Archive for June, 2011

Spotlight on Tasseomancy

Need further evidence that Toronto is taking the music scene by storm? Introducing Tasseomancy.

With equal parts Joanna Newsom, Timber Timbre, and CocoRosie, Tasseomancy is the delightfully dark project of twins Sari and Romy Lightman. You may know them as the petite back-up singers and dancers in Austra.

Tasseomancy (photo courtesy of the artist)

The Lightman sisters started making music a few years ago as Ghost Bees (and even released an EP), but with time, their artistic direction morphed, and their lo-fi folk leanings gave way to a fuller, more experimental sound with Tasseomancy.

When I got their upcoming album from a publicist a month or so back, I couldn’t wait to share it. Now, fresh from a screening of the early 90s movie Twin Sitters (which featured the Barbarian brothers babysitting – you guessed it – twins), I think the timing is right.

Tasseomancy’s debut album, Ulalume, (which, by the way, was co-produced by Timber Timbre’s Taylor Kirk and Simon Trottier) isn’t due out until August, but they just released a truly spooky video for the song “Heavy Sleep.”

Oh, so this is what it would sound like if Joanna Newsom could sing. Good to know.


Album art behind the scenes: Son Lux

Back in February, NPR Music documented Ryan Lott’s hectic  month as he wrote, recorded, and produced his sophomore album We Are Rising. Though the music has been done for quite some time, today marks the official album release date.

Check out this video to see how a small crew translated Lott’s music into album art. From preparation to the finished project, the entire design layout was completed in 28 hours since the album itself was completed in 28 days.

Hear the new tunes for yourself, tonight at Public Assembly.

Spotlight on Lady Lamb the Beekeeper

Twenty-one-year-old Aly Spaltro may play under a cute, storybook-like moniker, but don’t let the name fool you. Her songs have more in common with the original tales of the Brothers Grimm than with their G-rated Disney reincarnations.

Perhaps a more fitting descriptor for Lady Lamb the Beekeeper’s music can be found in the title of her latest album: Mammoth Swoon. There’s a startling intensity to Spaltro’s deep voice. It will sweep you up and send you hurtling into a vivid world of bad dreams, ghosts, and yes, even wolf attacks.

Aly Spaltro aka Lady Lamb the Beekeper (photo Shervin Lainez)

Of course, Spaltro sings about more conventional themes like heartbreak and longing, but even then, her striking lyrics prevent her songs from becoming trite. For Spaltro, the need to be close to someone translates to, “I wish to fall asleep in your marrow.”

But as evidenced by the odd syncopation in “Penny Licks,” Mammoth Swoon isn’t without its quirks. Occasionally, the production value takes a dip or a chord is missed. But instead of faltering under the weight of its flaws, it somehow emerges more sure-footed and engrossing. Spaltro’s voice, though raw and ragged one minute, pours forth like honey the next.

Take a listen to “Penny Licks.”

Sonic Smörgåsbord takes on Facebook

A Special Note:

I’ve decided to set up a FB page to accompany this site. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to set it up as a person since I found out Mark Zuckerberg is pretty serious about deleting extra accounts held by the same person, but I was able to create a page. If you follow the blog, I hope you’ll consider “liking” it on Facebook, so you can get the latest updates on blog posts, and have access to other random music-related bursts. Very often, I encounter things I’d like to share but that don’t necessarily warrant an entire blog post, so now these things will have a home. I hope you’ll check it out (and leave comments)!

Northside. It’s happening.

Well, kids, it’s that time of year again. Northside Festival kicks off in New York tonight and runs through Sunday. You can catch the full line-up (more or less) here, thanks to L Magazine. But allow me to list a few of my top picks.

EDIT: The artists that are in color are the ones I managed to see.

