- Written by Deb Hebert
Spencer Albee: Spencer
Don't let this gruff exterior fool you one minute. Spencer Albee's being himself! For over 20 years, the multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter (and producer) has entertained alternative, indie-rock and pop fans with his high-energy, Beatle-esque infused, sound. As a consumate frontman, he knows how to play to the crowd and leave everyone screaming for one more song. Other musical influences include Jeff Lynne (ELO), The Who, David Bowie, The Kinks, Led Zeppelin and Beck.
To his merit, Albee has toured the US and Canada in support of 13 studio albums with Rustic Overtones, As Fast As (Rocktopus), The Popsicko, Space Versus Speed, and Spencer and the Schoolstreet Mafia. Plans to record his first solo album surfaced in summer 2012. "Let's make an album," his Pledge Music profile read. After a successful financial drive, the highly anticipated "Spencer" is released in less than one year, on July 9, 2013. Albee says of this particular project, "It's me. Melancholy. Something I'm proud of."
First, thank you, Lee, for putting a (signed) copy of "Spencer" in my hands and on my "must listen" list. I enjoyed the initial play through very much, but did not fully appreciate the immense production value until the 3rd and 4th listens. Because "Spencer" is stuck in my car stereo (literally!), I've heard it at least 10 times by now. An omen, I guess.♥
I marvel at songwriters and their intrinsic ability to illustrate emotions and events in such a way that each song is a short story, one with a beginning, middle and end. Albee tackles serious subjects here, addressing relationships, love and loss, miscommunication and compromise, trust and doubt, and even his own death. From track #2, "Lucky", I found the phrase, "We act like two lions in a cage," an intelligent description of an argument. Then a question about living conditions in the afterlife, "Can I take my bigTV to the great beyond?", from the tongue and cheek "When Will I Die?", had me giggling aloud and pondering my own demise. The lyrical content is candid, creative, sophisticated, and whimsical, putting Albee in the big league.
"Spencer" is jam-packed with layers of instrumentation, keyboard-driven melodies, digital affects and meticulously sung harmonies. The uptempo lead track, "It's Alive", sets the pace for the next 45 minutes. Albee's pop vocal tone and articulation are spot on. The hook, "Hey, hey, I...Hey, hey, I.." is infectious and the perfect crowd sing-a-long. What's more, the musical score is featured in Portland, Maine's recent tourism campaign video.
Staying true to his roots, Albee encorporates orchestral and choral arrangements (like in so many Beatles and Electric Light Orchestra hit songs) into several numbers. There are bursts of strings, horns and harmonies that give the music character and texture, but then there are more complex sequences, complete with solos, which must've required the presence of a conductor for the full-on ensemble of 25 singers and 40 collaborating musicians. Oh...and if you're a fan of horns, pay close attention to the saxophone solo 3/4 way through "Lucky". I've never heard a sax respond like this. It gave me goosebumps.♥
I've grown especially fond of "California's Calling", the first single and "cornerstone" for the album. “On every record I do, there’s always one song that’s a catalyst for the whole record,” said Albee. "You kinda get onto a new sound or vibe and you just know that’s where you’ll live. The first song I wrote with that inspiration was “California’s Calling”." Albee's breathy vocal, the weepish, pedal steel guitar, and video, tug at the heartstrings. CALIFORNIA'S CALLING
Initially, the cover of Gordon Lightfoot's 1974 hit "Sundown" seemed out of place to me, especially amid nine original compositions. Why this song? On this album, I wondered? But as I paid closer attention and really examined the music, I found the digital distortion, keyboard and strings extremely innovative. An approach Bowie or Beck might take? I closed my eyes and let the atmospheric and psychedelic mood expand my mind. By songs end, I envisioned his soul (the male character's) hovering over the back staircase, waiting for Sundown. (Darn imagination!) I must add, the new version was well recieved by fans at the CD release party, held July 20, 2013 at Port City Music Hall.
