Elevate Difference


Grinderman 2

Being a female Nick Cave fan is perilous. I'd say that it's on par with being a female James Bond fan. In both instances, women are depicted as vixens, victims, or passive receptors for sexually frustrated man-boys with clear objectives. In the case of James Bond, his objective has always been to triumph over various manifestations of Cold War-style evil in the name of God (or God's emissary, the Queen), gold, and glory. As a feminist, I know logically that Bond is misogynist tripe. Yet as an Anglophile and Cold War wonk, I simply cannot get enough of 007.

Cats & Dogs

I did not see Star Wars until I was nineteen years old. I was even older the first time I saw Steven Spielberg's Poltergeist. In both cases, I hated them. And in both cases, I was told by the films' loyal fans that, when they'd watched these movies at X years old, the scares or the special effects “were really great for their time.” To which I would invariably respond, “I did not experience them at said age in 'their time'; I did so now, as a discerning adult—and I didn't like them. So there.”

Apple Core

So much folksy lady rock, so little time. Add Kendl Winter’s Apple Core to the ever-lengthening list of guitar-loving, country-inspired singer-songwriters with a flair for bluegrass. It may not be terribly original, but Winter makes a fine effort on her fourth solo album. At times, her work is hauntingly beautiful; at others, it’s frustratingly cliché.

Fall of Spring

Here I sit, thinking about the torrential rain and wind blanketing the eastern seaboard, and dreaming of warm kisses from the sun on a hilly bike ride in the country. I’m at work, to tell you all the truth, inside a rather chilly library (writing on my lunch break—too bleak to venture outside). My eyes move slowly from computer screen to rain-dappled window, yearning for a summer that wasn’t.

Gone Are All the Days Remix

It’s a hard to imagine releasing a 12” vinyl maxi singles in an MP3-obsessed world, but that’s what K Records have boldly done for Mirah’s remix of "Gone Are All the Days." While angel-voiced Mirah could hardly be compared to club-hit-making ladies such as Lady Gaga or Madonna, this remix tries to come close.

Marnie Stern

The buzzword on Marnie Stern's self-titled third album seems to be "introspective." Frankly, this descriptor hardly seems indicative of a sea change if we've been paying attention to her lyrics. Sure, In Advance of the Broken Arm and her breakthrough sophomore effort, _[This Is It And I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and

Old Punch Card

Over the past few years, Chicago-based singer, songwriter, photographer, and painter Sam Prekop has dabbled in all sorts of music. He’s collaborated with Broken Social Scene, Prefuse 73, and even had his work sampled in a toilet paper commercial. Most well known as frontman for The Sea and Cake, he set out to make a brand new kind of record, in no way resembling anything he’s ever done.

Secret Transit

Even the most ramshackle noise requires a hint of skill to be executed effectively. Despite dismissive cries from its many detractors, good pop music requires a precise attention to detail, a keen ear, and a strong awareness of how to strike that delicate balance between catchy and plaintive. That being said, there is also a delicate balance to be struck between polished crystalline pop and overly savvy saccharine songs. It's just this sort of precarious tightrope that Brooklyn indie pop duo KaiserCartel seems to walk with their second full-length album, Secret Transit.


If The Locals were an item of clothing, they would be a neatly pressed pair of designer vintage “distressed” jeans—$200 pants with holes, bleach stains, and grease marks already worked in. The Locals have a crafted sound that has been tweaked and molded into a perfect pair of pre-worn pants.

A Record

A few months ago I reviewed the new record from People Eating People. Laura Stevenson and the Cans are certainly along the same sound profile—folksy female vocals with a tinge of She + Him and a pinch of Regina Spektor. As before, I ask, how can yet another folksy crew of musicians survive?

Fairytales and Lullabies

Sol Skugga is someone I need to keep my eye on. Her third album, Fairytales and Lullabies, is a well-mixed collection of electronica, ambiance, and folk. Skugga wrote, mixed, and produced her own tracks. Clearly a collector of sound, her long list of instruments include vocals, piano, acoustic and electric guitars, "electronic drums in all shapes," ambient sounds, synthesizers, samplings of Nordic nature, and rhythm instrumentation.

Oh, Hear the Wind Blow

The West Coast, indie feel to the Chapin Sister’s album Oh, Hear the Wind Blow could easily have made it my pick for this year’s perfect summer album. Sadly, it’s September as I write this, and soon flip-flops will make way for boots. However, I suggest you squeeze the last rays out of summer with this album. The Sisters are nieces of musician Harry Chapin and the daughters of Tom Chapin.

Cho Dependent

To call comedienne Margaret Cho’s latest endeavor, Cho Dependent, a comedy album seems like a disservice. Though songs like “Calling in Stoned” (featuring the ever-stoned Tommy Chong), “Your Dick,” and “Eat Shit and Die” do little for my argument, Cho Dependent is completely unlike her six previous comedy albums. This, my friends, is Cho’s foray into the music world, and a damn fine one at that.

