Posts Tagged ‘Fingerstyle’

M & M’s Lead Echoes Top 25 for August

August 27, 2013

Ambient Music from Greece and Dreampop from North Jersey

WavesMelorman,  Mree and Marconi Union hold the one , two and three positions for most played albums in August on Echoes.  Melorman’s Waves was the Echoes August CD of the Month.  Mree’s Winterwell is the impressive sophomore album from the 19-year old Taiwanese-Bulgarian-American singer from northern New Jersey.   Her ethereal songs have stacked vocals that recall Enya and plaintive melodies that never fail to enchant.  Mree leads a pack of vocal albums on the list, 12, which is the most ever in the Echoes Top 25.

Mree's Winterwell

Mree’s Winterwell

But ambient music abounds including the third M in our list, Marconi Union & Jah Wobble with their CD Anomic, which gets better with every listen.  Then there’s the beautiful ambient chamber music Jeff Greinke.  He’s a longtime favorite on Echoes and his new album Scenes from a Train is a beautiful work of acoustic chamber music that further reveals the composer in this experimental artist.  And dig his label name: Infectious Music.  Anyway you take it, it’s true.  Here’s the Top 25 for August

ECHOES TOP 25 for August 2013

  1. MelormanWaves (Sun Sea Sky Productions) iTunes
  2. Mree – Winterwell (Mree Music) iTunes
  3. Jah Wobble & Marconi Union – Anomic (30 Hertz) Anomic - Jah Wobble & Marconi Union
  4. Northcape – Exploration and Ascent (Sun Sea Sky Productions) Exploration and Ascent - Northcape
  5. Ludovico Einaudi – In a Time Lapse (Ponderosa Music)
  6. Una – The Laughing Man (Una)
  7. Allison Moyet – The Minutes (Metropolis Records)
  8. Tricky – False Idols (False Idols) Anomic - Jah Wobble & Marconi Union
  9. Hem – Departure and Farewell (Redeye Label) Anomic - Jah Wobble & Marconi Union
  10. Jeff Greinke – Scenes From A Train (Infectious Music)
  11. Olivier Libaux – Uncovered Queens of the Stone Age (Music for Music Lovers) Uncovered: Queens of the Stone Age - Olivier Libaux
  12. Tom Caufield – Nature and the Constant Illusion (Bohemian Embassy) Exploration and Ascent - Northcape
  13. Washed Out – Paracosm (Sub Pop)
  14. Hooverphonic – The Night Before (Columbia Europe)
  15. Delerium – Music Box Opera (Nettwerk Records)
  16. Sankt Otten – Messias Maschine (Denovali Records)
  17. Glenn Jones – My Garden State (Thrill Jockey)
  18. William Tyler – Impossible Truth (Merge Records) iTunes
  19. Karl Hyde – Edgeland (Deluxe Version) (UMe) iTunes
  20. Dido – Girl Who Got Away (RCA) iTunes
  21. George Wallace – Soul Ascending iTunes
  22. Sigur Ros – Kveikur (XL Recordings) Kveikur - Sigur Rós
  23. Rachel Zeffira – The Deserters (Paper Bag) The Deserters - Rachel Zeffira
  24. Laki Mera – Turn all Memory to White Noise (Just Music)
  25. John Parish – Screenplay (Thrill Jockey)

John Diliberto (((echoes)))
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The Reinvention of Kaki King – Echoes Podcast

December 14, 2012

Hear the Podcast of Kaki King’s Echoes Interview

Kaki King in Echoes BLack Box

Kaki King in Echoes BLack Box

There’s little doubt that Kaki King has been the most high profile acoustic guitar player of the last decade.  Since her 2003 debut she’s recorded several albums, collaborated with musicians like The Goo Goo Dolls, scored films like Into the Wild with Eddie Vedder and Michael Brook and generally left most musicians gasping for breath in her wake.  She recently released her album Glow, and it’s yet another new direction for the peripatetic guitarist.

Kaki King has been in a buoyant mood lately.  The beyond petite guitarist smiles gently with her boyish brown haircut, holding her Ovation guitar. She’s had one of those life changes that seem pretty good.

“Yeah, I got married,” she reveals. “I met her after same sex marriage was legal in New York State.  And it changed a lot of things for me.  It  changed what I was looking for and what I thought was possible for me as far as stability and making, and protecting a family, and a lot of things.  And I didn’t know that would happen.  And it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”

617-AkrLI0L._SL500_AA300_You might be able to hear that change on Kaki King’s Glow.

“I was engaged when I made Glow and I didn’t know what stability would do for me because I was thriving on chaos for years and years,” she says.  “And I wrote a lot of songs.  And I didn’t know what would happen and it turns out that I’m doing even better work.”

Kaki King has come a long way since she was playing in New York City Subways.

“I miss playing in the subways,” she says wistfully.  “It’s been too long, about five years.”

Since her 2003 solo debut, Everybody Loves You, she’s rejected the roll of solo fingerstyle guitarist.  She played with her sound, adding vocals here, different musicians there.  Her experiments culminated in her 2010 album, Junior, made with a full rock band and often raging distortion.

“Sure I mean they’ve all been kind of sharp changes in direction,” she says.  “This record for me was partially about reconnecting with being a solo acoustic player and again, trying to push the envelope and see what was possible.”

