Kent Ohio-based Sexy Pig Divas blind sides us with a fresh sophisticated new EP in “Robota.” Ironically , my favorite track “City Life” is driven by a rich base of pretty piano and intimate clean grungey guitars churning out crafty progressions, but conjures a half smidgen of western alt-country using haunting blended harmonies blanketed in tasteful reverb. Offering up a few different vocal sounds that are integrated into well-mixed groovy cohesive rhythms, it’s almost impossible to hear the instrumental seams. The spooky classical piano is one of many flavors that are staggered throughout this dense collection of songs. “Robota” is one of those records that doesn’t ask to be liked and doesn’t ask if it’s good music; at first listen.. .. it’s evident.
Good luck keeping up with the many sound colors and tasteful curve-balls that this record throws you. It has the potential to be the Zou’s travel size “Sgt Peppers.” The opening track ”Pink Lincoln” lets you know right off the bat, that you’re in for something with giant gravity; setting up “Soon! Ok?” which introduces a new species of song structure that is becoming of The Zou’s forever changing adaptation of the rootsy-rock song arrangement family. Showing their tender side with “Some with Heads (Some Without)” they prove that they still have hits for the radio while staying true to their gritty exclamatory vocals, sexy dissonant guitar tones, and hooky bass lines. If you’re not getting your sway on during the chorus of “Soon! Ok?” you need to turn yourself off and let the Zou turn you back on again with their best record yet.
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Katianne Timko – “What I Wanted” EP
Imagine a quirky coffee shop but instead of small tables and soft furniture, imagine a campfire smack dab in the middle. Katianne Timko’s EP “What I Wanted” is the soundtrack to this hypothetical setting. Sometimes talent hides and only pops out of the blue when it’s good and ready. This is an enjoyable mini-collection of songs. The folky campfire guitars and banjo are nice and work together in a unique way, but Timko’s voice really stands out and is really well complimented by the soft moody violin. The song “Resistence,” my favorite track on the CD, is the highpoint of the CD. The instrumentation which includes guitars, violin, and banjo, compared to the.. maybe a bit-too-busy string instrument battle in the opening track “beauty in black and white,” is very well mixed and truly surrounds Katianne’s voice in a warm blanket of sonic delight. “Resistence” is a great tune; it loads itself into the aural memory jukebox in your head and get’s stuck on repeat, which for me was a welcomed event.
What’s important to note about Katianne’s voice and vocal style, is that it is HER own voice. Many singers stear their voice towards this archetypal rock idol voice which usually produces a strained timbre that is less than desirable. I really enjoy the emotional quality of phrases like “you say..” … “no I’m not..no I’m not,” because it is pure and sincere. Her vocal style is refreshing and stylistic, combining a rapid Traci Chapman vibrato, pop chops, and a smooth pollished coffee-shop texture reminiscent of the voice of indie singer/songwriter Jewel. Timko’s lyrics are personal, sincere, and fit her melodies like a glove. If you like Katianne’s voice you should check out Jewel’s LP “Pieces of You,” and a new indie band Carolyn and the Goodnight Sleeps.”
Shiloh Hawkins & Courtney Waskin LIVE AT RACHEL’S RHYTHM HOUSE.
Shiloh & Courtney “Speechless Birds”(live)
At Rachel’s Rhythm House the only “Speechless Birds” were in the audience. Shiloh Hawkins and Courtney Waskin took the stage and brought with them their stand-0ut presence. Cool, calm, confident, and most importantly.. fun. I was entertained from start to finish. Playing a wide variety of covers and originals written by Shiloh, the realization was apparent quickly: ladies and gentlemen.. we have ourselves some real live artists and entertainers on our hands.
In addition to the Shiloh & Courtney show, Shiloh also sings and plays guitar for the Youngstown based band “BLUE THROUGH BRANCHES.” Shiloh’s focused gaze, Courtney’s animated expressions, and their polished musicianship really work well in tandem to keep your eyes and ears in a stranglehold. One Ani Defranco song “Evolve,” in particular, couldn’t have been captured and covered better. It always impresses me even more so, when an artist will deconstruct a song like Shiloh did with AC/DC’s “Rock n Roll ain’t Noise Pollution,” and make it her own. Right when you think you’ve been blown away Courtney whips out “HeyYa” by Outkast and plays it with the utmost incredible enthusiasm; doing a little 60’s sock-hop wiggle completely uninhibited. As an artist, I really admired that aspect of the show: the craft of having fun on stage and playing so flawlessly. In small-town Ohio, my brain actively anticipated mistakes when Shiloh began to play her original “speechless” birds,” but not only did she not make a mistake, she played it with so much tender fluidity that I was entranced. She’s a sound guitar player who obviously works hard at performing and mastering her instrument. I award her several Kudos, and many High5’s to Courtney for stage presence and kick-butt vibrato. Stay tuned for more MP3’s and live videos from this show.
(I will post them at the discretion of Shiloh & Courtney of course;)
Shy by Ani Difranco
A/V and show review in the making.