All it takes is 3 chords and a dream!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Wildy's World Top-40 of 2009 #1: Jeneen Terrana & The Howl Brothers - My Creation

Buffalo, NY born and raised singer/songwriter Jeneen Terrana has been based in New York City for several years now, but she hasn't forgotten her roots. Terrana's My Creation is the finest overall recording we reviewed here at Wildy's World during the past year, and is our pick as album of the year for 2009. Terrana may not have a lot of name recognition outside of New York City or Buffalo, but that's more an indication of what's wrong in the music business than of anything about Terrana herself. Mixing elements of Norah Jones, Sarah McLachlan, PJ Harvey, Ani DiFranco and Joni Mitchell, Terrana is an every-woman singer/songwriter whose music speaks across social and generational boundaries in a fashion many of her peers have never imagined.
Note: My Creation technically has a 2007 release date, but did not go into wide distribution until 2008 and was not reviewed until January of 2009.
That's it folks! We'll be back tomorrow with fresh reviews. Let's hope 2010 is a bright one!

The Wildy's World Top Ten EPs of 2009 #1: Kate Miller Heidke - EP

At the end of the day, Kate Miller's Heidke's EP is just an appetizer meant to whet the whistles of North American audiences in advance of the release of Curiouser in early 2010. EP was only released digitally, and capitalizes on the popular draw of Are You F#cking Kidding Me; but Miller Heidke is a grade A talent. Aside from the You Tube sensation, Miller Heidke serves up four other songs that consist of the some of the best songwriting to land on this side of the pond in 2009. Kate Miller Heidke also has a voice that's to die for, and rounds it all out with musicianship that's undeniable.

Kate Miller Heidke's EP may have been a bit overlooked in the popular sense, but you can't help but get hooked once you hear it, and EP is Wildy's World's #1 EP of 2009.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Wildy's World Top-40 of 2009 #2: Ron Hawkins - 10 Kinds Of Lonely

Hall Of Fame songwriter Ron Hawkins makes a surprising career turn on 10 Kinds Of Lonely, writing in a loose Country/Americana style that works perfectly in this stripped-down set of songs. Hawkins has long been lauded as one of the finest lyricists of his generation, and he used those talents exquisitely on 10 Kinds Of Lonely, while crafting the sort of songs that people will still be talking about a generation from now. Hawkins was Wildy's World's Artist Of The Month for August 2009, giving a highly memorable interview about the album and his career in general.

The Wildy's World Top Ten EPs of 2009 #2: The Hollyfelds - Black Heart Blue

Denver, Colorado is the home to two of the best female vocalists in all of country music. The fact that they sing in the same band is something of an embarrassment of riches that The Hollyfelds are content to live with. Eryn Hoerig and Kate Grigsby are the two angels out in front of The Hollyfelds, but they aren't the only talent. The band is as tight as a wire and creates music that is pure Country magic. The Hollyfelds' third release, Black Heart Blue [EP] is an apropos follow-up to last year's Saratoga.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Wildy's World Top-40 of 2009 #3: Lindsay Katt - Picking Out Boxes

New York City hides a gem in singer/songwriter Lindsay Katt. Born and raised in the mountains of Montana, Katt escaped some of the cultural influences of her contemporaries until a bit later in life, allowing her creative juices to stew and come to fruition in a much less weighted environment. The result is a songwriting style that is brilliantly honest and full of amazing depth and insight. Add in Katt's voice, which is angelic, and you have a total package. Katt's debut album, Picking Out Boxes, is unforgettable.

The Wildy's World Top Ten EPs of 2009 #3: Joséphine Ancelle - The I Love You's

3 Joséphine Ancelle - The I Love You's

We were introduced to Joséphine Ancelle in 2008. Her 2007 debut album, Unfinished Life, was a sweet and compelling introduction to the Parisienne turned New York City lady with the little girl voice and mature, heartfelt lyrics. 2009 saw Ancelle return with The I Love You's, an impressive step forward both artistically and musically. Ancelle is already getting serious airplay in her native France, and is destined for big things stateside as well. As things stand, The I Love You's finishes #3 on our Top-10 EPs list for 2009.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Wildy's World Top-40 of 2009 #4: Marian Call - Got To Fly

4 Marian Call - Got To Fly

The Alaskan Trovatore didn't waste any time following up last year's #1 album, Vanilla, with a cycle inspired by popular Science Fiction television shows and movies such as Firefly, Battlestar Galactica and The Lord Of The Rings. Sounds geeky, right? But the songwriting and storytelling on Got To Fly are so subtle and so personal you'd never know unless you were an ardent fan of the series/movies referenced. Call took a big risk; the sort that can permanently alter fans' conceptions of an artist (often not in good ways) and comes out smelling like a rose.

