Sunday, March 27, 2011

Belated Review: Nicole Atkins - Mondo Amore (2011) + live

This is a pretty long/delayed and belated review (1 of a handful that are due of course. But all I can do is give as much effort as I can. In due time hopefully, all this stuff will be caught-up and accomplished. Afterall, I am my own boss, hehe :p).

So, Nicole Atkins released this/her 2nd proper full length album Mondo Amore a little bit out of nowhere to me, in February. And I really hadn't thought about her since hearing and enjoying much of 2008's Neptune City I always thought of her as like Linda Ronstadt doing orchestral pop.

Well on Mondo Amore, I think she's more than that. Mondo Amore really is an eclectic, consistent, energetic, dreamy-at times rock record. And I guess she was thinking or aiming at making something sounding like a classic, Classic-Rock record. Led Zeppelin, Cream (maybe Heart or Springsteen?)..some others I recall she referenced in an interview I saw just after the show in St.Paul at the Turf Club.

edit: well she mentions The Doors, along with Nick Cave, Echo and the Bunnymen, Ennio Morricone, and George Harrison here. But there's another video interview I saw where she mentioned more of wanting to make a "classic rock sounding" record. That I'm not finding right now (the only artists I'd think of "classic rock" among those being The Doors and George Harrison anyway).

I guess I can say this album has many songs or sections I just love. Many of the guitar riffs, and even solos totally grab me. And her vocals even, are as good, if not better than on Neptune City. There's probably 2 or 3 times I was reminded of, of all singers, Janelle Monáe. The dreamy chanting and what not. Although I'll admit, I went back and checked out Party's Over and the Bleeding Diamonds EP recently, and the Monáe similarities seemed to come up there as well.

So I'm unclear what that means. Was Janelle listening to Neptune City when she wrote the Archandroid? lol, Or is it pure style of singing and coincidence?

Anyway, no matter how similar or not, this album is a big step up, and my interest in her has never been higher. I guess in terms of songs to namedrop: Cry Cry Cry, The Tower, My Baby Don't Lie, Vultures, War is Hell.

Memorable melodies and sections. Even just how she used piano in it, with the segues and transitions.

And for good reason, it's my 3rd favorite record at this point, in 2011. 4-stars, and an album I plan to go back to a lot this year. Hopefully to look forward to her playing live here again.

And now to talk a little about seeing Nicole Atkins and "The Black Sea" (maybe they should have gone to the great Turkish restaurant down the road from the Turf Club on Snelling in St.Paul? maybe they did even, lol :p).

Her band had consistent energy, playing I'd say close to 90 minutes, and I don't believe the whole Mondo Amore album, but more than half. Her band went back and forth between MA and Neptune City. Including probably my 2 favorite tunes, being the title track of Neptune City and The Tower from the new record.

And one clear thing is, The Black Sea is an awfully talented band, including Irina Yalkowsky, her rather melodic and precise guitarist. I actually got images of Theresa Wyman from Warpaint at times seeing Irina. Really good, virtuosic, wonderful tone and ability to change modes with ease. Well, not to mention, like Theresa, Irina is awfully pretty and brunette. Part of me couldn't stop focusing on her. Maybe I have a thing for the chick who can shred but is still sensitive? 2 things I'm attracted to in musicianship and beauty, combined. I think it would almost be impossible for me (or others for that matter) not to be :p

Irina I guess has played with a number of bands, namely The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and only recently has joined Nicole's band. And she plays many if not all of the solos on Mondo Amore I recall. It's cool and a bit unexpected, yet really refreshing to hear another female guitarist stand out in such a musician-oriented way, that I'll confess, I almost assumed was a guy. So, I'm glad she is part of Nicole's band, and look forward to seeing them again and whatever Nicole and her band do in the future on record.

I also recall asking her if she had some of her own music, and Irina told me she did, but I'm not clear if it's available, like on bandcamp or facebook even. But it's something to seek out. She may have told me she has written it, but not recorded it, I forget (belated entry-itis :[).