As a jazz quintet, Talking Ear blends original compositions with improvisation to musically converse with a growing Midwestern audience.
Their progressive jazz speaks volumes through the band’s live performances and their self-titled debut album, which features eight beautiful tracks draped in smooth vocals, soft pianos, crashing cymbals, rhythmic basslines and breakout guitar solos.
“Talking Ear was formed as a way to push each other because we all felt that connection of wanting to become better musicians and break through personal barriers together,” said vocalist Estar Cohen. “I think the way we carry along some of the jazz tradition is by continuously trying to be creative and finding our own voices.”
Along with Cohen, the band’s other four members, Travis Aukerman (drums), Dan Palmer (guitar), Ben Maloney (piano) and Ben Rolston (bass), have found their own musical voices through years of academic study, professional training, composing and performance.
As accomplished jazz musicians, they communicate mainly through improvisation. Collectively, they’ve taken a “Talking Ear” approach to their music – listening is how they ultimately share ideas and respond to one another.
“This is the crème de la crème of our student body who are in a position to write and record at the time or who may have songs even if they’re in the simplest form,” said Sabrina Underwood, label manager for Original 1265 Recordings at DIME. “This is their opportunity to know what it feels like to have a record released internationally on a major label. They can use this as a calling card to open up other doors.”
DIME released its third annual album Aug. 25 on Original 1265 Recordings, which is an independent label owned by CND America, DIME’s parent company, and distributed by Caroline Distribution.
Kesha’s latest album cover for “Rainbow” is reminiscent of ‘70s prog rock artwork.
The bejeweled flying saucers, pink-tinged planets and Kesha’s naked backside are quintessential images for a modern-day interpretation of a prog rock-inspired album cover for a pop singer-songwriter.
That’s what I love about Kesha. She takes a cool album art concept from the past and reimagines it for the present. It’s her vision for what truly lies on the other side of the rainbow.
Her colorful album cover nicely houses 14 raw, transformational songs that fall inside and out of the typical pop spectrum with rock and country influences.
Kesha performed 10 of her album gems – including “Learn to Let Go,” “Hymn,” “Godzilla,” “Bastards” (my favorite) and others – from “Rainbow” during a sold-out show at The Fillmore Detroit on Sunday.
Tons of fans (both male and female) dressed in colorful tops, dresses, leggings and tutus and drenched in glitter lined up in downtown Detroit to see their “Rainbow” hero. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much glitter in one place.
The first time I saw Phoenix live was during a snowstorm in December 2009 at the now defunct Clutch Cargo’s club in Pontiac, Mich.
Thomas Mars and his three bandmates – Deck d’Arcy, Laurent Brancowitz and Christian Mazzalai – captivated the sold-out crowd with songs from their 2009 smash, “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix,” and officially established their reputation as a must-see live act.
They also reigned supreme as a coveted festival act with memorable appearances at Bonnaroo, Coachella and Lollapalooza in 2009 and 2010.
By 2013, they had played the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center for their “Bankrupt!” tour, which didn’t feel like the right venue for the French indie pop band. Their sound and stage presence is much better suited for mid-size theater (2,000 or less) rather than a mini arena (9,500).
Last week, Phoenix recaptured the same magic of the “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” tour at The Fillmore in Detroit on Oct. 11 while promoting their latest album, “Ti Amo.”
I have to admit Phoenix’s performance was by far one of their best I’ve seen in years. Here are the five best parts I took away from last week’s show:
Fangs and Twang know how to sink their musical teeth into monster folklore.
The Ypsilanti, Mich.-based roots rock and bluegrass trio sing about Frankenstein, the Loch Ness Monster, and other notorious creatures on their new album, “High Fives All Around,” which comes out today.
Bassist Joe Bertoletti and his bandmates, Andy Benes (guitar, vocals) and Billy LaLonde (drums, vocals), seek inspiration for their second album’s eight monster-themed tracks from books, movies, comics and regional urban legends. It nicely follows in the footsteps of their self-titled 2015 debut.
One of the band’s favorite tracks, “Loveland Frogman,” is based on a Loveland, Ohio urban legend dating back to 1972 about two local sightings of a creature that resembled a humanoid frog.
“It’s loosely based on the story of a trooper coming across the Frogman,” Bertoletti said. “In our part of the story, they decide to go party down at the creek.”
Chris DuPont believes the right live album includes an eclectic mix of original and cover songs recorded in a venue and a studio.
The Ypsilanti, Mich. folk singer-songwriter melded these two sounds together for his new live album, “Live in A2,” which dropped May 19.
The 12-track live album features six songs recorded during a June 4, 2016 show at The Ark and another six recorded during a studio session at Solid Sound in Ann Arbor, Mich. Each side of the LP represents a different live feel for listeners.
Side A incorporates the intimacy and energy associated with hearing DuPont perform his classic tunes – “Evergreen Waltz,” “Winterfox” and four others – in the 400-seat acoustic and folk music venue known as The Ark.
“I hope it’s a fun listen,” said DuPont while traveling back from a May 12 show in Denver. “I hope that it gives people the type of energy and affirmation that they might get at a live show because for better or worse I really strive for polish.”
This stunning seven-track album from the self-proclaimed “prog-bluegrass locomotive” fueled by Billy Kirst (vocals and guitar), Kyle Rhodes (vocals and mandolin), Jordan Adema (violin) and Ryan Shea (bass and vocals) pulls listeners along a personal journey while they ride in “psych-folk” boxcars filled with frustration, nostalgia, love and self-discovery.
The journey begins with the energetic title track and captures the frustration of living in an era when “…instead of seeing everyone as sisters and brothers/They started pointing fingers at one another.”
While the lyrics brilliantly capture anger and blame, the band’s acoustic guitar, violin, mandolin and bass harmoniously meld together and instrumentally portray a sense of hope for the future.
That hope is carried through to “Madison,” which features Kirst’s and Rhodes’ lush harmonies coupled with nostalgic lyrics and the fast-paced sonic partnership of Adema’s violin and Rhodes’ mandolin.