Category Archives: +++ multi-instrumentalists

La Sera (Katy Goodman)

You might know the Vivian Girls, who are were goddamn amazing (they broke up last year). Well, here’s Katy Goodman’s side project/main music, as La Sera…. as I often write…. dude. Some people just have it. And they give it their all, in every single fucking minute of their musical journey. This is Katy Goodman, aka La Sera.

“Beating Heart” (I LOVE this song)

Latest record, “Hour Of The Dawn” (entire album)

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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”:

Tara Jane O’Neil

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Fuck. Fuck. FUCK. I love her. LOVE HER.

I had one album by her that I picked up used at a CD store years ago. Possibly her 2004 record “You Sound, Reflect”…. but, I can’t find the damn thing… so, I’ve gone to Spotify to relisten to what I’ve been MISSING for years.

She is a fucking GENIUS!!

She’s all over the map, musically… ALL over. And she has worked with countless amazing people in the indie rock world, including one of my all-time favorite bands, Ida, as well as many, many, MANY others… people always want to work with her. Plus, she’s done the album art for her own records as well as many other people (including Ida)….

How can I describe her music?

It’s melancholy indie/folk/ambient music… occasionally loop-based, as she is very fond of using loop pedals to make beautifully melodic soundscapes and textures from silence/nothing. She sings often, in her songs… and the songs are just mesmerizing, man. Absolutely mesmerizing. Every guitar, keyboard, drum machine, and weird instrument is played by her…. and occasionally, her songs have drums… I’m not sure if she plays them on her records or not.

I needed this tonight. Oh man, did I need this. It’s been such a rough time in my life…. and this…. this music, is just what the doctor ordered.

Here’s a Spotify stream of 2001’s “In The Sun Lines”. I especially love the 8-minute instrumental song “This Morning”, near the end of the record…. MMMM!

And here’s a Spotify stream of her 2004 record “You Sound, Reflect”. The first song “Take The Walking” is so interesting and dynamic… wow.

FYI, Tara’s birthday is November 22nd. She will be 42. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Tara!! Thank you for making such incredibly interesting, textured music…. god DAMN…. could she perhaps be one of my new favorites? What have I been MISSING all this time?!!

Minor Alps (Juliana Hatfield & Matthew Caws from Nada Surf)

 

There are a few major musical influences of mine… that I’ve always cited as my main, main musical influences. I would say the main list is always: Juliana Hatfield, Nada Surf, Ida, The Album Leaf, Azure Ray, The Smiths…. and a few others.

The fact that fate brought Juliana Hatfield and Matthew Caws together to make music is just a beautiful, beautiful thing. Juliana Hatfield has been a huge musical influence of mine for over 20 years. And I loved Nada Surf when they first came out, but when I realized that Nada Surf was becoming better & better with every single album… they quickly became one of my favorite bands.

These two were just destined to make music together. They are both indie rock legends. And I think they’re about the same age (mid-4os).

I love when the DJ says “I feel like I’m witnessing magic!” right after their first song. I feel exactly the same.

A few days ago I picked up a Minor Alps t-shirt, and their debut album (yes, people still actually do buy CDs). 🙂

Enjoy!

 

 

Frou Frou

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Don’t forget about this band, just because the whole fucking world is obsessed with folk/acoustic indie stuff, and lots of crowd-sung “oh, oh, oh, woo-woo-woo” chants).

Just because you heard “Let Go” a million fucking times over the last 9 years doesn’t mean you should discount their perfect (and only) full-length record.

Frou Frou is Guy Sigsworth and the legendary Imogen Heap (who was kicked off her label in 1998 due to low sales… man, I bet those executives are kicking themselves for such a stupid decision).

This record has been one of my all-time favorite albums of all-time. A true desert-island disc. Put headphones on and prepare for one gorgeous, harmonically-rich, melodically fascinating, and electronically stimulating journey.

Don’t sleep on their album “Details” because truly, it’s all about the details, with these songs.

I love Imogen Heap with every ounce of my soul and Guy Sigsworth is just a genius… may she and he continue to have incredible success, and possibly release new Frou Frou material (there is talk of it).

Here’s the “Details” Spotify playlist. LISTEN TO IT IN ITS ENTIRETY!

