Posts Tagged ‘recording artists’

I have to admit, I love a good duet.  True, they are generally sweeter than a nanaimo bar a la mode and do tend to walk a fine line between being sentimental and trite.  But I can’t help it.  I’m a sucker when it comes to a romantic collaboration between a male and female singer.  I believe it dates back to the 70’s, watching Sonny and Cher close their show each week with I Got You Babe.

Over the years, there have been many classic duets which were big hit songs; some are powerful and moving like Crying by Roy Orbison and kd lang, some are corny and fun like Don’t Go Breaking My Heart by Elton John and Kiki Dee and some are cool and uninhibited like Jackson by Johnny Cash and June Carter.

In the last 20 years or so, other than R&B and Hip-Hop (which has it’s own form of duet between rapper and singer), movie soundtrack duets and Disney songs, and duet albums of standards by ex-rockers, there really hasn’t been many notable duet songs in the traditional sense – man and woman singing to each other, face to face.  Good duets are still being made, but few and far between and often difficult to find for the singles downloading public.  Here are a few of my favourites:

Move Me To Tears category: Don’t Give Up by Willie Nelson & Sinead O’Connor (original by P. Gabriel and K. Bush)

Caramel Corn category: Modern Nature by Sondre Lerche & Sylvie Lewis

Lustful Cool category: I Dig You by Jon Spencer & Cristina Martinez (aka Boss Hog)

I now have a new favourite which, like an old favourite Fairytale Of New York by The Pogues & Kirsty McColl, can be categorized as all of the above.  The duet in question is Home by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros and it’s from their 2009 debut CD Up From Below.

…by Sandy Gritt



In 1999 after leaving behind a career in construction,  David Francey embarked on his new vocation as a singer songwriter, releasing his debut album Torn Screen Door.  His many travels across Canada along with his Scottish heritage have helped shape his music into something genuine, profound and enormously entertaining.  His straightforward songwriting style is filled with stories of real people and real places.  His voice is both warm and trustworthy like a favourite teacher from childhood reciting lessons in song.  His simple and clean folk arrangements are thorough and captivating.

David has released 9 albums to date.  His latest release, 2011’s Late Edition has the ability to hold you close and keep you safe and warm as well as the power to make you stamp your feet hard enough to kick the dirt up from beneath the floorboards.  A true Canadian troubadour.  I am sincerely blown away by this man’s songwriting talent.  I urge you to check him out

…by Sandy Gritt

By now you may have heard a couple of verses of the beautiful song Snow Day while happy folks fly paper snowflakes from kite strings in a famous Seattle company’s latest TV commercial.  It’s actually quite a good commercial as far as commercials go and the song sets the mood perfectly.  The song is by Matt Pond PA from their 2005 EP Winter Songs.  There’s a cetain comfort I get every time I hear the the song and that can be said about the entire Winter Songs EP.  Snow Day and two instrumentals are the only original songs on the EP but the covers have been given the same Matt Pond PA treatment which makes them so endearing (the cover of Lindsey Buckingham’s Holiday Road from the Vacation movies is pure magic).

Thoughtful and warm with a touch of melancholy are adjectives that can be used to describe the entire Matt Pond PA catalogue.  Consistent is another.  With nine LPs and eight EPs to their credit and Matt Pond remaining the only original member, there is no doubt as to who runs the show.  Their latest EP Spring Fools is no exception.  Pick up or download any one of their releases and you will find intelligent song writing with the power to warm the cockles of your heart…aaah.

…by Sandy Gritt

Not an official video but a pretty special home video by SizzleCickFlicks:

I can remember back in the day when “Cat” was a bit of a trend in band names.  Then, for a brief period the favoured pet band names seemed to contain “Dog”, then of course there were the “Jesus” names but more recently I am noticing “Whale” as the latest flavour.  And why not?  Whales are big and important and breathe air just like we do.  One of such bands is New York’s Freelance Whales.  Their debut album, Weathervanes,  from 2009 is a dreamy collection of lush chamber pop complete with organic details which include banjo, mandolin, harmonium and of course a healthy dose of glockenspiel. With five members who are all instrument collectors and all sing, Freelance Whales offer a live sound that is layered with many colours without ever getting muddy and their song writing is full of emotion and playfulness without ever getting mushy.

…by Sandy Gritt

Even though I bought Tom Wait’s latest offering (the deluxe addition at that) the day of it’s release, it has taken me a while to write this review.  I figure if you’re a Waits fan then you already have it and know how masterful it is.  Plus I admit to being a little bias.  So this is directed at the non-Tom Waits fans.

Tom Waits has been writing great songs and producing innovative albums for decades.  He’s one of the best live performers I have ever seen. His creativity knows no boundaries and he’s one of very few recording artists, now in his sixties, who is actually improving with age.  He’s the kind of artist who has no polish in his tool box but has a bigger hammer than you, grittier sandpaper and touch of glitter amongst the dust and bone.  With most songs on Bad As Me clocking in at under four minutes, this collection is a concise display of Waits’ strengths of past recordings with timeless appeal constructed by the adventurous soul of a man who doesn’t use a safety net.

…by Sandy Gritt


Back in early October a good friend of mine took me to the Biltmore in Vancouver to see a band from California called Girls.  I didn’t know anything about them but he assured me that this was a must see show.  I checked out their music and videos online and got a good taste of what they were about and looked forward to the show.  I wasn’t at all disappointed with the show but it wasn’t the headliner, Girls, that impressed me.  The band that left me wanting more was San Francisco’s Sonny and The Sunsets.  The very next day I looked them up online and was happy to find their recordings, especially their latest album Hit After Hit, as fun and infectious as their live show.  Frontman Sonny Smith has a laid back vocal approach and chunky rhythm guitar style which is endearing in it’s combination of basement bravado and tongue in cheek humour.  With a solid rhythm section, sweet vocal harmonies and a prominent retro-surf sound this quartet retains a certain innocence that transports the listener back to a musical time of rolled up jeans and suitcase record players.

…by Sandy Gritt

Dojo Workhorse is a side project of Danny Vacon of Calgary’s the Dudes. While the Dudes get their point across with frat boy aggression, precision distortion and catchy indie melodies, Vacon is willing to turn himself inside out and show us a softer more delicate side with Dojo Workhorse. Dojo Workhorse’s 2009 release “Weapons Grade Romantic” has captured an easy feeling organic soul sound that introduces a few more layers to Vacon’s song writing. With elements of chamber rock, pop harmonies and a cast of alternating members, Dojo Workhorse allows Danny Vacon to shine as a frontman and show off that soulful voice of his. The path Vacon is taking with this so-called side project will definitely have much wider lanes and a lot more turns than his main gig as one third of the Dudes. Well worth checking out.

…by Sandy Gritt