Category Archives: 2010s

Fazerdaze’s Morningside – The Review

It’s Wednesday morning, 7:52am. I’m in my car, on the way to work – and, as is often the case, stuck in traffic. Streaming via Apple Music: Morningside, the debut album by Fazerdaze.

Like most new releases, it’s been assigned a slew of specific descriptors – shoegaze, dream pop, guitar pop, indie pop and bedroom pop (that last due to its DIY nature, not to its subject matter) – to help with the discovery process. But I hear something else: the (direct or indirect) influence of the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, perhaps due to my having recently watched a documentary about it on Showtime. Not in the production values, mind you, as it’s obviously lacking a Wall of Sound, but its melodies and moods. I’ve read that Amelia Murray, the 24-year-old New Zealander behind the music, listened to the Beatles and Bob Dylan as a kid, but nothing of the Beach Boys – and yet, as the reverb- and echo-drenched music commandeers my ride, the wistful melancholia of Pet Sounds is what I hear.

Even “Lucky Girl,” the catchy song I featured a few weeks ago, is deceptive, spinning unease about commitment into an upbeat number.

The album’s final song is a sonic, if lo-fi, marvel:

I won’t go so far as to say Morningside is the greatest thing since sliced bread; i.e., I’m reining in my usual effusiveness. But I will say that I was cursing myself by mid-day, when I went to listen to the album again and discovered that I’d left my headphones at home.

I highly recommend it, in other words.

Also, one thought: sometimes I fear that ever-more-specific descriptors are a hindrance, and not a help, to the discovery process, which really should be less about sameness of sound and more about inspirations, influences and sonic surprises. But that’s a post for another day.

Anyway, here are a few live versions of their songs:

Graham Parker at the Sellersville Theater, 5/12/2017

Last night at the Sellersville Theater in Sellersville, Pa., Graham Parker delivered an exemplary set that featured many of his best songs, including “Stick to Me,” “Heat Treatment,” “Discovering Japan” and “White Honey.” His sardonic sense of humor was on full display, too – his intros were often as funny, if not funnier, than routines delivered by stand-up comedians.

Accompanying him: Brinsley Schwarz – as in the guitarist, not the band. The longtime Parker sideman, who plays in the Rumour, handled electric guitar most of the night, and shined on his one excursion into the spotlight with “You Miss Again,” a song from his 2016 solo album Unexpected. Parker, for his part, played acoustic guitar.

Back to Parker’s intros: One of the funnier bits centered on the Sellersville Theater. He praised it, as it’s a great place with wonderful acoustics, and mentioned that he was impressed with many of the acts they book. “But what’s with all the cover bands?” he gibed. “The Almost Queens?!” (An actual “tribute” band, from what I just discovered.) He added, dry as can be, that he once saw an Oasis cover band and found it more enjoyable than the real thing: the faux Liam and Noel weren’t butting heads.

Ah, the things we rock fans find amusing.

I’d love to share a video of that or any intro, as well as several of the night’s songs, but taking pictures and “any recording of any kind” were strictly prohibited. Even if not, although we had excellent seats, two rather large shadows (i.e., the people in front of me) would have made it nearly impossible – as evidenced by the few pictures I snapped during the show’s last songs.

Anyway, I could and probably should delve deeper into the night’s specific highs – such as “Don’t Let It Break You Down,” when he integrated snippets of other songs, including the Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane” and the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun,” into it – but, honestly, there’s no point. For me, it was a good/great show. But Diane and our friend Luanne, who are both longer (and much more rabid) fans than I, were absolutely enthralled. They both raved about it – and about meeting Graham afterwards – on the ride home.

I hasten to add, about this last picture: My de-facto casual weekend garb since the 2016 election includes my “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Bill & Opus” hoodie that I picked up…last spring, I believe, after seeing an advertisement for it on Facebook. When out and about on chilly days and nights, it and my faux-leather jacket keep me warm – and, too, sends a subtle political message. But I also was not expecting to pose for pictures with Juliana, Courtney and Graham in succession…especially since I’ve only posed with one other artist, Rumer, in all my years of concert-going.

The set:

  1. Watch the Moon Come Down
  2. Between You and Me
  3. Stop Cryin’ About the Rain
  4. Fool’s Gold
  5. Devil’s Sidewalk
  6. Lunatic Fringe
  7. Socks ’n’ Sandals
  8. Disney’s America
  9. You Miss Again (Brinsley Schwarz)
  10. Heat Treatment
  11. Stick to Me
  12. Discovering Japan
  13. Long Emotional Ride
  14. Pub Crawl
  15. The New York Shuffle
  16. White Honey
  17. **You Can’t Be Too Strong
  18. **Don’t Let It Break You Down
  19. **Hold Back the Night

(** = encore)

Singer-songwriter Erin O’Dowd: A Q&A

Photo by Draven Nicole.

