Album of the Month: Jessica Lea Mayfield – Tell Me

Jessica Lea Mayfield: Tell Me (Nonesuch, 2011)

The first 2011 album that I’ve completely fallen in love with. Jessica Lea Mayfield’s previous album With Blasphemy So Heartfelt was already a rather convincing effort and made it on my end of the year list back in 2008. The album showcased a huge amount of talent and now this 21-year-old songwriter from Kent, Ohio is totally ready to enter into the major league.

Jessica Lea Mayfield might not be the most technically gifted vocalist and she might not have the highest range of voice, but I find her calm and mellow voice totally irresistible and captivating. That voice never fails to carry her dark-flavoured and emotion-filled words into my veins. She is a fabulous songwriter and have been able to create a magical album. I pretty much love every song on the album. Tell Me certainly has a moody and sad tone, but I don’t find it depressive or miserable at all. Her declarative brokenhearted confessions are haunting and able to cause a serene havoc inside me, but they also inject a giant dose of pure, honest and intimate human feelings into the core of my heart and suddenly the warmness surrounds and I can see the sunshine again.

Dan Auerbach
has done an excellent job with the production,  have kept things relatively down-to-earth and have just added some colour and vision. One could so easily destroy such a beautiful album with overproducing, but Dan has done the  right thing and lets Jessica Lea Mayfield’s charm and presence carry the album. I’m kind of surprised that the drum loops didn’t scare me off at all. Usually that’s the kind of stuff that annoys me and I start to search live acoustic versions of the same songs from youtube. There’s one thing that annoys me though and I would really like to say a couple of rude words to the person responsible for adding those uhh & ahh noises to the background of the title track Tell Me. I really hate that. It almost spoils otherwise great song and almost took away the otherwise truly deserved five hearts grade.

I find it hard to categorize her (and why should I categorize her?). There’s certainly a lot of folk and americana in her songs, but that’s only a part of her beautifully crafted soundscape. Maybe one part of folk music and one part of dreamy & moody indie rock like Josh Haden’s Spain might get you at least around the same neighborhood.  I don’t really know, but thankfully the only things I need to know are that a) I love her b) she has created a wonderful album.

Jessica Lea Mayfield “Run Myself Into The Ground” from American Songwriter on Vimeo.

Jessica Lea Mayfield Website

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Reviewshine part #2: John Statz, The Famous, Another Hundred Miles

Continuing to go through some of the good records, I’ve gotten through reviewshine.

John Statz: Ghost Towns

John Statz is a folk rocker and singer-songwriter from Madison, Wisconsin and Ghost Towns is his fourth album. I’ve been really enjoying this one. I think it’s a very fine album from the first note to the last word. Only thing that is lacking is that one killer song that would lift him up to the next league. Jackson Hole is already close. Certainly a name to keep an eye on, if you are into folk troubadours.

Listen to Jackson Hole:

John Statz Website

The Famous: Come Home To Me

The Famous from San Francisco are exploring the darker side of the country field, even though the album doesn’t often enter into such deep & dark waters as the video single Come Home To Me below. There’s actually a lot of versatility in here. There’s beautiful country songs, raw rock’n’roll entertainment and some brutal bluesy americana. I have rather mixed feelings about this one. I’m really into some of the songs like Without You or Moving On, but there’s also stuff I don’t like that much.

The Famous Website

Another Hundred Miles: Move The Fader

Another Hundred Miles is Douglas Holmes and Daniel Maynard from New Hampshire and Move The Fader is their debut album. Their folk rock has also a lot of pop sensitivity and lovely melodies, which I find thrilling. There’s plenty of really good songs, but unfortunately also several “just nice” tunes. The best stuff could have formed a really good EP, but as an album it’s a bit too uneven. But hey, it’s a debut and a really promising one.

Listen to Go On and Wake Up

Another Hundred Miles Website

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Review: Greg Pope – Blue Ocean Sky

Greg Pope: Blue Ocean Sky (Octoberville Records, 2010)

Greg Pope is a highly respected tunesmith in the power pop community and all of his past releases have gotten great reviews in several pop-orientated websites and blogs. I had managed to miss his records until he made his new album Blue Ocean Sky available for free download for a short period of time. Now I’m thinking of buying his earlier material and can only feel ashamed that it took so long for me to give him a chance to win my heart over, because it proved to be a rather easy task for Greg Pope.

