Bella Koshka: Slow Dancing On The Ocean Floor [Album]

If a woman’s voice has never haunted your dreams, then you have never really lived. It may take an alternative savoy band like Bella Koshka and their disturbingly efficient album Slow Dancing On The Ocean Floor to truly throw your eyes in the back of your head and make you discover the secrets of a real existence. Laura Boland’s vocals are sure to stir you into euphoria and terror with ease.

Unlike most female led alternative groups, Bella Koshka isn’t campy or indecisive in their attitude. Their tracks are consistently ery and entertaining. “Relic” brings out the tattooed head banger in all of us. While “Treasure” pushes the scary ass violin based ballad to the limit. 35 minutes in a haunted house is alot for anyone to consume. But, when put into the form of Slow Dancing On The Ocean Floor, it’s down right compelling.

Everyone should know this album. It’s the indie alternative version of The Little Mermaid. It’s a perfect soundtrack to obscurity. It’s the power of the dark side spiked with handfuls of skittles. They dementia never hinders as tremendous guitar riffs overpower tempting bass lines and the fore mentioned scary ass violin. This is an album that can be universally appreciated in all realms of music livelihood.

Visit for more details and live streaming.

The Color Turning: Good Hands, Bad Blood [Album]

It’s probably not right to say that The Color Turning’s Good Hands Bad Blood might make you want to take a nice hot bath. That might imply there’s something dirty about it. Or that you’re dirty. Maybe you are, but this intriguing collection L.A. psychedelic tunes are nothing far from clean, crisp, and relaxing. As the experimental and vibrant sounds move through your speakers, you have to be one strung out human being to not feel inexplicable calm and impressionable.

“Where The Sky Ends” is one of the most hard rocking tracks on the disc. Yet it still remains as cool and collective as Sinatra in his heyday. “Ghost Song” has some pretty heavy chords and explosions of heartache as well. “Me Versus Me” pulls from some pretty obvious influences, but still holds it’s own originality. Overall, each track brings it’s own personality to Good Hands Bad Blood. A personality that might seem a bit self conscious at times, but never lacks the creative spirit.

The Color Turning is not unlike a lot bands you occasionally stumble upon. You know them when you hear them. Their your cousin’s boyfriend’s favorite band. They have the sound that might scare off some pop rock followers. Yet, they manage to twist it up a bit and bring the hesitant listener into a world they can understand. You don’t have to be “uber-cool” to love these guys. You just have to appreciate some good tunes when you hear them. You will hear them here.

Learn more about The Color Turning, and what they are up to these days at their WEBSITE.

Jonathan Kimball: Optimisms [Album]

Folk music has inspired artists from several different spheres of music. Everyone knew that Kurt Cobain was a huge Leadbelly fan. And every musician knows what it means to strip themselves of electricity, and push around an old school feel with just their finger tips and an acoustic guitar. So when Jonathan Kimball dropped his solo debut albumOptimisims, with just this state of mind, it shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise. But for a prog rock, reggae, ska, and punk engineer of obscurity to bring it to the level he did, a bit of surprise was inevitable.

“Commentary’s bullshit anyway, severed at the skin, waiting to decay”. Lyrics to a death metal track? Nope. It’s just one clever bit of dark satire from Optimism’s star track, “Box of Empty Thoughts”. With an Art Garfunkel meets Hank III sort of country feel, Kimball pushes us from ships to flights of stories that tell us what exactly he believes it takes to be alive. He says it best on “Choice to Choose” with high pitched guitar picking and darkness versus light emotional battlefields put right out for the rest of us to digest.

The rebellious spirit is clear throughout Optimisms. But, this is an album that would could be heard with the same measure of delight in a hookah lounge in Antioch California, as it would in a tavern in Box Elder, South Dakota. Jonathan Kimball is an artist with an almost inconceivable range of talent. He seems to know what style will have the most impact at exactly the right moment. The yearning to hear what he is going to do next is a part of his appeal. Not just clever marketing. But, a brilliant way to breathe in the world of wordplay and musical development.

