new music: Phantastic Ferniture

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Phantastic Ferniture, “Gap Year”

heavy indie guitar propels this captivating song with vox that sound like Juliana Hatfield.

Sydney, Australia solo artists Julia Jacklin, Elizabeth Hughes and Ryan Brennan decided it might be fun to form a band while celebrating Jacklin’s 24th birthday.

Jacklin said: “Ryan never played drums in bands, Liz had never been a lead guitarist, Tom didn’t play bass and I’d never just sung before.”

Hughes added: “We wanted a low level of expertise, because a lot of good music comes from people whose passion exceeds their skill.”

Phantastic Ferniture’s self-titled debut album will be out July 27, 2018 on Transgressive.

track listing:
1. Uncomfortable
Teenager
2. Bad Timing
3. Fuckin ‘n’ Rollin
4. Gap Year
5. Take It Off
6. Parks
7. I Need It
8. Dark Corner
Dance Floor
9. Mummy y Papa

 

 

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new music: Isla Craig

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Isla Craig , “Love Song”

–a gorgeous, meditative song with ethereal vocals and varied instrumentation with organ, saxophone, bass and synth. It’s a dreamy eclectic soundscape, a genuine auditory treat. I’m looking forward to hearing the entire album from the Toronto-based multi-dimensional vocalist and songwriter.

The Becoming, the third album from Isla Craig, will be released on June 22, 2018 on Pleasence Records.

Track List:

  1. Intro
  2. The Becoming
  3. Out Of A Dream
  4. Love Song
  5. I’m Lost
  6. Faraway Blue
  7. Who Am I
  8. The Becoming (reprise)
  9. Bird Of Paradise
  10. There Is A Hole
  11. Messages (garden Edition)
  12. Gregory

 

 

 

 

 

 

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new music: Salim Nourallah

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If you’re in the mood for some moody indie rock, check this out.
Singer/songwriter Salim Nourallah will be releasing a double-album, Somewhere South of Sane, this fall on Palo Santo Records. Nourallah calls it “the work of a functional crazy person.” The Dallas, Texas-based musician plans to put out four pre-album “bundles” that will include tracks from the album as well as previously recorded but unreleased material or acoustic re-workings of tracks from past albums.  Each bundle will be accompanied by new online video content.

Bundle one, entitled North and set for release on June 1, 2018, will include a track from Somewhere South of Sane (“Relief”) as well as a re-recording of 2015’s “The Bullies Are Back” and the devastatingly beautiful “Totally Lost.”

Bundle two, entitled West, is set for release on June 29, 2018.  Included on this release are two tracks that will also appear on Somewhere South of Sane – “Moving Man” and “Going Through The Motions,” as well as a bonus track from the album sessions called “We Were Made to Fall Apart.”  The video accompanying this bundle is a clip for the song “Moving Man,” shot entirely by Nourallah’s 8-year-old and 14-year-old kids.  It will premiere the week of June 25th.

“I took my sweet time making Somewhere South of Sane,” Nourallah says, “so I figured why not continue the trend and methodically enjoy the pre-release months? I also had almost an entire extra album’s worth of tracks I left off because a triple record felt excessive. I will be releasing that bonus material in each of the pre-album bundles we roll out.”

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new music: Rubblebucket, Jenn Champion

Rubblebucket, “Fruity”

–a wonderful happy/sad song with cool bouncy beat and wistful vocals. The Brooklyn band’s new album, Sun Machine, will be out August 24, 2018.

Rubblebucket is:
Kalmia Traver – lead vocals/baritone saxophone
Alex Toth – trumpet/vox
Dandy McDowell – bass
Maddie Rice – guitar
Adam Dotson – trombone

 

Jenn Champion, “Time to Regulate”

–a beautiful collision of sweet vocals and deep beats from the Seattle indie pop artist. She said: “Sometimes you are sad and you just want to dance about it.” The full-length album Single Rider,will be released Friday, July 13, 2018.

