(Bonsound Records; 2009)
Marie-Pierre Arthur’s self-titled debut album would make be making a splash if she wasn’t swimming in Feist’s pool. Altogether a decent album: an upbeat tempo carries throughout with soft vocals and additional indie-friendly instruments echoing along. But the fact remains, this album is eerily similar to Leslie Feist.
Since Arthur is a freshman in her studio career, it seems fair to move beyond the lack of originality on the record and focus more on song composition. And here in lies another problem: Arthur is listed as a composer on less than half of the songs, and knowing how writer accreditation can go, that could mean less than okaying one verse instead of another.
Perhaps Arthur is a hollow vessel used by Bonsound Records to reap the benefits from the windfall of success befallen to Feist. But it could also be a shy artist finding her voice and own creative style. If this album is the precursor to the craftsmanship and not the ingenuity of her career, than we can breathe a sigh of relief.
(Just Friends Records; 2009)
Mike Evin’s newest album, Good Watermelon, is an album that essentially relies on the creativity of its conception. Recorded and mixed live onto two-track analog tape, the album is full of hand claps and encouraging backing vocals from Evin’s friends. Clearly Evin set out to record an album that was more focused on its relaxed hippy feel than complex and detailed song-writing.
Most tracks feature Evin and his piano, and his voice is so similar to Ben Folds that, mixed with his over-the-top happy demeanor, Good Watermelon comes off as a children’s album. If it wasn’t for the occasional banjo that gives meaning to the whimsical attitude of the album, it would seem as if Evin was trying to teach the listener his A B C’s.
But that’s not to take all credit away from Evin. While tracks like “Great Pop Song,” give the impression that Evin has no intention of being a respected musician, but it’s overly positive attitude and simple piano rhythms on song such as “Good Watermelon,” sometimes affords Evin the image of a young Paul Simon.
(Big Dada Recordings; 2009)
Isis and and Grahm Zilla showcase their self-described superlative musical prowess. Their self-titled debut LP is an excellent cross between hip-hop and electro. Tracks like “Nothing 2 Step 2,” have surprisingly catchy beats reminiscent of Fischerspooner. Isis vocals, while sometimes repetitive, are deep and in control. Not falling into the background and sounding like a vocal loop, Isis maintains meaning, complementing the electronic aspect throughout the album.
But without Zilla, Isis would be in the dust. Her vocals are great, but her lyrical content is less than poetic (note: “LBJ (Little Booty Girl),” “The Party After,”), and what keeps interest is his electronic adeptness.