Duquette Johnston Review + Giveaway

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I’ve not done a record review post in a loooong while. Having no time to sit and relax with an album is one thing, but also I like to wait for interesting and smaller release gems too. Not that I think I’m some record finding wizard – it’s just that with so many reviews out there, who needs to hear another person talking about some big budget crusher, right?

Anyway… My reviews are biased since I only talk about stuff I like, and I feel like a music review is more about finding leads than anything. I’m giving you a lead about this cool fellow named Duquette Johnston and you follow up by listening to some samples and deciding a coolness level for yourself.

Granted, I’ll be honest and say you should take my word without question… Rabbit Runs A Destiny is a standout record. Things start off with a cool, low driving track, Heart Is Breaking. It’s a great start as the album rolls into some heavier songs, like the title track and then meanders back to some slower, more deliberate songs. I typically like the sad stuff, and even though this isn’t a sad record, there’s some real solidly heavy ones… Cherry Blossoms is a favorite.

So another biased angle to this review is a bona fide give-away. I’m buying the record for you, but Duq was gracious enough to send a t-shirt to the winner too. Just comment with a hello or maybe a new album you like and I’ll choose a random number and count out the commenter. Be sure to include your email addr where necessary and I’ll contact you after the drawing end, on January 28th. Open to everyone, I’ll pick up the international shipping too. Good luck!

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Basia Bulat Review and Giveaway

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I don’t really understand the classification of Folk music. There’s so many sub-genres and variations, and the only tie I can usually make is that it might be primarily acoustic? Folk artists of the 60s tend to pop into my mind first, then I think of Eugene Levy’s character in “A Mighty Wind.”

Basia Bulat is largely considered a folk artist. You’ll read that she plays the autoharp. You might also hear that this album was primarily written while touring through the Yukon. All of these details set a certain expectation for some typically sleepy folk music, right? So you put this record on your turntable and sit back expecting something wistful and sleepy and then the first track ‘Go On’ starts with a little strumming and interestingly sweet vocals as you’d expect… then the drumming starts. And the rhythm gets a little feverish. Then the strings come in. Vocals are getting stronger and you find that you’re not just tapping to it, but you’re kind of stomping!

‘Go On’ seems like the greatest way to start this record. It gets you excited, breaks any notion of what you might be expecting, and then lets the rest of the record unfold. From there, you really notice the contrast in each song – some more complicated and large, some so simple and delicate. ‘Sugar and Spice’ politely scales things back a little, only to break away with another dense and feverishly urgent run with ‘Gold Rush’. Each song shows Basia’s diversity, yet they all weave together for wonderfully cohesive album.

There’s a few great videos available to listen on Basia’s website – my favorite being the ‘Heart of My Own’ performance. Have a listen, see what you think, and if you’re really liking it as much as I am, maybe you’d like a chance for some giveaway loot?

Thanks to a fine friend, the Art Counsel, I’ve got some goodies to give away. One lucky reader will win a copy of Basia’s recent album on vinyl, and one lucky LOCAL winner will get 2 passes to see her upcoming show at The Woods on June 2nd. (Where I bet she’ll be playing this new song.)

Just leave a comment below to say hello, or tell me about your latest favorite record, or whatever… and I’ll draw a winner for the record. As for the tickets – indicate whether you’re available to attend the show in your comment, and I’ll choose the winner from those. I’ll announce the winners one week from today, on Monday, May 30. Good luck!

 

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The Middle East review and giveaway

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Lately I’ve been listening to this wonderful band called The Middle East, thanks to the discovery by my friend, Martin. He introduced our office to them and we’ve all been listening via Pandora since about November. When I left for Kansas over Christmas break, I finally downloaded the full EP and really gave it full attention during my travels.

It’s hard to describe the band… they’re slightly poppy, more so folkish, somewhat atmospheric, uplifting yet sad. As you listen, you’re going to want to cry… partly for the lyrics, mostly because you can see the scene playing out in your head like a tragic movie. Suddenly trumpets kick in and you’re instantly optimistic once again. It’s really amazing, actually.

“The Darkest Side” starts with an intricately finger-picked guitar followed by brilliantly solumn vocals. The song sound like it’s fifty years old – but you know that can’t be true when it mentions ‘SimCity’. I know it sounds odd, but it completely works. Download it via Pitchfork for free and have a listen.

“Lonely” plays and it pretty much takes you where you think it would… but then “Blood” is the next track and you’re all spritely again. Even though it’s still a completely heavy song, it’s strangely comforting (This is the one where the trumpets help). The song and accompanying video are equally breath-taking. Even another free download!

Needless to say, I really fell in love with this record. Once that happened – I knew I had to get it on vinyl to REALLY obsess over it. Once I found a place that had stock, I bought two – one for me and one for you! To fully share this great album, I thought it would be fun to have a little giveaway (and with free shipping anywhere in the world).

One easy way to enter – just comment here and tell me your latest favorite album. Make sure you include a correct email address so I can contact the winner. While you’re waiting to win, you can buy the EP digitally from the band for $5 (You might as well, as the vinyl doesn’t come with a free download). Good luck, and thanks for entering! P.S. forgot to say… deadline to enter will be Feb 10.

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