singer-songwriter posts

April Smith and the Great Picture Show

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010 by Michelle

cabaret // folk pop // singer-songwriter

If you think that April Smith and the Great Picture Show sounds like the name of some 1930s vaudeville act — well, you wouldn’t be so far off. The upbeat and retro stylings of April Smith and her band bring to mind cabaret acts, jazz, and swing with an indie twist. As we saw at SXSW, there’s a swagger to her live set as well as the band’s recordings. April’s brassy vocals are well matched by the myriad of instruments backing her, including piano, upright bass, horns, accordion, drums, guitar and even a ukulele. Her album, Songs For A Sinking Ship, was a true-blue grassroots effort, financed by her fans on and the result is stunning, quirky and lively. This is burlesque with a swagger… and a heart. Take a listen to “Colors” and “Movie Loves A Screen” below and just try to refrain from clapping along.

Boisterous indie pop meets swingin’ cabaret.
April Smith and the Great Picture Show – Colors
April Smith and the Great Picture Show – Movie Loves A Screen
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Monday, May 3rd, 2010 by Julija

brazilian fusion // urban // bossa

At Aurgasm we love warm Brazilian saudade quality in our music (and our drink). Seeing Brazilian CéU live in Seattle a couple of weeks ago only came as reaffirmation. CéU, along Bossa princess Bebel Gilberto and the funkier Cibelle, is a fine contemporary Brazilian artist. We featured CéU back in 2007 with her stunning take on Fela Kuti — Africa meets South America. Since then, the Brazilian songstress released a few EP’s, was featured in Starbucks’ Hear Music Debut series and was nominated to both Grammy and Latin Grammy awards. Her 2009 album Vagarosa is a beauty fusing everything from funky, cool rhythms to the slow and easy-going percussive grooves. So felt we need to tell you again about her, in case you missed last time.

Breezy vocals, soulful summery rhythms.
CéU – Bubuia
CéU – Cangote (Live Session iTunes Exclusive EP)
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Laura Jansen

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 by Michelle

indie pop // singer-songwriter

Singer-songwriter Laura Jansen has popped up a few times on Aurgasm before: once last year on the Jason Kanakis track “Anything,” and most recently when we covered her set at SXSW last month. It’s about time for a proper introduction. Laura’s unique indie piano-pop is exceptionally lovely, and manages to showcase her incredible songwriting and ethereal vocals at the same time. She skillfully combines rich instrumentation and sweet melody, with gorgeous results. The songs on her latest EP, Single Girls, run the gamut from playful to reflective and wistful, but they all manage an expressive eloquence that is mesmerizing. Take a listen to “The End” and “Single Girls” from Single Girls and see for yourself.

Eloquent and sweet piano-driven indie pop.
Laura Jansen – The End
Laura Jansen – Single Girls
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The Living Sisters

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010 by Michelle

vocal harmony // close harmony // country-folk

The Living Sisters might be releasing their debut album Love To Live, next month, but they certainly aren’t new to the scene. LA-based singer-songwriters Inara George (The Bird And The Bee), Becky Stark (Lavender Diamond) and Eleni Mandell have been performing for years with their own respective projects. Mandell first proposed the idea of a harmony group to Stark in 2005, and George jumped on board the following year. Since then, the trio has been working on The Living Sisters in rare stolen moments when all three were available, and the result is well worth the wait. Love To Live is a gorgeous collection of songs with nods to classic country harmony groups and a healthy splash of gospel, soul and folk for good measure. Throughout the album their crystalline voices take the spotlight; the trio’s heartfelt and pure harmonies give an intimacy to each song, and the end result is lovely and effortless. Take a listen to “Double Knots,” a sweet doo wop-inspired track, to tide yourself over until Love To Live becomes available in March.

Pure, unfiltered loveliness.
The Living Sisters – Double Knots
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Sydney Wayser

Saturday, January 30th, 2010 by Michelle

singer-songwriter // folk pop

Sydney Wayser possesses an ear for melody and talent for songwriting that results in a collection of intimate and playful tunes. The half-French, half-American songwriter grew up in Los Angeles with frequent trips to Paris (and is now based in New York). This worldly charm is heard throughout her music, whether it’s the Southern-inspired “Banjo Bayou” or the dreamy allure of “Bells”. Though the majority of her sophomore album, The Colorful, was recorded on children’s toys and piano, there is nothing childish about it. Wayser’s alluring vocals and her unique instrumentals combine to rapturous effect. The Colorful wanders between light-hearted fun and poignant melody with ease.

