Thursday, April 26, 2012

Great Bands You (prolly) Never Heard About (Pt6)

Great Bands You (prolly) Never Heard About (Pt 6):

Wow, I haven't done a "great band" in two years.  I am slacking.   I meant to write this post a long time ago (shortly after the Jupiter Sunrise post) but it proved to be difficult for me for a couple reasons.  The first being that it is not my normal type of music...which is rock and metal.  Although I sprinkle in all types of music throughout my listening, it is often hard for me to describe why I like music that doesn't fit into my normal genre...I just feel like I don't have the words to give it the justice that it deserves.  The second reason is that I kept seeing different release dates across the interwebicon for Amanda Rogers' new solo album "Hope From The Forgotten Woods" and was waiting (somewhat impatiently) so that I could tie my post into the new album. (I like promoting the people that I like.)  I don't remember the exact dates or sites, but I remember seeing 'Coming year end 2009' and thinking that it must have just been delayed a little, it is only first quarter 2010.  Later I saw "Fall 2011"...and it still hadn't appeared.  Geez, it's like you can't trust random websites with accurate information.  I guess I am going to have to take to heart some advice I read (on the internet):
“The trouble with quotes on the internet is that it’s difficult to determine whether or not they are genuine”
- Abraham Lincoln

You are a wise man, Mr Lincoln.  OK, I know stuff happens...albums get delayed for many reasons (I'm thinking in your direction Brian "37 years to make SMiLE" Wilson) and this information wasn't even from Amanda's official site.  This has happened with other bands in the past and sometimes fans are just left wondering what happened.  During this Amanda Rogers performed and toured with a couple different band (The Sketchy Indians, and The Pleasants), but has now returned to her solo material and I am happy to announce that the long awaited Amanda Rogers' album "Hope From The Forgotten Woods" will be released this Friday - April 27th, 2012.  I wouldn't lie to you like the other guys - I actually have a pre-release copy of the album in my stereo right now.

OK, I know it is journalistic correctness to either continue calling her Amanda Rogers or Ms Rogers or something like that, but that seems repetitive and/or too formal for me.  I am going to skip to just calling her Amanda in this when I say Amanda, know that I mean Amanda Rogers. Journalistic integrity be damned.*

I first heard about Amanda when she joined Jupiter Sunrise.  Admittedly, I was not thrilled with the prospect.  I had been enjoying JS for several years and didn't think they needed to change.  I was wrong.  When the band got into the newer songs which were written with piano as one of the integral part, I was hooked and realized the genius of Amanda.  She added a dimension that JS hadn't had before and it was wonderful.  It literally gave me chills at a couple parts.  Amanda's addition took the band from being a good but relatively standard indie band, up to the next level of depth and musical cohesiveness.  Unfortunately for music lovers (but fortunately for the individuals in the band) Jupiter Sunrise imploded.  But like a phoenix, Amanda has emerged from the ashes stronger and radiant.

I lover her piano logo...although it took me
about a yearbefore I realized the lid was a heart
with a dagger through it
Amanda is a singer/songwriter/pianist.  Amanda has a voice that can be strong and confident and frail and wispy when is quite beautiful.  Amanda's lyrics flow nicely and can be very clever,  personal, and insightful. Her piano playing complements her voice very well - it doesn't overpower or get lost in the background.  She is a talented pianist that mixes various styles throughout her songs.  A favorite influence seems to be what my mind first identified as Ragtime, but more accurately would be called Tin Pan Alley along with early century jazz.  It is fun to listen to and gives some of the songs an Ol' Timey feel, but it is not overdone.  The components of Amanda's songs mix really well can tell that they were written together as a single unit.  It has a very natural and organic feel that never feels forced.  I like listening to most music with good over the ear style headphones...but Amanda's especially because it feels like the harmonies and music wrap around me.  Being what she is, there are going to be inevitable comparisons to the other singer/songwriter/pianists of the day - Tori Amos, Regina Spektor, Fiona Apple, Sarah McLanlan, Kate Bush, etc...  Amanda Rogers holds her own against all of them...she just hasn't lucked into that "big break" yet.  She has her own voice and style.  If you have to compare, of those listed, Amanda seems closest (in my mind) to Fiona Apple in style, tone, and song writing...but Amanda is more subtle, slowly seducing the listener instead of Fiona's often blunt force.

Amanda's new album, Hope From the Forgotten Woods,  is a concept album written shortly after the end of Jupiter Sunrise.  Normally, Amanda's music and songs often have a bit of melancholy and bite to them, but this is the first time that you could actually call it dark subject matter.  The basic premise that I have determined is a story of a good woman in a abusive relationship who turns angry and vengeful...eventually manifesting as a serial killer, luring wicked men to her bed and their deaths.  But once you cross that line, can you ever truly come back?  On the first half of the album, Amanda does a great job of getting across the feelings of isolation, being trapped, and disillusionment of an abusive relationship.  The songs can be beautiful, heartbreaking, and haunting.  The second half the album is much more uptempo and confident as the protagonist takes control of her life and becomes a self-appointed executioner.  These songs are interesting and could be really fun if you didn't listen to the lyrics.  It does show off Amanda's variety in playing and vocals very well.

There are so many things to like about this album - the smokey vocals on songs like "All My Life", the rolling thunder piano of "Armageddon My Love", interesting lyrics like "I am the mother of my self-destruction", or the disquieting emotionalism of "What You Do".  That being said, I have always felt that Amanda doesn't make albums full of singles.  She doesn't (usually) have those super catchy songs that immediately grab your attention...but that is not necessarily a failure on her part. She does offer albums full of very good heartfelt songs that will stick with you.  When I first listen to an Amanda Rogers album, I think "it is good...but I am not sure how often I will actually listen to it."  And I am always wrong.  The albums are sleepers, small sections keep returning to my mind over the next few days and I will end up listening to the album over and over again.  With no songs being major standouts, I find that I end up listening to the entire album more and enjoying it in its entirety (instead of just skipping to the part I want to hear - because haven't we all bought albums because of one awesome song and then realized that the rest of the album is garbage).  With everything being good and so many different pieces to look forward to (and these pieces are always changing with my mood), I can listen to Amanda's albums over and over without becoming tired of them.  To me that is the hallmark of a great album.

If you enjoy indie music and good singer/songwriters, I suggest checking out Amanda Rogers.  I think you will find her music refreshing, beautiful, heartfelt and intimate.  You can order her new album, Hope From the Forgotten Woods here (as well as her older stuff), or check out her YouTube channel for some sneak peeks and live performances here.  If you are lucky enough to see to get the chance to see her on it and know I am totally envious.

2020 update:   Support Amanda on Patreon:

*For integrity's sake, I would like to say that Amanda Rogers sent me a copy of Hope From the Forgotten Woods for free...but I had planned on writing the post about her before that happened.  But feel free to think of that as bias if you want.


Shannonnicolle said...

You're such a hipster. I envisioned you writing this post wearing thick rimmed Buddy Holly glasses.

Seriously though, thanks for this. I'd never heard of her but I checked out some of her stuff and I adore her. Cool vibe and unique sound. And she's purty too :)

Michael said...

Ha! Back in the early 2000s, I decided it would be nice to have a pair of glasses - my old pair (from high school) were long broken, and I was tired of wearing contacts all the time. I wanted the thick framed glasses...because they used to be dirt cheap like ($20 for frames)...not any more, now they were only "designer" glasses and were $300+. I decided to stick with contacts only for a couple years until I could get lasik.

You definitely should check out Amanda's music, I think you will enjoy it.