Last weekend, I whiled away part of Sunday afternoon on PledgeMusic and Kickstarter, where many music artists caught my eye. Only one, however, caught my ear: Tulsa-based singer-songwriter Erin O’Dowd.

 

In her introductory paragraph, she shares a “lo-fi” video for her song “Old Town,” which I’ve embedded above. While it may be lo-fi, her soul comes through at the highest of bit-rates. Curious and wanting to hear more, I turned to the Internet’s oracle for such things – YouTube.

Check out her song “Robin’s Egg Blue”:

And here she is with the honky-tonkin’ “Trick Pony”:

And, last, here’s her emotive cover of John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery”:

She’s someone whose album I’d buy tomorrow and likely obsess over, as I’m apt to do, and someone I’d head down to Philly to see in concert without a second’s thought. Travis Linville, the guitarist in Hayes Carll’s band, has committed to producing her debut album – and, hopefully, their $10K goal is met so that whatever they need, they get.

I asked if she’d be willing to answer a few questions via email, and she agreed.

Photo: Draven Nicole.

When did you know you wanted to be a singer?

Since I was just a little kid. I was always singing and making up songs. I did my first talent show when I was 2 or 3. I sang “Edelweiss” from The Sound of Music.

When did you take up guitar?

I took up guitar when I was 15. My older brother played and that turned me onto it. I grew up playing piano and that was my first instrument.

Who are your influences? Do you have a favorite songwriter?

My top influences are Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Emmylou Harris, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Gram Parsons, Loretta Lynn, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, the Band, Ryan Adams, gosh I could go on forever.

What was the first album/CD/download you purchased?

It was definitely a Christian CD – I grew up pretty sheltered and a pastor’s kid. I believe the singer’s name was Jaqui Velasquez, but I don’t remember the title! Really beautiful stuff.

And, on the flip side, what was the last album you picked up (or added to your library, if you stream via Spotify or Apple Music)?

The last full album I listened to was John Moreland’s latest release, Big Bad Luv. It’s fantastic!

On my blog, I sometimes spotlight albums I deem “essential” – things everyone should hear, at least once, in my opinion. What are a few of yours? What is it about them that draw you back, time and again?

Oh, wow – well, for me, definitely Dylan’s first several hits: Freewheelin’, Nashville Skyline, and Bringing It All Back Home. Blonde on Blonde. It’s impossible for me to pick a favorite among those. The songs are all equally poignant and inspirational. There’s something about the train of inspiration he hit after his first two that just struck gold and it didn’t stop. It still hasn’t stopped for him. There’s a soulfulness, playful creativity, and an honesty to those songs that never looses its luster to me.

Are you into vinyl? Prefer downloads?

I’m totally into vinyl. I had a massive collection that I lost to a mold problem in some places I lived in. It was totally devastating. So right now I’m into streaming, but only because that’s what I can afford.

Photo: Tony Shanks

On your Kickstarter page, you mention that Tampa is your other hometown. What led you to move to Tulsa?

I moved to Tulsa when I was 11 years old with my family. My Dad took up a new church here, and so here we came. I was actually born in Mississippi while he was in school there, but I don’t remember it at all.

How did you connect with Travis Linville?

Travis is an Okie guy with a huge talent for songwriting, performing (multiple instruments), and production. I first met him seven years ago or so at a show of his in Tulsa. It was the first time I had seen him and I was blown away. I actually didn’t know he did production until a few years later. I was struggling to find the right producer/engineer to work with and a few friends threw his name out. I decided, what the hell, I might as well ask him. Happily, he was into the idea!

You mentioned that you had concerts lined up in NYC and Canada for April. How did they go?

I had a great little tour of the Northeast in April. I started in Brooklyn, did one in NYC, one in Toronto, and one in Ottawa. I picked up a couple extra in Brooklyn and Toronto along the way. It was a super fun time, full of wonderful memories. I had some amazing musical experiences jamming with fellow buskers in the subway, with new best friends in Toronto, and with a friend from Folk Alliance in Ottawa. I made some really great connections and I can’t wait to go back along that route.

Do you get a chance to attend concerts, or are you too busy playing out? What are some of the more memorable ones you’ve seen?

I am pretty dang busy playing out – up to five or six engagements a week, usually, but I make it out to see other folks as much as I can. That’s what keeps me going! We have such an incredible music community in Tulsa. Within our local music scene live some of my favorite artists, including Jared Tyler, Linville and Chloe Johns. I could go on forever, but I’ll stop there. The most recent bigger shows I got to see were Sondre Lerche (in Toronto) and Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes). Two of my all time faves, as well. I have a lot of favorites. I guess I’m kind of a music nerd.

To learn more about Erin, visit her website and her Kickstarter page.