Category Archives: +++ minimalist

Brandi Ediss / Simple Friend

I met Brandi Ediss online through my pal Mary Lou Lord (also featured on this blog). I think Brandi is one of the most criminally underrated singer-songwriters out there. Her songs are literally… LITERALLY… perfect pop songs. She also makes absolutely charming and mesmerizing music videos for a lot of her songs (stop-motion animation, random slideshows, etc).

She also records with her boyfriend Frank as “Simple Friend”. Featured here are several of Brandi’s original songs, as well as the Simple Friend song “count to three”.

She is one of my all-time favorite songwriters. She should be as well-known as Laura Gibson, Frankie Cosmos, and other huge indie/bedroom pop artists. Hopefully this blog will get her music out there, much more.

She is freakin’ brilliant. I’d love to make bedroom pop/folk music like this with someone this talented and experienced (especially melodically). I love all the people I work with, but I feel like I haven’t yet found a singer/songwriter who writes brilliant shit like Brandi, and also makes such perfect videos to accompany such perfect songs.

Much love to Brandi and Frank!

Seldom Family

Take a listen.

Youtube playlist of ten videos/songs:

 

7-song album from Spotify:

 

75-minute instrumental ambient record, inspired by the first Dogme95 film, Festen, from 1998:

 

 

Liz Phair (circa 90s)

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I am so sick of stupid hipsters of 2016. I’m sick of the lo-fi, “bedroom pop” sound, even though I do love a lot of artists who are in that genre (truly). I’m just sick of the hipster bullshit (yeah, I’m starting this off on a very personal note but, I feel the need to get it off my chest)….. 2016 hipsters (aged 19-24, respectively) are some of the most elitist, too-cool-for-school assholes I have ever met. I see a lot of holier-than-thou bullshit daily, in my facebook feed, and it makes me feel nauseated. Young people…. you think you know good music? So far, the 10s (2010-present) hasn’t bred a lot of good music. I knew about true, good music 25 years ago, you attitude-riddled fuck-bags (phew! Do I feel better? No! I don’t! But thankfully, I’m about to talk about Liz Phair).

Twenty-three years ago (yes, that’s 1993 for the mathematically-challenged…. and yes, 23 years. That’s over two decades!)………. I bought Liz Phair’s Exile In Guyville CD after reading a glowing review about it in Rolling Stone (remember when people used to take a chance on music, before being able to hear it?) It was the third CD I ever bought. It took me two weeks to get together the $15 for it, because I was poor as shit.

Liz Phair was the original DIY punk girl. Every song on Exile In Guyville is written entirely by her, and produced (with additional instrumentation) by Brad Wood, who also recorded Ben Lee’s brilliant solo debut Grandpaw Would, and Ben Lee’s second record (my favorite of his), Something To Remember Me By.

I am reminded of Liz Phair tonight, as I saw a facebook post by a former guitar student of mine, who I started teaching in 2008 (she’s now 18). She was absolutely raving about Liz’s music, and specifically Exile In Guyville. She said she wished she’d gotten into Liz Phair’s music sooner. I told her she got into it at the perfect age (I was 17 when I bought Exile and spun it to fucking death).

Liz hasn’t ever, and will never, top the brilliance of her debut record. The second album Whip-Smart is alright, but the lead single from the album “Supernova” is absolute shit. It’s her worst song, in my opinion. But the actual song “Whip-Smart” is super-good.

Liz’s 3rd record, the initially-rejected (by the major label who she went to) Whitechocolatespaceegg, is super good, and is reminiscent at times, of Exile. I have the initially-rejected version in my collection, and the commercial release that die-hard Liz fans know (her 3rd album was mostly ignored).

Fast-forward a few years, and Liz sold out, with “Why Can’t I?”. It’s a lovely little pop song, but co-written by professional songwriters, so it loses its credibility, and fast. I haven’t touched any of Liz’s music beyond that song, after one listen… as I don’t think any of it is worth listening to, more than once. It’s just over-produced pop garbage.

But man.. that first record. WHOA.

Enjoy it… and fuck this 2010-2016 hipster bullshit. A lot of it is entirely forgettable. But this record certainly isn’t. This record is everything RIGHT about the 90s, and female-fronted (and female-written) alternative rock/indie. PERFECTION. Don’t you ever forget it.

side note about the very first CDs I ever bought (all of which, I still own): The first, and second CDs I ever bought were The Smiths’ self-titled album, and Dinosaur Jr’s Bug. Other CDs I bought after Exile In Guyville include Juliana Hatfield’s Become What You Are, Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream, and Louder Than Bombs by the Smiths.