Charming instrumentals and smoky vocals.
Sydney Wayser – Bells
Sydney Wayser – Banjo Bayou
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Meaghan Smith

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009 by Michelle

singer-songwriter // indie folk // holiday

After hearing Canadian songwriter Meaghan Smith’s sweet and carefree songs it shouldn’t come as a surprise that she grew up in a house of music, with her piano-teacher mother, bassist father and three talented sisters. Her affinity for the sounds of the “˜20s, “˜30s and “˜40s features heavily in her music as well. While the jazz-influenced indie folk of Meaghan Smith embraces instrumentation from older eras, the Canadian songwriter gives it her own contemporary twist (Meaghan herself dubs it “modern vintage”). Regardless of what you’d like to call it, her unique take on the holiday classic, “Silver Bells” and her original winter song, “It Snowed” is just what you need to get you in the holiday mood!

Traditional holiday songs go “modern vintage”.
Meaghan Smith – It Snowed
Meaghan Smith – Silver Bells
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Jason Kanakis and his Coalition of the Unwilling

Friday, July 3rd, 2009 by Michelle

indie folk // singer-songwriter

A talented multi-instrumentalist, Jason Kanakis has been making a name for himself as a sideman for Aurgasm alum Cary Brothers, as well as Joshua Radin, Sara Bareilles, Rachael Yamagata and many others. While he has always been a writer and singer, Jason’s upcoming release is the first that is uniquely his own. “Anything,” which was written by Kanakis and Priscilla Ahn (another Aurgasm favorite), is a stunning preview from his new project, Jason Kanakis and his Coalition of the Unwilling. The track, which features Laura Jansen, is haunting and ethereal, and Laura’s delicate vocals are perfectly paired with Jason’s elegant instrumentals. “Anything” is a delightful showcase of Kanakis’ talents both in front of and behind the boards. Take a deep breath. Exhale. Let it wash over you.

Winsome vocals coupled with polished production.
Jason Kanakis and his Coalition of the Unwilling – Anything (feat. Laura Jansen)
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Allie Moss

Sunday, June 14th, 2009 by Julija

folk // singer-songwriter

Some of you might have seen Allie Moss performing with the lovely Ingrid Michaelson. Her debut EP Passerby (2009) reveals Allie to be a strong and promising singer-songwriter on her own. The extremely captivating “Corner” displays Allie’s songwriting skills as well as her sweet vocals and clever phrasing, setting the tone for the rest of her EP. From bittersweet to soft and melancholic, Passerby is a solid and well-crafted collection of folk-pop songs.

Gorgeous melody carried by pitter-patter production.
Allie Moss – Corner
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Audie Darling

Friday, May 8th, 2009 by Kyle

country-folk // singer-songwriter

Venturing from home in Nashville, Audie‘s sound grew dear as she followed charms winding their way through mountain trails and Parisian boulevards before encountering musical kin in Portland. With helpful newfound friends, a tickle of entrancing hymnals was then culled from her memory; forming a delicate, haunting echo in your heart that asks where you’ve been. Were you calling out quietly in the night for a friend? Or swinging in tire swings on dwindling summer days… an occasional ring to your ear of someone you knew and should maybe say hello to. Do clairvoyant clarinets introduce another scene? Stringing you along as hammers unlock dissonance and banjitars herald kind nudges anent upright bass. Jeering ghosts fleshed out with hindsight; twilight’s mist dispersed upon reason; her songs usher in an elusive, captivating treasure to collect and hold tender forever.

An audio darling.
Audie Darling – Warn Out Shoe
Audie Darling – Little Bird
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Kate Schutt

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 by Julija

jazz // singer-songwriter

Kate Schutt’s debut studio album No Love Lost (2007) stretches from Jazz standards to American singer-songwriter tradition. A guitarist, producer and songwriter, Kate shifts throughout her album from slow-paced and melancholic ballads to slightly more up-tempo moments, often accompanied by her 8-string guitar. “Wrecking Ball” is a sweet display of pre-World-War II continental jazz influences such as tender gypsy-like arrangements and melodic trumpet hooks alongside southern-style harmonica riffs and heartfelt vocals.

Clear vocals, old-fashioned jazz instrumentation.
Kate Schutt – Wrecking Ball
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