 

Marit Larsen

Twelve years ago, I was enamoured by an AWESOME pop album called “Shades of Purple” by Norwegian teen pop sensation M2M. The group consisted of two lifelong best friends, Marit Larsen and Marion Raven. Their song “Don’t Say You Love Me” is still a song I cannot stop listening to, even now in 2012. PERFECT song. And the best part is, the song (and all of their music) was written by these two girls… a lot of the better music was written by Marit Larsen.

Today, she is a Norwegian superstar (her last album hit #1 on Norwegian radio), but from my estimation, she is incredibly humble and as down-to-earth as you can get. Not only is she absolutely mesmerizing to look at, Marit Larsen is also an extremely talented multi-instrumentalist/songwriter. In my opinion, she gives Ingrid Michaelson a run for her money, and I fuckin’ LOVE Ingrid. I honestly think Marit (with several less years on her than Ingrid) is a better and more talented songwriter, and singer. And, she’s more accomplished and prolific. And of course, for all of these reasons, I have to talk about her here on Underrated Music.

Without further ado….. here are three Marit Larsen songs from the past 5 years or so, and as a bonus, take a listen to the pure pop perfection of M2M’s “Don’t Say You Love Me” (yes, it IS the song from the Pokemon movie)…

and here’s Marit and Marion (M2M) playing “Don’t Say You Love Me” candidly, backstage. Absolute talent. Marit was a better guitarist at 17 than I was at 25.

One final thought— I still think M2M is probably one of the best late 90s/early 00s pop groups… if not THE best. The pure talent from these two cannot be understated. They wrote EVERYTHING. If these songs don’t make you smile, sing along, and love life, then you have a deficiency in your soul.

Scandinavian pop was, is, and always will be the best music ever made.

 

Nataly Dawn

NOTE: this is a repost (originally posted Feb 7th).

And now, Jack Conte’s wonderful counterpart and musical equal, Nataly Dawn, the gorgeous voice behind Pomplamoose.

Nataly Dawn is one amazing, diverse vocalist. I won’t even mention how pretty this girl is, as it is quite obvious from any picture or YouTube video she’s in (*swoooooon*)… but yeah, back to her voice. It’s smooth as silk, jazzy yet poppy… soulful and subdued… hard to pinpoint, really… other than it’s one gorgeous, addictive sound that I can’t seem to get enough of.

I was lucky enough to meet Nataly and Jack in June 2011 when Pomplamoose played Philly, and got to talk with both of them briefly… they were (and are)  exceptionally cool, REAL people. Nataly is extremely nice in real life… such a humble person…. humility so epic, it rivals her musical talents and equals them.

I didn’t even know who Nataly Dawn was until I saw Pomplamoose’s video for Lady Gaga’s “Telephone.” I could care less about Lady Gaga’s music, but after seeing that video, I had to know more about this lovely girl’s talent.

I’ll shut up about Pomplamoose now, and focus on Nataly’s solo stuff. Outside of Pomplamoose, Nataly Dawn is a singer/bassist and guitarist (and occasional pianist). And she is proficient and perfect at all four. If Pomplamoose never formed, it wouldn’t matter… this girl would have still gotten out there, musically, sooner or later…………. but, for the very reason I started this blog… I want the world to hear her.

Nataly is currently working on/recording her latest solo record (a solo album she wound up raising over $100,000 for, through Kickstarter, even though her goal was like 80% less….)– I’m so happy for her, and can’t wait to hear this undoubtedly amazing solo record (which will be produced by Jack Conte!)

Here are a few of my favorite videos and songs of hers:

Tegan and Sara

Ok, now on to other artists NOT related to Pomplamoose, haha.

Tegan and Sara

I discovered Tegan and Sara a long time ago… I’m pretty sure it was from the website Auralgasms (now they are an online radio station called Strangeways Radio, you should check them out).

I heard Tegan and Sara’s first single “You Went Away” from their 2002 album “If It was You.” I was instantly hooked in by their charming (some ignorant people would call annoying) voices, and their superbly-crafted pop/folk songwriting. I didn’t think much of them after that, though… as I was mainly listening to a lot of trip-hop at the time.

