Women rock, and in Sabrina Fallah’s case, she actually does rock. Her guitar-driven melodies might remind you of P!nk or Avril Lavigne, but Fallah’s sweet soprano adds a unique twist.
Her EPs, a self-titled debut and follow-up album “Kiss Is a Killer,” show that she’s been at this for a while. In the 10 years she’s been performing, music has become her full-time work. Her first hint that she wanted to be a singer was at age 14 when she won her first singing competition, but she’s been surrounded by music since childhood. Her cousin would play his guitar and let her hear the new bands he was listening to. Some of her favorites now are Green Day, Bon Jovi, and Billy Idol. This exposure, along with her love of writing short stories and poetry, led her to becoming a singer/songwriter.
I forgot about her! Sort of. Some of her songs from Metals always make it on to my fall playlists, but before and after that, I forgot about her. It has been six years, after all, since she released anything new. But, I personally feel that should be the hallmark of a steady artist. Give yourself space and time to create genuine music instead of slamming a new single or album out yearly. (Don’t get me wrong, some artists do that, and they do it well… but usually they don’t because it’s rushed and forced.)
Image via Pitchfork.
Image via eil.com
Image via Vice.
Feist. Image via NME.
Her new album, Pleasure, is coming out April 28. It took me a couple listens to this new single Century to warm up to it. The tempo is a little trickier–it never quite gets beyond that point where you feel the sound is going to crest. The guitars are low and prod you forward like thumbing your way for a ride down a long desert road. The ending features a bit of spoken word by English artist Jarvis Cocker, who I’m only familiar with by name. It’s a spooky addition that illustrates the theme of the song (which sounds like it might be depression or sadness). So, being that Century has all my favorite elements (dark, spooky, and a little awkward to get used to), I listened to it a few more times, and now I will say confidently that it’s a damn good song and I can’t wait to hear more. Welcome back Feist!
Heard this song by UK singer Rebecca Ferguson (oh, ha, just saw when I Googled her that she’s the one who said she’d sing at Donald Trump’s inauguration if she could sing Strange Fruit) on an episode of Being Mary Jane (which I stumbled upon on Netflix and was pleasantly surprised. It’s funny, thoughtful, and nuanced, also giving a spotlight to woman in business leadership. Props to creator Mara Brock Akil and Gabrielle Union, my new celebrity girl crush, lol. Watch out Tracee Ellis Ross…).
Rebecca Ferguson. Image via Digital Spy.
Mara Brock Akil. Image via Oprah.com.
Gabrielle Union. Image via New York Magazine.
Ok, too many parentheticals…
I took note of the refrain “I hope,” repeated and giving you now choice but to hear it. And we hardly hear it so emphatically these days. Then listening to the lyrics, not only do we not hear that we hope for things nearly enough, we don’t hope the best for our enemies. You know, I’d like to think I don’t have any, because that word feels really strong. But you can’t stop life, and there are definitely people in my life who I’ve done wrong to as well as to me. This song is a good reminder of “live and let live,” and that sometimes, the best we can do is hope the best for each other. Not without frustration, struggle, or aggravation, but eventually, that’s all. Hope the best.
Grimes. She’s weird. And Canadian. And perfect. Her DIY music (she does all the production herself) mixes light and dark moods with an eccentric array of electronic mixes. Her first few albums kept it pretty simple. There wasn’t a lot of interplay with different synth sounds. It took a while to grow on me, but the straightforward approach gave her music an airy quality.
Her most recent album, Art Angels, definitely takes more a pop direction, but not like top-40 pop music. The hooks are there, but they’re artfully blended into a wild swirl of color. That’s actually the best way to approach Grimes–think of her like an animation (and she does draw a lot of inspiration from her own art and anime). There’s more about her that has to be seen and felt than you can glean just from hearing the songs (check out Venus Fly with Janelle Monae). Her aesthetic is fantasy. Dark, rich, and story-driven. She’s not for everyone, but if you decide to venture into her world, give yourself time to get acquainted with the sights and sounds.
Goldfrapp are an electronic duo from London, with Alison Goldfrapp providing the vocals and backing by Will Gregory on synth and strings. They draw influences from different sources, including film (specifically the ominous cult classic, The Wicker Man), surrealism, and nature. Their earlier albums like Black Cherry and Supernature are distinctly electronic and dance oriented, but recent work like Seventh Tree and Tales of Us takes a more ambient tone.
The stripped down, folk-electronic sound is especially heard on Tales of Us. The songs are gentle, but foreboding. Alison leads the listener down a dim path with creeping fog, but stops every so often at patches of light on the forest floor or glinting off lake water for some relief. Something is lurking behind her reflections, a shadow cast on memories, yet those memories are still worth having for her and for us.
Tales of Us is a shapeshifter. It fits in on soft summer days, and just as easily as overcast ones. It’s grey in Minneapolis today, and I’m gonna let Tales of Us work its mystery on the morning.
Sending up a Friday PSA about this fabulous new singer, Vagabon (no “d”–not the British band Google would have you believe). She was recently featured on NPR’s First Listen for her upcoming second album, Infinite Worlds. Only her first album, Persian Garden, is available on Spotify, currently. As shitty as Spotify is for independent artists, I’m plugging it here because you have to hear it right away, somehow. If you can get your hands on her actual album or support her live, that would be ideal! You can also listen on her Band Camp page.
Vagabon (Laetitia Tamko) is a multi-instrumentalist and plays most, if not all, of her own music. Her sound carries hints of classic 90s grunge mood with intense guitar and raspy vocals a la Feist or Cat Power–that languid, but raw yearning that rests on top of the instrumentation. But Laetitia uses the sound wisely. It’s gently interspersed throughout the songs like punctuation to her introspective lyrics. Listening to Persian Garden, I imagined myself on a long car ride, staring out the window at the passing scenery. The enclosed space giving time to dwell in all the emotions around my various memories.
From Persian Garden, Sharks:
“I am so small.
My feet can barely touch the floor
on the bus where everybody’s tall.
I surrender myself.
Run and tell everybody that Laetitia is a small fish.
I’m just a small fish.”