02 April 2006

things you told me about : part 1

What a month! March was no doubt the busiest I've had in, um, months. I went to Sydney. I went to Manila. I went to Shanghai. I started our corporate blog. I wrote a feature story. I acted as moderator at a conference. I judged a category in an industry awards thingy. My iMac had kernel panics – bad RAM. My iPod died and I had panics – when you see that "Do not disconnect" sign while updating your iPod, trust me, they mean it. But my precious is OK now, just like March is all over now. April looks relatively easy, but I might go somewhere during Easter. Anyway. Here are some songs or artists that have been recommended by some of you guys. I should have done this a long time ago, so you can bet there'll be more like this in the future. Just let me know what you think I should hear by e-mailing me at alternativesounds {at} mac {dot} com. Thanks, you know who you are.

river of gold : eliza gilkyson
click here or on the image below to listen. 3m 20s

This woman has vocals to break your heart. An Austin, Texas-based folk artist, Eliza Gilkyson has been making music since 1979 and her last two albums, Land of Milk and Honey from 2004 and Paradise Hotel last year are quiet, emotional statements to issues she feels strongly about, from the war in Iraq to that freak in Washington to separation to spousal abuse. In spite of the intensity of these subjects, Gilkyson sings with a calmness that can only come from someone who is firm in her beliefs but looks at things with a level head. Nothing is oversung; all you get is an honestly passionate rendition of songs written with wisdom and from experience. River of Gold comes from her 1997 album Redemption Road, and as the album title suggests, it is about moving on after a personal failure, in this case, her marriage. It is a light take – note the sarcastic chuckle at the intro – on a bitter theme, but only just so. When she sings "I just want to get going before I'm too old," you can tell how much hurt and how broken she still feels in spite of keeping up her pride. She marches on with uncertainty, continuing to believe in fate. Just like many of us.

crank : catherine wheel
click here or on the image below to listen

Catherine Wheel vocalist Rob Dickinson had his solo debut album out last year, and you can sample three of the songs in his myspace page. Meanwhile, here's the second most-downloaded song of the now-defunct English band on iTunes. Catherine Wheel was formed in 1990, and it's very clear from the way they sound how stuck they were between the paranoia of the 80s and the anger of the 90s – take Gene Loves Jezebel or Echo and the Bunnymen and mix them with any of the guitar-heavy grunge bands of the 90s. In Crank, Dickinson has a brooding voice, with a depth and reverb of someone trapped in a cave. It's as menacing as an approaching storm, but if you're the type who, like me, finds even a little bit of thrill in dark clouds rolling in, then this is for you. It's just sad that the talented band never shot to fame, and it seems Dickinson is bound to have a similar fate solo in spite of his obvious attempt to sound this side of mainstream.


  1. Anonymous3.4.06

    Thank you for tapping into the "truth" behind Eliza's music.
    Glad you "revived" your iPod!!!

  2. Anonymous3.4.06

    Glad you decided to listen to Eliza. She is quite something, isn't she? Three other recommendations I have are 1) Beth Orton, and 2) Robinella (especially her song "break it down" and 3) Guy Forsyth (and his song "Long Time").

    I'd email you, but I prefer to remain anonymous. Take care, and thank you for the music.

  3. Thanks anonymi. Yeah, my iPod's okay, but it's still having hiccups. It freezes at least once a week. Mind you I've abused it a lot, dropping it several times (it even cracked open once), freezing it at high altitude, my bony ass sitting on it since I always keep it in my back pocket.

    I like the suggestions. I'm a long-time fan of Beth Orton, I have all her albums (though not the latest one yet), and I have Robinella's "Break it Down Baby" from a compilation CD. Will check out Guy Forsyth.