Listen Up: Kate Walsh (the UK singer)

The only good thing to come out of myspace was my discovery of remarkable singer-songwriter Kate Walsh. She hails from Brighton and has maintained her stripped-down approach to music through four albums released via her independent label. Her latest album Peppermint Radio consists of covers of major and minor songs by UK artists.

01 – Subterranean Homesick Alien [Radiohead cover]
02 – When Love Breaks Down [Prefab Sprout cover]
03 – Unbelievable [EMF cover]
04 – Lullaby [The Cure cover]
05 – Beetlebum [Blur cover]
06 – A Little Respect [Erasure cover]
07 – Move Any Mountain [The Shamen cover]
08 – Who’s That Girl [The Eurythmics cover]
09 – Save A Prayer [Duran Duran cover]
10 – Feeling Oblivion [Turin Brakes cover]
11 – Monochrome [The Sundays cover]

I particularly love “Monochrome” and “When Love Breaks Down.” Her tone is so beautiful—the songs become quite heartbreaking.

Listen to the album on Rhapsody here.

 

A fifth album is due this fall.

I was able to see Kate twice at The Living Room on the Lower East Side and she was spellbinding onstage with just her guitar.

 

With Adele blowing up and selling out Stateside, Kate deserves a wider audience.

Do check out this amazing YouTube playlist and buy her music on iTunes.

Listen Up: Another Hit Of Keane

Due to the heavy rotation of Glee’s “Somewhere Only We Know,” I rustled through my CDs and started listening to Keane‘s first album “Hopes and Fears.”

I remembered how much I love “Your Eyes Open”—it has a rippling piano line, a soaring chorus, and the bittersweet taste of loving someone who has emotionally shut down in the relationship.

Listen Up: Geographer

Brian Ostreicher, Michael Deni, and Nathan Blaz make gorgeous music together

I was thrilled to hear the pearly electronic sounds of San Francisco band Geographer in Golden Gate Park last weekend as part of the Bay to Breakers festivities. Among the dancing revelers, there was Osama bin Laden with a hula hoop, naked guys, Transformers, neon tutus, a woman completely draped in plastic bags like Cousin Itt, and a couple of people dressed like crayons. After performing the beautiful “Kites” song, lead singer Michael Deni said, “When I wrote this song, I didn’t imagine two crayons grinding.” Ha.

Deni and co. work it out with keyboards, electronics gizmos, drums, and an electronic cello. Such a pretty falsetto and a beautiful merging of dance music and indie rock.

I discovered Geographer on the radio – imagine that! Catch them at Live 105’s BFD pre-party at Mezzanine in San Francisco on June 4 along with Surfer Blood, Innerpartysystem, and The Vaccines.

Their Animal Shapes EP is available now but they are working on a proper album this summer.

Lilith Fair Review – July 30, 2010 – Comcast Center, Mansfield, MA (aka Boston)

Tegan & Sara made their single Lilith Fair appearance in Boston

Back in May 2009, I was so excited to hear that Lilith Fair was coming back. I am a big Sarah McLachlan fan – I can sing along to her ridiculously operatic first single “Vox”.

Of my wishlist of Lilith artists, Tegan and Sara, Beth Orton, and Sheryl Crow did sign-on, and I went to the Mansfield, MA (aka “Boston” stop) of the tour since it was the only stop for Tegan and Sara and it was near NYC.

Unfortunately, the tour suffered from sluggish sales, resulting in slashed ticket prices which alienated die-hard fans who bought tickets early, pre-ordered Sarah’s new album, and paid full price for seats that were often lackluster. Then the southern portion of the tour was canceled and big-name acts like Kelly Clarkson, Carly Simon, and Norah Jones ended up canceling or being cut out of the tour. The tour should have been much shorter and with more big names – the LA stop had virtually no headliners.

Despite having paid $50 for lawn seats that were slashed to $10, the venue made up for the ticket sales’ shortcomings. Parking was free, and if you talked to one of the managers by the lawn entrance, you could exchange your lawn seat tickets for second tier seats, which was fantastic after arguing with Ticketmaster over upgrading the seats.

Even though Kelly Clarkson and Carly Simon both dropped out of the show, I was a fan of all of the artists on the mainstage – who tended to be more indie than mainstream. Beth Orton opened the show solo, doing her folk thing and singing songs I remember from nearly ten years ago. Her cover of “Ooh Child” is a stunner. But it was sad that she was still relegated to an opening act at Lilith.

Next up was Sara Bareilles who was a bouncy entertainer and sparked up the crowd with her banter about singing songs about douchebags. She did a cover of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” and performed “Gravity,” her loveliest song.

Cat Power has notorious stage fright and seemed totally out of her element at such a big venue. I guess she needs that cash money. She wouldn’t look at the audience and sang very drowsily. Her setlist included the Stones’ “Satisfaction,” the Beach Boys’ “Sea of Love,” and her own song “The Greatest.”

Tegan & Sara revived the audience with their perky thank-yous after every song. Tegan was effusive in her praise of Lilith Fair. She dedicated “Call It Off” to Sarah (“not Sara, she gets enough”) and everyone who puts on Lilith Fair, stating:

“The first time Sara and I played Lilith Fair was eleven years ago. We only did one show but every single interview we’ve ever done they’ve asked about Lilith Fair and I think that just shows how significant Lilith Fair truly is and that even when it was gone it was so missed by everybody and I think it’s absolutely amazing. . .hats off to you guys for coming out and supporting such an incredible, incredible and important festival.”

Older Sarah closed it down with the usual hits and was very heavy on the Surfacing album – I really didn’t need to hear “Building A Mystery,” “Sweet Surrender,” “Adia,” AND “Angel.” She also did the electric version of “Possession,” the sentimental favorite “I Will Remember You,” and the setlist singalong staple “Ice Cream.” She also did a few songs off of her new album, my favorite was “Forgiveness.” I wish she had mixed it up and done “Elsewhere,” “Full of Grace,” or “Black and White” but alas.

To close, the festival performers took the stage (sans Beth Orton and Cat Power) to cover “Because the Night,” which is a Patti Smith/Springsteen song apparently – I only know the 10,000 Maniacs cover. Too bad Tegan and Sara’s mikes don’t work.

A great show overall and worth the $50. But get it together for the next time, Lilith Fair organizers! Don’t take advantage of the fans who buy early – upgrade our tickets or give us some free merch.

Here’s To You, Sophie Ellis-Bextor

The amazing British pop singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor is making her first ever U.S. appearance for Gay Pride in New York City this weekend – and I can’t make it! Party foul.

Ever since I heard her seductive vocals in DJ Spiller’s heavenly Italo-disco dance song Groovejet (“If this ain’t love/Why does it feel so good”) in England in 2001, I’ve been a fan.

The arch accent, her coquettish 60s glamour, and her amazing voice — she’s fabulous! With Lady Gaga ruling the charts, this could be Sophie’s chance to break through in the States! Embrace dance music America! Her fourth album, Straight to the Heart, drops in the UK on August 2.

Here’s Sophie doing her best Madame X impersonation (a la the John Singer Sargent painting) in the Take Me Home video. . .key lyric: “You deserve a girl like me”:

A storming recent track with DJ Junior Caldera, Just Can’t Fight This Feeling.

The first single off Straight to the Heart is Heartbreak (Make Me a Dancer) featuring Freemasons.

And Here’s To You showcases her versatility in a stripped-down guitar number.