by Jennifer Retter
What We Saw From the Cheap Seats
Chirpy songbird Regina Spektor returns for her sixth album CD, What We Saw From the Cheap Seats, this summer. The 14-track deluxe version jumps from upbeat to relaxing, tiptoeing around tough topics and touching on Spektor’s background.
Doll-like with her bursting blue eyes and dark hair, Spektor is like the offbeat Snow White of this generation. She has always been known for her bubblegum sweet voice and jawbreaker hard lyrics, and she stuns with her vocal chord range yet again on What We Saw From the Cheap Seats. Spektor hits the highest of the high notes in a sweet, not shrill, tone.
Russian-born Spektor moved to the United States at age 9, immersing herself in American culture in the Bronx. Despite her primarily stateside upbringing, Spektor keeps her heritage intact with two cover songs in Russian on her newest CD. If you know enough Russian to understand, more power to you.
Plus, on her first single of the CD, Don’t Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas), Spektor sings the chorus in French. The poppy, upbeat, marching-band like Don’t Leave Me sounds surprisingly cheery for Spektor, but it’s a nice twist. Preorder the CD and Don’t Leave Me downloads immediately.
The raven-haired sensation reverts back to dark and eerie with All the Rowboats, a sad yet artsy hit about the beautiful rowboats in famous oil paintings, stuck forever suffocating beneath the glass.
Visit Spektor’s Web site (reginaspektor.com) to see her All the Rowboats music video and for more information about the songstress and her new album.
Born and Raised
John Mayer goes country? Say it isn’t so.
Mayer, known for playing around with different musical styles, finally pulled a Lady Gaga and took on cowboy country. Admittedly, he looks a bit odd in a cowboy hat on his website, but the crooning superstar can pull off just about any style of music, so we put his country tunes to the test.
The 13-track CD showcases Mayer’s range of vocal talent. Something Like Olivia sounds more like typical John Mayer track, catchy and soft. On the other hand, Queen of California comes across as a cowboy classic. If you didn’t know Mayer sang it, you might not be able to guess it’s him.
The CD’s namesake, Born and Raised, accompanied with a reprise track, too, includes a campfire harmonica. Ironically, Mayer was born and raised in Connecticut, which one wouldn’t normally associate with country western music. Then there’s Love is a Verb, a twangy twist on a prom-like slow dance.
Unfortunately, due to the granuloma on Mayer’s vocal chords, live performances are out for the time being. If you absolutely love Mayer’s new Western side, you’ll have to wait until he heals to finally see him perform his newest album.
However, in his downtime, Mayer plans to get a head start on his next album. Let’s hope he can imagine the sound of his voice singing new lyrics so he doesn’t delay his healing any longer.
So, the final verdict: John Mayer and country, not a bad combination. Let’s start petitioning for him to play at Billy Bob’s. Stat.
Green River Ordinance
North Texas raised five budding musicians, cultivated their talent and set them free from the nest.
Jamey Ice (guitar), Joshua Wilkerson (guitar), Geoff Ice (bass), Denton Hunker (drums) and Josh Jenkins (lead vocals) comprise Green River Ordinance, the soft alternative rock band on a mission to gain nationwide approval. The five released Under Fire at the end of February and have been touring the nation, gaining fans and prominence ever since.
Jamey Ice told us this release has a distinct feel.
“With our old work, we really wanted to make an album that sounded like our heroes,” Ice said. “With this album, our whole goal was we don’t want to sound like anybody else; we want to sound like Green River Ordinance.”
If you hadn’t heard of the local band with their first national release, Out of My Hands, you’re a little behind the times. Grassroots marketing, like getting fans to switch their Facebook profile pictures to promotional material, helped propel the band to recognizable status, spreading the word from friend to friend.
The 15-track album sounds like a combination of Fun (of We are Young fame) and O.A.R. Green River Ordinance will push the first single from the album, Heart of Me, to radio stations. Heart of Me sticks in your head with a pop/rock melody and simple chorus.
Green River Ordinance members took their time writing new songs and recording in studios in both Texas and Oklahoma before releasing an album up to their standards. After wrapping up an extensive Under Fire tour, you can expect to find band members hard at work on a new album yet again.