Blue Ocean Sky contains high quality pop music. A dose of 70’s rockin’ power pop (Badfinger!), a hint of 80s jangly pop music and a whole lot of almost radio-friendly modern power pop. Greg has the ability to write gentle killer melodies and the whole thing sounds warm and wonderful. There’s at least 5-6 really fantastic pop songs like You Don’t Really Mean A Word, I Tried To Like You and I Don’t Want The Same Things on the album and the rest of it is also thoroughly enjoyable.

Listen to I Tried To Like You:

Greg Pope Website

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Review: Agony Aunts – Greater Miranda

Agony Aunts: Greater Miranda (Mystery Lawn, 2010)

I found Agony Aunts from David Bash’s gigantic end of the year list and it was certainly a mighty good find. Agony Aunts is a new pop group from Bay Area, but this isn’t the first time these people are making awesome pop music. Members of the band have previously played in such fine pop outfits as The Corner Laughers, Preoccupied Pipers, The Orange Peels etc.

Agony Aunts debut Greater Miranda is a delightful pop album. Psych pop meets California pop in perfect manner. Beautifully arranged, 60’s influenced pop songs and a whole lot of great singing. I totally adore the male-female harmonies. I just love that male voice. KC Bowman sure can sing, but I suppose it’s easy if you have a voice that is lovelier than the baby panda sneezes video on youtube. I bet lines like “We’re shaken and shocked / Finding your broken and bleeding and bloated remains / I’m waiting to talk, waiting for Amity Police to be cordoning the scene” have never sounded more beautiful. Night Circling Sharks, Reap The Plains Down and Linus’s Fist Of Death is a perfect song trio in the middle of the album. The Linus in the song title probably doesn’t have anything to do with Linus Of Hollywood, but this album actually reminds me of those early Linus Of Hollywood albums here and there. The same California pop influences I suppose. Greater Miranda is a great pop album.

Listen to Night Circling Sharks

Greater Miranda at Bandcamp
Agony Aunts at Facebook

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Reviewshine part #1: Truckstop Darlin’, Greater Pacific, White Pines

I’ve gotten a bunch of greats album through, but the problem is that I will never have enough time to properly review all of them. Therefore I thought that instead of completely ignoring them here at, it’s better that I at least say a few words about the ones that I really enjoyed.

Truckstop Darlin’: Truckstop Darlin’ (2010)

Truckstop Darlin’ comes from Portland, Oregon and their self-titled debut album is full of great countrified rock’n’roll. If you are into groups such as Drive-By Truckers, Lucero and Glossary, I’m pretty sure you are going to love this. The whole record is thoroughly enjoyable and then there’s a couple of really stunning songs like Bluegrass State and Broken Valentine. Oh and the drummer’s name is Eric Kotila, so it feels like they are part Finnish.

listen to Bluegrass State:

Truckstop Darlin’ Website

Greater Pacific: Rainfall EP (Yer Bird, 2010)

And then something little or whole lot different, but equally brilliant. This is the comfort deluxe. This is atmospheric and captivating americana from southern California. Greater Pacific makes music that will take care of you and bring you home safely, if stress & anxiety are lurking behind the street corner. What a lovely EP. These guys also have a great folk rock / country band Travel By Sea. I’ve been listening to their latest album Two States and the Blindness that Follows on Spotify and it’s also pretty fabulous (I really should buy it asap).

Greater Pacific, Distance (2011) from Henkydory on Vimeo.

Greater Pacific at Facebook

White Pines: The Falls (Yer Bird Records, 2010)

If it’s on Yer Bird Records, I’m going to love it. That’s the new rule here at the headquarters and so far I haven’t found any exceptions to that rule. White Pines is Joseph Scott from Ohio and his debut album The Falls came out a couple of month ago. It’s certainly a pretty amazing album full of delicate and magical folk sounds.

Listen to Woods:

White Pines at Facebook

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