Emily Jane White
We here at Chewing Gum for the Ears (we meaning me, of course) are always looking for those folk artists out there who deserve your attention, and Emily Jane White is one such musician. Her new album, Victorian America, is a darkly-tinged collection of Americana tunes that in no way belies her sunny California origins, but it does make very clear her gripping songwriting ability. Even at a solid hour in length and with its generally sparse aesthetic, the record remains entrancing due to White's vivid storytelling and her beautiful, emotive voice. Highlights like "The Baby" and "The Ravens" quickly make these qualities known, and she seems like such a natural in this genre you'd surely have a difficult time imagining her as frontwoman for the various metal and punk bands she performed with in college. Definitely take the time to get acquainted with Emily Jane White, who has crafted a superb folk record with Victorian America.
Download: Liza (zipped MP3)
In Tall Buildings
When I tell you that In Tall Buildings is the solo recording project of one Erik Hall, of Nomo fame, you'll likely envision music of a considerably different type than you actually find on his first and self-titled outing. In Tall Buildings is a restrained, often acoustic affair that focuses on Hall's hazy vocals and his multi-instrumental ability, and while the differences between this and his primary gig make the album interesting, the quality of the music makes it worth noting here. Several years in the making, the eight songs sound carefully composed and--at times--intensely personal despite some tricky chord progressions and tempo changes. It's not flashy or loud, but the record consistently reveals Hall's impressive musicianship with a variety of subtle flourishes that bring to life tunes like the eclectic "The Way To A Monster's Lair" and the odd yet engrossing "Good Fences." Artists have side projects for many reasons--I think Erik Hall just knew these songs needed to be heard.
Download: The Way To A Monster's Lair (MP3)
24 year-old Texas native Sarah Jaffe just yesterday released her debut LP, Suburban Nature, but I expect it won't be long before you start hearing quite a bit about her. Jaffe is a singer/songwriter who is difficult to classify, making raw, emotional music that ranges from quiet acoustic ballads ("Stay With Me") to soaring rockers ("Better Than Never") and everything in between. She proves equally adept at whatever she attempts, with her strong voice and stirringly honest lyrics immediately setting her apart from her less remarkable peers. The record's best, the driving "Clementine" and the dark, atmospheric "Swelling" would be my recommendations for where to start, but really you can't go wrong with any of the 13 tracks comprising the 45 minutes of Suburban Nature, which remarkably includes songs from as far back as Jaffe's teenage years. Keep an eye on Sarah Jaffe--you can bet everyone else will.