Eleni Mandell‘s band, The Grabs, is offering a free, legal mp3 download via Bandcamp from their 2005 debut, Sex, Fashion & Money. Their sophomore album, Political Disco, will be available later this summer.
The Living Sisters are a new band composed of Eleni Mandell, The Bird & The Bee’s Inara George, and Lavender Diamond’s Becky Stark. The group’s debut album will be released March 30th and features the trio singing pretty vintage pop melodies.
“How Are You Doing” blends Andrews Sisters harmonies with an AM radio light twang. The girls croon sweetly on the doo-wop tunes “Ferris Wheel” and “You Make Me Blue.”
“Cradle” puts a sultry spin on a gentle Patti Page vocal style. “Good Ole Wagon” reminds me of She & Him‘s retro-influenced indie sound, but “Hold Back” is pure Eleni Mandell.
“The Mountain Has Skies” reaches the lofty heights of Judy Collins’ angelic soprano. The handclap pop ditty “Double Knots” is the catchiest track on the album.
The Living Sisters – Double Knot (mp3 removed) *
*mp3 provided by & posted w/ permission of Vanguard Records
Eleni Mandell is a true musical chameleon. Each of her previous releases had its own individual sound – most recently she played around with country and crooned jazz noir. So I had no idea what to expect from her new album Artificial Fire, which will be released on February 17, 2009. Though the album certainly defies classification, it’s as close a flirtation with “indie-rock” as Mandell has bothered with so far. Yet nothing this woman does is ordinary enough to be pinned down to one label, and these songs continue her cross-genre dance by blending elements of rock, jazz, country, and pop.
Articifial Fire‘s title track slinks in with a subtle and simmering rock beat beneath Eleni’s sultry voice. The lyrics of “God Is Love” are either inspirational or ironic, while the deep bellow of the music coupled with Mandell’s hauntingly melodic cooing lend the song a more ominous tone.
“Right Side” (one of two songs featuring vocals by The Bird & The Bee’s Inara George) and “Personal” temporarily return to the jaunty jazz and mellow pop style of Miracle of Five with some retro pop brass and string embellishments that call to mind Sarah Shannon’s City Morning Song.
“Bigger Burn” and “Little Foot” are probably the catchiest tracks, but it’s the sweet, pretty love song “Tiny Waist”, the reflective lyrics of “It Wasn’t The Time (It Was The Color”), and the atmospheric ballad “In The Doorway” that I love most. “I Love Planet Earth” can only be called space noir, conjuring up images of aliens landing in a Western ghost town in some bizarre David Lynch film.
Miracle of Five remains my favorite Eleni Mandell album, as it just brings out the sap in me. But Artificial Fire is definitely a 2009 release to get excited about.
*mp3s hosted by & linked to w/ permission of Zedtone Records
Songs like “Dreamboat”, “I Believe In Spring”, “Man In The Paper Hat”, “Christine”, and “Dutch Harbor” foreshadow the jazzy sound of Miracle of Five (one of my 2007 Top 10 Albums), but are more noir than mellow. Melora Creager of Rasputina lends her cello to three of the aforementioned tracks.
“Alien Eye” has an interesting twist of marimba and vibes. “Snakebite” sounds like a Johnette Napolitano song, with rapid percussion and vocals that alternate between a deadpan growl and impassioned howls.
“Silverlake Babies” holds on to the jazz mood but slides in some pedal steel that’s closer to the twang of Country For True Lovers.