Rockets EP

Go outside. Look up. What do you see? What do you think (or wish or hope) sees us? At their most basic, those are the questions that have motivated humankind to create, to believe, and to explore since it first dawned on us to look up. The famous opening phrase of Star Trek is “Space—the final frontier.” With its awe-struck yet determined delivery, the line presents space as the last, most daunting stop on humanity's Manifest Destiny Tour. Space is the only thing that remains to be conquered—at least in the realm of schlocky sci-fi TV.

The North End

In a time when emo hasn’t enjoyed the same popularity as it did ten years ago, this six-man band is happy doing its thing. Hailing from Midwestern America Joie De Vivre draws a good amount of influence from the northern part of the region for lyrics and the wintry scenes for their most recent album, The North End. For anyone who’s been to college and listened to local/house bands, The North End is certain to make you nostalgic. Granted, the album is a clean recording and the packaging that of a label-backed-band.


Canadian artist Sora lists Loreena McKennitt as one of her greatest musical influences, a fact that is apparent on her latest musical effort, Heartwood. A beautifully put together collection of songs that conjure up druid celebrations and ancient royal courts, the album is reminiscent of McKennitt's modern Celtic style.


Blink and you might miss one of the twelve short, sparsely instrumented songs on Elyse Miller’s new disc, as most last two minutes or less. But Miller packs a lot of punch into these brief, slow-paced numbers, usually accompanied only by acoustic guitar.

Dancing on the Moon

Lisa Bell delivers the goods on her third album, mixing blues, jazz, pop, and roots into a bright, sparkling mix.


I spent a few years as a DJ for the college radio station during graduate school, and quickly learned that the fastest, most accurate way to asses if you’ll like an album is to pay attention to the label. If you really dig a band, it’s worth your time to research the label that produces their albums–chances are it will be home to other artists you’ll enjoy.

Strange Weather, Isn’t It?

I will travel far and wide to see !!!, a band named for three staccato sounds (“chk chk chk” is the preferred pronunciation, though you can also say “pow pow pow” or “bang bang bang” to a fellow fan if so inclined). In the past five years, I’ve seen them at least as many times. From a slightly awkward but riotously fun gymnasium show in Chicago to a slam dancing mess at Boston’s Paradise, I’ve been there. I’ve seen related side projects and new ventures from Out Hud to Free Blood to LCD Soundsystem, and loved every minute of madness each show brought to my life.

Game Night

Corrin Campbell is a Wisconsin native who enlisted in the US Army shortly after graduating high school. A combat-vet and former member of the 1st Calvary Division, Campbell trained at the Armed Forces School of Music in Norfolk, Virginia, before beginning her career with the Army Materiel Command Band. As a US Army trained bassist, Campbell has performed for troops around the world before joining forces with her current band, The Election, to create and perform original music.

At Last

It seems counter-intuitive by now that women rappers would rhyme about anything other than leftist politics, feminist ideals, empowerment and sexuality, and anti-corporatism.

As It Turns Out

Melanie Flannery fronts a New York-based jazz ensemble called the Mel Flannery Trucking Co. Backed by bassist Matt Aronoff, drummer Danny Sher, and keyboardist and songwriting collaborator Lee Pardini, Flannery cultivated a sound that bridges pop, cabaret, jazz, and soul. Their latest offering, As It Turns Out, remains consistent with previous releases. It also has little to recommend itself. While not unpleasant, the album did not capture my imagination.

The Road Home

When I opened my package containing Eliza Blue’s album The Road Home, I was greeted with a little bit of Southern hospitality; the CD was wrapped in a piece of twine and included a hand-written note saying, “Thanks for listening, hope you enjoy!” I felt comforted by that note. It was a little wave “hello” from home, and more than that, a connection between artist and audience.


Who can hate Kylie? She’s an Aussie superstar in Europe, Britain’s most beloved celebrity, and a global gay icon. She survived several decades in the entertainment business, even flourished there, and perhaps most impressively, also beat breast cancer. After she finished chemo in 2006, she headed back to the studio.

Living Ghosts

Attention all ye steampunk aficionados, Absinthe Junk accomplishes what their name implies—they’re a fitting band for your gears, gadgets, corsets, and metal-worked jewelry! Their press album, Living Ghosts presents an adequate sampling of their haunting metal sound. A time-tested combination of steely guitars and an ethereal lead female voice place the band solidly within a genre recognized by metal, rockers, and goth fans alike.

Flesh Tone

Kelis has always been brazen, unapologetically growling her way onto the music scene in 1999 with the single “Caught Out There,” a vicious tale of heartbreak and revenge.

Success or Suicide

In the beginning, there were two: brothers Jeff and Chris Cannon. These Michiganders, transplanted to the Land of Enchantment otherwise known as New Mexico, started a band–a boisterous beast named Vertigo Venus.

Die Young

Blair Gimma bounces about between art pop and insightful complexity with her first full-length venture, Die Young, juxtaposing the indelible angst of indie folk rock (with help from her daydreamy vocals) with stark lyrical imagery.

/\/\/\Y/\ (Maya)

A week prior to its July 13th release, M.I.A.’s new album, /\/\/\Y/_ (or _Maya), was made available streaming on the artist's MySpace page.