Quarters for the Jukebox


Album—Learning to Bend by Ben Sollee

Learning to Bend
Ben Sollee‘s string driven debut is an inventive, refreshingly unique introduction, and one of the stronger entries of 2008. With Tobey Maguire looks and cello in hand, Sollee makes a playground of folk, soul, indie pop and bluegrass. Married within his plucked sounds, Sollee’s voice is a soulful rasp emoting tenderness just as easily as it does weariness. The rare gift in this voice is that the believability it conveys, is easily digested by the ear as a pleasant sound. World weary singers aren’t always listened to for their ability to carry a tune, but Sollee pulls it off, and this will only help with his appeal to a wider audience. This sound is integral to the album, as it revolves around the theme of human perseverance — “learning to bend” in the stiffest of winds. Sollee simultaneously acknowledges life’s hardships while empowering you with hope.

The album houses one of the most interesting interpretations of “A Change is Gonna Come” you’ve ever heard; “Panning for Gold” is genuinely moving; “How to See the Sun Rise” is a playful porch-step game … the album is a wonderful achievement. You can hear several of his songs on his Web site—check for yourself.

Quarters for the songs: A Change is Gonna Come; A Few Honest Words; It’s Not Impossible; Panning for Gold; How to See the Sun Rise.

Worth listening, if you like: Andrew Bird; Elvis Perkins; Ed Jurdi; Amos Lee; Ben Harper; Damien Rice; Sufjan Stevens; early, early Tom Waits; Ray LaMontagne.

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In the Jukebox — June 3

In the jukebox for this week (what’s new: alphabetically listed by artist):

  • Aimee Mann —@#%&*! Smilers: Melodic wordplay rock: classic Mann.
  • Ashanti — The Declaration: Ashanti is back, bronzed and Beyonce-er than ever (at least on the album cover).
  • be your own PET — Get Damaged: The deleted tracks from this Nashville punk rock foursome’s “Get Awkward” album are released as an EP. It’s brash and fun all at once. The track “Becky” is a delightfully violent take on breaking up with a friend.
  • Brendan James — The Day is Brave: American indie poetic-piano-pop, with a Damien Rice-esque voice … too bad the songs don’t match the Rice comparisons.
  • Gavin Rossdale — Wanderlust: Former Bush front man and current Gwen Stefani main man releases his debut solo effort, and it’s much softer than you might expect.
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Album — Count to Ten by Tina Dico

Tina Dico

Tina Dico is a Danish indie pop singer, and Count to Ten is her second international album (which has been nominated for “Best Album” by the 2008 Danish Music Awards). Her voice is a clear alto, but the focus is more on the songwriting, opposed to her voice (though it shines in “Cruel to the Sensitive Kind”). The songs are low on hooks, but if you like somewhat-somber, introspective female singer-songwriters with meaningful lyrics, you should find something to like. Check for yourself.

Quarters for the songs: Night Cab; Count to Ten; You Know Better; Craftsmanship; My Business; Cruel to the Sensitive Kind; Magic (a bit Damien Rice-esque); Sacre Coeur.

Worth listening, if you like: Brandi Carlile; Neko Case; Beth Orton; Feist; Imogen Heap; Jewel; Missy Higgins; Tori Amos; Kathleen Edwards.