Neat Tracks / Feist “Undiscovered First”

By Amanda DK

It’s no secret that Feist’s Metals is a solid album. The fifth release by the Canadian songstress received glowing reviews when it was first released in October. Rolling Stone named it as one of their picks for best albums of 2011. While her vocals are as lyrical and lovely as ever, the album has a vast, rustic quality, as though it captured a bit of the energy of Big Sur, California, where it was recorded. None of the tracks are as saccharine and catchy as “1234,” instead Metals reveals a more experimental, powerful side of the artist. Even mystical.


Neat Tracks / Thao & Mirah “Eleven (ft. tUnE-YarDs)”


Enter Thao Nguyen (“Thao”): Known for her raw, brassy riffing and sensuality.

Enter Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn (“Mirah”): A sound chameleon, each album subtly different from the next, but with the same throughline of airy, breathy vocals.

Their powers combine on Thao & Mirah, the bluntly named first collaborative album from the two earthy songstresses, released on yesterday on Kill Rock Stars.

The result?  I’ll venture to say the whole is greater than the parts (and I loved Thao’s Know Better, Learn Faster).  I adore this album in the same way I do Alexander Ebert’s “Alexander” – on the surface it’s simple, but unique flourishes both with the vocals and in the instrumentation on every track make the whole experience really special.  Thao’s trademark offbeat belting intertwines perfectly with Mirah’s sweetness.  Each track is a little different, some with twangy garage guitars, other with a foundation of fuzzy beats.  All of them feel intimate, as though listening in on someone humming along to themselves; recorded so close you can hear fingers brushing across the guitar strings.

And then there is the opening track, “Eleven,” which is on another plane entirely – in an awesome way.  “Eleven” is the most lush, produced track on the album, which may have something to do with the contributions from Merrill Garbus, better known as the bad-ass (and buzzy) tUnE-YarDs.  Whatever the reason, the song is an expression of joy in the form of tribal beats trimmed with dreamy electronic bells and whistles.  Play this at your next neighborhood summer block party.

Thao & Mirah “Eleven (ft. tUnE-YarDs)”

Purchase Thao & Mirah at the Kill Rock Stars store.  A digital download of the album is only $5.00!

RIYL Mixtape / Florence + The Machine :: When Women Become Animals

RIYL Mixtapes: Because sometimes the best way to get to know a new artist is to use them in a sentence.

Chances are that if you owned a television or went to the movies in 2010 you know of Florence + The Machine.  Songs from her debut album Lungs have been used in trailers for Eat, Pray, Love, on TV in ABC Family’s Wild Child, Saving Grace, The Vampire Diaries, Grey’s Anatomy, V, So You Think You Can Dance, Covert Affairs, Glee, and on the big screen in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and Jennifer’s Body.  Dizzee Rascal and The xx have remixed her tunes.  She performed all over the place, including Coachella 2010, Glastonbury 2010, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Late Night with David Letterman, the MTV Music Video Awards 2010, and the 2010 Brit Awards among many other venues.

In other words there was no way to miss the London native.  


RIYL Mixtape / Laura Veirs :: Summer Love

RIYL Mixtapes: Because sometimes the best way to get to know a new artist is to use them in a sentence.

I’ve decided to do RIYL Mixtapes a little differently.  The first one started with an excellent new band and put them in a playlist with more known names, but then I realized that it’s probably a better idea to start with an artist people are more familiar with and go from there.

RIYL: Laura Veirs

This mixtape begins with Colorado native, Laura Veirs.  Her latest effort July Flame landed her on many Best of 2010 lists, including NPR, Paste, American Songwriter, and a slew of other blogs (including this one).  The album is quiet and organic.  Veirs draws you into such an intimate listening experience with her pure voice that, when finished, you can’t help feel woken from a beautiful trance.  Since the album is an ode to the fleeting sweetness of the summer, it seemed appropriate to introduce several other songstresses and artists in a play on that theme, specifically, summer love: exciting, hot, and often fading with the season itself.  Mixtape below.


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