There was a point where Kaki King was contemplating divorce.  Not from her new spouse, but from her guitar.

“It’s like being with a partner, I mean, for 29 years at this point,” she confesses.  “I played guitar and I was just evaluating my marriage to it.  I didn’t want to play.  That’s the truth; I just didn’t want to pick it up.  I just didn’t have that feeling anymore.  And I had to reestablish my relationship with it.

“How did you do that?” I asked.

“I played,” she quickly responds.  “I forced myself.  I went on tour with a bunch of weird guitarists.  We did this “Guitar Freak Show”, so I created an environment in which if I wanted to, if we wanted to reconcile we could.  And it worked and I do love playing guitar.  I love it.”

Hear more of Kaki King’s interview including talking about her koto guitar and playing with the string quartet, Ethel, in the Echoes Podcast.

~© 2012 John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

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Jimmy Wahlsteen 181st Songs Echoes CD of the Month for January

December 30, 2009

Swedish musician Jimmy Wahlsteen Channels Pop into Fingerstyle Guitar.

You can hear an Audio Version of this blog, with Jimmy Wahlsteen’s music.

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On the cover of his debut album, 181st Songs, Jimmy Wahlsteen just looks too stylish to be a fingerstyle guitar slinger.  GQ poses and an androgynous look aren’t the norm for the usual grizzled or blandly clean-cut anti-image approach favored by most fingerstyle players.  But then you hear the impressive technique and realize he isn’t like a lot of finger-style players anyway.

Wahlsteen has all the post-Michael Hedges guitar approaches down, including two-handed tapping, playing percussion on his guitar and more.  But this isn’t a simple guitar-picker’s anthem.  The Swedish born musician grew up as a fan of Kiss, and has spent the first part of his young career playing on pop music sessions. He brings a keen melodic ear and arranging sensibility to his music.  A song like “Suffice to Say” could be a pop ballad, with its song structure and use of electric guitar accents.

Wahlsteen can burn the house down with technique, which he does on “The Urge to Gossip,” a jazzy romp complete with horns, but he can also wax pastoral on “Carry Me,” a gentle song backed by a string trio. Wahlsteen doesn’t credit it on the album, but you can hear subtle processing effects in his playing.  He introduces “Rapid Eye Movement” with a delay sound reminiscent of U2‘s The Edge and on “You Gotta Run Real Fast to Stand Still,” he uses shimmering harmonics and electric guitar shadings that exhibit his open ended approach to finger-style guitar.

The title of the CD comes from the street on which Jimmy Wahlsteen lived in New York City, 181st Street. That’s where he wrote most of an album on which he does it all, even picking out the cut you’ll like best.  It’s called “It’s your Favorite.” Jimmy Wahlsteen’s 181st Songs is on Candyrat Records and it’s our favorite for January and it’s the Echoes CD of the Month.
John Diliberto ((( echoes )))
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Echo Location: John Gregorius “Heaven and Earth”

November 25, 2008

Heaven & Earth On his latest album, Heaven and EarthJohn Gregorius finds a meeting ground between Windham Hill fingerstyle guitar and ambient music.  

listen-icons-16x162 (You can hear an Audio Version of this blog, with music.)

Progressive rock was known for it’s synthesizer and organ orchestrations and furious electric guitar runs, but a lot of musicians were attracted to a more pastoral side of that sound heard in the acoustic guitars of Mike Oldfield in Tubular Bells and Mike Rutherford, Steve Hackett and Anthony Phillips from Genesis. One of those musicians was John Gregorius. He’s a rock refugee who has played in a bunch of Southern California bands, but he went for a different approach on his debut, Heaven and Earth. It’s a sound that mixes ambient textures, world music touches and finger-style guitar.

No matter how elaborate his arrangements might be, the songs on Heaven and Earth begin on acoustic guitar.  Gregorius cites Genesis, but you can also hear the influence of Windham Hill guitarists like Will Ackerman and Michael Hedges in his playing.  He has a few purely solo tracks on the disc, like “Sackcloth to Ashes,” just to show the coordinates of ground zero.  Here’s a video of a solo version of “Heaven and Earth”

If this was just another acoustic solo guitar album, it would’ve been pleasant listening, but Heaven and Earth rises above when Gregorius’s acoustic tunes are set in ambient landscapes. A song like “Mercy” is based on finger-style guitar, but the lead is taken by a country-tinged electric over a Brian Eno-style soundscape that could’ve come off his Apollo album.

John Gregorius is a musician of eclectic tastes, but with a unified vision. You can tell he’s listening to acoustic players, but also has his fingers in rock and ambient music. A track called “Secret to Light” sets plaintive acoustic guitar in an atmosphere of growling, shoegazer rock textures and rolling drums played with mallets that come straight off the launch pad of Pink Floyd’s “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun”

Folk, country, blues and world music are incorporated into John Gregorius’ playing. On “Pearls of Great Price,” he creates a meeting of Ambient Americana and Indian music, with udu drum and a guitar lead that sits between languid country blues and Indian raga.

John Gregorius’s new album, Heaven and Earth is out on Spotted Peccary records. It’s our Echoes CD of the Month for December. It will be featured on Monday’s Echoes broadcast. This has been an Echo Location, Soundings for New Music.                      listen-icons-16x161 (You can hear an Audio Version of this blog, with music.)

John Dilibert0 ((( echoes )))

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