Elevate Difference


These Open Roads

When I received Haroula Rose’s album These Open Roads in the mail, I couldn’t help but judge it immediately based on the cover. It’s yellow with 70s fonts and on the back, you’ll see Rose dressed in a hippie-styled shirt, standing amongst a field of tall grass. My immediate assumption was a pretty girl who probably has a pretty voice and nothing beyond that. I had hoped to be wrong after listening to the album. Unfortunately, I was far from it. These Open Roads, while a very conventional indie-folk album, isn’t without meaning.


What things come from Australia? Lots of bitey poisonous things. The fabulous and flamboyant movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. AC/DC. Australian Toaster Biscuits (do you remember Australian Toaster Biscuits? I do. They were amazing.) The On Fires also come from Australia. Are The On Fires as amazing as Australian Toaster Biscuits? Do they wear shorts all of the time like Angus Young?

Come Over

Patty Carpenter and the Dysfunctional Family Jazz Band (PCATDFJB) are a troupe of musicians who are also family members. Singer Patty was married to saxophonist Scotty, and they had daughter (who is also the band’s other singer) Melissa. Patty and Scotty broke up, and Patty married the band’s manager, Charles, and together they had son Travis who plays bass. This album is essentially like being trapped on a couch in the living room of your new neighbors watching an endless slide-show of their family’s summer vacation.

In Good Time

When I first popped it in, my iTunes player categorized Annie Fitzgerald’s album In Good Time as country. As I began listening, I found this to be wholly misleading. As a matter of fact, I was unable to categorize her music as any one genre. A little bit folk, a little bit pop, this thoughtfully produced album is a gem. Fitzgerald has managed to create new music with a message that is thoroughly original by today’s musical standards.

Small Source of Comfort

Full disclosure: Bruce Cockburn (COE-burn) is Canadian; I’m Canadian. There aren’t that many of us. We’re the world’s second largest country, with a population smaller than California. So we back our homeys when they’re world-class: Angela Hewitt, Frederick Banting, Sandra Oh, Denys Arcand, Jim Carrey, Diana Krall, Leonard Cohen, Karen Kain, Tom Thomson, David Suzuki, Cirque du Soleil.

The Ancestry

While I’m not overly familiar with Celtic traditions or music, there was a lot for me to love about Jillian LaDage’s new album, The Ancestry.

Any Way I Can

Adam Rader is a solo pop musician who reminds me of John Mayer and Dave Matthews. Though his vocals are similar to Mayer’s and Matthews', I consider Rader's singing to be much smoother. Two things surprised me about this "teaser" album. First, there are only two songs on it, and second, one of these songs is a cover of "In The Ghetto.” For some reason, this song will never be put out of its misery. It has been covered numerous times by various artists ever since Mac Davis originally spewed it forth in the 1960s.

Through the Night

I worked for four years in an independent record store. For those unfamiliar with what said environment might be like day in and day out, I would seriously suggest taking in High Fidelity. Read the novel by Nick Hornby or watch the film starring John Cusack; either way, you’ll get the idea.


I would not be the least bit surprised to learn that the ability to write a catchy pop song is a hereditary trait, in addition to being a skill developed over time. That definitely seems to be the case with Los Angeles sister duo Chapin Sisters.

Love Will Find a Way

Lola Bleu, aka twenty-two-year-old R&B singer Janell McCracken, has a fine voice, so it’s a shame she doesn’t have better material to showcase it on her debut album, Love Will Find a Way. While some of the songs have catchy melodies, excessive instrumentation detracts from and sometimes obscures Bleu’s voice.

Pink Nasty

As a Pink Nasty novice, I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that her musical style is a cross between Weezer and Rilo Kiley/Jenny Lewis. Hailing from Wichita, Kansas, Sara Beck, aka Pink Nasty, is rapper Black Nasty’s sister (apparently Black Nasty gave his little sis her name).


Mark Lanegan—hey, I know that name. You sure do. Mark Lanegan fronted Screaming Trees, one of the better bands to come out of the early '90s Seattle grunge scene. They never gained the attention or commercial success of Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, or Nirvana, and their minor success was propelled mostly by “Nearly Lost You,” a track from the soundtrack for how-very-zeitgeisty film Singles. After grunge was discarded in favor of nu-metal, gangsta rap, boy bands, and factory pop, Mark Lanegan didn't remain with his old band churning out increasingly bad records or touring on nostalgia value.

Skin Collision Past

I was excited about this album within moments of pushing play. Wild Moccasins could not be rebuffed by the aging speakers of my 1980s boombox. Their energy electrified the faux-fur seat covers of my red Volvo. I found myself sitting in the parking lot, unwilling to go into the grocery store until I had listened to all nine tracks. I resisted the urge to text my friends that I had found… something new! Something young! Something untouched by Brooklyn’s current brand of cool!

Hunting My Dress

Attention wiccans and hippies—Jesca Hoop’s Hunting My Dress (with Bonus EP) is your new theme music. Ethereal and bluesy, this nine-track album and folksy five song EP are a call to light incense, join a drum circle and bake your own bread. Hunting My Dress is Hoop’s second full-length album.

Elevator Art

For a band working without the backing of a label, Elevator Art has crafted a disc that has the sound of a group with a fountain of money at their disposal. Sure, money isn’t everything, but I can tell you from personal experience that it makes a huge difference when you are in a small band with nothing but sad, starving little moths in your pockets and a record that needs mastering, artwork, and printing.

The Woody Nightshade

Positive reviews litter the internet for Sharron Kraus’ earlier records and got me excited for her new release, The Woody Nightshade. However, the rave reviews made my disappointment with the album all the more palpable.

