Sunday, July 24, 2011

Celestial Eclectic

AM & Shawn Lee, Celestial
, Eighteenth Street
a [8/30/11]

Los Angeles-based vocalist AM and
London producer/beat-maker Shawn
offer bossa nova-infused dance-
pop with bleeps, bloops, and airy synths. On the aptly titled
Celestial Electric
, man meets machine on the dance floor, like
Eric Carmen (the Raspberries) fronting Kraftwerk in São Paulo.

At first, I wasn't feeling it, but the more I listened, the more I
found myself falling for this dexterous duo. Collectively, they've
worked and/or toured with Air, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Caeta-
no Veloso, St. Etienne, Money Mark, Phoenix, and Sigur Ros.

If you always wished that Melbourne's Cut Copy would funk
things up more, AM & Shawn Lee have fulfilled your desire.

Made with "cheapo Casio and Yamaha synthesizers," their de-
but includes a tribute to Dirty Harry ("Callahan") and a fuzz bass-
driven cover of 1974's "Jackie Blue," while Finders Keepers hon-
cho Andy Votel provided the liner notes and cover design.

AM & Shawn Lee - Jackie Blue by AMSOUNDS

AM & Shawn Lee play live on KEXP at 9:30am on 9/13 prior to
their gig at the Sunset Tavern. Click here for my Line-Out review.

Strong Killings, self-titled, Don't Stop Believin' Records

Well, I'm all messed up, and I'm losing my shit,
Got a pounding in my head, and it just won't quit.
-- Strong Killings, "Licked, Nicked"

Like a collaboration between Frank Zappa and Suicidal Ten-
dencies, Seattle trio Strong Killings offer smart-ass hard
rock with fast-paced instrumental passages punctuated by ad-
enoidal vocals and hip-hop touches. I like some of those styles
separately, but I'm less enthusiastic when they come together.

So, their first record may not be to my taste, but I admire the
striking packaging--detailed illustrations and hand-written lyr-
ics--plus it also features a guest vocal from Pearl "Dragon"
(Champagne Champagne) on "The Basement."

Tasseomancy, Ulalume, Out of this Spark [8/30/11]

I'm not normally into dramatic, drone-oriented folk, but
asseomancy are adept at what they do, and what might
not be for me, could be for you. I certainly respect their craft,
which revolves around close harmonies from sisters Sari (man-
dolin) and Romi Lightman (guitar) that dance atop delicate lay-
ers of organ, lap steel, autoharp, harpsichord, and french horn.

Soft Feet (Heidi Mortenson's Gentle Dane Remüx)

Formerly known as Ghost Bees, Tasseomancy's second rec-
ord comes on like a cross between the Incredible String Band
(or latter-period Nurse with Wound) and Joanna Newsom--
but without the sharp edges (the press notes also cite Popol
Vuh and Julee Cruise). Bonus points for the abalone imagery
on the cover along with a foldout poster of a floral collage.

Click here for "Healthy Hands."

Endnote: For more information about AM & Shawn
, please click here; for Strong Killings, here; and
for Tasseomancy, here. AM image from Austin2011.

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