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Friday, January 21, 2011

DeVotchKa: Lush, Lyrical & Plaintive

In fact, for my money, lead singer Nick Urata has the most plaintive pipes this side of Gene Pitney. (Who? Ask your mother. Or Google.) For the most part, I think his soaring, semi-whiny vocals work very well with the band's material but you can be the judge of that your own self. In a minute.

DeVotchKa is a four-person band from Denver Colorado with a very European sound. In the 90s, many of their gigs were backing burlesque dancers, including Dita Von Teese. Their big break came in 2006 when asked to score the film Little Miss Sunshine, a wonderful, heartwarming movie - one of the best of the decade. The first video is from that movie and shows clips from the film interspersed with shots of the band.

While wandering the corridors of YouTube I came across the next video of theirs, the official version of How It Ends, a tune that contains the wonderful line, "forever's not too long." It's in this song that the Pitney comparison occurred to me. See if any of you other greybeards agree with me.

Last is the song many consider their masterpiece, a cover of Siouxsie and the Banshees' classic, The Last Beat Of My Heart. As with many of my favourite songs, I like it more with each listening. The percussion, particularly at the end, is mesmerizing.

Thanks to Devotchka and nelnel2709 for posting the videos.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Punched In The Heart By Tracy Chapman

When a person has a special voice, it's a gift from the gods and something worth celebrating. If that person can also play an instrument or two, I am agog at their talent. And if that person should happen to be gifted enough to write wonderful songs which they then sing and play wonderfully, well, I would just like to touch the hem of their garment.

Tracy Chapman is that kind of person. Some of you are nodding. Some of you await proof.

I'm going to feature three songs as evidence, all written by her. The first is the one that made me a fan, Baby Can I Hold You, a song about vulnerability, hope, delusion and, of course, love. Recorded live at Austin City Limits, it's one of two clips from that concert I'll be showing.

Also from that show, the new-to-me and highly enjoyable Another Sun.

The last tune I'm featuring is one of the most touching love songs ever written. I love the comment by one YouTube poster: "ouch this song seriously punched me in the heart." That's how I felt when I first heard it. And I think it has that effect on many. There's a so-so live version out there but I'm going with one of the very many vids put together by fans based on the recorded version. Here's Tracy Chapman's The Promise.

Thanks to Atanvarde and Azurelce5 for the videos.