Fast-forward to 2004, when I first heard their album “So Jealous.” I was at an all-time low in my life… I had just gone through a horrible breakup in September, and I started listening to “So Jealous” in December. I remember driving to work one morning listening to the first five songs of the album, and I was so happy… for the first time in MONTHS. It was their song “I Know, I Know, I Know” which really destroyed me, in the best of ways. The lyrics, the melodies, the whole vibe of the song just spoke to me on so many levels. SO many. The chorus is FLAWLESS!!! “Stick your hands inside of my pocket, keep them warm while I’m still here. Tell them this love hasn’t changed me, hasn’t changed me at all…… stick your heart inside of my chest, keep it warm here, while we rest. Tell them this love hasn’t changed me, hasn’t changed me at all…” Absolute PERFECTION.

And then they released “The Con” and the other albums that followed… I didn’t think much of them as I was basically obsessed with “So Jealous” which I maintain is one of the best indie albums of the 2000s, hands-down.

The other night, my friend Ryan showed me some YouTube videos of the making of “The Con” (studio footage) and I fell in love with Tegan and Sara yet again…. I instantly ordered The Con (plus the DVD) from Amazon, as well as another Tegan and Sara documentary. I can’t wait to watch both of those in their entirety.

Tegan and Sara seem like the coolest people alive… how lucky their bandmates must be, to hang with them and to help them tour and make great records. I hope they realize how great it is working with these incredibly awesome twin sibling songwriters.

Without further ado… here’s “I Know, I Know, I Know”, “I Won’t Be Left” from the 2004 album “So Jealous.”… plus some behind-the-scenes/studio recording footage from The Con documentary.

My Terrible Friend (Lauren O’Connell & Nataly Dawn)

NOTE: For the first few posts on this blog, I’m going to write about all the YouTube people connected to the first band I blogged about (Pomplamoose)…. because I think these musicians (who all happen to be friends with Pomplamoose or related to them in some way) are all brilliant, talented, uber-catchy songwriters with a strong knack of melody and arrangement, and deserve our attention, ears, and support ($$$). If you aren’t immediately swooning upon the first few seconds of each of these videos, you have a deficiency in your soul.

So finally…. after Julia Nunes, Lauren O’Connell, Ryan Lerman, Louis Cole, Jack Conte, and Nataly Dawn… comes My Terrible Friend, a collaboration between Lauren O’Connell and Nataly Dawn of Pomplamoose.

The best part about the sound of My Terrible Friend is the mixture of vocals and lyrics by Nataly and Lauren…. their voices and styles are completely different, but musically, they come together and create rich, textured folk, with a strong 60’s influence… just gorgeous songs with fantastic lyrics, especially the song “When I Decide.” Ultimately, I can describe My Terrible Friend’s music as timeless.

Here are a few of my favorite videos and songs of theirs:

Jack Conte

NOTE: For the first few posts on this blog, I’m going to write about all the YouTube people connected to the first band I blogged about (Pomplamoose)…. because I think these musicians (who all happen to be friends with Pomplamoose or related to them in some way) are all brilliant, talented, uber-catchy songwriters with a strong knack of melody and arrangement, and deserve our attention, ears, and support ($$$). If you aren’t immediately swooming upon the first few seconds of each of these videos, you have a deficiency in your soul.

After Julia Nunes, Lauren O’Connell, Ryan Lerman, and Louis Cole, comes Jack Conte, the mad scientist behind Pomplamoose:

 

Jack Conte is probably my #1 musical and life influence right now. The guy has a tremendous amount of talent, but he also is a very smart businessman and has great opinions on the music industry and where it’s going…. and where it SHOULD go. Plus, he’s a sweetheart of a guy. I was lucky enough to meet him and Nataly in June 2011, and talk with them briefly… they were (and are)  exceptionally cool, REAL people.

In 2009, Jack/Pomplamoose made six figures from internet downloads. Six figures. Without a major label backing him. That is extremely impressive.

It all came from using YouTube as an exposure source…. Jack had been making his own original music, in the form of “videosongs” (a term he coined, which is basically a music video shot as the recording process is taking place– no lip-synching or phony crap), and was generating quite a buzz for himself, even before he started working with Nataly as Pomplamoose. Jack’s music spans MANY styles and genres…. but to give you an idea of what his solo stuff sounds like… it’s a mishmash of quirky hard rock, ambient, classical, techno, Beatles-esque pop, and everything else you can possibly think of. This guy has no boundaries… no limits. He writes whatever he wants, and whatever he writes always comes out interesting, and listenable.

Here are a few of my favorite videos and songs of his…. DEFINITELY watch these, and realize the amount of talent this guy possesses…. it’s pretty ridiculous.