Don Rosler: Rosler’s Recording Booth

Rosler’s Recording Booth is an unusual concept album written and produced by Grammy-nominated songwriter Don Rosler. The disc features a bizarre set of new songs performed by an eclectic cast of singers, which includes Jeremy Sisto, Spottiswoode, Isabel Keating, Terry Radigan, John Margolis, Kathena Bryant (of The Hippy Nuts), Tam Lin, Jon Albrink, Tamara Hey and Don Rosler himself.

Randy Newman and Kurt Weill have been named as influences for the music on Rosler’s Recording Booth. The dual inspiration seems to have resulted in an uneven collection of songs – some brilliant, some painful, but all strange and at least a little bit interesting.

The highlight of the album is “Halfway Honest Living,” which is the surprising good singing debut of actor Jeremy Sisto. I wish he’d been allowed to sing more than one track.

I was not granted permission to share an mp3, but you can hear samples at the links below…

BUY MP3s @ AMAZON

BUY CD @ CDBABY

Don Rosler Official Site

Mp3 Menagerie: Lisa Germano, Kathryn Calder, Azure Ray

Lisa Germano – Reptile (mp3 removed)*

Singer-songwriter Lisa Germano contributed this song to the two-disc OxFam charity album The Sun Came Out, a project led by Neil Finn that also featured members of Radiohead, The Smiths, and Wilco.

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Kathryn Calder – Arrow (mp3)*

Another lovely song from Kathryn Calder‘s debut solo album Are You My Mother?, to be released August 10th. Calder was formerly in The New Pornographers and her album will feature guests Neko Case and members of Ladyhawk and Frog Eyes.

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If the name Azure Ray isn’t familiar to you, that’s the marvelous band that spawned singer-songwriters Orenda Fink (most recently of O+S & Art in Manila) and Maria Taylor. The duo has reunited for their fifth album Drawing Down the Moon, which will be released September 14th. You can download a free, legal mp3 from the new album by entering your email address in the above widget.

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Stuart Moxham: Personal Best

Personal Best is a new compilation of the solo work of Stuart Moxham, formerly a member of 1970s post-punk band Young Marble Giants. My generation knew Young Marble Giants best through the cover of their song “Credit in the Straight World” on Hole’s Live Through This album. Personal Best is a collection of new songs, B-sides, and previously unreleased material by Stuart Moxham spanning 1981-2009, and will be released on June 22nd.

The music on Personal Best is an unusual blend of multi-instrumental folk, pop, and rock.

Songs like the opener “Vampire of Love,” “It Says Here,” and the melodic “Sunday Afternoon” have a soft, retro pop style.

The rhythmic instrumental “Golden Childhood” and “Oh Boy” have a light Reggae arrangements, and the apt title “Baroque Calypso” perfectly describes that refreshing little song.

But the stand out is “Save It,” which strikes a strange balance between Andy Partridge quirkiness and the darker sound of The Smiths.

Stuart Moxham – Autumn Song (mp3 removed) *

*mp3 provided by & hosted w/ permission of artist’s PR rep

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Stuart Moxham MySpace

Sing Me To Sleep: Indie Lullabies

I first posted a song from Sing Me To Sleep: Indie Lullabies in January, and recently received the gorgeous limited first edition from indie label American Laundromat Records. The compilation benefits the non-profit childrens’ charity The Valerie Fund, and features a wide variety of charming, serene covers by various indie acts – including Stars, Jenny Owen Youngs, The Real Tuesday Weld, Dean & Britta, O+S, Tanya Donelly, Trespassers William, and Laura Gibson. Sing Me To Sleep will be released on May 18th.

The entire Sing Me To Sleep album flows together to create a lovely, gentle mood. Though the soft arrangements fit well with the “indie lullabies” theme, these are songs originally recorded and just as enjoyable for adults.

Some of the highlights are: a pretty, femme transformation of The Smiths’ “Asleep” by Stars, The Real Tuesday Weld’s crackling “Little Boxes” (originally recorded by Malvina Reynolds and used more recently as the theme for Weeds), an eerie take on The Beatles’ “Dear Prudence” by Ohbijou’s Casey Mecija, Dala’s languid cover of “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” Telekinesis’ haunting version of ELO’s “Can’t Get It Out of My Head,” and former Belly frontwoman Tanya Donelly’s jazzy croon of “Moon River.”

