Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Young and the Restless

It’s hard to imagine Sarah Jarosz was born in 1991. She has the maturity, presence and songwriting skills of a person far older. Sarah had mastered the mandolin at 10 and was performing live with musicians like Dave Grisman and Ricky Skaggs by the time she was 12 years old. Her sound is definitely bluegrass influenced but stretches far outside the genre. And her voice is sweet and captivating. Jarosz is currently studying at the New England Conservatory of Music, where she has picked up the clawhammer banjo and guitar and is majoring in contemporary voice improvisation. She just released her second album, Follow Me Down, in the spring of 2011.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Let There Be Austra

Austra, named for the Latvian goddess of light, is based in Toronto and features Katie Stelmanis on vocals and keyboards, Maya Postepski on drums, and bassist Damian Wolf. Their music is dark and electronic and is similar to groups like Glasser and Fever Ray. Stelmanis’ voice covers quite a range, which is not surprising—she was classically trained and joined the Canadian Children’s Opera at age 10. While her delivery is pretty unique, she sounds a bit like Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine.

Austra’s 1st cd was released in May, 2011 and is full of catchy tunes—from dark and quiet to bright(ish) and poppy. On all the tracks, Stelmanis’ voice is up front and center. The production reminds me a little of Bjork’s at times. And it’s all Austra-licious!