Monday, April 17, 2006

From Ottawa to Tucson to Ruston, La.

>> Featured Artist: Kathleen Edwards

As the 26-year-old Ottawa native (that's Canada, not Idaho) enters her creative prime, her elders must be getting nervous. Hell, the Toaster knows that the young'ns have always been intimidate by her songstylings and her machismo-induced folk, which she's pumped out consistently through her early twenty-ish years.


There's not much to say here. We just wanted to admit that we're big fans. Everytime the Toaster spins one of her discs, we're won over once again. "Somewhere Else" brings those fun horns reminiscent of a Van Morrison song or something. And what a lyric.

You can listen to the entire album, Back to Me, here.

>> Album Lookout: Garden Ruin

Calexico - Out: April 11, 2006 Touch and Go / Quarterstick

Normally the Toaster Talks would dock points for any band whose frontman attempts to wear a trucker hat at the 9:30 Club in 2005. But that show with Iron & Wine was one of the best we at the Toaster have seen, so we forgive - but have now issued a written warning.

The good reviews Garden Ruin have seen have made Mister Toaster consider picking it up, even though he's never really been wowed with this band - except, again, in their precise and respectful backing of Sam Beam. "Cruel" comes off at first as a little eerie in its alt-countriness. We supsect the sparseness of the piano lead over the ominous acoustic-guitar chords may be the cause.

Just as Iron & Wine tracks are layered beyond belief, blanketed in countless instruments playing simple parts, Calexico have created an understated opening track that doesn't make the listener want to hum it back (or even press repeat, perhpas). This song, as we suspect is the case with the band as a whole, requires nurtured listening. The Toaster isn't wholly sold yet, but it's on its way.

>> Reverting to: 1998

We gotsta go way back to the late nineties for this gem. Bringing up the rear of Neutral Milk Hotel's classic In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, Neutral Milk Hotel's "Two-Headed Boy, Pt. 2" leaves listeners goose-pimpled. It returns to the story introduced in the fourth track (complete with vague Anne Frank references), inverts the melody a tad and finally reverts to the original song for a fifth "Two-Headed Boy" verse.

The cohesion completed by "Pt. 2" makes Aeroplane a work worth listening to once every other month - an album so intense, beautiful and fun that no one's really sure if it'll be beat. It's safe to say it hasn't been topped yet. And with Neutral Milk frontman Jeff Mangum currently vanished from the scene, I don't think anyone even dares to try.

A special thanks to DJ Bryan for his bringing this song off the shelf onto his last mix.

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