Elevate Difference


In Evening Air

Synthpop is my steeze. I like to dance, I like to daydream staring out of train windows, and I’m a woman-child passing for an adult on the days that I’m forced to leave the house. This sappy, manufactured genre could have been created just for me and my wild ideas about the big world in which I am so small. I don’t care in which decade it was produced; I’ve been known to adore anything from Modern Talking to Pet Shop Boys to Freezepop. Are there multi-layered keyboards involved in the making of the music?

Move Your Boots

I have memories of listening to tapes of children’s music as a child, and even at such a young age, being hyper-aware of the overly simplistic and sometimes condescending nature of the songs. If only I had Bramble Jam to listen to.

The Rest of Your Life

As an avid jazz fan, I was delighted to review Debbie Cunningham’s album of standards. I was even more delighted when I received the CD in the mail and found that Cunningham is from my native Tennessee. A blurb on the back of the jewel case read that it was a “great CD to just kick back with a glass of wine and relax,” so I prepared accordingly. The verdict? It was, indeed, quite an enjoyable experience. The professional, smooth sound of the trio first caught my attention.

Bad City

Saadi is in love with music. It's fun to guess where the loops and tracks come from on their debut album, Bad City. Their influences are far-ranging, and combine '70s dance, '80s synth, choir vocals, and traditional Arabic music. The title track is a solid dance anthem. The song's companion remix is particularly hot, too.

Good Problems

Ah, spring time on a New England college campus! I always forget what it’s like when everyone emerges out of the stacks of the library, poorly-lit dorms, and stuffy classrooms to congregate on the sunny main green.

Live in Louisville

“Well you have it, you love it, now it’s your turn to shove it…I don’t want to play house anymore,” sings Carrie Rodriguez on her newly released live compilation album, Live in Louisville. Her soulful voice, accompanied by rousing fiddles, makes her point with grace and force.

Downtown Church

It's nothing new for an artist to try different genres of music, but not many can pull off multiple styles in an original way — let alone a way that actually sounds good. Count Patty Griffin among those rare musicians. I've been a fan of Griffin's since I picked up her 1998 release Flaming Red, a compelling mix of punk, pop, and what was then referred to as 'alternative' music.

Keyboard City

Welcome to Keyboard City, a place where the sun is shining, the people are friendly, and everything is going to work out just fine. It’s a place created by Salvador Santana (son of ten-time Grammy winner Carlos), a young man determined to make his own mark on music.

The Deluxe Anniversary Edition

I came of age in the days of AM radio. I can still remember listening to Casey Kasem counting down the Top 40 hits on Sunday nights before FM radio, the Internet, blog radio, and terms like market segmentation became part of our lexicon. In the space of twenty or so minutes, you could hear a song by Barbara Streisand, Journey, The Bee Gees, and maybe something by Johnny Cash as well. I like to think growing up in the '70s made me more open minded as a person because we had to listen to everything that was played on the radio.


Former Final Fantasy mastermind Owen Pallett’s voice is one of my favorites in music right now.

Fabric 50

The ever-prolific Fabric series returns with this effort from Dutch producer Martyn.

Galaxia Tropicalia

Blasfemea’s Galaxia Tropicalia is a psychedelic electro-pop album that, while not made by women, is decidedly about and possibly for them. This Lisbon-based quartet of adorable, dark-haired boys makes music that, at least in theory, pays homage to women. This sort of sweeping statement is problematic, because really, when has “woman” ever been a universal label?

No Rest

Brooklyn songstress roommates, longtime collaborators, and bestie brunettes Christy Edwards and Emily Manzo have hipster cred out the wazoo. So do loads of other borough-based bands, but few have the raw talent of these two singer-songwriter women—a label that hardly defines the true depth of their talent. Their music, at times hauntingly sparse, reverberates with their lush voices and minimal instrumentation, often just Christy’s guitar or Emily’s keyboard. Sound cloying? The opposite is true.

Shady Retreat

Here’s the dilemma: I like a lot of divergent genres. Living in northern Europe the past eighteen months, I’ve been able to embrace my unabashed love of electronic club music and synthpop. I live in the birthplace of Eurovision, in the land of ABBA. Well, I’m twenty miles south of Sweden, but you get the idea. My partner and I are making plans to move home within the calendar year, though “home” may become anywhere from NYC to Silicon Valley because he’s a start-up guy looking for funding.