The Wildy's World Top Ten EPs of 2009 #4: Cupéro - Cupéro

4 Cupéro - Cupéro

Clarisa Cupéro really might be the next big thing. The bilingual singer/songwriter follows in the footsteps of Juanes by creating a sound that's is equally accessible to both English- and Spanish- language speaking markets. Aside from the demographic advantes, Cupéro has one of those voices that melts microphones and hearts. The first time I head this EP I was hooked, and it keeps getting better. Someday the name Cupéro will be instantly recognizable.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Wildy's World Top-40 of 2009: #5 Jason Plumb - Wide Open Music

5 Jason Plumb - Wide Open Music (Songs For Saskatchewan)

Jason Plumb's provincial Wide Open Music features songs about or inspired by Saskatchewan, Canada. You might think such a geographically focused album would have limited appeal, but Plumb is such a great songwriter that even the most obtuse listeners will fall in love with the Canadian Prairies. Wide Open Music features songs from Plumb's Waltons and solo days as well as a few tracks that haven't appeared on CD before, all reinterpreted masterfully by Plumb and The Willing. This is one of those albums that will surprise you; suck you in and take you along for a pleasant ride you never expected.

Plumb himself is considered in some circles to be one of the best songwriters of his generation in Canada. Some might even argue that he deserves to be included in any such conversation irrespective of country. It's not often that an album comprised primarily of previously released material might rate so highly on a year-end list, but Wide Open Music is special, indeed.

The Wildy's World Top Ten EPs of 2009 #5: Woodward - Switch Hit Resistor

5 Woodward - Switch Hit Resistor

The Detroit Rockers found their debut album, ...But Your Kids Are Gonna Love It, ranked #6 on the 2008 Wildy's World Top-40 Countdown. They returned in 2009 with a slightly different sound, not really choosing a new direction but simply growing as a band. Switch Hit Resistor, the band's latest EP, show growth without abandoning the essential sound and pure joy that Woodward gives off with every note!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Wildy's World Top-40 of 2009: #6-12

Today we break into the Top 10 albums of the year, working our way up to #1. Let's waste no time...

June, 2009 Wildy's World Artist Of The Month Darrelle London sparkles on her debut album Edible Word Parade. The former farm girl is one of the bright spots on the Toronto singer/songwriter scene, and she's starting to get noticed outside of The Big Smoke, as evidenced by the placement of one of her songs on the 90210 soundtrack this year. Using a highly personal, honest and mildly quirky brand of piano-based Pop, London charms listeners with a sweet sound that masks an underlying sophistication and wit that are disarming. While we're not ones to bet on stardom, London is the total package.

For those of you who know of Ben Folds already, we really need say no more. For those of you who don't, he's the nerdy judge on The Sing Off whose passion got that show off the ground. Whatever you know already, Folds would be some critics pick for best songwriter of his generation so far. Way To Normal continues in that vein, with Folds mixing intelligent commentary, emotional honesty and wit into songs that are so well-written they practically sing and play themselves.

Albany, New York's Ten Year Vamp came into Don't Act Like You Know Me via corporate structure, selling shares in the album to fans; allowing shareholders to select the tracks on the album, etc. In the end, the album is a populist Alt-Rock classic, led by the high-octane, sexually charged vocal performances of Debbie Gabrione.

Lyle Lovett is a consummate songwriter and storyteller, a reputation he does nothing to deter on Natural Forces. While perhaps not quite his best work, Natural Forces is close enough and should warrant serious Grammy attention.

Lindsay Mac might get your attention for her bass-plauomg stule, but it's her songwriting and delivery that will hold you. Stop Thinking plies her classical training to angular and unusual Pop songs in perfect measure. You'll hang on every note.

DeYoung returns with some of his best Rock songwriting since the heyday of Styx. One Hundred Years From Now was released in Canada in 2007 and went Gold, but didn't see the light of day in the US until 2009. Changes in the composition and mixing of the album helped freshen the album for those already familiar with the Canadian version, and the addition of Private Jones added serious punch. For Styx fans yearning for days gone by, this is easily the best "Styx" album since Paradise Theater.

6 David Francey and Mike Ford - Seaway

Francey And Ford collaborate on perhaps the most pleasant surprise of 2009, a song cycle inspired by their two week stay on a Great Lakes "laker" ship a couple of years back. Francey's gentle Folk bearing balances Ford's "Coat Of Many Colors" songwriting style to create magic, with the help of fellow Moxy Fruvous alum Dave Matheson. Seaway shines.

