RedhillsI don’t like folk music in general. There is something  limiting, confining in it. All those traditions and stories, I can not relate to them. Having said that, I must admit there’s quite a difference between let’s say USA country music and European one. I guess it has something to do with the amazing European history and traditions and the lack of these things in less “old” countries, less self-defined. But enough bragging about old vs. young and enough history lessons. We’ re here to talk about music. And even in the vast genre of Folk music – among all the mud and dirt there is occasionally a goldmine to be found. Yeah, the pun is intended as always and we’re talking about the Irish band I Draw Slow and the song Goldmine. Which drew me to them. Slowly.

Now, there are finer and more original bands on the Irish folk scene, and there are surely much more successful ones, but it’s that little something that makes a band special. The little thrill, the undefined feeling that what you’re listening is familiar and original at the same time. That it leads you into the comfort zone – your own personal soft sofa with a table and a cocktail and maybe a nice book. Few artists can do that. At least for me – I always tend to listen too hard, try to understand the meaning, the concept, the ideas and motivation behind the music, and that might get a bit tiring. However, when you hear a band like I Draw Slow, you don’t care about those things any more. Yeah, they may be a bit comical and not taking themselves very seriously but that’s the point. There are times when you need the gloomy and insightful lyrics and sounds of Tool for example, and there are other times – times for stress relief and fun. And who says fun music have to be shallow. Because I Draw Slow and Irish music in general is far from that. Don’t get me wrong – they have the right pinch of sorrow and sadness, It’s just the way they sound. Even on their darkest songs, music feels light and not so overwhelming.



I can’t say much more about this band and maybe can’t relate to you with some cleaver metaphors in the early, cold morning, but hey, I’ll be straight – check the band! No matter if you’re at work, or resting, scratching the cat or taking a shower (in one of those music shower boxes). You deserve to let it go for a while – there will be plenty of time for elaborate , sophisticated and multilayer music – I promise. And since this blog in designed not to be genre-dependant, we might get into hip-hop next time! Just kidding, I’ll save it for the April’s fool day. Until then – dig the goldmine, and dig it well!

Artist: I Draw Slow
Album: “Redhills” 2012

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Bleed Your Cedar

Have you ever fallen into a well? Me neither. But sometimes I feel like I’m in the deepest well of them all. An endless abyss – dark, warm and peaceful. Almost like a womb. There is a certain contradiction in the emotions tied to this. On the one hand it’s timeless and undisturbed – secure. On the other hand there is the subconscious fear of going back into the womb, of suffocation and darkness. This is more prominent in men and that’s the reason we don’t commit suicide by drowning or at least we very rarely do. Sometimes sex bears the same dual nature – it can consume you until all your thoughts shatter and you’re left just like a burning pile of bare naked instincts. Sex is rebirth, meditation, return to the womb and sometimes it can be as scary as falling into a well. And yet we crave for it, we do mad things, we lie, betray who’s necessary, often kill for that passion – for the chance to throw ourselves into the abyss.

When I listen to Elysian Fields I’m constantly on the verge of stepping over the edge. It’s no surprise, as the voice behind this strange kind of madness belongs to Jennifer Charles. If your bells are still silent, here’s another clue – she is the reason Lovage is used solely for making sex upon. Her hypnotizing voice invites you to taste the sweet fear, to liberate yourself from thoughts and become a pulsation. It’s easy to listen to “Bleed Your Cedar” – Elysian Field’s first album. It’s just hard to do anything else at the same time because listening to it defocuses you. In contrast to Lovage (which oddly is a much more popular project despite being more recent and currently not very active), Elysian Fields are a bit more diverse. It’s not just about the fall, there are, of course, quite a few energizing vibrations here and there to keep you entertained while you’re already looking up from the bottom of that well. The whole “Bleed Your Cedar” deserves attention but there are some personal favorites. “Rolling” has one of the cleverest lyrics I’ve ever read.

Elysian Fields


I wanna steam you open
Wanna swim your ocean
We would fly
I wanna suck your motions
Exorcise devotions
Never die
And growing you inside the star’s eye
You fascinate the loops with open belt
If dreams were we
I’d be the sea
And you’re some crazy fisherman
Your line’s on fire
You’re caught in my tide
Your sky’s exspiring
You’re rolling again
I wanna let you see it
Wanna truly free it
You and I
I wanna bleed your cedar
Until it gives me fever and I’m high
And knowing you, you’ll ride the far side
You liberate the moon from it’s hung shelf
If dreams were we, I’d take the lead
You’re down on your knees
The wave is rising
A blink is all you need
Now you’re inside me
Rolling again

So, are you ready to take the step? What would it be? Ecstasy or melancholy? Sex or wither? Both? Whichever you choose, take any precautions necessary. My last advice – if you opt for sex after all – let the woman on top. That’s the only correct position for “Bleed Your Cedar”.

