06 April 2009

Vocal Blanketing: Ethereal Music for Rainy Days

Recently, during a rather frazzled moment of negotiating the vehicular nightmare that is Commercial Avenue in New Brunswick, I heard one of the most soothing songs to ever reach my ears. My radio was tuned in to 90.3 The Core (Rutgers University Radio) and the song that was playing was Generosity by Mirah. Not only was her vocal style an unexpected comfort as I weaved through traffic and random pedestrians, but the accompanying violins brought me to a place far from the industrial landscape. As a voracious reader of music magazines, I encountered articles extolling the wonder of Mirah, but had never actually given her music a listen.

is a stand out song from the March 2009 Mirah album, (a)spera. Lyrics such as We've eaten unrestrained but now, These green fruits will remain sour, These clouds we've made cannot make rain dramatically illustrate the tale of love gone awry. Gone Are the Days is a less dramatic track that showcases Mirah's jazzy vocals that are similar in style to Ani DiFranco. Although I am unfamiliar with her back catalogue, I am looking forward to more opportunities to listen to Mirah.

Another female vocalist that can provide solace on a rainy day is Bat for Lashes. Natasha Khan who goes by the moniker Bat for Lashes has recently been featured in numerous magazines including Foam, Bust, and Nylon, in promotion of her upcoming album Two Suns. When an artist is as uniquely beautiful as Natasha Khan, it is often easier for her label to devote more time to marketing her persona than her music. Such was the case with her debut album, Fur and Gold.

Fur and Gold featured the single What's a Girl to Do?, which helped to propel Bat for Lashes to her current status as indie darling. However, the style of the album did little to help solidify Bat for Lashes from as a serious artist. With Two Suns, Bat for Lashes accomplishes the difficult feat of creating art that is as gorgeous as the artist. Upon first hearing Traveling Woman, listeners may mistake Natasha Khan's vocals for the more mature sounds of an A&E era Goldfrapp. As someone who fell in love with A&E, I find Traveling Woman and Sleep Alone to be two of my favorite tracks.

Today, on this particularly yucky April day, I will find solace in the comforting voices of both Bat for Lashes and Mirah. Rather than shudder at the fluctuating weather, I will continue to basque in the warmth of these particularly unique voices. Bat for Lashes' album, Two Suns, will be released on April 6 and (a)spera is currently available.

Traveling Woman-Bat for Lashes

That's So Jersey! Going Down to the Shore

As the weather grows increasingly warmer, citizens of the Tri-state area (New York, Philadelphia, and New Jersey) begin to plan trips to visit the Jersey Shore. Having spent most of my life living in Central New Jersey, within close proximity to Seaside Heights and Great Adventure, I am well acquainted with tension that exists between shore locals and tourists. As a teenager, I worked as a costumed character at Great Adventure, which helped me to develop my unique relationship with Shore tourists.

One on hand, as a "reformed" sorority girl, I can relate to people wanting to claim their "right to party". On the other hand, I have first hand experience in the visitor take all attitude that often accompanies shore tourists. Like anything, one bad apple can spoil the bunch. Locals develop this sense that everyone who travels to the shore is a meat head character from an Mtv documentary. The guys portrayed in the "Jersey Shore Time Share" episode depict the stereotype that many Americans have of New Jersey. Check out a clip, after the jump, of the guys who give Jersey "a bad name".

After spending time as a resident of Middlesex (and soon) Somerset Counties, I have worked and played with many of the people I would have once mocked. Residents of Northern New Jersey aren't bad people; they have just been stereotyped that way. When my co-workers state that they will be visiting "Bar A" or Jenkinson's, I just give a little smile. What they don't know is that while they will be in Belmar or Pt. Pleasant, I will be enjoying a cocktail at a bar in Asbury Park (far away from funnel cake). However, during my time spent in New Brunswick, I have learned one important lesson. When the day is over, we are all still from New Jersey. Perhaps, Rodney King said it best: can't we all just get along!