The Wildy's World Top Ten EPs of 2009: #6

Rachell Allyn might just be one of the best up-and-coming Indie Country vocalists around, as becomes quickly apparent on Late Nights And Early Mornings. She has a splendid mix of voice, style, personality and that je ne said quoi that turns talented performers into superstars.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Wildy's World Top-40 of 2009: #13-19

19 Sherwood - Qu

Sherwood has been kicking around San Luis Obispo since 2002, but hit pay dirt in 2007 with the Indy release A Different Light, which rose to #11 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart. The band's third album, Qu, debut at #91 on the Billboard 200, reaching #9 on the US Independent Albums chart. One of the stars of MySpace Records' roster, Sherwood has a propensity for upbeat Pop/Rock.
Not many artists can inspire comparisons to The Beatles, Sting and Elvis Costello all in the same review. Jar-E is that kind of songwriter, crafting pure Pop gems that will stand up for themselves long after Jar-E stops making music (hopefully decades from now). Chicas Malas is a breath of fresh air in a market full of affectations and poses. Jar-E lets the songs speak for themselves.

Gray brings the perfect Pop tone of Faith Hill and mixes it with the gritty feel of Bonnie Raitt on Johnson Street, a revelatory album that leans a bit more to the Country side of the spectrum than her Rock N Roll roots would indicate. Johnson Street is a splendid mix of Country and Rock, and in a less fractured music industry would be the album that broke big for Gray.

16 Brother Joscephus And The Love Revival Orchestra - Brother Joscephus And The Love Revival Orchestra

Brother Joscephus does for Southern Gospel and New Orleans Jazz what Brian Setzer did for Louis Prima and the entire swing movement a decade or so ago on his self-titled debut album. This is one of those records I defy you to sit still through. If you manage; you're not listening.

15 Sometymes Why - Your Heart Is A Glorious Machine

Sometimes Why puts the super back in supergroup, comprised of Crooked Still's Aoife O'Donovan, The Mammals' Ruth Ungar Merenda and Uncle Earl's Kristin Andreassen. Each member has a worth voice, but when they combine and blend together it's a bit like hearing angels sing. Your Heart Is A Glorious Machine has the capacity to quite literally blow listeners away.

14 Break Of Reality - Spectrum Of The Sky

Rock music for three cellos and percussion may seem a foreign concept at first, but Break Of Reality is so convincing you'll give up your disbelief very quickly. The third album from these alumni of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, Spectrum Of The Sky, expands on the sound that has already seen them featured at such New York City venues as Joe's Pub, The Knitting Factory and the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center. The dark, full-textured music on Spectrum Of The Sky will make you believe.

13 Melinda Doolittle - Coming Back To You

The American Idol alumna waited a bit longer than usual for a former contestant to put out her first album. Coming Back To You proved to be very much worth the wait, running the rails of classic Soul and R&B music for one of the most dynamic vocal performances of the year. Doolittle shines throughout the album, proving once again that being true to yourself as an artist is always the right choice.

The Wildy's World Top Ten EPs of 2009: #7

When your parents are The Eurythmics' Dave Stewart and Banarama/Shakespeare's Sister's Siobhan Fahey there's bound to be some heavy expectations if you take up a career in music. Samuel Stewart shrugs off expectations and does his own thing. He does it so well he might even leave his prolific father behind on The Beginner EP.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Wildy's World Top-40 of 2009: #20-26

The Wildy's World Top-40 of 2009: #20-26

26 Vienna Teng - Inland Territory

Ethereal Art/Folk/Pop that will quite literally blow you away. There are few like Teng, and Inland Territory is especially a treat as its the first time she's really begun to explore her own roots in song. Grandmother Song may well be the highlight of an auspicious collection.

25 Fractal - Sequitur

West coast Prog-Rock gods Fractal bring the creative flourish of bands like Yes and King Crimson with Gibby Haynes-style panache on Sequitur, riding the dividing line between Progressive and Experimental Rock. By placing a bit more emphasis on structure than in the past, Fractal found their footing with one of the most interesting Rock albums of the year.

24 The Doctors Fox - Plural Non-Possessive

Magic is the word; music is the medium. Boston's The Doctors Fox perform musical alchemy on their debut album, Plural Non-Possessive, blending Rock, Funk, Klezmer, Jazz, Doo-Wop and pretty much anything else they can think of into a new-yet-comfortable sound that's bound to move even the most cynical of music fans. Plural Non-Possessive is like being reborn in music.