Artist: Elysian Fields
Album: “Bleed Your Cedar” 1996

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Six White Russians And A Pink Pussycat

Six White Russians and a PussycatWe all need summer. Especially during these Siberian winters which drain our warmth and try to dim the inner glow of our hearts. In my mind jazz doesn’t cope well with winter. It’s hard to feel  anything sophisticated when chills bite your skin. What are the options then? You can give up to depression and blend with all the grey people down the streets or you can grab a cup of ginger tea, peel some bananas from the completely wrong side and play Room Eleven. Ginger is the ultimate spring spice, bananas will set your attitude towards tropical afternoons and the cute little Dutch band will do the rest. They are nicer than you expect – well, there are some sad song in their “Six Russians And A Pink Pussycat” but they are summer-sad, are you still following? Summer-sad means watching the hot sunset with just a few bitter-lemon drops in your ginger tea. It means getting to the end of a romance, approaching autumn, feeling calm and fulfilled. “Sad Song” and “Flavour” are the ingenious examples of all this strange talk.

Of course, summer is also about sunrises and love. There is plenty of that in the cocktail I’m offering today. “Somedays”, “Come Closer”, “One Of These Days”, “Could That Be You”, “I Wanna Be Your…”  all bring a playful and positive feeling, though they are very far away from the traditional summer hits suffocating the musical sky every year. But we’re not like that, aren’t we? We need to breathe air that’s not been artificially designed and manufactured for us and our perfect summer. That’s why we listen to Room Eleven. Sadly, like all good things, they didn’t last long – just a few years and two records. Don’t despair – I’ll reveal a little secret to you. The gorgeous lead singer Janne Schra carried on and in my humble opinion – quite successfully. You can check her solo act “Schradinova” which incorporates pretty much the same concept (and almost the same band members) as Room Eleven. There will be a special review concerning that, of course.Janne Schra

Now the temperature outside is a good 5 degrees above zero, the sun is shining, the birds, as you may expect, stretch their vocal chords, practising for the spring. And the spring is coming which means winter will be over soon. Quite logical but you tend to lose some faith when icicles are falling around you at -25 C. Getting through winter is always hard (except for natives and residents of Costa Rica) but there is always music to save the day. The equivalent of warm fireplace, wool scarf and a pocket full of smiles. My cup needs a refill and this time it’ll be linden – and I’m hitting the “repeat all” button on that player, because a day like this deserves more Room Eleven.
Artist: Room Eleven
Album: “Six White Russians And A Pink Pussycat” 2006

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Pink MartiniToday I’m going to talk about some very dark emotions. The kind that leaves you thoughtless on the floor, just staring into space endlessly. Because when you’ve lost someone dear to you, someone more precious and valuable than your own sense of reality, there are no words that can express the emptiness in your heart. Love. The person you love is gone. It’s irreversible, final and yet you beg for the impossible to happen. You beg, you pray for time to change it’s direction just for a second. You fall into delusions, you cry your soul out, you can’t cope with the world anymore. It’s a great desperation but through sadness comes wisdom. You turn to yourself and contemplate, suffer, search for an explanation, for an answer. Happiness doesn’t bring knowledge to no one. It’s sadness who is our greatest teacher. Strange as it may seem, loosing love is essential to one’s life. You can not cherish something enough, you can not realize how badly you need it without losing it first. I pity people who haven’t been heartbroken. For there is an exquisiteness to the pain in your chest, the struggle for breath, the fire behind your eyes and the salt rivers down your cheeks.

Your heart turns black for a moment as if it was beaten up. And it may sound absurd, but all these feelings make you a better person in the end. You know the really hard stuff in life, you can identify it in others and help them, feel for them. When someone cries, you will be able to cry with him, and that’s a very powerful thing. With all barriers and limits we set for ourselves it is a rare and delicate gift to be able to sincerely empathize with another human being. Never hate the person who left you, never blame him for the worst times of your life. For they are the ones which will lead you to happiness one day. And all the tears you shed will become kisses, all shouts in the dark sea of desperation – whispers of love. You won’t be torn inside anymore – all pieces of your heart will find their places and for each piece you’ll get the greatest justice of them all – love.
The band is called Pink Martini. Trying to put them into standards is pointless – they have a little of everything. But for the long dark tea-time of the soul there is a song. It’s called “Veronique”. And when you drown into that ocean of despair it’s the best thing you can listen to.  No matter how many times you die inside, that song will make you die some more. Bitter. That is the correct word. The world is bitter and it will make you feel bitter. Don’t resist. Don’t hold on. Just feel. It’s the second best thing you can do. What is the first one? To get her back, of course…

kissArtist: Pink Martini

Album: “Hang On Little Tomato”

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Dave's True StoryOxytocin. When you feel the desire to run your fingers down your lover’s spine, when you start shivering just by the touch of someone’s lips on your neck, when you urge to lay every inch of your skin against the naked body of some fatal woman – it’s oxytocin. When you feel her breath in your ear and it makes your heart race so hard it could burst – it’s oxytocin. A little chemical trick in the brain and we call it love. We call it passion, desire, we call it  meaning of life. Well, isn’t that strange? All our logic, self-control, experience – all thrown away just for a sip of sin from a lover’s lips. Pretty scary. Irrational. Strong. There are two reasons I’m bringing this semi-romantic, semi-sexual thing up. First – it happens to me all the time and I’m addicted to it, but second and more important – the band I’m talking about today, put that into words extremely well.

Dave’s True Story hooked me up instantly with their song “Spasm”. A classy jazz act – guitar, double bass, drums and sarcastic sounding vocals of Kelly Flint. When I listen to music I want to empathize with it, to feel involved, to feel relevant, to resemble my past emotions and experience them again and again. So when Miss Flint starts singing – “Give me a kiss If you looking for trouble, kiss me again, `cause I’m hoping you are, press it right there and I’ll pay you back double…”, I immediately fall into oxytocin provoking ocean of memories. “But this ain’t the real thing…” as the song goes on. See? Normally I won’t bother to fill a review with lyrics, but not this time. I could write the whole thing just by using their own words. And that leads to a conclusion – DTS’ lyrics are witty and very clever.

Dave's True Story

“Look at my lips
They’re just dying to taste you
Look at my teeth
They’re just aching to bite
But as for my heart
It’s a big empty chasm
‘Cause this ain’t the real thing
It’s just a spasm”

The album itself is called “Sex Without Bodies” and it’s worth every second of your time. You can call it “sexy”, “fluent”, “erotic”, and you’ll be right. I strongly advise you to find yourself a femme fatale, completely disperse into madness, passion and desire, be reborn with every dawn and only then listen to Dave’s True Story. Or you can always check the “preview” section if your life has been already upside-down and inside-out. Maybe real love isn’t just hormones splashing in the cortex of the brain. Maybe the real thing can’t be explained by chemistry, biology or even psychology. “But who needs the real thing when we’ve got the Spasm?”.

I want to dedicate this post to someone very special to me. My Dear, whatever happens, I want you to know – there will be no regrets, no blame, no disappointment.

kissArtist: Dave’s True Story
Album: “Sex Without Bodies”
Verdict: N/A

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The Quiet Mind

Ruby BlueI like bands that are unpopular. A friend of mine says definition of unpopular is something known only by a small group of Russian scientists and I don’t know if that’s true but I like Ruby Blue. The simple fact that you can’t find their CD’s uploaded anywhere speaks for itself. Besides, this is the band that gave us the exquisite voice of Rebecca Pidgeon – another sparkle in the lake of sameness. Don’t get me wrong, I think that acts like  Queen, Roxette, The Who, Deep Purple are magnificent but underground bands are like secrets – you share them with your closest ones. There is a buzz, a thrill in knowing that the music you’re listening to is so good and refined and yet known to just a few. The pursuit for it is like hunting a wild and very rare animal, except in this case you’re not going to kill it or eat it or imprison it – you’ll make it a friend and sometimes – for life.