The public support has been overwhelming, marking one ofAlbee's best works to date. "Spencer" is the #1 selling album at Bull Moose Records (his biggest release in 10 years). It's the talk of local TV and radio stations WCSH, WPXT, WCLZ and WHSN. Both Bangor Daily News and The Phoenix have printed favorable reviews.Lastly, I could go on and on about "Spencer" and what I like, but feel it's important for the listener to form their own opinion, too. I encourage multiple listens, though.
To preview songs, check out iTunes. Download tracks via iTunes, Spotify and Amazon. Hardcopy CD (and I think vinyl) available at Bull Moose Records (in-store locations, Maine and New Hampshire, or on-line http://www.bullmoose.com/). And lest not forget that 'music fans' are consumers; the choices we make matters. So...if you dig "Spencer", please, spread the good word. Independent artists, musicians and bands need support more than ever before. To follow Spencer Albee, and any of his bands, check out Facebook and Twitter.
Yours in music,
- Written by Bluebirdreviews
Written by Al Whirly.
These days we're bombarded with social injustice in countless forms. We convince ourselves that change starts from within, but our actions reveal otherwise. As long as our lives remain unaffected, we go on as usual. Cyndi Lauper warned us decades ago, that money changes everything. It won't be long before we hear the next story of theft and deception. However, as long as our bank accounts remain unaffected, we go on as usual.
It's been (almost) 30 years since Cyndi Lauper released her 1983 debut solo album, She’s So Unusual .To celebrate the anniversary, she's on tour performing all 10 tracks, as well as, a few other surprises. After 3 decades, her music still, fills the heart with emotion. Her anecdotes were both poignant and inspiring. How could anyone not be affected by someone who has remained true to herself, her cause and her art form. Time after time, she has affected the masses
with her genuine personality and song. She
really is, so unusual.
Well known as an American singer, songwriter, writer, actress, and LGBT human rights activist, Lauper has a list of charities which she champions. Added to this, a visit to the White House and a project to help end homelessness.
In my experience, people form opinions without knowing all the facts.
Or if well informed, they still accept the status quo. Spending an evening with Cyndi Lauper may not change the world, but one fan at a time, the power of her music can change a mind.
Press Release: Recorded and released in 1983, She’s So Unusual, Lauper’s debut solo album, is a colorful portrait of a unique and multifaceted talent. The album features some of Lauper’s most well-known songs and perennial radio favorites including “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” “Time After Time,” “She Bop,” “Money Changes Everything,” and “All Through the Night.” She’s So Unusual made Lauper a household name and also cemented her place in musical history as the first female artist to have four top 10 singles on a debut album. The release went on to sell over 16 million copies worldwide and won Lauper a Grammy® Award for Best New Artist.
- Written by Bluebird
Indie pop Boston ensemble, Gentlemen Hall, are well known for their sound that "stands strong between the high-handed anthemic choruses of the Killers and the retro synth melodies of MGMT, along with a dash of wildman flutist antics. Gentlemen Hall have established themselves as one of the most talked about bands to emerge from Boston in recent years."
If you are new to their music and want to know what to expect from a live show, that is hard to describe. Every performance has the signature, bright, electric bolted energy sound of GH, however, after seeing the band three times in two years, I have to say, Gentlemen Hall continues to surprise, even their closest followers.
- Written by Bluebird
It was wonderful to meet the passionate fans at the Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters show in Boston last night.
Check back here for a full concert review from this show. Leave your impressions of the performance in the comments section and we'll include them in our write-up.
"I can't stop, keep on climbing, looking for what I knew ... "
Call the tune, because you know we love to ramble.
- Written by Bluebird
The indie folk sibling duo, June & The Bee, is now a trio, with the addition of sax player/vocalist Zoe Langsdale. The dynamic team have been hard at work on writing new songs since last we saw them debut at the Iron Horse Music Hall in 2012. They headlined the Horse last month and have had so many tour dates this year, we haven't been able to keep up with them. Emma June and Eli Ayres are mixing up their styles too, bringing on guest musicians, and playing in unchartered regions beyond the Pioneer Valley, including the legendary, Club Passim. Take a listen to their new recordings here and let us know what you think!
Click here for a review of their debut show at the Iron Horse/2012: