SUFJAN STEVENS – ILLINOISE (Indie/Orchestral – US)

Sufjan Stevens was born in Detroit, Michigan. A self-taught musician, the young Sufjan played Mozartian sonatas on a toy Casio, and by college became proficient on the oboe, recorder, banjo, guitar, vibraphone, bass, drums, piano, and more. Somewhere along the line he also started to sing, though at the time his friends didn’t encourage it…

Sufjan Stevens - Chicago     

During his last semester in college, Sufjan assembled a selection of songs to produce the inaugural release “A Sun Came” on Asthmatic Kitty Records, a home label Sufjan initiated with his step-dad Lowell. A thousand copies were manufactured but didn’t make it to the public.

After moving to New York, Sufjan set out to complete his most ambitious project to date: a collection of programmatic, symphonic songs for the animals of the Chinese Zodiac. There were no lyrics, but more than a few cymbal swells, and flourishes on the oboe, all accompanied by computer-generated techno beats, and digital noise. The result was enterprising, but not quite flattering. He sent a few copies to press, which fell on confused ears.

Real success came after the release of his album “Come, feel the Illinoise!”. This album is a collection of beautifully ambitious songs which rely on symphonic arrangments, a choir and Sufjan’s fragile voice. Feel the magic of Sufjan’s song writing on tracks like ‘Concerning The UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois’, ‘Chicago’ or ‘They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From The Dead!! Ahhhh!’. So you think these titles are crazy? Well, wait till you hear the music…

Find out more on MySpace and buy his music on Sufjan

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IRON & WINE – OUR ENDLESS NUMBERED DAYS (Folk/Indie – US)

Samuel Beam, better known by his stage and recording name Iron & Wine, is an American singer-songwriter. He has released four studio albums, several EPs and singles, as well as a few download-only releases, which include a live album (a recording of his 2005 Bonnaroo performance).

Iron & Wine’s second full-length album, Our Endless Numbered Days, was released in 2004 and it was his first album to be recorded in a professional studio. Produced in Chicago by Brian Deck, the focus was still on acoustic material, but the inclusion of a few other band members gave rise to a slightly different sound.

Iron & Wine - Fever Dream     

You can sample a whole bunch on Iron & Wine songs on the official site or MySpace. If you feel like buying the music, it’s all available over at Iron & Wine

ENTRE RÍOS – SI HOY (Electronica/Experimental – Argentina)

Just a short note to introduce Entre Ríos, an alternative act from Argentina. The band, formed in 2000 in Buenos Aires, consists of Sebastián Carreras, Gabriel Lucena and Isol. They deliver dreamy electronic pop gems based on a subtle mix of pop melodies, ethereal vocals and gentle electronics.

The band have released three albums so far: Idioma Suave (2002), Sal (2002) and Onda (2005). Listen to “Si Hoy”, taken off the album Sal.

Entre Ríos - Si Hoy     

For more info, check out Entre Ríos on MySpace. If you want to purchase their music, it’s all available for download on Entre Ríos

NAJWA – WALKABOUT (Electro/Indie/Pop – Spain)

Actress-singer-composer Najwa Nimri started making electronic music towards the end of the 90s with her friend Carlos Jean, a rising star in the Spanish electronica scene. Their collaboration gave birth to a first album, No blood, released under the moniker NajwaJean in 1998, and two soundtracks.

Najwa - That Cyclone     

In  2001, Najwa took her first steps as a solo artist with the critically acclaimed album Carefully. It was followed  in 2003 by Mayday, which spawned the hit singles “Hey Boys, Girls” and “Go Cain”.

After three years, she is finally back with a new album! Walkabout is available since February on physical CD or as a download. Stream the whole album right here.

For more info, check out Najwa’s official site. Buy her music on Najwa

MS JOHN SODA – NO P. OR D. (Electronica/Indie – Germany)

Ms John Soda

Based in Germany, the band Ms John Soda has already released three albums. Their last full length, Notes And The Like, was released a few months ago on hip Berlin hip label Morr Music (also home to Lali Puna). Their brand of electronic music with a twist doesn’t really lend itself to clear-cut definitions but that makes it all the more interesting.

“A nod on hold” is a good example of the kind of sound structure you can expect, with loops and different kinds of bleeps and bloops. At the same time, you’ll find lots of guitars and strings, especially on the new album. For example, “Scan the ways” is very guitar-oriented, while a track like “A million times” follows the melancholic, yet hopeful, sound of a small string ensemble. In general, the band manages to totally blend instruments and programming and the result is always incredibly smooth.

Ms John Soda - Go Check     

Ms. John Soda - Oulined View     

If you enjoy Notes And The Like, you should definitely give Ms John Soda’s previous releases a listen and you’ll get a couple more hours of listening pleasure. No P. or D. (2002) and While talking (2003) are definitely worth checking out.

To listen to Ms John Soda, go to their official site or to Morr Music. Buy their albums on Ms. John Soda

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