Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged folk rock

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.


Think of the word mojo in the classic sense (energy and zest for life) before Jim Morrison distorted it, and it's really the best adjective to describe this album. Having listened to Tom Petty—with and sans the Heartbreakers—since high school, I have to agree with fellow fans that the guy just doesn't make bad music. Like many an artist going through major life changes—divorce, having a child grow into an adult, a new marriage—music tends to be worn on his sleeve.

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.


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.

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.

Every Light Must Fade

Sometimes it seems the best things in life are those that we accidentally stumble across on a whim, or on the way to something else. That certainly seems to be the case for many of the items I’ve reviewed items for this blog.

Renaissance: Song of Scheherazade Live

Renaissance is a notable 1970s folk rock band that developed a large fan base by having symphonic rock instrumentals contrasted by haunting female vocals and whimsical, intelligent lyrics. Renaissance: Song of Scheherazade Live includes video from the band’s performances at Capital Theatre in 1976 and their 1979 performance at Convention Hall. A great fuss was made when Cherry Red announced their release of Renaissance's concert footage.

Look Ahead

Chrissy Coughlin’s sound is an amalgamation of pop, indie, and folk, but overall it’s good songwriting, and she switches styles with aplomb. “Back to You” starts the album out kicking; it’s a peppy, upbeat tune marked by a strong beat and understated organ. The lyrics of this toe-tapping power rock song are somewhat trite (“If I don’t turn around and stay I would be a fool/I’m coming back to you”), but it’s absolutely fun nevertheless.

Trailer Park (Legacy Edition)

I was twenty and living in Austin when I first heard Beth Orton. She laid the soundtrack to my existential search for love and self and meaning. Trailer Park is the kind of record you listen to while laying on your bed, questioning your life, your love, or playing against the background in a movie scene where you walk along the railroad tracks, hands in your pocket during a particularly emotional moment.

Red Letter Year

Red Letter Year is one of those records about—dare I say it?—hope. Its folksy tunes praise Mother Earth and the blessings we all share at the end of a devastating political era. You don't have to be a longtime fan of Ani DiFranco to be convinced that it is desirable—hell, even possible—to live in the woods, knit your own socks, grow your own food, and exist in a woman-centric world (assuming you don't already).

Catherine Avenue

Biirdie came into my life at just the right time. Named for the musical Bye Bye Birdie (but adding an extra “I” because one Birdie band already exists), this southern California folk-rock trio’s sophomore release may not be extraordinarily adventurous or unusual, but they nevertheless make you want to take a long drive into nowhere, windows down. Maybe living in Boston, I hear songs about L.A. and get whimsical for rolling hills that lead to desert.