Kate Miller-Heidke: O Vertigo!

Kate Miller-Heidke’s new album, O Vertigo!, features her signature combination of quirky avante-pop and astoundingly beautiful operatic flourishes with a heavier electro-beat undercurrent than her previous releases.

The opening track and first single, “Offer It Up,” uses an electro-gospel multi-tracked choir of Kate’s voice as both backing vocals and rhythmic embellishments. We premiered the song here last month and you can stream it and other tracks below.

“Yours was the Body” is a sultry, trippy breakup anthem. From there, the theme of lost love runs through the rest of the album.

The album’s title track is quintessentially Kate: all quirky, buoyant pop and operatic trills…actually toward the end of the song it sounds like Kate is trilling, running, scatting, yodeling and possibly meowing at the same time. Her vocal range and control is supernaturally unique.

Passenger pops up on the atmospheric duet “Share Your Air” and Megan Washington sparrs with Kate on “Ghost,” which is like an updated “The Boy is Mine.”

The catchy, crazy “Jimmy” is another standout, while “What Was I To You” gives into heartbreak.

The final ballad “Bliss” is delicate and absolutely exquisite.

Kate will return to Mountain Stage on Sunday, November 26th as part of Charleston’s Festivall.

Buy @ Amazon

Kate Miller-Heidke Official Site


Kate Miller-Heidke: Nightflight

Kate Miller-Heidke’s Nightflight will make its U.S. debut on June 19th, and I’m happy to say Muruch is giving the album its first U.S. review. If Nightflight is not at the top of my best albums list this year, there must be some spectacular music ahead in 2012. While Kate’s 2010 quirky, avante-pop release Curiouser garnered her comparisons to Cyndi Lauper, the darker drama of her new songs are often closer to Muse.


The next day the sergeant
Found her blue dress in the creek
Her parents were so angry
They put the blame on me

The opener “Ride This Feeling” is a half full/half empty glass of song depending on your mood. It celebrates the exhilaration of breaking free and truly living, but also gives the sense that it’s more of a daydream than a reality for the narrator. Still, the song is driven by the desire and determination to make the dream come true.

“Sarah” is an impressive, stunning piece of work based on a true story. The chilling tale of a girl who disappears at a late ’90s music festival, the titular “Sarah” reappears a fortnight later with no memory of what happened to her. Kate’s use of operatic vocals as embellishments to the arrangement only serve to heighten the eerie tension of what is by far the stand out track on the album. You can watch the creepy video for the song below.

The album’s title track vents the myriad of frustrations and discomforts found in the unique hell that is transatlantic flight. Lyrics like “if one more person coughs on me, I’m going to punch them in the face” show Kate hasn’t lost the wry sense of humor that caught everyone’s attention with her “Facebook Song.”

The beautiful, melancholy, string-accented piano ballad “Let Me Fade” is another favorite of mine.

As the video below shows, “I’ll Change Your Mind” masks a desperate woman’s stalking of her ex-boyfriend with an upbeat, cheery pop tune.

The delicate “In The Dark” perfectly captures the bittersweet feeling which engulfs happy memories of a lost loved one.

Inspired by Irish folk music, “The Devil Wears a Suit” takes a peak at evil lurking behind closed doors. And “Fire and Iron” is a literally haunting song about the aftermath of a fatal car crash.

Kate herself says of the new album: “If Curiouser was a playful, dysfunctional adolescent, Nightflight is more like a damaged, melancholy person in her late 20s. With Nightflight, we wanted something darker and more organic, more beautiful and more expansive.”

She certainly got her wish.

BUY @ AMAZON

Kate Miller-Heidke Official Site

Muruch’s Top 25 Albums of 2010

It’s that time again! Following are my Top 25 Albums of 2010. Like ‘em or not, these are the albums I’ve personally enjoyed and listened to most often in the past year. Click on the album titles to read the full reviews, purchase the albums, and, in some cases, download mp3s…

*Honorable mention to Florence + the Machine’s Lungs, which would have been #2 on this list had it been released this year.

Muruch’s Top 25 Albums of 2010

25. Sheila Nicholls: Songs from the Bardo

…I was so excited to see Sheila Nicholls name on a new press release!…genre-hopping…moody experience…Sheila’s lovely vocals drive every song

Sheila Nicholls – Bardo (mp3)*
Sheila Nicholls – Natural Law (mp3)*

Buy @ Amazon

24. The Concretes: WYWH

…sultry and atmospheric…blends mellow electro-pop melodies with ambient beats beneath new lead singer Lisa Milberg’s whisper soft vocals

The Concretes – All Day (mp3)*
The Concretes – Good Evening (mp3)*

Buy @ Amazon

23. Heart: Red Velvet Car

…a step back from the pop-rock endeavors of recent decades in favor of a multi-instrumental style…perfect display of Ann’s astounding vocal power and Nancy’s searing guitar riffs.