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book review: There are No Grown-Ups

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There are No Grown-Ups: A Midlife Coming-of-Age Story by Pamela Druckerman. Penguin Press| May 29, 2018| 274 pages | $27.00| ISBN: 978-1-59420-637-5

RATING: *****/5*

–review by Amy Steele

“What are the forties? It’s been my custom not to grasp a decade’s main point until it’s over, and I’ve squandered it. I spend my twenties scrambling in vain to find a husband, when I should have been building my career as a journalist and visiting dangerous places before I had kids. As a result, in my early thirties I was promptly fired from my job at a newspaper. That freed me up to spend the rest of my thirties ruminating on grievances and lost time.”

I don’t have much of a career or a personal life. I have no long-term partner and by choice, I have no children. I live in the suburbs and I’m pretty miserable and frustrated. Maybe it could be much worse. Author Pamela Druckerman writes in the introduction: “Obviously, the forties depend on the beholder, and on your family, your health, your finances and your country.” Reading Druckerman’s amusing, thoughtful and moving memoir made me feel a bit less alone. It’s comforting that someone else has had the same thoughts I’ve had about middle age and aging. Everyone goes through it. Maybe some better than others. Does everyone go through a midlife crisis? Probably not. I’m definitely a late bloomer so there’s that although in the end it won’t matter. Also we have greater longevity so maybe you can fuck up more.

Exploring the social, psychological and biological aspects of one’s forties, Durckerman combines topical research with her astute and amusing observations and experiences. She writes about her journalism career, her engagements as a speaker, battling cancer, her marriage and children as well as general thoughts on what one should be doing at a certain age. In the essay How to Turn Forty, she writes: “But I still don’t feel like a grown-up, in part because I haven’t found my tribe.” I feel the same. In the past year, I joined a yoga studio but I’m wedging myself into places I’ll never fit.

Each chapter is titled How to ___. Some of the chapters include: How to Find Your Calling, How to Choose a Partner, How to Turn Forty, How to Raise Children, How to Plan a Menage a Trois, How to Have a Midlife Crisis, How to Be Jung, How to Get Dressed, How to Age Gracefully, How to Think in French and How to Make Friends. Each chapter ends with little jokes which start with Your Know You’re in Your forties when… Two great ones: You know you’re in your forties when … You’re not considering Botox, but you are considering bangs.” And “You know you’re in your forties when . . . You no longer care (or remember) how many people you slept with.” I hooked up with a much younger guy who seemed quite annoyed that I’d had so many more sexual partners than him. I stopped counting at a certain point because it really doesn’t matter.

“We’ve actually managed to learn and grow a bit. After a lifetime of feeling like misfits, we realize that more about us is universal than not. (My unscientific assessment is that we’re 95 percent cohort, 4 percent unique.) The seminal journey of the forties is from “everyone hates me” to “they don’t really care.”

The essays on midlife crisis and that address wisdom and intelligence are particularly interesting. Druckerman brings in some Jung theory. She discusses cultural differences. As an expat loving in Paris, she writes from a unique perspective. Druckerman lives in Paris with her British husband and French children. French women are much more glamorous and elegant than Americans. I participated in a French exchange program in the 80s and I remember how stylish in navy and black the mom always appeared.

When she traveled to Brazil to speak at a conference, she noted: “Crying is the mark of a successful gathering in Brazil and a sign that you’re connected.” It’s challenging to make new friends as you get older. Are they your own friends or other parents at your children’s school or the spouses of your partner’s colleagues? She also compares Eastern culture to Western culture. Asians are high context and understand they need to comprehend interaction of everyone involved to fully understand something. Americans are (not surprisingly) low context. Americans are mostly concerned with themselves, on individuals. Quelle surprise.

Druckerman wrote a NYT column entitled “What You Learn in Your 40s” and its popularity led to four years researching and writing this memoir. If you’re in or near your forties you’ll definitely find many simpatico elements in this memoir. If you’re younger maybe it should eliminate some of the stigmas associated with aging.

Pamela Druckerman will be at Brookline Booksmith on Wednesday, May 30 at 7pm.

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book review: A Theory of Love

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A Theory of Love by Margaret Bradham Thornton. Ecco| May 2018| 275 pages | $27.99| ISBN: 978-0-06-274270-4

RATING: ****/5*

–review by Amy Steele

“Bermeja was the name given to the eight-mile stretch along Mexico’s Pacific coast halfway between Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco. Surrounded by a thirty-six-thousand-acre nature preserve, Bermeja was referred to as the land where nobody was born and nobody died. Protected by high cliffs and jungles and wetlands, it was often separated on its eastern boundary by flooding rivers.”