The Panicking

The Los Angeles-based hard rock band Million Dollar Mouth channel groups including The Clash, Alice in Chains, and Radiohead (vocalist Mike Biscotti even sounds a bit like Thom Yorke), while giving a nod to less obvious influences such as Lenny Kravitz, Dire Straits, and The Cars. Heavy, grungy guitar and bass anchor most tracks, with keyboards and drum adding texture; the sound varies from distorted and harsh on “1-4-3” to echoing and expansive, as on “Space Out.” Biscotti often chant-sings the lyrics, but occasionally, as on “Second Skin,” his voice veers into a beautiful falsetto.

1,000 Years

Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Corin Tucker has been actively involved in music since the early 1990s when, as a teenager, she launched the riot grrrl band Heavens to Betsy. Around the same time, Carrie Brownstein was heading up queercore outfit Excuse 17. Eventually the two joined forces to form Sleater-Kinney in 1994.

1,000 Years

It is kind of strange listening to Corin Tucker with a bass player, and without the backing of Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss in riot grrrl band Sleater-Kinney. Admittedly, at first I found myself missing Brownstein’s guitar chops, and the rhythmic awesomeness of Weiss. This isn’t to say that Tucker is a guitar slouch, by any means, just that Brownstein is one of the best living guitarists out there, and Weiss delivers an amazing syncopated punch that other drummers just can’t match.

Pandora's Box

Conventional wisdom says that every young popster or rocker, no matter how devoted, will one day grow into a consumer of smooth jazz. How else to explain Rod Stewart's resurgence as a tuxedo-clad, Bing-style crooner (aside from a mid-seventies deal with Beelzebub himself)?

Raise Your Glass

"Love means never having to say you're sorry." It's one of the most famous film quotes in history, delivered with maudlin aplomb by Ali MacGraw's character Jennifer in the 1970 tearjerker Love Story. Millions of people made that film (and the novel upon which it was based) a tremendous success, and millions of people ate up that saccharine platitude. Well, y'know what? I am calling bullshit. To me, love does not mean never having to say you're sorry. It means seeing clearly the flaws inherent in the object of your affection—and still embracing them, precisely because of those flaws.

Red Velvet Car

I've often wondered what happened to Heart. Did they break up? Did they retire from the music business? Sometimes I saw them pop up in the news, but they would dart out of sight as quickly as they had come. I was both happy and surprised to hear them speak up during the last presidential election. However, there was no new music until now. In a sea of male rock ballad performers, Heart always stood out in plain sight. Known for their straightforward lyrics and soaring vocals, the sisters' songs have always been memorable.

Baffled and Beat

There must be something in the Oxford water that breeds talent. How else could you explain the abundance of good, great, and truly classic music that has emerged from the southeastern English city over the last twenty-plus years? Need examples? Ride, Supergrass, and Radiohead all hail from there. I say it is not an overstatement to also count raucous duo Little Fish among these ranks.

Acoustic Project

When I moved to Virginia over four years ago, I didn’t know what folk music was. Growing up in Portland Oregon, I was raised on the quickly growing West Coast indie rock scene. But sometime in my teenage years I started finding artists like Sparklehorse, Nickel Creek, Laura Gibson, and Blitzen Trapper and I couldn’t get enough. I didn’t know then what it was about these different artists’ sounds that made my mouth water, but there was something they had in common, something earthy, something gritty, that I absolutely loved. And when I arrived in Virginia, it finally dawned on me.

Talk To Your Body

Brian Emmert and Nathaniel Kane are Das Black Milk’s two songwriters and they’ve done an excellent job on their latest album Talk to Your Body; it’s probably their best work yet. Many of the songs focus on notions of domestic turmoil in a paranoid dystopia, which I think reflects the current time we’re living in.


Elizabeth Cook blends tenacity with tradition for Welder, embracing traditional backwoods country twang, some bluegrass, and a touch of rockabilly while adding her own progressive spin and pop edginess. The daughter of country musicians and welders, for whom the album was named, Cook effectively utilizes these aforementioned influences to raise her fist to integral feminist themes like independence, sexual expression and assertion.

Tiger Suit

Let me just say that I love KT Tunstall. Love her. I can't help it, she's just so cool: She plays the guitar, writes her own songs, and has an amazing singing voice. She's attractive, but not so pretty that you hate her for it, and her clothes are hip without being ridiculous or over the top. Also, she's Scottish, which in my eyes makes her even cooler for some reason.

Electric Green

Fiddler Cady Finlayson and guitarist Vita Tanga bring two disparate locations (Brooklyn and Paris) and musical styles (traditional Celtic music and world music/electronica) together on Electric Green, a ten-song collection of mostly traditional Irish songs, with a distinctive modern twist. In most cases the violin carries the melody while the guitar, acoustic or electric, adds depth and texture.


With the release of Sharanam Sharon Gannon adds another dimension to her body of work as a yogi, inspirational figure, and advocate of compassionate lifestyles. I have encountered Gannon’s philosophy and teachings in YouTube videos, web and magazine articles, on her website, and in a documentary on raw foods, and have always found myself appreciative of the contribution she makes towards a more peaceful and spiritually grounded world. This musical dimension, unfortunately, fell flat for this eager listener.

Images of Women, Volume 2

Several years ago, native New Yorker Robin Greenstein issued Images of Women, Volume 1, which delivered fourteen folk songs about women’s depiction in the genre, based on her concert-lecture on the topic. Images of Women, Volume 2 delivers fourteen more numbers about women, mostly traditional in musical style.