Nina Kinert (aka Nina K)

 

Mmmm…… Scandinavia. Always. The magic they create. Why couldn’t I have been born in Norway or Sweden? I mean shit, I am mostly of Scandinavian ancestry (Denmark, mostly), but…. ugh. I just wish I wasn’t American, sometimes. This music created by Scandinavian artists always resonates through my soul. I listened to Nina Kinert non-stop on the weekend of August 27th and 28th. Superb.

 

Kings of Convenience

They’ve been around for almost two decades, but I hate how these guys barely get any love….. I love their gorgeous music and it totally calms me down. Tremendously beautiful acoustic guitar layers and arrangements… stellar harmonies, great lyrics, too. “Quiet Is the New Loud”, indeed. Scandinavian songwriting…. is there anything better? Not usually.

I’d love to see these guys live someday… (sigh)

 

Bad Bad Hats

God, I want to hate this band. But I can’t.

It’s that damn “indie pop voice” that haunts my every waking moment (this voice is basically everyone trying to copy Leslie Feist or Nataly Dawn of Pomplamoose… or hell, Cat Power). It’s charming. It’s great.

You’ll love it.

From Minneapolis.

Ashton Allen

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Ashton Allen is probably one of the most underrated singer/songwriter out there, period. His facebook only has 871 likes as of today, August 12th, 2015.

Nine years ago, I was in Barnes and Noble, and the music department had this playing over the store stereo. I bought the CD immediately (it was only $7.99, which was dirt cheap for CDs, at the time).

I love this friggin’ record. This is what songcraft is all about. This guy. And man, what a voice.

I don’t know anything about him… some things I’ve read say he’s perhaps a Christian singer-songwriter (which I’m not terribly into, but not completely against– hell, I love Mindy Smith, and mentioned her on this blog, too)… some say he’s just a casual musician who happens to put out great records. There’s hardly anything about this guy, anywhere…. but…. he needs to be out there, more. And he’s a damn good-lookin’ dude. Why is he not more well-known? I mean, I know this record is from 2006, but still… great music is timeless, as you dear readers/listeners know.

A few of my favorite songs from his perfect 2006 record, “Dewdrops”:

Sea Oleena

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My good friend Kira got me into Sea Oleena, during the brutal winter. Funny story behind this discovery—

One night, instead of driving home from work (when it was 12 degrees), I decided to leave my car there and just walk home (it’s about a 23-minute walk, in nice weather). I made sure I was completely bundled up… and had good headphones to keep my ears warm. So, I threw Sea Oleena’s “Shallow” album on my iphone and proceeded to walk home.

It was fucking BRUTAL. Brutal. 12 degrees, even walking for 5 minutes, is fucking painful.

I was slipping all over the ice on the sidewalks of the neighborhoods between my house and my work. All the while, this album was playing.

It was the only saving grace, that night. Even completely bundled up, I was in pain. I had a scarf on my face, layer after layer… and I was thinking (halfway through), “why the HELL would someone decide to do this?” But, I did. Possibly to test my survival skills, which are zero.

Anyway… it was this song, the second song on the album… that helped me get through the walk. I was like “my god, this is perfection.”

And it is. And SHE is. She being Charlotte Oleena (C. Oleena)…. creative name, in Sea Oleena, right? I love it.

Perfection.

Wye Oak

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Just goddamn BRILLIANT. I’ve been a huge fan for years. Fucking brilliant. Can’t believe I haven’t written about them yet. My favorite record by them is “The Knot”, from 2009.

If you like those two songs, delve into their entire discography. You will not be disappointed. Some bands just knock it out of the park with every. fucking. song. That’s Wye Oak.

KaiserCartel

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On their last.fm bio page, it says “Warm up by the fire with KaiserCartel.”

After reading this, I had to listen to them almost non-stop this month. I’m freezing my ass off, miserable (winter does this to me.. I have Seasonal Affective Disorder), and this music helps greatly. I hateĀ  February. Despise it. It brings back a lot of horrible memories. Namely on 2/7/11, when I lost my higher-range singing voice for almost three years.

Anyway, back to KaiserCartel…. I first discovered them after seeing the great indie film “Liberal Arts”… their masterpiece “Favorite Song” is the last song in the film.

Here’s a Spotify playlist with the album containing “Favorite Song”… enjoy this lovely, simple music.