23 Chip Taylor - Yonkers, NY

Taylor is a decorated songwriter that established artists ask to work with, but on his own he is a master story-teller. On Yonkers, NY, he spins yarns about brothers Jon and Barry Voight, and a father whose family ranked right up there with thoroughbred racing. It would be hard to call Yonkers, NY a breakout album given Taylor's resume. Then again, it would be hard not to.

22 Jerin Falkner - Pyro Aesthetic

Seattle's Jerin Falkner brings a quirky Pop sensibility to her latest album, Pyro Aesthetic. Falkner stands out among her peers as a singular talent, and she just keeps getting better and better. Pyro Aesthetic is a tremendous introduction if you haven't come across Falkner before.

21 Amy Speace - The Killer In Me

Speace is at the spearhead of a new generation of Folk artists, blending Folk, Rock and Country with whatever fits the moment. Speace is a powerful songwriter with an ability to opens up images in the listener's mind with subtle turns of phrase and the force of her personality in voice. The Killer In Me is a stunning follow-up to Songs For Bright Street, and will likely end up on a lot of these sorts of lists.

20 Carrie Rodriguez - Live In Louisville

Chalk another entry up to Chip Taylor, who discovered Carrie Rodriguez while she was playing with Hayseed as SXSW 2001. Rodriguez is one mean fiddler, but is also an amazing vocalist and songwriter in her own right. It's rare for us to rate a live album so high, but Rodriguez is a singular talent, and she sure shines bright on Live In Lousville.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Wildy's World Top Ten EPs of 2009: #8

Justin McMillan is a young, up-and-coming singer/songwriter based in Toronto with an almost unerring Pop sensibility. The McMusic Sampler is one of two demo recordings to make the list of Top Ten EPs of 2009, and McMillan has the opportunity to catch on in a big way based on the material he's writing/performing.

The Wildy's World Top-40 of 2009: #27-33

The Wildy's World Top-40 of 2009: #27-33

Day two of our Top-40; a day closer to #1. Let's get started!

#33 Rosanne Cash - The List

When Rosanne Cash told her father she wanted to make a career of music, he gifted her with a musical syllabus of 100 songs she had to learn as part of her musical education. The list has been much discussed over the years and has become something of a musical legend. With The List, Cash reveals some of the songs from the list Johnny Cash gave his daughter. The CD may be significant as a historical document for some, but the performances are filled with more than a little of the love a daughter has for her father.

#32 The Dimes - The King Can Drink The Harbor Dry

Educational music that's fun and frisky: that may be an apt way to describe the creations of The Dimes, the Boston-based band responsible for The King Can Drink The Harbor Dry. Folks familiar with Mike Ford's musical works incorporating elements of Canadian history will have an idea of what they're getting into here, although The Dimes focus on US History through the eyes of Boston and its environs.

#31 Monte Montgomery - Monte Montgomery

Monte Montgomery's guitar style is nothing less than intense. His propensity to break guitar necks actually inspired Alvarez to design a guitar with a reinforced neck in Montgomery's honor. Aside from the potential side-show, Montgomery was named one of Guitar Player's "Top 50 All-Time Greatest Guitarists" in 2004, and won "Best Acoustic Guitar Player" at SXSW for seven years running beginning in 1998. While Montgomery may have slowed his pace a bit in recent years, his intensity and songwriting talent haven't suffered, as indicated on his self-titled eighth studio album, released late in 2008.

#30 Kevin Hearn & Thinbuckle - Havana Winter

Anyone who has heard Kevin Hearn knows his talent is almost as boundless as his kind nature. The Barenaked Ladies keyboardist/songwriter/singer has done time with Look People, Corky & The Juice Pigs and The Rheostatics, as well as recording several solo albums both on his own and with his band, Thinbuckle. Hearn's latest offering, Havana Winter, expands the sphere of Hearn's signature brand of spacey, melodic Pop. Hearn is a singular voice in the Alt/Indy world.
#29 Derek Byrne - Seize The Moment

Derek Byrne might be based in Milwaukee, but the spirit of his homeland in Kildare Ireland runs through his music. Seize The Moment is one of those albums whose sum is greater than its individual parts. Byrne sings each song as if he's living it, and creates some beautiful melodies along the way.

#28 Bunmi Adeoye - Paper Dolls Glass Houses

Part Tracy Chapman, part Ani DiFranco and part Carole King, Toronto's Bunmi Adeoye will surprise you with adept lyrics and melodies that sink into your brain and won't let you go. Paper Dolls Glass Houses grabs listeners slowly but doesn't fade like many albums with time.

