Because Songs Matter

Posts by Mike Ostrov

New Music from Amy Helm and Larry Campbell

New Music from Amy Helm and Larry Campbell

Amy Helm, member of Ollabelle and her father Levon Helm’s band, is releasing her long-awaited debut solo album Didn’t It Rain, this month. Sample some songs and pre-order at Amazon. This comes on the heels of Larry Campbell’s–another Levon Helm collaborator–album with his wife Teresa Williams, which came out last month. Check that out on […]

Hate Mail Garners Love for Eleventh Dream Day

Hate Mail Garners Love for Eleventh Dream Day

Prairie rock freaks Eleventh Dream Day made an appearance on Chicago public radio station WBEZ last week and received what the band deemed their “Best Hate Mail Ever”–an impressive feat for a band with about 30 years underneath it. The emailer asks “What are they so angry about?,” a question which only got me more […]

Kelly Haigh – Post-Apocalyptic Valentines – 2015

Kelly Haigh – Post-Apocalyptic Valentines – 2015

Kelly Haigh’s work gives structure to freewheeling moments of cruelty and beauty. In her paintings, trees morph into smokestacks; pink dolphins stalk the desert on spider legs; dogs become surrogate mothers. Her songs have less of those specific images, but still enact battles of glamour and decay; the musical equivalent of Debbie Reynolds cascading down an MGM staircase with a nosebleed; […]

Your Heart Breaks – America – 2015

Your Heart Breaks – America – 2015

America begins without any cushion. Drummer Chris McFarlane and singer/guitarist Clyde Petersen trip beat- and lyrics-first into the first verse of “Should’ve Known Better” and from there it’s the free-fall off of a two-story roof, the bruised breathlessness upon thudding, the embarrassment and gratefulness of being mostly ok. Petersen has carried the Your Heart Breaks project from Bloomington […]

Shana Cleveland & The Sandcastles – Oh Man, Cover the Ground – 2015

Shana Cleveland & The Sandcastles – Oh Man, Cover the Ground – 2015

Shana Cleveland is an illustrator, short story writer, and musician based in Seattle. Her most active project is La Luz, a surfy, harmony-centric band. This band, The Sandcastles, despite its beachy name consistent with her previous work, represents a woodsier, forrestral growth in Cleveland’s music. The album’s highlights capture brilliant streaks of somber, sharp, acoustic light. Harmonies, heavy […]

Great Neck – Esoterexorcism – 2015

Great Neck – Esoterexorcism – 2015

In 2012, I did my best to cheerlead an awesome demo by a band called Great Neck–a band featuring Derek Perry and Casey Lee of Fake Problems, as well as Lonnie Dillinger, Jeb Barrows, and Sean Stevenson. The word was that a proper record was imminent, but years went by, and it never surfaced. Esoterexoticism is that […]

State Champion – Fantasy Error – 2015

State Champion – Fantasy Error – 2015

In an essay called “Gone with the Wind,” rock writer Greil Marcus talks about a documentary released in 1983 called Seventeen. In the documentary, a teenager dies–a friend of the film’s central family. In commemoration, the surviving teenagers call a local DJ and request Bob Seger’s “Against the Wind.” The DJ obliges. The family sits […]

Holly Miranda – Holly Miranda – 2015

Holly Miranda – Holly Miranda – 2015

Holly Miranda‘s third solo LP bursts into a cluster of this year’s many excellent, full-sounding, songwriting-driven albums, unconcerned with landing in one genre. If you’ve enjoyed the recent work of Mac McCoughan, Waxahatchee, Natalie Prass, Fred Thomas, Elvis Perkins, Laura Stevenson, you’ll find similar pleasures here. Each song has its own character and its own […]

Broken Water – Wrought – 2015

Broken Water – Wrought – 2015

Karl Blau–prolific songwriter from Anacortes WA–made a cool album a few years ago wherein he played grunge versions of songs written by women who influence him. He covered songs by a lot of my favorites–heroes of the pacific-northwest K-Records scene that a young southeastern sun-sickened boy like me mythologized–Mirah, Jean Smith of Mecca Normal, Lois […]

Free Cake for Every Creature – Moving Songs – 2015

Free Cake for Every Creature – Moving Songs – 2015

I wanna be a funny lady when I’m forty / but for now I’m not sure what I’m doing Katie Bennett’s move from Upstate New York to Philadelphia inspired this collection of quarter-life questioning. Or questing–because she comes upon an awesome directive: and all you gotta be / when you’re 23 / is yourself /call yourself an […]