Buy @ Amazon

22. Warner Nuzova: Russian Music for Cello & Piano

…The deep resonance of Warner’s cello is juxtaposed and intertwined with the emotive peels of Nuzova’s piano, resulting in a sound full of somber beauty and classical romance.

Buy @ Amazon

21. Screaming Females: Castle Talk

…loud, exhilarating, wailing punk rockers…a spectacular cacophony of ferocious growls, frenzied shrieks, scorching guitar licks and tempestuous rhythm

Screaming Females – I Don’t Mind It (mp3)*

Buy @ Amazon

20. Brooke Fraser: Flags

…a collection of subtle folk-influenced melodies and pretty, infectious pop fleshed out with innovative arrangements and all wrapped up in Brooke’s warm voice

Buy @ Amazon

19. Agent Ribbons: Chateau Crone

…churns atmospheric retro pop-rock with modern rock riffs, handclap percussion, and girl group harmony. The result is somewhere between The Zombies and The Shangri-Las.

Buy @ Amazon

18. Creed Bratton: Bounce Back

…With the help of his backing band The 3DVB’s and his The Office co-star Ed Helms, Creed has made an unusual, funny, funky, and all around awesome album.

Creed Bratton – Rubber Tree (mp3)*

Buy @ Amazon

17. Robert Plant: Band of Joy

…an almost perfect marriage of Robert Plant’s psychedelic sway and Buddy Miller’s freight train of rocked up Americana

Buy @ Amazon

16. Danielle Ate the Sandwich: Two Bedroom Apartment

…The combination of that kind of sweetly self-deprecating humor and Danielle’s clear, warm voice along with some very pretty acoustic melodies make this album a charmer.

Buy @ Amazon

15. Robert Stallman: The Nightingale in Love

…Whether you’re a classical aficionado or simply enjoy pretty instrumental music, this lovely album is definitely one to try…Simply put, The Nightingale in Love is beautiful. So very beautiful.

Buy @ Amazon

14. Sade: Soldier of Love

…an album everyone should hear…strong artistic integrity combined with an exquisitely exotic voice and elegant melodies give Sade’s music a rare grace and beauty.

Buy @ Amazon

13. Katharine McPhee: Unbroken

…an excellent mix of infectious pop melodies and singer-songwriter acoustics…Her multi-faceted voice effortlessly flows from impressive Divaesque acrobatics to a warmer, relaxed charm reminiscent of classic Carole King.

Buy @ Amazon

12. Loreena McKennitt: The Wind that Shakes the Barley

…brimming with a heady mix of Celtic and folk instrumentation…Loreena’s supernatural soprano is on gorgeous display

Buy @ Amazon

11. The Bird & The Bee: A Tribute to Daryl Hall & John Oates

…tribute to 1980s pop icons Hall & Oates is no parody, instead this is a sincere and happy homage to one of my favorite guilty pleasure bands…the perfect soundtrack for summer.

Buy @ Amazon

10. Sing Me To Sleep: Indie Lullabies

…a wide variety of charming, serene covers by various indie acts…The entire Sing Me To Sleep album flows together to create a lovely, gentle mood.

Dean & Britta – Making Me Smile (mp3)*

Buy @ Amazon

9. The Gaslight Anthem: American Slang

…one of the most excellent, enjoyable rock albums I’ve heard in years…infectious but substantial rock – settled delciously somewhere between arena and roots.

Buy @ Amazon

8. Allison Crowe: Spiral

…Her voice flawlessly flows between the most pristine soprano and gut-wrenching, full-bodied wails…I hear Allison Crowe sing, and I remember the effect music is supposed to have on you.

Buy @ Amazon

7. The Innocence Mission: My Room in Trees

…pristinely pretty…Sparse arrangements are coupled with poetic lyrics full of scenic imagery and bittersweet emotion – all carried by the lovely soprano of Karen Peris.

The Innocence Mission – God is Love (mp3)*
The Innocence Mission – Happy Mondays (mp3)*

Buy @ Amazon

6. Moreland & Arbuckle: Flood

…If Moreland & Arbuckle’s upcoming album Flood is any indication, 2010 is gonna be a great year for music…this mix of Delta blues, folk, country, soul, and rock is one wild ride.

Buy @ Amazon

5. She & Him: Volume Two

…another collection of airy, retro-styled pop songs fleshed out with folk instrumenation…a breezy pop soundtrack for summer.

