Nik’s Music Almanac

Totally Irrelevant and Off-Topic

Joyce Manor

I ran across this band after a neat interview on Hear Nebraska with Sara Bertuldo () from See Through Dresses.

Never Hungover Again has some brilliant tracks. Especially Falling in Love Again, Victoria, and Catalina Fight Song. I've picked up S/T as well and it's good, but a bit more garage/punk while Never Hungover Again is more polished. Their newest album, Cody is closer to their second album, but the songs are maybe not as catchy.

They're a fun band to listen to. Their albums run around 20 mins, so each song is really quick without sounding repetitive or too predictable.

Sounds like: The Strokes, if they did mostly short catchy rock songs. Or The Smiths, if they had more angsty lyrics.

Lyrics:

I think you’re funny
I like your friends
I like the way they treat you.

I’ve got some money
that we could spend.
I bet you’d like that.

I’m falling in love again…

It’s too sad
put a marker on a paper bag
You could wear it like a mask
You could be your own Dad.

Rating: ★★★★

Status: Active!

Links: Band Page, Wikipedia, Bandcamp

Videos:



Kate Walsh

I picked up one of her early albums, Tim's House several years ago off iTunes. It's very mellow and sparse without being too much of a drag.

Some of her other albums are nice, but they have more melancholy and are probably better in small doses. Still worth a listen when you're sliding into the end of fall and want to just catch your breath and enjoy the changes.

Sounds like: KT Tunstall. Eva Cassidy, or maybe Cara Dillon, only English.

Rating: ★★★

Status: On Hiatus.

Links: Wikipedia

Video:


Kawehi

Kawehi is the artist every hipster YouTuber with a keyboard, really really wishes they could be. She's also based in my hometown and makes very good, layered and interesting music. Robot Heart is my favorite of her albums, for obvious reasons given my profession.

Sounds like: Some electronic band from Tokyo, only with an all American edge. And it's just her for most of her tracks.

Lyrics:

I’ll cut out your human heart
And hope that it bleeds for me

I feel so desperate
How could you be so careless?
You take this robot heart instead
Make it beat…

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Status: Active!

Links: Band Page, Bandcamp

Videos:




The Kinetiks

Heard these guys live all through the LFK. They're just a typical four-piece band, but their lyrics are quirky and interesting, and they're just fun to listen to.

Science is Magic is a good album to start off with but they're all good. If you're going for best tracks, I'd pick In Your Head, Polished Girl, and Cheap Cigarettes.

Sounds like: The best band you’ve never heard of! Okay, maybe not, but they’re alot of fun.

Lyrics:

I go to church
Smelling like gin and cheap cigarettes
I go to work, looking like s--t
In my cheap pair of pants, cheap pair of pants!

I waste my time and wait for change,
I sleep all day.
I waste my time and wait for change.

I can’t take this, anymore…

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Status: Retired.

Links: Bandcamp

Video:



Lana Del Rey

So I'm putting this here, mainly because (right now) it feels like if you're into current music, you need to at least have some thoughts pro or con about her music.

I loved her first big album, Born to Die, even if it was a bit confusing about what it was trying to be. I guess the message was kind of, "Yeah this gangsta stuff is messed up, but at least these people are alive and interesting compared to your Perfect Little Life".

Ultraviolence was a big downer for me. The entire mood was sad, and the only feeling I could generate for the people in her songs is pity. Not a great listen for me.

I haven't caught her third album as I've been too busy to worry about being let down. And I don't need more drama in music as my life has enough on its own.

The bottom line is, she's very talented, she knows the kind of sound and feelings shes going for and every note she uses is carefully considered without being calculating or too manufactured. I respect that even if I don't like all of her songs all of the time.

If you haven't heard any of her music (seriously?) then start with Video Games and go through the rest on that album, if you liked that.

Update She's got a new album coming out soon with some singles already released. It may be worth another listen, and will be a sure success regardless of my own opinions.

Sounds like: Cat Power, Nancy Sinatra, herself.

Lyrics:

It’s you, it’s you, it's all for you.
Everything I do
I tell you all the time

Heaven is a place on Earth with you
tell me all the things you wanna do.
I heard that you liked the bad girls honey.
Is that true?

