Tuesday, February 05, 2008

2 For Super Tuesday

Well, once again I have neglected my loyal familial readership. Hopefully I can make it up to you today with a double-dip of music reviews that have been simmering too long -- almost to the point of ruining the pan...if you follow that extended metaphor. Let's jump in, shall we? Good, great, grand, wonderful.

The Besnard Lakes are from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. They are fronted by a husband and wife duo by the names of Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas. While the band is currently a 6-piece they have had members come and go in the last ~5 years to get them to where they stand today. They presently reside on the Jagjaguwar label (with the likes of Black Mountain, Bon Iver, Okkervil River, Wilderness, and Sunset Rubdown). A few groups come to mind when listening to their current album: Broken Social Scene (for the focused wandering and orchestration), Band of Horses (vocal tone on many tracks), Beach Boys harmonies on occasion, and voluminous guitar reverb of Queen. If all that sounds intriguing or impossible, just give it a listen. It's pretty remarkable when it all comes together.

The newest album The Besnard Lakes Are the Darkhorse (2007) came out last year and was nominated for the venerable Mercury Prize. It's a pretty great album that begs to be listened to in one sitting, on a couch, in front of a couple large speakers. The volume doesn't need to be blasted, but rather let them take you through varying dynamic shifts. It's an album that I wish I listened to more often, and I can already guess I'll hear something new each of the first 10-15 times I listen to it. That's part of the great thing about albums, right...discovery? I vote Yes.


The second artist of the Tuesday Blue Plate Special is: My Brightest Diamond otherwise known as Shara Worden. She rose through the ranks as a member of Sufjan Stevens' Illinoisemakers during his tour in support of that state's album. After completing that tour she recorded her debut album Bring Me the Workhorse (2006). While this album isn't "new" I would consider it "lesser-known." Ms. Worden combines elements of opera, cabaret, chamber music, and rock throughout the album. It's a unique blend of musical styles and approaches. There are humming guitars, pizzicato cellos, and airy harmonies to create a wide array of tunes. The thing to be celebrated most is the fact that she graduated college with degree in Classical Vocal Performance, so when she belts out a note of glissando, it's impressive to say the least.

The album as a whole is pretty heady stuff. She is able to blend various indie aspects of a great rhythm section, her strummed guitar, gorgeous strings, and her powerfully confidant voice into an album whose weight would crush a lesser artist. She somehow pulls it off with aplomb. I would look out for her next release tentatively titled A Thousand Shark's Teeth through Stevens' Asthmatic Kitty label.

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