Thursday, February 5, 2009

Don't believe the hype(m):: Laura Gibson, Eleni Mandell & Blackbird Harmony

I’m sure almost everyone that reads blogs visits aggregators like the hype machine hoping to see what songs are getting blog love, but I have to say that it's painful to people post the same song over and over again. These days it’s anything off the Animal Collective record, but you could really substitute that with any of the hot acts from the last few years (Justice, The National, Kanye and of course any remix of or by these artists).

So, in an effort to promote musicians and give away some legal MP3, we are going to mention a few of our favs and hopefully they will get showered with some of that adoration.

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We’ve talked about Portland singer Laura Gibson a few times here on herohill, but even so, we probably don’t give her enough praise.

Laura’s voice blends the line between child like innocence and that of a veteran chanteuse. She can captivate you with little more than a gentle picked riff and her voice, but her new record – Beast of Seasons – incorporates more textures and experimentation (including the swirling, fleshed out version of Where Have All Your Good Words Gone. Gibson uses strings, mood and layers well throughout the record, but never strays too far from the intimacy she for which she is known.



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Eleni Mandell is back and if the lead single proves anything, she’s ready to rock. Artificial Fire slinks along sexily, letting Eleni’s voice smolder. I haven’t spent much time with the record yet, but Eleni seems to be harvesting new emotions this time around. The crunchy rock of Bigger Burn, the terrific swell of the peppy Personal and the bounce of the horn laced The Right Side are all noticeable departures from the thrift store jazz songs I fell in love with on Miracle of Fire.

That doesn’t make them any less enjoyable mind you, it just proves that Eleni is a constantly evolving artist.

MP3::

Eleni Mandell – Artificial Fire


Finally we have the country themes of Blackbird Harmony. Led by Evan Birdsong, Blackbird Harmonies crafts dark country tales and exposes touching heartache (Tonight... If It's the Last Time I See You).

Evan’s voice is balanced by well placed electric, lap steel, drums and female harmonies. The bended notes that helps him on the title track is understated but force you to pay attention. Honestly, even with the gritty subject matter, every note is well thought out (the electric guitar ripple and feedback that ends the record works perfectly) .

What really helps the record is the fact Evan is so willing to share the spotlight with Mara Lee Miller. Her harmonies and vocal leads give the songs a softer, more accessible side and the way they play off each other really soaks the tracks in emotion.It ain't for the faint of heart, but it's beautiful nonetheless.

This record is up for grabs on the yerbird aviary, so … go get it.

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Posted at 7:43 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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