Rating: ♥♥♥

Status: Active

Links: Home Page, Wikipedia

Video:


Loreena McKennitt

It's hard to believe she's been working for 30 years, and it's been 20 years since some of her big hits were released. She was doing self-released albums back before it was cool. Heck, I was reading about her on Usenet and some email lists back then. God I'm old…

Her music felt like it was from another time even back then, so it's obviously still holding up the same today. Can't say the same thing about the videos, however.

She's always released very slowly, producing layered and interesting music with her haunting voice topping it off. I don't know that her music appeals to most people who listen to the rock-and-roll stuff I usually list, but sometimes you just need to relax and unwind and this is one of the best for that.

The Mask and Mirror and The Book of Secrets are her two best albums, though her earlier stuff is good too. An Ancient Muse and her newer album was nice, but not quite up to her previous work. Considering the personal tragedy that caused her to just stop recording for 5+ years, it was still very welcome.

Sounds like: An elf singer from The Lord of the Rings.

Lyrics:

Turning to go
Heard you call out my name
Like a bird in a cage
Spreading its wings to fly

The old ways are lost
You sang as you flew
And I wondered why

The thundering waves
Are calling me home
Unto you

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Status: Slow, but still out there.

Links: Home Page, Wikipedia

Video:


Lot Walks

Heard about this band first from Hear Nebraska and they’re just fun to listen to.

The lyrics aren't super deep, but their music is still good and their music doesn’t wear out quickly like some pop groups. They've got one album, Santa Molly, and it's worth a listen. Their earlier EP Tourist is also good, but most of the songs are in the album.

Sounds like: The Beach Boys, kind of, only with a single front-woman singer instead. So not really like them at all.

Lyrics:

And if I see you everyday
That’s okay,
we’ll surf ’em all away.

When I strike gold, we’ll walk these streets all alone.

Oh, Californ-IA,
It’s a long ways away.

Oh, Californ-IA,
We’ll get there someday.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Status: Active.

Links: Band Page, Bandcamp, 2014 Hear Nebraska Interview

Videos:



Maria Doyle Kennedy

Better known by many for her acting, especially her role as Mrs. S. on Orphan Black, she's also this talented Irish singer with a career going back decades.

She's so brilliant, in fact, that she even made a Nickelback cover that sounded good (not just, "okay", but good). That should be award winning of itself.

Her best selling album, Sing sort of hits that uncanny valley for me between more-traditional Irish, like Cara Dillon, and alt-Rock type stuff, so I didn't really get into it.

Mütter is her best to date, IMO, and well worth listening to. Or just cherry-pick the iTunes songs by "popularity" if you can't commit to one album. Oh and I wasn't kidding about that Nickleback cover either, worth a listen.

Sounds like: Annie Lennox, sort of, but Irish and a bit less pop and more rock.

Lyrics:

Somebody took the sun away,
And they left me in industrial grey.
We are knuckled down, buckled under,
Fucked around and torn asunder
But there isn’t a day I don’t love you

Are we gonna get up
Are we gonna stay on the floor?

Rating: ♥♥♥

Status: Active!

Links: Band Page, Wikipedia

Video:


Meg Myers

Her lyrics are raw and unforgiving which is good. Her voice is breathy, but good to listen to, and captivating on her best songs.

The music itself can be a little rough and repetitive, and I tend to sour on it if I listen to it too much in a short time.

Daughter in the Choir is my favorite of her albums so far, pretty much all good there. The others aren’t quite up to that standard, but they’re not bad.

Sounds like: Alanis Morissette. Or maybe an angry Mariah Carey with an electric guitar backing her up instead of a hip-hop beat.

Lyrics:

I’m waving my hands
You don’t break
You don’t understand

Lie to my face, run away,
You’re just that kind of man.

Rating: ✶✶✶

Status: Active.

Links: Home Page, Wikipedia

Video:


Neko Case

I really like her music, but I pretty much only go back and listen to Middle Cyclone and a few tracks off her other albums.

She's polished, professional, and an excellent singer. Well worth a listen.

Sounds like: A country singer who got tricked into being an awesome indie-rocker.

Lyrics:

The most tender place in my heart
Is for strangers
I know it’s unkind
But my own blood is much too dangerous.

My love, I’m an owl on the sill in the evening
But morning finds you, still warm and breathing.

This Tornado loves you!
What will make you believe me?

Rating: ♥♥♥

Status: Active.

Links: Home Page, Wikipedia

Videos: