Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Under Appreciated

So I was talking to Erika yesterday evening, and we were discussing how awesome Nina Nastasia was, and then we realized how whenever we play any song by hers out loud, no-one comes up and says "oh, Yeah! I love Nina Nastasia too!" and that got me thinking about how under appreciated she actually is. She's an amazing musician and has incredible albums, but no-one seems to know about her. So, I decided to make a post devoted to the three things in each category I feel are the most Under-Appreciated. Today's Caterogy: MUSIC. (More To Follow)

To clarify, this isn't going to be some "I'm gonna just post indie bands so people will know how musically aware I am." Or "I'm just gonna type in a bunch of Wes Anderson movies or old AFI top 100 movies" No. I won't put down The Shins or Arcade Fire or Joanna Newsom. And I won't say movies like Rushmore, Plan 9, or obscure HBO-films. This isn't a post for me to gloat in my 'unique tastes of millions' but rather, hopefully get people to be able to hear a song and finally say "Oh! I love____________too, They're really great"

So, to begin, I will make my music list. the top 3 musical artists I feel are the most under-appreciated.


1) Nina Nastasia
- Reccomended listening 'Our Day Trip'

She may look like a Nordstrom attendant, bu she is an amazing musician. She has a slightly haunting voice, but very earthy tones. She makes me think of an overgrown backyard seen through one of those grey, smokey filters. In March of last year, she opened for Swell Season, the actual band from the movie ONCE. She is, by far, the most under-appreciated musician I know of. As I said, people should hear her songs and say to eachother "oh! I love her!"

"Nina Nastasia's rare gift of a voice is an intimate, winged presence that is able to either freeze or melt your heart; that can powerfully soar and twist, or brush ultra-gently against you, suddenly summoning goose bumps. Mojo commented on its ability to "suck the air out of the room". Picking over themes of love, longing and loss, childhood, dreams and human dramas, her beautifully concise, hook-laden songwriting and the spare arrangements of her band have a certain gritty, rustic charm and intensity. Simultaneously tough and fragile, her songs crackle and smolder with an intimate emotional honesty and a dark undertow." (

2) William Fitzsimmons -recommended listening: 'Funeral Dress' and 'It's Not True'

He may just look like another bearded, lonely singer-songwriter. But he is definitely not simply that. His music is soft and heartfelt. You can hear the pain in each of his whispered words as it rolls out of his mouth, scratching the gravel on its way. There may be comparisons to Iron & Wine. But please, don't. He is not the same. Albeit, he deserves the same attention that the aforementioned has received, it is for a completely different reason. He can create a mood in a single note. A whispered prologue. I have never heard a musician play and sing with more heartfelt honesty as William Fitzsimmons.*

" Thinking that this would be just another album by the run-of-the-mill indie guy with a guitar, I had my doubts on whether or not it would be a pleasant experience. I thought that this album would just be one man’s problems thrown into a bleak musical affair. But, oh, is it so much more than that. Empathy, sadness and hope quickly overwhelms you as you listen to this album song by song. Simply put, this album is a beautiful masterpiece. “After All” starts off the album with a piano solo and a man’s confession about how much he loves his wife and his desperate plea to get her to return. The album continues with this same mood for a few songs until you get to “If You Would Come Back Home,” which provides a rhythmic drum beat and beautiful vocals.

Right about now, you’re probably thinking that this is just some sad guy speaking into a mic telling the world his story. Well, truthfully, it is, but, William’s voice is one-of-a-kind and is a pleasure to listen to. His lyrics are fine poetry, to say the least. "

-Michael Black (

*-barring Colby Stead, who's fanbase is because of how open and heartfely he is. (that isn't a bad thing, I am a fan myself) But there is a difference between singing with honesty and having group therapy.

3) Loreena McKennitt -recommended listening: (Album: The Visit, The Book of Secrets) 'The Highwayman' 'Dante's Prayer'

Loreena McKennitt is a Canadian musician who plays a contemporary blend of folk and Celtic. I suppose some may categorize it as New Age. Don't. It's ethereal. As the title for one L.A. times article said "If You Must, Label Her `Enlightened' Pop music: Loreena McKennitt... sings ethereal material, but don't pigeonhole the harpist as New Age." And I agree completely. Her music is gorgeous, yes, ethereal, sure, moving, completely. And yet she is still nearly un-known. She has been commissioned to write music for several Canadian t.v. miniseries' and narrated and wrote the theme to a Disney Movie. Yet, alas, no-one knows her. I suppose part of the problem is there isn't a real huge market for Ethereal Celtic harpists. But once you hear her, you'll say "well, why the H not?"

"McKennitt's recordings always have the quality of a spiritual sojourn; her songs are those of a seeker, whether she's setting Yeats, Scripture, or her own words to her compositions. It's this that attracts people to her music."

"McKennitt's skills at composition and orchestration are still at their peak. As usual, the showcase here is her incredible voice and her thoughtful, literate lyrics; but also as usual, what sets her apart from the pack of Celtic new-age fluff-makers is her warm and full instrumental backing. Stringed instruments and eclectic percussion predominate, and often McKennitt will see fit to pass a particularly good theme through a number of different instruments. The instrumentals "Marco Polo" and "La Serenissima" are particularly good examples of this. On the other hand, "The Highwayman" is this album's "Lady of Shalott" - a long narrative set to music. In this case, it works a bit better, and there's real drama there... quite an accomplishment."
-Brandon (

"I was given this album years ago. Whilst my taste in music has changed with time, there is nothing that will surpass Loreena's haunting voice and beautiful music."
-Jeremy (

ANYWAY... this concludes part one of the Under Appreciated. The runners up for the top three spots were:

-The Finches
-Jens Leckman
-Heather Duby

Check them out too, please.

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