Wednesday, December 24, 2008


"Take this sinking boat and point it home, we've still got time..."

There's something exciting about falling in love with something you didn't even notice the first time around, isn't there? When I first listened to The Frames' The Cost, I didn't pay attention, didn't even notice their lead singer, songwriter and guitarist Glen Hansard. After watching half of his turn in indie movie "Once" (stopping only due to a crappy DVD player) with the fantastic Markéta Irglová, though, I'm going back to his output and listening to it in a complete new light.

Why am I so excited about these two? Both can hold a great well of emotion in their voice, and their writing (best when together, in fact) is some of the best I've heard in a while, drawing out a lot of emotion.

Both worked together to create "Falling Slowly", so beautiful it managed to score its own Oscar for Best Original Song. It's delicate, supported by both vocals, as well as guitar and piano. Perhaps even better than "Falling Slowly", however, is Hansard's amazing work on "Lies", a defiant accusation of betrayal. The sadness is wonderfully executed, and Hansard's writing keeps it from crossing the line to sappy or whining. At its core, it feels true in a way a lot of music doesn't. Markéta Irglová shows off her own chops in "If You Want Me", creating a haunting, echoing piece like a siren in the mists. Her sound here is similar to my beloved Lisa Hannigan, but perhaps shows an even stronger power despite Irglová's youth. Hansard proves himself as able to support as to lead here, as well.

Enjoy a smattering of tracks from "Once", as well as a track from Hansard's latest release with The Frames.

Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová - Falling Slowly (Once OST, 2007)
Glen Hansard - Lies (Once OST, 2007)
Markéta Irglová and Glen Hansard - If You Want Me (Once OST, 2007)
The Frames - True (The Cost, 2006)

And don't forget, search for more at The Hype Machine; purchase albums or mp3's at Amazon, Amazon Canada, Amie St., cdbaby, or Insound.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


So, in order to qualify for Hype's zeitgeist this year, my Top 10 albums have to be decided by Monday. Any ideas, even so late in the game, would help me out loads. Either way, you guys will be getting, at the very least, a skeletal version of the list come Monday.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


I've written about Belle's Wake in the past, but only in passing. Since naming them one of 2008's most promising newcomers, I've neglected to mention them despite keeping tabs on their progress from afa When better to properly revisit them than as 2008 draws to a close?

So, who are they? A four-piece band whose style makes me think of ancient, abandoned castles and elegant rundown graveyards. 'Gothic' is a tragically overused word, thrown at everyone from Amy Lee to Amanda Palmer, but here it really is relevant. From the Macbeth-inspired "Toil and Trouble" to the haunting ghost story "Penelope", these songs always seem to touch on hints of the supernatural and the ghostly.

As for the music itself, it's sublime. The band's use of strings and piano are particularly well done, and both lead singers Andrew (who takes the lead on tracks like "Wild Creatures of Doubt") and Ashley ("Penelope" and "Persephone", as well as their cover of Joanna Newsome's "Balloons and Bridges") have extraordinary, distinctive voices.

The production isn't as glossy as much of the music making the rounds, mostly because this gang is still working on a smaller scale than the typical Hype Machine darlings, but they have something special. Though they haven't completed a full new release for 2008, a handful of strong tracks have been recorded and released that have got me pretty excited to hear more.

Belle's Wake recorded their The Nature of the Ground EP last year, which they've offered up for free download here, and are now working on The Riot Sessions.

Belle's Wake - Wild Creatures of Doubt [The Nature of the Ground EP, 2007]
Belle's Wake - Penelope [The Riot Sessions, 2007]
Belle's Wake - A Fevered Dream [The Riot Sessions, 2007]