Jherek Bischoff’s solo album Composed (which we called “immaculately arranged orchestral pop”) was recorded by layering and cutting together single musicians recorded in their living rooms, over his own previously recorded parts. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, however, Bischoff was able to organize a concert at New York’s Merkin Hall with a full backing orchestra.
Among the thousands of under-appreciated or under-publicized albums that were released in 2010, hundreds became our favorites and were presented in ALARM and on AlarmPress.com. Of those, we pared down to 100 outstanding releases, leaving no genre unexplored in our list of this year’s overlooked gems.
Though her music might not immediately suggest it, adventuresome pop singer Liz Janes has a particular fondness for noise and drone music.
Janes entrenched herself in the vibrant Olympia music scene before joining Sufjan Stevens and Asthmatic Kitty for albums like Done Gone Fire (2002) and Poison & Snakes (2004). Those albums put a unique spin on classic Americana and blues, but her upcoming album, Say Goodbye (Asthmatic Kitty, 12/7/10), is a pop/soul record built on Janes’ inescapably experimental roots.
Here, in a personal recount of her musical history, her songwriting theory rings especially true: “You can choose any two points to be A and B, and there is always a way to connect the two.”
Liz Janes: “I Don’t Believe” (Say Goodbye, Asthmatic Kitty, 12/7/10)
Drones Are Forever
by Liz Janes
I was a hippy living in a trailer in the coniferous rain forest of Olympia, Washington. Eventually, my endless meandering through the woods brought me into the little downtown. It was there that I stumbled upon the gentle and brilliant rock-poet solo performances of Mirah, Phil Elvrum, and Karl Blau; the kinder-pop of Jenny Jenkins and Super Duo; the pop punk of The Need; the hot, spastic, urgent noise of The Nervous System; and the shrieking, sexy soul of Old Time Relijun.
This sparked for me a new interest in culture. This K Records / Olympia scene was really vibrant and producing truly original and interesting art. So as I was drawn further into culture, and out of the woods, it just got better and better.
Sitting in a bustling coffee shop in Seattle, it occurs to me that Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn — simply Mirah for the purposes of her records — has nothing to prove.
Since her full-length solo debut, You Think It’s Like This but Really It’s Like This, she’s carved out a niche for herself as a much loved and respected member of the Northwest indie elite, winning accolades for a series of lo-ﬁ albums that have met with broad critical acclaim.
I’m also talking with cellist Lori Goldston and accordionist Kyle Hanson. They don’t have much to prove either. They’ve made their marks in Northwest art music as founding members of Black Cat Orchestra, Spectratone International, and the duo The Shifting Light; they’ve scored silent ﬁlms and collaborated on dance, music, and theatre projects. Goldston has played with artists like Nirvana, David Byrne, and John Doe.
Though Goldston and Hanson have, in fact, already once collaborated with Mirah by way of Black Cat Orchestra — on To All We Stretch the Open Arm, a collection of politically-minded covers of works by Kurt Weill, Stephen Foster, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, and others — Share This Place is a whole other animal.