My Name is Khan Soundtrack

My Name is Khan is a Bollywood movie that captures the post-9/11 journey of a Muslim immigrant who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Western Theater

Mighty Tiger are the sort of band to open for Animal Collective or Grizzly Bear on tour—and not just because of their similar four-legged names. It’s easy to compare bands in folksy sub-genres, but the truth is, Mighty Tiger are a solid pop-driven fit among more established bands of similar persuasion. On Western Theater, Mighty Tiger do what other comparable bands do not.

Songs for a Sinking Ship

Not many people have heard of April Smith, but I’ve become quite the enthusiastic fan. Her music combines elements of pop and rock, but her voice has more of a jazz quality that gives the end result a great mix and unique style. I loved her previous album, loveletterbombs, and I saw Smith perform live a couple of times, so when I heard she was raising money for a new album through Kickstarter, I signed right up to contribute.

Beyond Living

As the title of this album suggests, Beyond Living is a collection of folk songs about death, many of them written by musicians who have passed.


Initially, I was put off by Emanuel and The Fear. I didn’t understand their show tunes inspiration, their jaunty piano melodies, and their choral backing. It’s been a long road from the high school show choir stage to the sofa where I sit today, and it took several weeks for Listen to grow on me.


Bitch’s second release, Blasted! is a bona fide labor or love, self-produced and fully funded by her loyal fan-base who labored themselves to the tune of $12,000. A ballsy, creative venture done by a few indie artists thus far, but pays off only for the truly original, passionate ones that appeal to music lovers with equal convictions.

Cradle Songs

Although happily childfree, I like kids and am intrigued by that idiosyncratic collective experience known as childhood. I am especially fascinated by the many ways we share the histories, humor, and ideologies of our cultures. I try to stay abreast of how these things are communicated. I pay close attention to what music is marketed to children (when, why, and by whom).

La Bodega

Opening with a brassy, but sentimental horn sound on “Manita Uribe,” the first track of La Bodega bursts into a rhythmic and exuberant potpourri of singing, guitar, and percussion accompanied throughout by a horn section that complements and leavens the sheer joy that comes through on this song. While listening to this album, I was momentarily transported from the wintry Illinois landscape to more tropical climes.

Between 10 and 2

How do you solve a problem like TyLean? Perhaps it is her pre-occupation with nihilism, an ethos that I give about as much credit to as what Walter does in The Big Lebowski. I mean, seriously? She really believes in the ultimate worthlessness of everything?

Fool's Gold

As I sit in my Philadelphia apartment trapped again by yet another massive winter storm (if the last one was “snowmageddon” this one is more like a “snurricane”) I listen to Fool’s Gold, and dream of the warm places the band evokes. The group hails from southern California, their lead singer Luke Top was born in Israel (and sings most of the band’s songs in Hebrew).

Aggressively Humble

Just like the spelling of their name, Chll Pll is complex yet simple. Apparently the two musicians that form Chll Pll are quite the musical social butterflies, as they have collaborated with a bunch of other musicians.

The Theory of Tides

Oceans and tides have served as artistic muses for centuries, and I was curious to listen to music inspired by a scientific theory that explains "the dynamics of fluidity, the pull of bodies in motion, the ebb and flow of attraction." Upon first and second listen, The Theory of Tides didn’t grab me, but the third time around was a charm, and I found myself appreciating the music more. Lead singer Mirana has the kind of voice that can sound almost dissonant at times, but it suits The Theory of Tides' style of music, which has the feel of urban techno pop.


Anyone who follows music press would agree that Brooklyn has been a hotbed of indie creativity during the past decade. The styles run the gamut from freak-folk to experimental noise, to sugarcoated pop, to singer-songwriter confessionals, to good old fashioned rock and roll.


Ghosts is a gripping, ten song, posthumous love letter from Brooklyn’s Nakatomi Plaza. Aptly named for a record released after the band’s break up, the album comes with a booklet of liner notes filled with blurry black and white photos and reflections from each of the members about their time in the band.

Masks EP

At best, the EP is a misunderstood, wondrous short form sampling of a band’s experimentation between full-length albums. At worst, it’s a disc of cutting room floor material that should have stayed in the waste bin.

American Gong

Did adding Joanna Bolme on bass somehow ruin the “purity” of the Quasi sound? I would suggest not. Although it would be impossible to argue that their music was thin before, Bolme’s bass adds a perfect oomph without taking away from the chemistry of the duo that already existed.