Snowbird’s stunning rendering of “The North Wind Doth Blow” is my absolute favorite track and is one of the few that was actually a nursery rhyme, but there isn’t one song on the disc that I feel compelled to skip.

Sing Me To Sleep‘s quiet mood could certainly lull you to sleep, but then you’d miss some of the most beautiful covers ever recorded.

The limited edition first pressing includes several bonus tracks, including a somewhat creepy cover of “You Are My Sunshine” by Peter Broderick, an atmospheric cover of Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer” by Papercuts, and Laura Gibson’s signature low-fi style on Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Edelweiss.”

Dean & Britta – Making Me Smile (mp3) *

*mp3 hosted by & posted w/ permission of label

You purchase the limited first edition (w/ alternative artwork, bonus tracks, bonus 7″ vinyl, free digital download, promo pins, poster & more) at the American Laundromat Records, and the regular CD is available at Amazon…

Pre-order 1st Edition @ Label

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Various Artists: Beautiful Star: The Songs Of Odetta

One of my favorite music blogs Wears The Trousers recently started their own record label, and their first release will be a tribute to legendary folk singer Odetta. As a great fan of Odetta’s (I had the privilege of seeing her perform live at Mountain Stage), I’m so glad that Wears The Trousers showed her due respect by selecting a talented group of contemporary female singers to carry on her grand legacy. The tribute will be released on November 30th and all profits from its sales will be split between two charities (The Fawcett Society and The Women’s Resource Centre) that benefit women.

Linda Draper’s softly buoyant, harmonica-accented rendition of “Sail Away” opens the tribute, but it is Ane Brun’s haunting croon of “If I Had A Ribbon Bow” that truly conjures up the musical spirit of Odetta.

The pop sheen of artists like Gemma Ray and Haunted Stereo seems a little out of place here. “900 Miles” and “Santy Ano” are substantial enough songs to anchor any vocal and these versions are certainly catchy, but I think other singers (such as Dayna Kurtz and Pamela Means) would’ve been better suited to the kind of music Odetta recorded. Fortunately, this is the only remotely negative remark I can make about the album.

Madam’s eerie Patti Smith-like wail of “Waterboy” and Kellli Ali’s delicate interpretation of “All The Pretty Little Horses” are absolutely gorgeous.

Sandy Dillon’s live acoustic recording of “Can’t Afford to Lose My Man” and Josephine Oniyama’s “The Gallows Pole” are superb recreations of Odetta’s unique brand of gritty fierceness and mellow femininity.

The album includes two versions of “All My Trials,” one by Anaïs Mitchell and the other by Marissa Nadler. I personally prefer the first cover by the incomparable Anaïs Mitchell. Marissa Nadler’s atmospheric take is unquestionably pretty, but Mitchell’s inflective vocal phrasing better represents the organic nature of Odetta’s music.

Katey Brooks belts out “What A Friend We Have”, while Arborea puts a gentle, wistful spin on “This Little Light of Mine” for the finale.

Track List:
01 Linda Draper: “Sail Away Ladies”
02 Ane Brun: “If I Had A Ribbon Bow”
03 Gemma Ray: “900 Miles”
04 Anaïs Mitchell: “All My Trials”
05 Haunted Stereo: “Santy Anno”
06 Madam: “Waterboy”
07 Sandy Dillon: “Can’t Afford To Lose My Man”
08 Ora Cogan: “Motherless Child”
09 Josephine Oniyama: “The Gallows Pole”
10 Pepi Ginsberg: “Beautiful Star”
11 Society Of Imaginary Friends: “Another Man Done Gone”
12 Marissa Nadler: “All My Trials”
13 Kelli Ali: “All The Pretty Little Horses”
14 Katey Brooks: “What A Friend We Have”
15 Liz Durrett: “Chilly Winds”
16 Arborea: “This Little Light Of Mine”

Ora Cogan – Motherless Child (mp3 expired) *

*mp3 posted w/ permission of label

You can currently pre-order physical or digital copies of the album through the label’s website and mp3s will soon be made available on Amazon and iTunes…

Pre-Order Album from Label

Buy @ Amazon (not yet available)

Buy @ Amazon.co.uk (not yet available)