Find out what Jonathan Kimball has been up to lately by friending him on Facebook.

Elaine Greer: Making Plans and Going Places [Album]

Elaine Greer has something unexplainably awesome about her. At first listen, it’s hard to comprehend what really makes her special or sets her apart from so many other folk songstresses of our current times. There’s not a lot. But, there’s something there that keeps you tuned into what she has to say. Her debut EP Making Plans and Going Places has so many youth like attachments that are so bloody attractive you might just be surprised by how much you will enjoy a nice dose of pure unadulterated innocence.

The opening track, “Making Plans”, kicks of a with what sounds like a merry go round friendly tune immediately followed by Elaine’s sweet and sensitive vocals. Though the tunes change throughout the rest of the album, this constantly twirling about in an organization sense of chaos sets the tone and spirit of the entire album. But, the standout track has to be the stripped down and flower powered cut “When The Colors Leave”. You will clap, lean, rock, love to this uplifting low powered ballad.

Still, Greer seems like nothing new really. But, isn’t that okay? It’s not essential for every artist to break through the scene with completely original ideas and musical doctrine. Some just want to join in, make music, and live the life of a creative expressionalist.  Mastering a well respected field is definitely impressive enough for me.  Nothing is taken from the beauty of Making Plans and Going Places just because it might be similar to something else you have heard. May Elaine have a long and withstanding career that proves her to by one of the many women of folk strumming their way through life the way they see fit.

Discover more Greer goodness at her WEBSITE.

Ben Glover: Through The Noise, Through The Night [Album]

It’s actually been a couple of years since Ben Glover dropped this beautiful album, Through The Noise, Through The Night, an album that any fan of besieged and nicely wrapped singer/songwriter treatments should not forget when they begin to name their favorites. Hanging just around the edge of a new aged classic rock sound, Glover shows us that the power of a pretty little song about something pretty and little is something we will never grow tired of.

With a voice like Petty, Glover sings of love and loss as expected. But, he also spins a bit of sappy storytelling into a modern display of artistic ingenuity. Just check out tracks like “Full Moon Child” and “First Chance For A Second Try” and see for yourself if Ben isn’t everything you are looking for in the new age version of singer/songwriter holding a guitar and pouring is soul into a cup half filled with Jameson, and the other half with institutive hope. And the borderline country/folk opus “Too Late To Leave Her Alone” is one of the most genuinely intimate songs you may ever hear, so much so that you might feel as though you are actually intruding, hearing something that was only meant for two.

Ben Glover is just plain great. No, he’s not spewing out obscurities and obscenities to demand attention, and he’s not quoting little known Peruvian philosophers or turning the latest Mac Book applications into some sort of art form. He’s simply showing us how wonderful a pretty little song, laced with violins and fluttering magic, can make us feel something we should be feeling all the time. And if Ben Glover can’t make you feel like you are floating on a cloud of overtly explosive love, then the sorrow is all yours.

Discover more about the amazing talent that is Ben Glover from his WEBSITE.

Circlebirds: Complexities [Album]

It only seems rational that a town in Texas called College Station would be the home to new age folk (which is basically College Rock from the 80′s) group such as Circlebirds. This vocally driven four piece band of troubadours have a created a shining example of well developed experimental folk with their debut album Complexities. There is tenderness to the lyrics, and delightful feeling of almost codeine induced tranquility to be heard on just a dozen tracks. This is beauty at its beastly best.

Complexities has some excellent stripped down, singer-songwriter moments brought to courtesy of the band’s founder Matt Jackson. But, it might be best to note the lo-fi indie pop inspired tracks that highlight the album such as “Howling at the Moon” and “Catfish Whiskers”. But, for fans of the down home feelings that a simple acoustic guitar and a just a slight amount of ambience, it would be behoove you to look into “Finally Feeling” or “The Fever Has Passed”. No matter what suits your fancy, Circlebirds is eager to please, and most definitely will be a treat for fans of lyrically driven and inspiring folk music.

