Friday, October 19, 2012

It's Better with the Bahamas

Okay, it may not be the Bahamas you're thinking of, but Afie Jurvanen is just as hot (and far more accessible). Born and based in Toronto, Afie's part of an elite social circle, with friends like Kathleen Edwards, Jack Johnson, Feist and Ryan Adams. While not all Canadian-bred, musicians like Johnson are flocking to Toronto, creating a prominent music scene similar to that of Seattle or Brooklyn.

The gifted guitarist, who alone comprises Bahamas, is no newbie. Prior to going solo in 2009 (with his first album Pink Strat), Afie played with Feist, Zeus, Jason Collett, and the like. Lucky for us, Afie found the spotlight and a modified sound on his latest EP, Barchords. Afie's backup singers bring us back to the days of doo wop, creating a sound that is effortlessly pretty. 

What I love about Afie (besides the obvious) is his composure and control. His guitar skills are strong and his voice smooth -- the perfect storm of sexy. On this EP, try tracks like "Montreal," "Never Again" and "Overjoyed" to satisfy your acoustic cravings. More rock are "Caught Me Thinking" and "Okay Alright I'm Alive." The obvious front runner, however, is the bittersweet "Lost in the Light," a song, Afie admits, is about "the death of a relationship." I'd never let you go, Afie...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Girl, Uninterrupted

Admittedly a bit late on the uptake, but I bet most of you, too, are DeVotchKa virgins. How I've gone all these years sans the musical stylings of the Denver, Colorado quartet is beyond me. Incorporating instruments that you probably can't even pronounce (dare you to say "bouzouki" five times fast), even the band's name is fun to say. DeVotchKa, a derivation of the word "girl" in Russian, has been at it for quite some time -- since 1997, to be precise. The band can attribute its humble beginnings to the vivacious crowds of underground burlesque and the loyal subjects of the genre's reigning queen, Dita Von Teese, with whom the members toured nationwide. 

Fortunately for the DeVotchKa crew, they elevated above ground and to greener pastures, nabbing an Oscar nod for the Little Miss Sunshine soundtrack (the majority of which the band scored). We may have glazed over the praise-worthy compilation -- and who can blame us after Abigail Breslin "Super Freak"-ed her way into the musical memory of the film -- but the Academy Awards sure didn't. Similarly, the band's sound has been recognized by the producers of "Everwood," "Weeds," the Bonnaroo Music Festival, the Grammy Awards and Billboard. 

The hardest part about loving this band is attempting to describe it to others, especially because of its eclectic sound. Described by some as "gypsy folk," the band reminds me a bit of Mariachi El Bronx at times (like on "Contrabanda" and "Along the Way" for example), The Drifters ("Somethin' Stupid") and even The Killers / Bruce Springsteen ("All the Sand in All the Sea;" "The Last Beat of My Heart;" The Alley"). And while the aforementioned tracks are among the top of my list of DeVotchKa tunes, the hands-down fav seems to be the oldie but great-ie "How It Ends." Try to keep your composure; it's quite melancholy. 

Near the West Coast? DeVotchKa is touring close to home through the month. Info at its site below.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sundrenched Everywhere

We all know that I'm an alternative rock groupie (anyone else feel compelled to organize a sit-in at the WRXP studios in protest of its switch-over to WFAN?). What you may be unaware of is the newly launched, which may just be my new vehicle for new music. Described by as "music social network that combined elements of American Idol and YouTube," the site gives aspiring artists a platform to enter contests, get feedback and achieve exposure and prizes. 

Thanks to Invenio, I've discovered the Connecticut-bred quartet Echo & Drake and what has become my sleep-song serenade.  Check out the band's "Morning Dove," below. While you're at it, try "Sundrenched Elsewhere," the title track from the band's late-2011 debut, as it is Invenio Music's recent "Original Song Winner." Looking for a reference? Think Snow Patrol meets The Cure meets Phoenix. 

Feel like celebrating? Join the site's creators and yours truly at the site's launch party tomorrow at NYC's Session 73 at 8pm. Comment for more details. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Minor Glimpse of Major Lazer

The good news is -- after three long years -- Major Lazer has finally announced the upcoming release of its second studio album Free The Universe. The bad news? The Diplo project announced the album's delay shortly after, as the original November 6th date has now been pushed back to February 19, 2013. Lucky for us, it gave us a little taste to whet our appetites. An appropriate amuse-bouche for what is sure to be some scrumptious musical sustenance, as this is a compilation of the industry's finest. Featuring collaborations with Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig, Tyga, Bruno Mars, Wyclef Jean, Shaggy, Wynter Gordon, Dirty Projectors' Amber Coffman (on "Get Free") and others, the guest list is impressive. Check out the first single from the album below. 

Unfamiliar with the brainchild of Diplo (and formerly, of Switch)? You're more familiar with its work than you think. Have a listen to "Pon de Floor" ft. Vybz Kartel (also below). Ring a bell?

Major Lazer is playing Bowery Presents' Terminal 5 in New York on October 27th if you're looking for an excuse to start your Halloween boozing a few days early. Tickets and other info at the website below.

In memory of MS.