Dedicated Ears

The Juliets: The Juliets

Led by Jeremy Freer who plays piano and guitar, The Juliets are a mix of chamber pop and brit pop with a good dose of soul. Their self titled debut features beautiful string work by Sarah Myers (violins) and Kaylan Mitchell (Cello). The combination of Jeremy's piano and vocals with the strings makes for a sweet pop music that will make you want to dance. The production is tight but there isn't a lot of noodling with the sound. You can hear the waver of the strings and the vocals are left pretty natural.� The Juliets call Ypsilanti MI. their home.

Singing In The Abbey: Winter Demos 2011

On their Facebook page, Chicago band Singing In The Abbey describe their sound as Thom Yorke meets Julie Andrews. I can see where they are coming from. On Winter Demos there is a dramatic theatrical flair that is balanced by the strings and indie pop structure. Annie Higgins plays piano and sings; she has put this band together centered around her piano and songs and is joined by Donna Milleron on cello and vocals, Katie Cooperon on violin and vocals and the lone guy, Jason Toth on percussion.

Clownage: Premiers Maux

Clownage is a four piece high energy indie rock band from Paris, France. Their sound touches on Muse's arena rock formula but creates it's own identity with their incorporation of the melody into every song. Lead singer/guitarist Jrme Litr-Froment has a strong voice that has a good amount of range and an impassioned delivery in both French and English lyrics. Guitarist Louis Teran, bassist Olivier Crescence, and drummer Jrme Ceva all make a concerted attempt to change up the sounds and timing that make for an album of memorable and hummable songs.

Cassis Orange – Cassis Orange EP

Cassis Orange is a one woman ectro-pop act by North Carolina native Autumn Ethinger. She lived in Japan for a while hence the name Cassies Orange which is an Japanese alcoholic drink. Cassis Orange EP is hook laden pop sung in a straight forward manner. She uses a plain synth and drum machine that may seem cheesy were it not for her strong vocals and songwriting. There's a certain charm to how it goes together. Casssis Orange is on North Carolina based label Grip Tapes that has quite a few acts worth checking out.

Mutts – The Tells Of Parallels

The Mutts play a unique version of the blues that centers around the bottom end of Bob Buckstaff on bass, Chris Faller on Drums and Mike Maimone on keys and rasping and roaring vocals. Tells Of Parallels is Mutts third EP and finds this very tight band stretching their brand of the blues to incorporate more experimental elements that takes them away from the blues and into their own musical territory. Mike's vocals are reminiscent of Tom Waits but louder and with a more aggressive delivery. This Chicago based trio deliver a unique EP.

Declan de Barra – Fragments, Footprints and the Forgotten

Have you ever wondered what you might get if you crossed Johnny Cash with Nick Cave? I bet the result would sound quite a bit like Declan de Barra. Not only does he tell his song narratives similar to Nick and Johnny, but he can sound similar to each one at different times on this brooding album that goes by the name Fragments, Footprint, and the Forgotten. Born and raised in Ireland, Declan has recently moved to Los Angeles. He record his first three albums in Ireland and it will be interesting to see how his move here affects his music.

Manipulator Alligator – We Raised Them

The straight forward way that Matthew Hoppock (Manipulator Alligator) tells his folk stories are unflinching, funny and very poignant. He makes lo-fi music with his guitar and keyboard, and has an ear for infectious hooks. We Raised Them is his first full length and has the tightest production of any of his releases. His whole goal with these songs is to show us these vignettes from various times in his life. These off kilter folk songs make you tap your feet and smile at the same time. There is an energy to them because you can tell that Matthew believes what he is saying. That these aren't just words to him.

Suns: The Howl and The Many

The most distinguishable thing about listening to The Howl and The Many is the thunderous rumble when the toms are played. It's actually two drummers, Clinton Weber and Chris Pagnani who use mallets through a good chunk of the songs. Mikey Russell sings lead vocals as a sing along at times. Nick Enderle's guitar is sometimes sparse and sometimes deafening. Matt Lemke is a jack of all trades playing rhodes, magnus, harmonium, synth, guitar. Kody Nixon plays bass and banjo. There is also mandolin, a violin bow on a guitar and clarinet to round out Suns orchestra.