According to the band’s Facebook page, Circlebirds were born “from fires of hardcore music and failed relationships”. As narcissistic as it may seem, this is awesome! It is attitudes like this that brought us the best work of Leonard Cohen, Nick Drake, and latter day Johnny Cash. Sure, these guys don’t sound at all aged and weathered as these fore mentioned legends of rock and roll, but they have the spirit of the legends that preceded them. Want proof? Look no further than their own words: “I’ve seen fire and I’ve touched water, but no I’m feeling something new”. There may just be a new dawn for the living artist, and Jackson and crew are right there to sulk in the pleasant sorrow of being talented and free from the mundane.

Learn more about what Circlebirds has been up to by Liking them on Facebook.

The Get Busy Committee: Little Razor Blades [Single]

Rhymers Ryu and Apathy do no play around. As vocalists for The Get Busy Committee, they bring such a direly needed sense of realism that i’s almost depressing. But, such is life at times. Thankfully pain and suffering can be playfully portrayed throughout bouncing beats with a light hearted feel. It’s almost hard to believe a line like “Choppin’ up a line up on the top of a toilet” could make you nod your head in enjoyment. And GBC producer Scoop Deville knows more about being an artist in the world of hip hop than Timbaland or Scott Storch could ever even imagine.

“Food stamps, government cheese, and some cocaine/ I never knew a single soul who owned a rope chain”. This line pretty much sums up the entire theme of “Little Razor Blades”. The 80′s were some fucked up times for black folks suffering under the Reagan dictatorship. Especially in the GBC’s homeland of southern California. If rappers like The Game or E-40 just don’t feel speak enough truth for you (which the regularly do not), then look no further than these group right here. “All that glitters ain’t gold, I promise” is a perfect description for the collection of images found in this video. This is the best and most humbly entertaining display of popular hip hop since it was new to say to say fuck the police.

“Little Razor Blades” can be found on the GBC’s debut album Uzi Does It available on CD, MP3 download, and an Uzi shaped USB hard drive (yes, this is for real) on their website.

More Than “Male”

Gender variance… The quantum mechanics of the gender world.

The whole topic of gender is a much more murky concept than most people give it credit for. It certainly goes further than what’s on your birth certificate or driver’s license. I debated for a long time on whether or not to actually write about this subject, and I think most people will understand why by the end of this.

Most people think they have a pretty clear view of what gender is and how it works. It seems cut and dry doesn’t it? You’re born, the doctor slaps you on the ass and tells your parents “congratulations, it’s a boy” (or girl as the case may be) and that’s that. The only gray area may be in the case of someone who is intersexed, or possesses parts or pieces of both genders. But, the further you dig, the larger that gray area becomes. You see, when the doctor says “it’s a boy” when you’re born, a more correct phrase would be “it appears to be a boy”. Being intersexed comes in many forms, some of which may look and even function like that of being totally one gender or the other. I won’t dwell on this too long, and I don’t want to get too technical, so suffice it to say that just because you have a wank or a hoo-ha doesn’t necessarily mean you’re male or female. It really takes a science lab to know for sure. Even then, there can be some variance. When they look at chromosomes, “XX” usually means female, but not always, just like “XY” usually means male, but not always. Other codes are the markers of being intersexed.

Your gender was formed before you were born. If you’re male, then at some point a wave of testosterone washed over you as a fetus and changed the way your body and mind formed. But what happens if for whatever reason that “wash” was incomplete? What if it affected the way your body formed, but not your mind? Well, that’s one theory of how we came to have variance in gender identity.

