Sunday, May 3, 2009

Vietnam, Montreal, Oklahoma, shivers, shakes, and goose-bumps await you as three female fronted bands play this Tuesday May 12th 7PM at the Iron Horse

It’s a summer soundtrack for chasing butterflies and sipping sweet tea on the front porch. On We Brave Bee Stings and All, Vietnamese singer/songwriter Thao Nguyen's second album (and first for the Kill Rock Stars label,) the young wide-eyed and mischievous singer's delightful voice draws you in. With a hint of vulnerability she recalls Sinead O'Connor at bedtime, employing the cottonmouth phrasing of Beth Orton, Chan Marshall (Cat Power), and Jolie Holland. She’s buoyant, even giddy at times, yet she endows her lyrics with a curious juxtaposition of gripping personal detail and saucy humor. Bee Stings has been expertly produced by Tucker Martine, a long-standing collaborator of Laura Veirs. Veirs actually introduced the two, as well as hooking Nguyen up with her label after getting an unsolicited recording in the mail. Nguyen describes her music like this: "Tangles of guitar, knots of singing, threads of beat and thump make a rope fit for hauling the heavy machinery of your day."

Even in today's eclectic modern-music landscape, there's no indication that the ukulele is going to take over as the preferred instrument of rockers worldwide. Yet the four-stringed Hawaiian vessel of joy stands front and center in the realm of the Montreal-based trio Sister Suvi. As plucked by Merrill Garbus, it's clear this is not your grandmother's uke. Sister Suvi’s tapestry of voices is perfect and practiced, the stuff of Akron/Family and Deerhoof, of doo-wop and locomotive; the way we'd all whoop barreling down the tracks. They create a sparse sound that lives somewhere between Sean Paul and free jazz. Compact and percussive, with moments of intoxicating volume, Suvi can seem light and gay on the surface, but their humor is a thin veil for more macabre themes.

Songs In the Night
, 22-year-old Oklahoma-based songwriter Samantha Crain’s full-length debut with her band the Midnight Shivers, is produced by Danny Kadar (Grizzly Bear, My Morning Jacket, The Avett Brothers) and follows up to 2008’s The Confiscation EP. Abrasive, jangly indie rock and smooth, whispery folk meet as Crain's distinct voice presents each song with an unfeigned fervor as it rises and falls over the panorama painted by the Midnight Shivers and their roots-infused, fertile arrangements. She paints mystical, poetic slipstreams of words onto a canvas of haunting echo-chamber lap steel, earthy acoustic guitars and loose-change tambourine, delivering her graceful songs with a gorgeous, quivering voice. In a genre often pinned to formulaic sounds and themes, Samantha Crain is re-stitching the seams of Americana to fit her singular artistic vision.

No comments: