Elevate Difference


What Day Is It Tonight? (Live 1993-2008)

Hipster culture exists and sustains itself on a continuous loop, a vicious never-ending cycle, like a Möbius strip or an Ouroboros, the snake eating its own tail. Take something once mainstream and now uncool, adopt it with tongue planted firmly in cheek as “so bad it's good,” deem said sound/product/style “cool,” and watch as it is co-opted by a broader audience and becomes mainstream. Later, rinse and repeat. Every once in a while such a revival of the old dredges up some long-lost gem, but most of the time it's just masturbatory.

The Best of Ally McBeal

"I’ve been searchin’ my soul tonight... I know there’s so much more to life..." If you’re starting to hum the theme tune to a certain late-nineties television show about the life of a diminutive lawyer, you’ll understand that this album’s opening track is as much a time capsule as it is a pop song. Everything there was to love (and love to hate) about Ally McBeal is summed up as singer and pianist Vonda Shepard works her way through "Searchin’ My Soul." Fans will doubtless remember Shepard’s regular appearances at Ally’s local piano bar.

The Beat Is...

For the same reason I celebrate my own existence—the idea of “getting out” of whatever dead-end birth town you once inhabited—Alphabeat make me cheer. Born and raised way off the major highway on Denmark’s lone peninsula (the country is otherwise fully comprised of islands), these young folks not only have the same Jutland accent as my partner; they took off for London after their first album, This Is Alphabeat, created a substantial buzz in the UK.

Fabriclive 49

I recently heard a clip from Fabriclive 49 and wanted to review it. Although I’m not too familiar with techno music (aside from the occasional club visit), I do like it, so off I went. Buraka Som Sistema’s album has a total of twenty-eight short club pieces that are very hard to separate. These songs overlap, interconnect, and pulse. There’s a definite dance vibe to the collection. At the same time, they are rather mellow and spacey in nature.


A beautiful album, Monika Jalili’s Élan evokes a romantic, and at times, haunting journey through a collection of popular, acoustic Iranian songs. The talented New York-born vocalist originally trained in musical theater, and shares her enchanting voice and love of Iranian poetry in a simple yet sincere album, which features tracks in Persian, Azeri, English, and French.

My Reality

Trina Elle is a Canadian pop singer who is trying to make a start in the music business. She is someone with talent, a fun R&B sound, and according to one reviewer, a voice reminiscent of Toni Braxton. Now, I’m not well-versed in the pop and R&B worlds, but I do love me some Toni Braxton. (Who doesn’t?) So, I anticipated being blown away by My Reality.

Don't Kiss Her Face

The Echelons have a lot going for them: quirky lyrics, a 1970s-inspired family ensemble, and fun tunes. Made up of father Ben Petrella, children Jessica and Louis, and neighbors Brian Santo and Brandon Grande, the Echelons make their debut with Don't Kiss Her Face. Jessica is nineteen years old, and brother Louis is only twelve; this multi-generational dynamic gives the band a distinct aesthetic.

Don’t Act Like You Know Me

When I was a teenager, rock radio had its fair share of female voices. Shirley Manson, Gwen Stefani, and Courtney Love all wrote songs and fronted bands full of men, and gave us songs like “I’m Just a Girl” and “Celebrity Skin.” D’Arcy Wrentz played a mean bass for Smashing Pumpkins. On the indie front, Tori Amos, Liz Phair, and to some extent, Alanis Morrisette, all gave voice to the issues women face through guitar-heavy songs.


The first Wolf People album released in the U.S., Tidings is comprised of three years worth of psychedelic, folksy Brit rock recordings, some of which were composed before the formation of the current lineup.


Sitting down with my notebook for a first listen, I adamantly tried not to get caught up in descriptions with romanticized cliché references to Cézanne paintings, sleepy villages, artsy cafes, or train rides home. Alas, I set myself up for inevitable failure listening to Simone White’s Yakiimo album riding a train northbound for the holidays on a clear, winter New England morning.

The Best Of The Black President (Deluxe Edition)

Are you kidding me? What Fela fan does not want a two-disc music compilation along with a bonus DVD of interviews and concert footage? That aforementioned statement wasn’t a question, but I don’t like seeing the green underlining that Microsoft Word displays when it doesn’t agree with what you’ve written, so I oblige. My only complaint is that it doesn’t have more songs, more footage, and more shiny pictures. Those of you who are fans of the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti probably already have these songs in your collection. However, with the recent Broadway show of _Fela!

Darling Dear

At one point in the chaos of alley-crawling and narrow escapes that is the “Darling Dear” video, Little Fish frontwoman Juju beats up a guitar-wielding hipster boy, steals his guitar and straps it on before she launches in a furious bout of The Rocking. It is precisely this raw frenetic energy that attracted the attention of Custard Records, the label launched by singer/songwriter/producer Linda Perry (4 Non Blondes).

The New Divine

Let's just get this one thing out of the way right now, shall we? It's safe to say that if you're not of the goth/industrial/EBM/metal persuasion, then The New Divine, from Austin, TX foursome Lust Murder bOX (LMb), will not be your bag. These twelve tunes are for the seasoned spooky aficionado. But if you're adventurous enough, give it a go.


It was recently revealed that music was used as a torture device against detainees at government prisons, including Guantanamo Bay and Bagram, Afghanistan.

Gardening From the Ground Up Part 1

Never judge a book by the cover. Never judge the content of a CD by the title. I was expecting an album on basic gardening. I was surprised when I opened the package and saw that instead of a how-to CD, it was the debut album of Sarah Elizabeth Foster. This artist began studying music at the age of four. She is a classically trained vocalist who has fulfilled her ultimate dream of being a singer/songwriter in New York City.

Daggers at the Moon

I’m not sure whether Vice Cooler is insane, or a genius, or an insane genius. One thing is certain: Cooler is busy. He’s toured with Peaches (there is a video of them on his MySpace page doing a very naughty version of a certain Gwen Stefani song that won’t soon leave your memory), he also has written a book, and continues to contribute to magazines like Vice and Rolling Stone.

People Eating People

So, back in the day, I was in a struggling band in Seattle. And back in that day, one of the biggest breaks a struggling band could get was getting a blurb written about them in The Stranger, the local indie newspaper (edited by none other than Dan Savage, of “Savage Love” fame). While my band was scrambling between shows, staying up way too late at practice, and generally creating plenty of VH1 Behind the Music drama, another band was stealing all of the time in The Stranger: Mon Frere.


Systems Officer reminds me a bit of Grandaddy. Of Grandaddy I have to say this: I have seen Grandaddy once, opening for Elliott Smith, and Jason Lytle (formerly of Grandaddy) once, opening for Neko Case. It is probably unfair to hold Grandaddy and Jason Lytle up to the same level of adoration that I have for the other two artists (considering I would have hurdled myself into a closet full of menstruating hornets to see either Smith or Case).


Do you have a band with which you feel a connection that far surpasses all others? Are you a writerly music nerd who wouldn’t dream of interviewing said band for fear the mystique would be shattered? I reserve such ardor for only one band. I met Spoon frontman Britt Daniel a few times over the years at various North American concerts. Once, I had the guts to say, “Hi, I’m Britt too.” He put his arm around my shoulders, made a fist with his other hand, and took a photo with me. It’s crazy intense.

Broken Cookies

While there are plenty of catchy numbers on Broken Cookies, the second full-length album from Ohio native Annie Dinerman, it is her lyrics that set her apart from her peers in the folk-pop category and make her songs memorable.

All I Want For Christmas is a Real Good Tan (Yule Log Edition)

The annual Yule Log special on PBS is tied to some of my fondest memories of Christmas as a child. I remember the glow of my parents' tree and the excitement on Christmas Eve, and I got my cookies ready for Santa. Through all of this, Yule Log would be playing in the background, with its cozy scene of a log burning away and a medley of magical Christmas tunes. Whenever I see Yule Log today, all those warm feelings and nostalgia come right back to me. It's one of those little things that makes it really feel like Christmas to me.

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

After listening to Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, I did some background checking on the artist Naree. How could I not when the album is named after a famous novel? I felt it was more than likely that some sort of duality in Naree’s life or work would emerge: a yin to a yang, a left to a right, two sides holding a vertebrae.

10,000 Things

I'm always inspired when I discover artists who are truly enthusiastic about their craft. There's charm in simple vocals and guitar; bare, clean, down-to-earth. However, nothing beats meeting a chef with her arms buried in dough while countless pans simmer on the stove. Christen Grey is no exception. On her latest album, 10,000 Things, she performs the following: vocals, lead and rhythm guitars, acoustic guitars, slide guitar, piano, dulcimer, mandolin, synth keyboard, harmonica, tambourine, shakers, and samples. Christen composed all of the music and wrote all the lyrics.

A Cave, A Canoo

The deliberate mis-spelling of canoo in the title and opening track of singer-songwriter Shelley Short’s third album is never really explained, but makes sense on an unstated level. The phonetics on this album take center stage in attempting to interpret literal meanings to ambiguously dreamy lyrics. A Cave, A Canoo is a lovely, lulling album that does not shock or surprise in any way.


Dreamers is a short and sweet, two-song demo. The tracks speak volumes in this brief introduction. The strongest point is Janyse herself. Janyse's a very talented pop vocalist. ABBA instantly came to mind as I heard her sing the first notes. She carries a certain sweetness, fun, and approachability that is both rare and welcomed.


If there’s one word to describe the works of Nouvelle Vague, it's génial. Generally, I don’t trust cover versions. Many of them are an abomination that spits all over the originals, but somehow, the cover band Nouvelle Vague makes me forget that.


While growing up reading Spin and Rolling Stone, I quickly realized that both publications are fond of describing the sound of new bands by referencing older bands, many of which my twelve-year-old self hadn’t heard. I used to hate it, but now I realize it’s a pretty effective if lazy way of doing things.

Know Better Learn Faster

“Messy” and “complicated” could very well be the two best words for defining romantic love. As suggested by the title of Thao with The Get Down Stay Down’s latest record, Know Better Learn Faster, the brokenhearted masses could easily avoid painful relationships if they were just plain smarter and quicker learners.

One Love

French DJ and producer David Guetta’s One Love is a dream come true for dance and electronica fans who like hip-hop too.


Hailing from Athens, Georgia, Maserati play methodical, well thought out, and percussion-driven instrumental music, described by some as post-rock. I saw Maserati play in Portland earlier this year when they opened for the majestic MONO, one of my favorite bands of all time, also on the Temporary Residence label.