You can ring my Bell
Andy Bell Non-Stop [import]
There’s a good reason that Erasure frontman Andy Bell has called his second solo effort Non-Stop, as it is filled to the brim with dance tracks that overflow from your speakers and floods over you with contagious beats.
The track ‘Running Out’ starts out heavy on the synth sound, which has made his musical partnership with Vince Clarke last these many years, until it shifts from its electro clash beginning into a song with pop sensibility to spare. However, for some strange reason Bell’s amazing vocal range is masked behind an Auto-Tuned facade, which may account for the fact that he originally released this tune and ‘Will You Be There?’ under the pseudonym Mimo.
Speaking of the latter…‘Will You Be There?’ could have easily have been recorded by Kylie Minogue. So, it should come as no surprise that Non-Stop is co-produced and co-written by Pascal Gabriel, who has masterminded works by the aforementioned “Impossible Princess,” Debbie Harry and Little Boots. Available 5/25/10.
Dream A Little Dream
Natalie Merchant Leave Your Sleep
Natalie Merchant, the distinctive voice that launched the ’80s alternative band 10,000 Maniacs into the college radio stratosphere, and then made an adult contemporary pop splash with her 1995 offering Tigerlily, is back.
The 2-disc Leave Your Sleep, finds the ‘These Are the Days’ singer in her familiarly unique form, wrapping her sultry voice around a variety of tunes, some in fact by title and sound, makes the listener wonder if this may have been a scrapped children’s album.
In reality, what Merchant has done is adapted over two dozen nursery rhymes, lullabies and poems by Ogden Nash (to name but one poet), and married them with guest instrumentals from members of the New York philharmonic and famed jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, to create a musical symmetry between the two art forms.
The end result catches very small snatches of her Maniac existence on ‘Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience’ and ‘If No One Ever Marries Me,’ while also exposing the best of her solo act with the lush ‘Equestrienne.’ Available Now.
Sleigh Bells Treats
It’s a safe bet that the Brooklyn-based twosome of songwriter, guitarist and producer Derek Miller and singer Alexis Krauss, will include their online demo singles (which made them a “Band To Watch,” according to Stereogum.com) on their forthcoming debut LP.
The indie group has become known for meshing hard guitar-laden sounds with backbeats to produce a unique musical fusion, which is prevalent on ‘A/B Machines,’ ‘Crown On The Ground’ and ‘Infinity Guitars.’ However, ‘Ring Ring’ and ‘Beach Girls’ are their lone slow jams and the latter is delightfully stripped down with a hip-hop feeling.
The recent Coachella Valley participants come from varying musical backgrounds; Miller was the former guitar player for the hard rockin’ band Poison the Well, while his colleague got her feet wet with the teeny bopper group Rubyblue. In keeping with the attitude of their music mixture approach, they have been compared to the likes of AC/DC, The Beastie Boys and the Ting Tings. Available 3/11/10.
Diamond in the rough
Marina & The Diamonds The Family Jewels [Import]
Welsh born singer and songwriter, Marina Lambrini Diamandis, began amassing her fan base after she was ranked as the #2 artist on the BBC’s “Sound of 2010” chart, and is preparing to hit U.S. shores with her CD and appearance at the resurrected Lilith Tour this summer.
Her studio release, The Family Jewels, follows on the heels of her EP The American Jewels, which was released through digital retailers in March and featured three songs off of Family.
Eleven other tracks flesh out her stateside debut, which illustrates why she has become a sensation across the pond. ‘Guilty’ brings to mind the type of sound that Fiona Apple had in her ’90s heyday, while ‘Are You Satisfied?’ and ‘Hollywood’ point to a strong seventies and eighties influence, which seems quasi reminiscent of a tamer version of Patti Smith, or an edgier Linda Ronstadt.
However, Diamandis brings her own brand of individuality to the table, especially on ‘Obsessions,’ with its stark lyricism and accompaniment from a hauntingly melodic piano crescendo that captures the emotional landscape she is traversing for the first part of the song. Available 5/25/10.
Love to love you, Missy.
Melissa Etheridge Fearless Love
Melissa Etheridge has forged a career out of telling it like it is, from her titular proclamation of Yes I Am, in terms of her sexuality, to showing the world that bald is beautiful during her rendition of Janis Joplin’s ‘Piece of My Heart’ on the 2005 Grammy Awards, after undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer.
It is in the same vein that the 48-year-old newly single mother of four has released Fearless Love, which she has gone on the record (so to speak) and said that for her life boils down to either fear or love.
The resulting melodious dichotomy is vintage Etheridge, who rocks it out on the title track and beyond with ‘Company,’ ‘The Wanting of You’ and the hybrid ballad ‘Indiana.’ Available Now.
The article was originally published in May 2010