#27 Willy Porter - How To Rob A Bank

The devilishly talented and uniquely styled Willy Porter has tasted real commercial success in the past, but these days he writes and plays more the purity of his craft than for the big wave he chased in the early 1990's. How To Rob A Bank may be his best work to date, showing off both his distinctive fingerstyle guitar playing and his propensity for free-form creation. How To Rob A Bank is a treat for the ears.

The Wildy's World Top Ten EPs of 2009: #9

The Wildy's World Top Ten EPs of 2009

One step closer to #1...

9 Audra Mae - Haunt

When you count Judy Garland and Liza Minelli amongst your family tree there are bound to be big expectations. Audra Mae lives up to them all on her debut EP, Haunt. Using her unforgettable voice and a sophisticated folksy style, Audra Mae weaves the sort of magic that will leave you yearning for more.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Wildy's World Top-40 of 2009: #34-40

The Wildy's World Top-40 of 2009: #34-40

Because of the fractured nature of the Indie music world, don't be surprised if any of the artists on our Top-40 for 2009 show up on other end-of-year best-of lists. We've been lucky to receive a splendid mix of recordings in 2009, and 2010 looks pretty bright from all that we're hearing as well. But before we get to 2010, let's say goodbye to 2009 properly, by recapping the top albums of the year! We'll be spreading them out between now and New Year's Eve, when we'll crown the Album and EP of the year! Let's not waste another moment!

The versatile and prolific singer/songwriter returned in 2009 with an album and a half. While the full length If I Didn't Work Nights was the better of the two offerings packaged together, The Daylight displayed Akiva's knack for melody and an ability to tell stories in music that are off the beaten track yet comfortable.

Edmonson's distinctive voice lights up Take To The Sky from within like a nightlight in the pitch. Her sound is definitely different; full of textures and tones that take might make you think twice at first, but audiences warm to Edmonson and her highly personal style quite quickly.

Former TV starlet and current Indie Country darling Megan Munroe seems to live a charmed life. One More Broken String marches right up to the steps of Modern Country and paints it anew with a bit of attitude and a strong respect for where Country's come from. Munroe's voice is a pleasure, and her future looks very bright.

Manning is a major-label talent with a love of the quirky DIY sensibility of the Indie Music World. If his work with Jellyfish, Imperial Drag, Moog Cookbook and TV Eyes haven't convinced you, Catnip Dynamite is the proof in the pudding of Manning's talent and creativity.

Matt And Shannon Heaton are among the cream of the crop of Boston's Celtic music scene. This husband and wife duo have a special chemistry on stage and it carries over to their fine album, Lovers Well. Shannon Heaton's voice is heavenly, and Matt Heaton's guitar work is impressive to say the least.

Sometimes its the side projects that take off. As a member of Boston's The Receiving End Of Sirens, Casey Crescenzo knew success, but it was the material he wrote that didn't fit into TREOS' zeitgeist that drives him nowadays. The Dear Hunter started out as a hand-pressed for EP for friends. Four years later, The Dear Hunter has released 3 musical chapters of a six-act concept super-album. The Dear Hunter has proven a very marketable band considering their genre is more toward the progressive side of Rock N Roll and is delivered in the long-vilified concept album format. Act III: Life And Death speaks of brilliance, and will have you out chasing Acts I & II.

#34 Halie Loren - They Oughta Write A Song
Halie Loren is a perfect example of the sort of uber-talented artists out there who fly under the radar in the Indie world. Even with a fair amount of critical praise, Loren is a relatively unknown quantity. You won't regard her as such once you've heard her voice, however. They Oughta Write A Song sticks more to the jazz end of the spectrum, but Loren can sing most anything.

The Wildy's World Top-10 EPs of 2009: #10

2009 saw two EPs tie at #10 in the Top-10 EPs list. Read on!

#10 (tie) Jessie Murphy In The Woods - Jessie Murphy In The Woods

Jessie Murphy In The Woods is one of those projects that happened nearly by accident. As happy accidents go, Jessie Murphy In The Woods might be among the most pleasant surprises of 2009. Quirky by nature; Jessie Murphy has a voice that will wrap you up and won't let go.

#10 (tie) Terio - Eternally I Wait For You

Terio brings Cuban music back to the fore, reliving the glories of greats like Desi Arnaz and Celia Cruz on Eternally I Wait For You. Terio mixes the charisma and creative spark that makes for long careers without giving an inch of his style.