Heidi Happy Will Put A Smile On Your Face

I usually don’t get too excited about music unless it features grating guitars cranked up to 11 or a pulsing beat that drives its way into my brain and legs. So you can imagine my surprise when a breathtakingly beautiful solo performance in Berlin by a young woman armed with nothing but her voice, a guitar and a portable xylophone in a cute little suitcase changed all of that quite suddenly.

Heidi Happy is her name, and she hails from Lucerne, Switzerland. While we know that Switzerland hasn’t got the greatest musical tradition, they have given the world cuckoo clocks, Roger Federer and Toblerone chocolate, so give them a chance! And those of you lucky folks who live in or around New York City will get the chance to experience the wonderful Heidi in person this week, as she plays a handful of solo shows during the CMJ Music Marathon in support of her new album Flowers, Birds & Home (Little Jig Records). Get ready to fall in love at the following shows:

Oct 20th: The Living Room 7:00pm

Oct 22nd: Googie’s Lounge 9:30pm

Oct 23rd: Pianos – Upstairs Lounge 8:00pm

The album is a heart-achingly beautiful blend of folk-tinged pop songs that will make you sad, happy, and make you wonder just how you’ve never heard of Heidi Happy before. Breathless comparisons are not always a good thing, as often the assumption is that someone is like, but not quite as good as, someone more famous. But with Heidi, I have no fear that this is the case. She’s up there with Norah Jones, Fiona Apple, Björk, Keren Ann and KT Tunstall, and even has one distinct advantage over them already – I bet you none of them can yodel.

Cuchillo Migrates to the States

Spanish folk-rock duo Cuchillo are currently on a coast-to-coast US tour in support of their self-titled debut album.

From AZNightBuzz.com:

“Cuchillo’s music is striking, spacy and shimmers with touches of Radiohead, Nick Drake, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys and Jose Gonzalez. It’s hypnotic, and exotic guitar playing twists and turns like a lazy curl of opium smoke. Lyrics are sung in Spanish and English and hints of Indian and Middle Eastern influence creep into the trance-like songs.”

Tour Dates

October 22 – CMJ MUSIC MARATHON, Ace of Clubs – New York, New York
October 24 – CMJ MUSIC MARATHON, The Annex – New York, New York
October 25 – Monkey Town – Brooklyn, New York

Past US Dates

October 11 – Clean Air Clear Stars Festival with Dead Meadow, Black Angels – Pioneertown, California
October 12 – Hotel Congress – Tucson, Arizona
October 13 – Hotel Congress – Tucson, Arizona
October 15 – Standard Hotel – Los Angeles, California
October 15 – 3 of Clubs with Magic Mirror – Los Angeles, California
October 16 – The Hemlock Tavern with Magic Mirror and Colossal Yes – San Francisco, California
October 17 – The East End with The Upsidedown and Magic Mirror – Portland, Oregon
October 18 – TBD with Magic Mirror – Seattle, Washington
October 19 – Casanova Lounge (Cuchillo Dj’s) – San Francisco, California

Indie Pop Dressed Up In A Top Hat And Tails

Weaving together intricate and sophisticated arrangements on top of strong pop hymns, Paul Hogan presents his band Frances. No cleverness or wit is lost as you slip into a world of impolite chamber pop. Beyond merely slinging strings about and throwing in a dash of horns for an indie nod of approval, Hogan’s background in classical music gives his debut album All The While a dignified sense of controlled purpose. However, even with all of this grand talk of orchestrations and elaborations, Frances’ music melds perfectly with those carefree fall afternoons meant for nothing but untroubled romps.

Hot off the press from Gigantic Music – the label that recently brought us The Walkmen and The Rumble Strips –  Frances’ aural venture is showing a lot of promise. If our musing doesn’t have you convinced, then snag the little melodious tune below. It starts off as a comfortably straight-forward pop track that eventually morphs with the typical Hogan treatment.

MP3: Frances – The Brain

The Spinto Band Release Eighth(!) Album Moonwink

The Spinto Band
Moonwink / Park The Van / BUY

The childish allure of this indie pop troop from Delaware seems to inspire the listener to abandon growing up (and growing stale) in order to instead adopt the rambunctious behavior of an attention deficit ankle-biter with crayons. The Spinto Band‘s infectious tunes display an enthusiasm for life with their twinkling toy instruments, blaring horn bursts, and off-kilter vocal taunts. New album Moonwink may be their debut for Park the Van, but this band has been around long enough to have toured with the Artic Monkeys, The Kooks, and We Are Scientists. The Spinto Band’s ditties, cut from the same cloth as excessively sweet single “Summer Grof,” will surely find their way onto the iPods of hipsters and teen poppers alike.

MP3: The Spinto Band – Summer Grof

CMJ Sneak Peek

Back in the day when I managed my college rock radio station, not only did I go to CMJ, but I planned the trip every year from Ohio to New York.  I rented the 15 passenger vans, I booked the college-kid-priced hostel, I gathered everyone’s hard earned money for our badges, and we all piled into the giant ugly blue jalopies and made our way to the city.

Our first year, we missed some of the shows we wanted to see (mostly due to our incompetence in navigation) but now that I’m older and wiser, I know my way around the city and won’t be missing anything!  Or so I hope – with nearly 1000 artists, 65 venues, and 5 days spanning October 20th to the 25th, I’ll have to pick and choose, but I definitely won’t miss my favorites:

Put Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson at the top of your list.  As one of the city’s most buzzed about new artists, you’ll want to get your tickets early!  His set with Lykke Li is already sold out, but lucky for you, he’ll be playing 3 more shows during CMJ.  Basically, there is no excuse for missing him! Download his debut self-titled album here.

Legendary music icon George Clinton, and His Gangsters of Love will not only be playing a set with special guests RZA, Shavo, El Debarge and Kim Burrel but you won’t want to miss RZA and the band leader’s panel about the changing role of the producer.

Sam Champion, also a Rind HQ favorite, will be playing a showcase at The Bell House on Thursday October 23rd.  Having just released their sophomore album Heavenly Bender September 2nd on North Street Records, the rave reviews just keep rolling in and their live show delivers on the hype.
Lastly but definitely not least, I won’t be missing indie electro pop sweethearts Passion Pit with The Sammies and Ponytail at the Brooklyn Vegan showcase on October 21st.  Everyone’s favorite buzz band has lived up to their live performance potential at Piano’s and elsewhere in the past few months so we’re pretty stoked for the show.

Even though you probably aren’t (and wish you were) taking a huge ugly blue van to the shows, CMJ will be the music event of the fall.  So put on your Suzie cruise director hat and get out your calendar because you have some planning to do.