Buy @ Amazon

4. Kate Miller-Heidke: Curiouser

…like a collaboration between Kate Bush and Lady Gaga. Mainstream pop fans will definitely enjoy this disc, as will those searching for catchy tunes with lyrical substance.

Buy @ Amazon

3. Janelle Monáe: The Archandroid

…Conceptually and musically, this multi-facted, genre-mashing masterpiece has everything you could want in an album and then some. And Janelle’s supernatural vocal range is as chameleonic as the songs she sings.

Buy @ Amazon

2. Xavier Rudd: Koonyum Sun

…Xavier Rudd is my favorite artist, full stop…yet another breathtaking masterpiece that’s sure to land Xavier Rudd at the top of my year end list again.

Buy @ Amazon

1. Anaïs Mitchell: Hadestown

…transforms the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice into a post-apocalyptic American fable with Depression era style and indie-folk sensibility. This gorgeous, exciting project reminds me why I love music so much and why I love writing about music so much.”

Anaïs Mitchell – Flowers (mp3)*
Anaïs Mitchell & Bon Iver – Wait for Me (mp3)*

Buy @ Amazon

*all mp3s hosted by & posted w/ permission of artists, labels and/or their PR reps

Mountain Stage: Kate Miller-Heidke, David Broza, and Marc Cohn

I hadn’t intended to review Mountain Stage’s July 18th FestivALL concert at The Clay Center here since I covered it for another publication, but Kate Miller-Heidke’s performance was too magnificent to keep to myself and I can share more details here since Muruch has no word count.

Kate was not only of the more interesting acts to have appeared on Mountain Stage, but she also possessed one of the loveliest voices I’ve ever had the pleasure to hear at the venue.

Considering the avante-pop theatrics of her latest release Curiouser (click for my album review), the stripped down acoustic set could’ve been a big disappointment. But Kate’s spectacular, rafter-scraping vocals and bubbly charm provided plenty of entertainment.

I can attest that Kate’s voice required no effects on the recording to reach those surreal high notes. Her vocal flights of fancy were even more astonishing and gravity-defying in person than on the album. And she was cute and graceful even when she flubbed a line and had to restart “Politics in Space.”

Her humorous piano rendition of “Facebook Song” was a big hit with the audience, but will definitely require some editing before the radio broadcast – if it makes it on the air at all.

I didn’t catch the title of the last song Kate performed, but her final series of operatic trills left the entire audience in awe and earned her a standing ovation.I suspect I’m not the only audience member who wished she’d been granted the special extended one-hour set instead of Marc Cohn.

Israeli artist David Broza was a last minute replacement for Aboriginal singer Gurrumul, whose U.S. tour was canceled last week due to “unforeseen circumstances.” Broza’s intricate, often frenzied guitar work blends folk, blues, and Latin rhythms. For his latest release Night Dawn, Broza set unpublished poems by Townes Van Zandt to music.

Other than a very dull set by Sahara Smith (someone should tell these country starlets that miniskirts won’t mask bland vocals on the radio!), the rest of the acts were also solid and enjoyable. But for me, Kate’s shadow didn’t let go of the stage until Marc Cohn walked out.

This was the second time I’ve seen Marc Cohn at Mountain Stage, the first was two years ago shortly after the release of his post-traumatic masterpiece Join the Parade. His 2008 performance was much more powerful due to the emotional content and events surrounding the songs on Join the Parade, but this time his demeanor and the general mood of his set was lighthearted and fun.

Before his set began, Cohn’s roadies packed the stage with white towels and glasses of what appeared to be wine…to which host Larry Groce quipped: “I don’t know what it is, but it ain’t clear, so it wasn’t made around here.” And after explaining the use of a prerecorded drum track (a rare occurrence on the live radio show), Cohn jokingly threatened to mimic Pink’s wet acrobatic act as he became progressively more “contemporary” throughout the night.

Cohn’s new release Listening Booth: 1970 pays tribute to his favorite songs that were originally released in 1970. The album features covers of classic songs by Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Cat Stevens, Van Morrison, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Smokey Robinson, Joe Cocker, Simon & Garfunkel and Eric Clapton.

Unfortunately, an early deadline elsewhere forced me to leave before the end of the show, so I missed the group finale. But what I saw of Cohn’s set was a superb end to the evening. Highlights were his bluesy rendering of Joe Cocker’s version of “The Letter” from the new album, “The Calling” from Join The Parade, and “Silver Thunderbird” from Cohn’s self-titled debut.

I managed to take a few shots during the concert, but they didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped due to the angle of my seat. Still, you can get an idea…