Although the couple in this novel hasn’t fabricated a relationship, A Theory of Love reminded me of Glimpses of a Moon, one of my favorite novels by Edith Wharton. In it, a young couple decides to marry so that they can travel around on an extended honeymoon staying at their friends’ lovely homes. In A Theory of Love, Helen, a British journalist, meets lawyer turned financier Christopher while she’s on assignment in Bermeja. He’s there for a bit of relaxation on his surfboard.  Author Margaret Bradham Thornton takes readers to Bermeja, Saint Tropez, London, Sussex, Fontainbleu, Chamonix, Tangier, Milan, Havana and New York.

She’s a journalist in the trenches and he’s interacting with financial elite. That could be why the relationship doesn’t fare well. Could also be the jetset nature of their relationship. His company is rather new and he’s working long days, seven days a week and isn’t able to invest the time in the relationship that Helen desires. Perhaps they’d have fared better if they’d worked out these logistics before marrying. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do? Figure out where you want to live and if you’re both morning people or night owls and if you want to have children and such.

The characteristics which attract them to each other may be the details that drive them apart in the end. I particularly enjoyed the ritzy scenes. They’re elaborate but not grossly obscene.  For instance, Christopher’s mother is involved in equestrian affairs: “She finds talented working students and gives them good horse to ride, and that works for a while until she feels they have been disloyal or unappreciative, and then that relationship falters.” They attend a fancy dinner party hosted by a French businessman (he’s CEO of his family’s chemical company) and his artist wife Penelope–“She was a photographer, and while she spent more time on the decoration of her seven houses than on her photography, she had resisted the cliched hallmarks of the wealthy wife and dressed in a bohemian style.”

Helen wants everything upfront and laments that she didn’t know everything about Christopher before they married which seems impossible and also rather dull. If you already know each other than what do you talk about? Christopher is in the let’s see what happens mode. Thornton writes: “He had come to value, maybe even cherish, a sense of patience—of letting things play themselves out. Perhaps his ability to see how things would develop or unravel allowed him this equanimity. He understood that events had their own interval sense of motion.”

Thornton writes: “She was thinking about how they seemed to be moving away from each other and wondering why neither one of them tried to do anything about it. there were times when it felt as if he had lost her, as if he were thinking so intensely about what was in front of him that he would forget her, as if his mind were emptied of all thoughts of her.”

Sounds like mindfulness to me and honestly, I didn’t particularly like either character but that’s never been essential to my enjoyment of a novel. A good writer makes you continue to read despite the characters. I liked their non-relationship relationship and pondering if they’re getting what they feel they should from each other. There’s mysterious elements to it all. In addition, Christopher thinks his business partner may be involved in illegal activity and as Helen faces an unexpected pregnancy, he’s engulfed in an investigation. This novel effectively ponders attraction and love while languishing in beautiful scenery and prose. It’s a wonderful indulgence and escape.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Ecco.

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new music: Eliza Rickman, Sarah Blasko, La Luz

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If you like Amanda Palmer, you’ll like Eliza Rickman.  The talented piano player, writes weird, dark and beautiful chamber pop songs. She earned a bachelor’s degree in music and orchestration. Rickman is currently on tour. I saw her perform six years ago!

Sarah Blasko, “Read My Mind”

If you like Sarah McLachlan and Tori Amos and St. Vincent, you might like Sydney singer/songwriter Sarah Blasko. Her sixth studio album is Depth of Field. She wrote this gorgeous, heartfelt and rather infectious song, “Read My Mind,” for her son.

Sarah said: “Read My Mind is about unspoken connections, the special ways we communicate with people we love. It was written about my son Jerry & the wonder experienced in getting to know him & looking after him when he was very small. It was as though he was not yet human, very primal, so switched on to me & I to him. We communicated in a very unique way. He spoke to me in a kind of half-speak that was so adorable & I felt like we understood each other perfectly.”

La Luz, “Mean Dream”

New video and another dreamy cool single from La Luz who are on tour now and will be at Once Ballroom in Somerville, Mass. on June 6, 2018. La Luz is: Shana Cleveland [vocals/ guitar], Marian Li Pino [drums], Alice Sandahl [keyboards], and Lena Simon [bass].

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