Helpless Dancer

The Endless Note

Cover Story – Diane Birch

Having won my “Song of the Year” for 2010 Diane Birch caught me out with the sudden release,  of a seven track EP featuring all cover versions as a tribute to the music she loved growing up, music she heard via the older sisters of her friends, movies and other sources that were already nostalgic in the mid 90′s for the era that was the 80′s.

For this release Diane  has teamed with fellow New Yorkers and “astronauts of progressive soul” (Guardian UK) the Phenomenal Handclap Band to record ‘The Velveteen Age.’

 As such she has put her own seductive spin on songs by The Cure, Joy Division, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Echo & The Bunnymen, This Mortal Coil, The Sisters of Mercy and Peter Murphy.

 ‘The Velveteen Age’ was produced by S-Curve’s Steve Greenberg and Phenomenal Handclap Band’s Daniel Collás and Sean Marquand, and mixed by Steve Greenwell. Birch contributed arrangements with Collas and Marquand, and played all keyboards.

‘THE VELVETEEN’ AGE TRACKLIST:
This Corrosion (Sisters of Mercy)


Kiss Them For Me (Siouxsie & The Banshees)
Bring On The Dancing Horses (Echo & The Bunnymen)
Atmosphere (Joy Division) Primary (The Cure)
Tarantula (This Mortal Coil)
A Strange Kind of Love (Peter Murphy)

Diane Birch with The Phenomenal Handclap Band
Produced by Steve Greenberg, Daniel Collás & Sean Marquand
Arranged by Diane Birch, Daniel Collás & Sean Marquand
Diane Birch – Vocals and Keyboards
Luke Riverside – Guitar
Pier Pappalardo – Bass
Patrick Wood – Drums
Quinn Luke & Patrick Wood – Backing vocals

“During my teenage years as a Goth these songs were amongst my nearest and dearest,” says Birch, who appears in one of her vintage Victorian wedding dresses at age 16 in the photo on the EP cover. “Sitting in my bedroom with my headphones pressed into my ears till they hurt, each song gave me a weird kind of hope for my future. I would have never imagined I would get a chance to record them one day, let alone with some of my closest friends.”

To buy the EP click HERE which I would recommend if only for her haunting take on Joy Division’s “Atmosphere”

January 1, 2011 Posted by | Cover Stories, New Releases, Video | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top 10 Albums Of The Year

Robert Plant - Band Of Joy

Diane Birch - Bible Belt

John Grant - Queen Of Denmark

John Legend & the Roots - Wake Up!

Neil Young - Le Noise

Paul Weller - Wake Up The Nation

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

Seafieldroad - There Are No Maps For This part Of The City

Sorry : No known video available.

Lauren Pritchard - Wasted In Jackson

Saint Jude - Diary Of A Soul Fiend

December 30, 2010 Posted by | Video | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2010 Top 30 New and Old #1

My “Track of the Year” is from the Diane Birch album “Bible Belt”

To buy the music of Diane Birch click HERE

To view a previous post on Diane Birch click HERE

My number one “Blast From The Past” is an old Frankie Miller demo which came to the surface this year.

“A Bottle Of Whisky” – Frankie Miller

Diamond’s on the corner of her lipstick,
Ruby’s shining with the gold
Wild eyed women in Cadillacs
Helpless with no one to hold.

She stood at the side of the doorway
There was nowhere a poor boy could run
Had a fight with a bottle of whisky last night,
And the bottle of whisky won

She told me to watch from the window,
As she powdered the sweat from my brow
Ah told her I couldn’t stay too late
But it didn’t connect anyhow,

Its funny how small thing’s don’t matter,
When you can’t recall what you have done
I had a fight with a bottle of whisky last night,
And the bottle of whisky won.

Her mama remembered my picture
Her daddy remembered my face
There were lawyers all over the city
There were cowboys all over the place,

In the morning the judge asked the jury,
Can you tell me exactly what he’s done?
Had a fight with a bottle of whisky last night,
And the bottle of whisky won.

The wild eyed women in Cadillac’s,
Out on the street having fun,
Had a fight with a bottle of whisky last night,
And the bottle of whisky won
Had a fight with a bottle of whisky last night,
And the bottle of whisky won

Billy Rankin at Rock Radio played Frankie’s “A Bottle Of Whisky” Demo on his radio show and due to this a Campaign by the listeners has been launched on Facebook to get Frankie’s demo of “A Bottle of Whiskey” released as a single.