Thursday, 6/16

Bruar Falls
11:00 Eternal Summers
10:00 Reading Rainbow
9:15 The Secret History
8:30 Seapony

St. Cecilia’s Church
9:15 Atlas Sound
8:15 White Rainbow
7:30 Lichens

Webster Hall (not part of Northside)
6:00 Architecture in Helsinki

Union Pool
8:20 Lady Lamb the Beekeeper

10:15 MINKS

Friday, 6/17
McCarren Park

8:30 Beirut
7:20 Sharon Van Etten
6:30 Yellow Ostrich

10:00 Sea Pony

Prospect Park (free show, not part of Northside)
7:00 The Books, Junip, Doveman

The Knitting Factory
12:00 am Surfer Blood
11:15 Eternal Summers
10:30 Grooms
9:45 Pepper Rabbit
9:00 Xray Eyeballs
8:15 Zambri
7:30 Dream Diary

Saturday, 6/18

Brooklyn Bowl
11:00 Thee Oh Sees

Irving Plaza (not part of Northside)
9:00 Noah and the Whale

Music Hall of Williamsburg
11:30 Twin Sister
10:30 Allo Darlin
9:45 Ava Luna

Terminal 5
11:00 Yeasayer
10:00 The Smith Westerns

Sunday, 6/19
285 Kent Ave.

9:30 Monogold

11:00 Diamond Rings
10:00 Porcelain Raft
9:00 BELL

Rooftop Films
8:30 Jose Gonzalez at Rooftop Films

St. Cecilia’s Church
7:30 Wyrd Visisions
8:15 Nicholas Krgovich
9:15 Mount Eerie

You can also read my reviews on Brooklyn Vegan:
for Lichens, White Rainbow, Atlas Sound, Reading Rainbow, and Eternal Summers
for Yellow Ostrich, Sharon Van Etten, Beirut, and Seapony
for Twin Sister, Allo Darlin’, Wyrd Visions, Nicholas Krgovich, and Mount Eerie

Spotlight on Seapony

Need an album  to help you ease into summer? Look no further than Seapony’s debut, Go With Me.

With its simple, repetitive lyrics, fuzzed-out summery sound, and jangly guitars, “Dreaming,” the album’s opening track, reminds me a lot of Best Coast’s summer-friendly single “When I’m With You.”

But Seapony’s music has a levity to it that is more in keeping with Saturday Looks Good to Me than Best Coast. (Take a listen to “Alcohol” for comparison purposes.)

The good news? Like many summer shows in New York, you can check out Seapony’s new album for free! Stream it in its entirety here.

Rooftop Films, take two

“This is a sexy, desperate program,” Rooftop Films host Mark Elijah Rosenberg said by way of introducing the evening’s theme: The Pursuit of Love. While opening night had been a bit on the chilly side, last Friday’s event seemed to mark the season’s official foray into summer.

On the roof at the New Design High School (photo Irwin Seow)

But before the shorts began, Widowspeak took the stage for a short set. Having missed their recent performance at Glasslands, I was thankful for another opportunity to see the Brooklyn band play. I’ve been listening to their single (as of yet the only thing they’ve officially released) on repeat.

Sometimes, new bands you love recorded let you down. Widowspeak does not fall into this category. From their first song, I was hooked, but it took me a minute to figure out why the music seemed to resonate with me so deeply. Then it hit me. “Oh man! The singer from Widowspeak is totally adorable and sounds like Hope Sandoval!” I eagerly texted a friend. With her long flowing floral skirt, soothing voice, and seductive sideways glances, singer Molly Hamilton exuded just the right combination of innocence and sexiness. Consider me a fan.

Widowspeak (photo Nicholas Gazin)

Closing with Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” (tag line “I’ll never fall in love”) turned out to be the perfect segue to the shorts.


Each year’s romantic shorts program is one of my favorite Rooftop Films events. This year, the theme made it even more fun. From a town full of headless villagers to a bizarre underwater manifestation, the shorts revealed that love is just as twisted as it is rewarding.

"He considered music a liberating force: it liberated him from loneliness, introversion, the dust of the library; it opened the door of his body and allowed his soul to step out into the world to make friends."

- Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being