While the White Stripes are no longer active, the boy + girl two-piece formula still lives on in Cleveland’s mr. Gnome. They bring a sense of distorted, psychedelic mystery to their sound. A rugged, unpolished rhythm seems consistent in all of their work, but the persistent uncertainty looms as I listen to their latest release on El Marko Records, Madness in Miniature. Listen:
Singer/guitarist Nicole Barille and drummer Sam Meister produce mood swings that, at times, make me feel like I am stuck in the mind of Donnie Darko. Even their album artwork mimics a character that might have been responsible for the take over of Darko’s mind. While the Stripes gave all of their fans a sedative when they announced their retirement this year, bands like mr. Gnome continue to provide wild delusions for supporters of this formula.
Written by Brett McGrath
Anyone who knows me well has heard me speak of my soft spot for female singer-songwriters. Abigail Washburn, Jessica Lea Mayfield and even Norah Jones are all artists that I keep in steady rotation. So to find endearing qualities in Laura K. Balke’s latest album, Rumors & Legends, was no stretch. The songs fell nicely within my comfort zone.
The album is the third full-length release from the Princeton, IN native. It was produced by John Autry and recorded in whatever quiet space proved convenient – a piano warehouse, an empty art gallery, and a variety of apartments. The efforts resulted in eleven songs that underscore Balke’s strengths as a writer.
Though not an overriding theme, there is an element of pop in Rumors & Legends. She carves out a character of defiant confidence, not unlike the ones portrayed in songs by Top 40 starlets Taylor Swift or Kelly Clarkson. However, a darkness is present here that’s lacking for those artists. Her emotions translate in the writing, never missing a syllable, she is clearly a musician that values the lyric. This comes as no surprise, unlike the bulk of Swift’s work, these songs were written entirely by the singer.
Also departing from the Top 40 formula is Balke’s refusal to dress her songs up. There’s no layering of choruses with a dozen vocal tracks or a fifteen-man backing band. Though her band complements nicely, Balke’s acoustic guitar and voice lie at the core of every song on Rumors and Legends.
Saturday night, Balke and her band debuted songs from Rumors & Legends at an album release party at Earth House. Listen to the album in its entirety below. Purchase the album via Balke’s bandcamp page. Hard copies include beautiful artwork that corresponds with each individual track.
Written by Rob Peoni
Last night, Brooklyn’s The Loom put on a spectacular show at The Melody Inn. A sizable crowd turned out to hear songs from the band’s full-length debut Teeth. The album showcases the unique instruments and voices that serve as the driving factors behind The Loom: satisfying vocals, strong guitar, French horn, and a dynamic percussion section.
The band was featured on NPR Music’s ‘World Cafe‘ last week. The Loom lived up to and surpassed the buzz created by Bob Boilen and friends. Fellow Brooklyn artist Cat Martino served as support along with Dan Snodgrass from The Bonesetters, The Bears of Blue River and Daniel Paquette.
Indianapolis music fans turned out in droves despite the poor weather Monday night. MOKB Presents had a nice showing at Radio Radio for Shonen Knife. The Japanese chicks played Ramones covers for a cult-like contingent of early punk fans.
Listen to the entirety of Teeth below. Purchase the album via The Loom’s bandcamp page for $10.
Written by Rob Peoni