Now that the waters are sufficiently muddied, it’s a perfect time to bring up the topic of gender identity. Most people are “cisgendered”, that means that their gender identity and their birth gender match up. People who identify as the opposite of their birth gender can be called “transgendered”. If you feel that you are both genders at the same time or one gender more or less than the other, you can be called “androgynous”. If you feel that you are neither gender, then you’re “gender neutral” or “neutrois”. If you feel like you have a dual gender identity, then you can be called “bigendered”. If you feel like you’re two or more gender variations, then you can be called “trigendered”. There are many more variations too, and I over-simplified my definitions quite a bit. This all seems like it could be very complicated, and it gets much more complicated once you find out that gender identity isn’t even limited to the standard gender binary of male and female. If your gender identity is neither here nor there, difficult to label, or constantly changing, you can use the term “gender fluid”. All of these can fall under the umbrella term “gender queer”, although some people find that term offensive.

This gets into what I call “crazy label land”, where every different nuance of your personality comes with a new label.

As for me, I identify as being bigendered. Hold on a minute, I’ve got to close the closet door. In a nutshell, there’s as many ways to define exactly what bigenderism is as there are people who identify as being bigendered, which isn’t many. Somewhere around 3% of males and 8% of females identify with the term. For me, basically, it’s like being both male and female at the same time, although sometimes I lean more to one side or the other. Originally, I thought I was transgendered… To be specific, I thought I was a failure at being transgendered. For several months I actually lived full time as female (and yes, I was hot), but after some time, living that way became tedious. Sometimes I felt totally cisgendered and wondered why I even went down that road. In those times, feelings of regret and shame about my identity were common… Sucks to have gender dysphoria in either gender. That’s about the time I figured out that I was bigendered, but by then I was so fed up with the whole thing that I just ignored it for a few years. Yeah, it didn’t go away.

The outward effect of being bigendered isn’t an obvious one. It’s something like the Native American concept of “two spirit” people. I’m just more than male. I can carry on a conversation about anything from bear hunting to eye liner. I’m totally male, but part of me is also totally female. The way I see it, some personalities are just too wide to be defined by one gender. I like to think of it as a harmony between masculine and feminine thought patterns. The best of both worlds, if you will.

To wrap all this up, gender isn’t something most people think about. After all, if you’re cisgendered, it would be a little like a fish thinking about how wet they are. No matter how much we think about it though, it’s a big part of who we are and our identity. Probably the first thing we notice about people we meet is what gender they are, since that defines how we relate to them. Our gender defines how we relate to the world as well. It’s not a stretch to say that gender largely defines how we experience life, yet it is still one of the least understood bits of who we are as human beings and as a society.

I’d be more than happy to answer questions about this one since it’s pretty much impossible to sum it all up in one post.

Catherine Capozzi [Artist]

Photo by Kelly Davidson

Wow.  Just, wow.  I’ve spent the better part of my life critiquing (in one form or another) what I considered to be quality guitar playing.  Whether it’s sweet and solid folk chords, to full-blown metal riffs.  Or maybe a combination of the two, if at all possible.  Rarely it is, but dammit sometimes it happens.  And what do most of the legends of our time, and times before have in common?  They’re usually men.  Yet, here comes along a lady who can strum the electric musical sword better than damn near anyone I’ve ever heard.  I’ve never felt more like a sexist prick than I did before listening to Catherin Capozzi rip my rock and roll loving heart apart in her amazing instrumental group Axemunkee, and lead for the brilliant trio Darling Pet Munkee.

I absolutely hate to bring up the bullshit plaguing that is sure to follow Capozzi for the rest her days, but the elephant will always be in the room.  But, rest assure, all preconceptions and judgments are null and void.  When these crafty electric riffs, fused with a beautiful surf style slap you in the face with bloody finger tips, you just plain won’t know what to think.  I mean, who has the balls (pun, intended) perform an acid/fuzz/surf take on the likes of Django Reinhardt?  This badass will!  And then she’ll spit venom laced whiskey in your face for denying her!

