AM & Shawn Lee, Celestial
Electric, Eighteenth Street
Los Angeles-based vocalist AM and
London producer/beat-maker Shawn
Lee 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"
Nelson (Champagne Champagne) on "The Basement."
Tasseomancy, Ulalume, Out of this Spark [8/30/11]
I'm not normally into dramatic, drone-oriented folk, but
Tasseomancy 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
Lee, please click here; for Strong Killings, here; and
for Tasseomancy, here. AM image from Austin2011.