Laura Aidanblaise, Get Thee To The World
From Toronto comes a new singer-songwriter with an intensity of delivery rivalling that of PJ Harvey. There's so much emotion in Laura Aidanblaise's voice you worry she's about to implode. The insistent intensity and melodic repetition may put off some listeners, but I find it haunting and vivid. Her seven-song disc is just about as sparely recorded as can be - just her voice and guitar on most songs - and it works fine; there's isn't much that swelling synths or dramatic drum fills could do to elevate or further focus the music. The last two songs do feature more instruments, but they're used efficiently and tastefully.
"Boredom is the enemy and all that it attracts..." The words and melodies call to mind the skewed lyricism of Tori Amos's early work, and the lyrical power suggests Ani DiFranco without the guitar pyrotechnics. There's also a theatrical quality to the tunes that brings to mind certain Broadway music, like Sondheim. But the main point is that Laura Aidanblaise is an original new voice - probably not for everybody, but with a lot to say. Draw the curtains, brew some strong tea, and check her out.
Tommy Strazza, Welcome To The Rest Of Your Life
When you've had enough quiet intensity and you're ready to rock, try Tommy Strazza; he writes hooky power-pop songs and puts them across with a voice and a classic, old-fashioned rock style that calls to mind Perry Farrell or Mott the Hoople - hoarse, passionate, triumphant. He's not just a screamer, though. "Don't mind walkin' with some holes in my socks / If I can do my own thing hangin' outside the box," he liltingly sings in the folky "Goin' Solo," and his love song "My Love" is spacey and gentle. Still, his abilities shine brightest in his uptempo rockers like "Detour," "Liberated," and "Good To See You," and the power ballad "Love, Don't Bring Me Down." Listen to some tracks at his Myspace page.