Photo by Bill T. Miller

While her previously mentioned projects (Axemunkee and Darling Pet Munkee) are substational and brilliant works that deserve their own praise, it is definitely of the utmost importance to realize that Catherine Capozzi is a guitarist who shines in everything she does.  Everything she touches turns to awesome.  She’s the type of artist that speaks through her music, and becomes instantly recognizable by sound wherever she may roam.  To hell with gender recognition, I just want to rock.  And a talent as true and revitalizing as this one can truly make you feel as though you will indeed feel the joys and blunder of rock and roll deep within your heart and loins.  My how we’ve been lacking such traits these days.  Thank you Catherine.  Thank you.

To hear the manic amusement that is Catherine Capozzi, check out two of her amazing bands Axemunkee and Darling Pet Munkee.  Seriously, do yourself a damn favor and check them out.  And Psst….little secret, for a limited time, you can download DPM’s 7 track album Glows In The Dark for FREE!!  Of course, this is for a very limited time, so hurry the hell up and cop it before your latte and/or PBR money will have to cover the spread.

Robin Grey & Anja McCloskey: The Park [Cover]

Oh Robin.  Oh Anja.  Oh, my, you both equally amazing.  For those of you who have followed my existence as a music blogger (is there anyone actually out there who has done this?), you know both of these beautiful people as staples in my life, not only my work.  I first covered Robin Grey almost 3 years ago when I first heard his amazing EP, I Love Leonard Cohen.

I was just getting into the music blogging game, and was dabbling in the idea of covering artists who are willing to give away their art for free on the ever so fashionable interwebs.  This is where I discovered this amazing artist.  This would lead to the friendship we have today.  Robin Grey topped my list as the creator of the best album of 2010, with Strangers With Shoes.  I spent a whole summer in Qatar listening to his entire discography as I performed menial construction duties.  You really can’t appreciate the power of music until it is the only comfort you receive as your grout several shower stalls a day.  And someone like Robin Grey is exactly who you need serenading you in your darkest hours.

And Anja.  Sweet, sweet Anja.  Children of Mercy fans know her as a contributor, supporter, and curator for all European sales of the book.  But, beyond that, she is an amazing talent.  She plays the accordion like a mad woman stuck in a storm of genius and precession.  Her voice is phenomenal in ways we just don’t see enough these days.  Her solo work, as well as the multitude of bands she comprises herself with, is some of the greatest work being recorded and shared with the world today.  I seriously can not say enough good things about her.  I’ve written of Anja before, but I would be a fool to think that I could truly describe her brilliance in anything less than a full-fledged manuscript.

So, where does this lead us?  Well, it’s just plain magic really.  Anja and Robin both decided they shared similar interests, and should meet up.  They realized each other’s brilliance by both being a part of the Children of Mercy project.  Selfishly, I am very proud of this.  Selflessly, I take no credit for the brilliance they created when they decided to meet up in Robin’s respected region of England to record a cover of Feist’s “The Park”.  I imagine they simply wanted to meet each other.  And in which case, I am extremely happy they did.  And the fact that they dedicated this cover to me, is by far greatest compliment and gift I have ever received.  Especially since I am completely unworthy of such an honor.  I was completely surprised when I heard this track for the first time.  To know that I could have played a part in creating such an amazing collaboration was so entirely humbling I thought I could die the following day, and be entirely satisfied with my life.

I have listened to this track many times.  And it never gets old.  My love for this beautiful cover track has nothing to do with self indulgence.  These amazing artists have created something amazing and sensual when they took a Feist song, and made it so much more beautiful that it was probably ever intended to be.  Robin Grey and Anja McCloskey are two of today’s finest artists.  This is a simple fact.  Everybody on this earth should feel fortunate that they came together, even once.  And we can only hope they find each other once again.  I for one am willing to hold my breath until they decide to put out an album together.

To hear Robin & Anja’s beautiful cover of Feist’s “The Park”, take yourself on a journey of brilliance….right HERE.  (P.S.  You can download it for free!!)