especially liked this year


Also worthy of mention


Disappointments


Best Debuts


1995's favourite discs § 1996's favourite discs § 1997's favourite discs § 1998's favourite discs § 1999's favourite discs § 2001's favourite discs


index § les semaines: a weekly journal § news
Neile's writing § books of poetry § publication list § critic's comments
recommended reading list § how to sell poetry § the making of poetry
writing links § music links § cool things

Mail comments, questions, and complaints to: neile@sff.net