Archive for the 'Folk' Category

Travis Vick

If you have ever heard of Manteca California, you would probably know it used to be the home of the glorious “Manteca Waterslides.” However, another equally remarkable thing has come forth from this quaint farm town located in the central valley. His name; Travis Vick. So moving beyond this incredibly lame and cheesy introduction, the artist I introduce to you is simple in style, yet exceptional in talent.  (I went to high school in ol’ teca town with Travis. I know…HBB *holler big baller*) He uses an array of instruments in his music including, Piano, Guitar, Accordion, Banjo, Bass, Mandolin, Harmonica, Ukulele, Trombone, Clarinet and Drums. (My personal favorite being the banjo. I love that “twangy” sound and ever since I found out that Steve Martin could play, I have grown a certain fondness for the instrument. I just love Steve.)  On his myspace music page he classifies his sound as “melodic folk rock.” His melodies are intriguing and voice is soothing. His falsetto is beautiful and delicate  (“October 31st”) while the notes he hits in the lower register are rich and pure (“Box”). It is powerful while still remains an endearing quirkiness. Also, being a big fan of harmonies, the parts he interleaves in his songs are perfectly blended, smooth and warm. Some of the harmonies are a layering of his own voice or other singers, including his sister. I just love this artist and I would try to relate his sound to other artists in order to give you a feel for his sound, but due to my lack of musical knowledge…and laziness, I will let you see for yourself. I recommend the songs “The Hedges” and “Seamus Fruitfridge” from his EP, “Player Piano” and the songs “Box” and “Bees Don’t Bite” from his music myspace. You should give him a good listen, a real good listen.




Regina Spektor

As my first post to this Blog, and as the first post from a girl, I figured it would be appropriate to post a female artist. Girl Power. (p.s. I’m not a feminist) So therefore I introduce you to, or reacquaint you with, Regina Spektor. She is not incredibly unknown, but not always seen in the public eye. This unique singer/songwriter grew up in Moscow and eventually made her way to America’s east coast. Her striking features combined with her pure and endearing voice make her incredibly charming. (I read she once worked on a butterfly farm…adorable right?) From what I know she speaks, Russian, Hebrew and some Latin and often times incorporates these languages into her music. It is hard to classify her music in one genre, but some of the styles she incorporates in her songs are Alternative, Folk, Jazz, Russian, Jewish, and Classical. Occasionally she alludes to literary works or figures like Fitzgerald (“Poor little Rich boy”) or Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”. (You can thank Wikipedia and my geeky English major side for that) Her piano playing is always innovative, sometimes sounding like the simple tune of a music box (like in her song “music box”) or even a sort of Russian Dance song (Like 2 minutes into her song “The Flowers”) Besides her outstanding piano skills, the true unique and engaging element of her music is the inventive and broad use of her voice. From beat-boxing to the buzzing of her lips, she utilizes all sorts of unorthodox vocal techniques to add the subtle nuances that make her songs so great. While all her albums are great, her three latest albums, “Soviet Kitsch” (2004) “Begin to Hope” (2006) and “Far” (2009) are my personal favorites. I posted the album Soviet Kitsch. I recommend the songs “Ode to Divorce”, “Us” and “Chemo Limo”.  Enjoy.



Jeff Buckley – “Live at Sin-é”

Jeff Buckley. I honestly have no idea where to start – there’s so much you could say about his music, but it would be like describing food: you can tell someone in great detail how something tastes, but it doesn’t come close to capturing the experience of eating a perfectly seared filet mignon. Jeff Buckley is that filet mignon.

This is a genius who died young. He only released one studio album before his untimely death in 1997, at the age of 30 (he drowned while going for a swim in the Wolf River in Memphis, TN). Beyond a shadow of a doubt, 1994’s “Grace” is my pick for best album of that decade; it’s absolutely flawless. His distinct and incredible vocals soar on each track, his guitar work and composition is insanely original yet familiar, and he manages to go everywhere from a 1504 Middle English hymn to crushing grunge. His recording of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is one of the most iconic and emotional recordings of all time; you’ve heard it before, trust me. All in all, “Grace” is a perfect studio album in every single way.

This is not that album. I’ll write about that album some other time, but this is Jeff Buckley, the man, captured on two discs.

“Live at Sin-é” is a recording of a gig he played on July 19, 1993 at a café in New York’s East Village called Sin-é (Irish for “That’s It”). The most endearing thing about Jeff is the rawness and conviction of his voice, and there’s no better setting for it or recording of it than this album. No band here; just Jeff strumming a borrowed Telecaster in a small café. Most of the tracks from “Grace” are performed here in their early states, along with covers of everyone you’d never think of: Van Morrison, Nina Simone, Billie Holliday, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and Led Zeppelin. His guitar playing is simple, emotional, and controlled, while his vocals will send shivers down your spine. He sings a traditional Pakistani Qawwali devotional, in Urdu, for God’s sakeI feel that Jeff Buckley was always at the peak of his short-lived career. This recording, then, captures him at the very top of that peak.

If this doesn’t give you goosebumps, I give up.




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