Rebecca Pidgeon

Back to the topic – Ruby Blue.  Their formation was a classic story – two friends meet and start a band – Roger Fife and Rebecca Pidgeon. They were called R’n’R back in the 80’s until a home-made demo cassette made the difference. A record followed shortly afterwards – “Glances Askances” and after a mild success, a second one appeared – “Down From Above”, which was a true masterpiece. For that one they enlisted some very talented musicians – Anthony Coote (by an ad in Melody Maker) and Erica Spotswood  (a college friend of Rebecca’s). These two records are very hard to find as I said – your only chance of laying your hands on one of them is via eBay auction where they pop-up rather rare and are quite expensive. That’s the reason for not having the usual “album preview” in this article – I shared some youtube exerpts of “Down From Above” for you to check.

Ruby Blue

Now, the music – I’ll keep my promise not to talk about genres and focus on Rebecca’s voice. There’s a theory of mine about people’s voices – I believe that you can tell whether a person is good or bad by the timbre of their voice. It’s very extravagant and based only on my personal observations but I’m positive that it works. Rebecca has a unique voice – it is soft. And by “soft” I mean like clouds and children’s dreams, soft like a sunset. Do I make any sense? Probably not. Anyway, It makes you feel good as if you’re in a conversation with someone who’s really nice. I’ve never encountered such a voice before… and still it’s one and only for me today. There will be a special Rebecca Pidgeon review coming because her solo carrier after Ruby Blue disbanded is even more impressive. The fact of the matter is that Ruby Blue was a sensational event in music and just like Fairground Attraction it lasted merely a couple of years.

Finally let’s end this vague and non-informative review and try to summarize. What we have here is the most unpopular, highly regarded by audiophiles (I don’t pretend to be one), very underrated by all the others, Scottish band I’ve ever heard. And my favourite female voice of all time. Not a thing to be taken lightly. Hope you like it.kiss

Artist: Ruby Blue
Album: “Down From Above” 1990 
Verdict: 98/100

My One And Only Thrill

Sometimes you choose your destiny, sometimes it chooses you. It’s a widely and irresponsibly used cliché but the temptation to call it up once more is too strong, especially when we’re talking about a dame named Melody. Her story deserves a place in the fairytale books or at least a scenario for an Oscar-winning drama movie. At the age of 19 she got hit by a car during her everyday bicycle trip. She suffered serious spinal and brain injuries and was confined to a hospital bed for more than a year. The brain damage was so bad that she had to learn simple tasks like brushing her teeth and talk consistently all over again.

She also developed sensitivity to light and noise and had to wear a special machine, tied to her back, to relieve her of the constant pain. It was that time when Melody Gardot turned to music. She started to hum alongside a cassette player and eventually sing. Although she took music lessons as a child, it was in the hospital where she learned to play the guitar and started writing songs. Music somehow helped her brain to create new neural pathways and start working properly again. Her first album – “Worrisome Heart” consists mainly of songs written in the hospital. You can hear the emotions behind it in every word and every phrasing, all the suffering and hope. I admire her for what she’s been through but besides all the courage, kindness, beauty and charisma there is something more. Her music.
Melody Gardot Live
Ever since I was a child I wanted to live in the past. The future was coming so quickly that I had to cope with the science-fiction I used to read, as a daily routine. Thin displays, wireless technology, phones with the power of a computer and so on… I needed the warmth of the past, the beauty and simplicity of human relations untouched by modern gadgets. It’s a speculation of course, today we live much better lives than let’s say 100 years ago but nevertheless the 30’s have always had attached a certain romantic thrill for me. When I heard Melody’s second record “My One And Only Thrill” I felt exactly like I was living in that era. Suddenly I was sitting in a smoky underground 30’s bar, surrounded by men in raincoats and fedora hats. On the small stage in front of me I could see the band – the double bass player, the pianist, the brass section and there was Melody – exquisite, elegant, with thick red lipstick and in dark glasses. Her voice gently started to calm down the racket and in a minute everything left was the music.
This happens every time I listen to her records – I use them as a runaway from reality, a journey to the past, a voyage to romance. “Baby I’m A Fool” resonates with my whole being – yes, I felt the same way about love so many times, “My Heart Is As Black As Night” completely destroys every barrier between me and reality, “My One And Only Thrill” and “Deep Within The Corners Of My Mind” are plainly intimate. I guess that word – intimate – describes best the music of Melody. It doesn’t matter whether you’re into retro stuff or not, as long as you’d felt kisslove – it will all come into place. It will be your music.

Artist: Melody Gardot
Album: “My One And Only Thrill” 2009
Verdict: 92/100

Album preview:

  • An intimate look at music

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