The campaign was a success and you can buy the song by clicking HERE

To buy other Frankie Miller music click HERE

For a previous post on Frankie Miller click HERE

December 30, 2010 Posted by | Blast from The Past, New Releases, Old Music, Video | , , | Leave a comment

Diane Birch

It has been a long wait since March when I first posted about Diane Birch (see HERE)

Finally the album “Bible Belt” has arrived hot on the heels of a superb appearnace on “Later…with Jools Holland”

Here is a review from The Independent

It would be easy to imagine, listening to Diane Birch’s debut album, that she had spent years keenly studying the same R&B influences that guided her blue-eyed-soul peers Amy Winehouse, Joss Stone and Duffy.

 But Birch’s route to recognition took a far more circuitous course: the daughter of peripatetic Seventh Day Adventist preacher parents, she was forbidden to watch movies or listen to anything other than classical and religious music as the family evangelised its way through southern Africa and Australia.

Only when they fetched up in Portland, Oregon did she discover pop, and then the reaction was typically teen-extreme: her first heroes were the likes of The Cure and Sisters Of Mercy, with Birch covertly adopting the fully mascara’d appearance of a Goth, complete with black velvet cape.

Thankfully she grew out of that obsession, and during exploratory sojourns in Los Angeles and London, developed the fetching Seventies-flavoured soul stylings that make up Bible Belt, which was recorded in New Orleans and her current hometown New York with a classy retinue of musicians including Meters bassist George Porter and Patti Smith’s guitarist Lenny Kaye, and overseen by soul legend Betty Wright, who did a similar job for Joss Stone.

Not that Birch resembles the leather-lunged Stone; her voice, and writing style, is much more nuanced, strongly reminiscent of Laura Nyro, with occasional touches of Maria Muldaur coming through in the falsetto catch that features on songs such as “Valentino”, a playful pop-soul number about how she took solace in an imaginary friend to stave off the dispiriting boredom of playing piano in an LA hotel bar.

Though classically-trained, there’s a freshness and freedom about her piano style which enables her to tackle with equal aplomb the bluesy piano triplets of “Fire Escape”, the New Orleans second-line groove of “Rise Up”, the smouldering Southern soul of “Forgiveness” and the Seventies’ singer-songwriter flavour of “Ariel”, the melody and arrangement of which could have come straight from an Elton John album of that era.

It’s entirely possible that “Ariel” is yet another imaginary friend, especially given her eccentric pronunciation; but elsewhere Birch’s songs seem more autobiographically sourced.

“Don’t Wait Up” is about growing up a Goth with religious parents, and having to go out conservatively dressed before adopting the full Goth slap and schmutter in a nearby rest-room: “Don’t wait up for me, ‘cos you ain’t gonna like what you see”; while the rollicking soul-rocker “Choo Choo” reflects the lingering effect of a particularly manichean form of parental scolding: “Thought I was on my way to heaven/Seems I’m riding the train straight to hell”.

But surely only the most bitterly killjoy parents could find much to complain about in an album that demonstrates how well they brought up their talented daughter?

 “Rise Up” – Diane Birch

Why not say it like it is
Like you know you should
Before they break your little heart
Ooh, break it good
Feelings on the inside
Never let you down
So why not say it like it is
Even if it don’t make your mama proud

Why change your mind when you make it up
Second chances don’t come easy, easy for some
Baby I don’t know the lock from the key
But I know one of them is you
And the other one’s me

So if it’s happiness you want
That’s what you’ll get
You gotta rise up, little sister
Turn on the light
Wise up to the stories you’ve been told
‘Cause love don’t come in black or white
No no no no.

My mama tells me I won’t get through the pearly gates
‘Cause I ain’t sorry for my sins
And all my mistakes
Mama I don’t know if I’m goin’ up or down,
But I know heaven’s gonna be one lonely town
But if it’s happiness you want,
That’s what you’ll get
You gotta rise up, little sister
Turn on the light
Wise up to the stories you’ve been told
‘Cause love don’t come in black or white
Whoa no no no, whooo no.

Oh oh oh oh oh oh (etc.)

Rise up, little sister
Turn on the light
Wise up to the stories you’ve been told
Whoaaa yeah
Rise up, little sister
Turn on the light
Wise up to the stories you’ve been told
‘Cause love don’t come in black or white
No no, it don’t come in black or white
Whooa ooooh

Rise up, open your eyes
Love don’t come in black or white
Whoa uh uh, no
Wise up to the stories you’ve been told
You know, love don’t come in black or white
Little sister, you gotta rise up

To buy the music of Diane Birch click HERE

May 13, 2010 Posted by | New Music, New News, New Releases, Video | | 1 Comment

Sunday Sounds – Diane Birch

To me if Diane Birch had been around in the 70’s she would have been on the Asylum Records label as she brings to this decade that laid back West Coast of America singer songwriter vibe.

Born in Michigan, she spent her childhood in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Sydney, Australia. Her father was a 7th Day Adventist preacher and took his family wherever he worked. When she was ten, her family returned to the United States, and settled in Portland, Oregon.

Birch began studying piano using the Suzuki method at the age of seven. When she was old enough to leave home, she moved to Los Angeles and pursued work as a “pianist for hire”. Eventually she landed gigs at the Beverly Hotel and L’Orangerie.

Prince heard her playing at the Polo Lounge in 2006 and invited her to jam with him and his band at his home. After being discovered on MySpace, Birch moved to London where she signed a publishing deal and wrote a majority of her debut album. In 2007, she moved to New York after signing to Steve Greenberg’s S-Curve Records.

Birch says that she was not exposed to pop music and culture as a child because her religious and conservative parents did not approve of secular music. She had only heard opera, classical music and music she had heard in church (Hymns) before she arrived back in America aged 11. She cites church hymns as a large influence on her song writing both lyrically and musically.

Birch plays piano, Wurlitzer, (Fender) Rhodes (with whom she has an endorsement deal) and guitar.

Birch’s first album, Bible Belt, was released in 2009 on S-Curve Records and enjoyed resounding critical acclaim including reviews from Rolling Stone Paper Magazine and the Huffington Post amongst others. Bible Belt incorporates many styles of music, including blues, soul,gospel, rock and folk. The musicians who played on the record include Lenny Kaye (of The Patti Smith band), Adam Blackstone (The Roots and Jay Z), Cindy Blackman (Lenny Kravitz), George Porter and Tom “Bones” Malone. The album was produced by the Grammy Award-winning team of Steve Greenberg with Betty Wright and Michael Mangini. Birch wrote all the words and music for all the tracks on the album and cited her father and her religious upbringing as influences.

The songs on “Bible Belt” vary in subject matter; “Fools” Birch says is about her time living in Los Angeles, “Magic View” was inspired by her arrival in New York. “Don’t Wait Up” recalls her teenage “goth” stage; Birch would leave home with little or no make up and then once out, apply heavy black eye liner and lip stick and whiten her face. When she returned her home her shocked Father would be waiting up for her reading the Bible. “Valentino” is an ode to her childhood imaginary friend whom she recalls, resembled Amadeus Mozart.

“Ariel” – Diane Birch

Lookin’ round for a different high in the land of the living
Tryin’ to free the bird inside this cage
I got news today that you’re gonna go see the great wall of China
I guess I’ll see all the pictures on your page

No, I can’t tell the reason from the riddle and the rhyme
I can’t see the feelin’s on your mind
You know it feels like we’re only living under the same sky
When the clock strikes eleven fifty nine

Do you hear me callin’ Ariel?
Am I a fool to think I know you well?
Do we see the same stars Ariel?
‘Cause sometimes baby those green eyes just don’t tell

I’ve been cryin’ on the pillow where you lie
For the past, for the future and everything in between
Oh, does it hurt more to lose you or hurt more to love you baby?
Or does it hurt more to look at you on my screen?

Do you hear me callin’ Ariel?
Am I a fool to think I know you well?
Do we see the same stars Ariel?
‘Cause sometimes baby those green eyes just don’t tell

Are you gonna leave me lonely?
Talkin’ to myself again
Lookin’ out on New York City

Do you hear me callin’ Ariel?
Am I a fool to think I know you well?
Do we see the same stars Ariel?
‘Cause sometimes baby those green eyes just don’t tell
Oh, no, no, no

Do you hear me callin’ Ariel?
Am I a fool to think I know you well?
Do we see the same stars Ariel?
‘Cause sometimes baby those green eyes they just don’t tell
No, they just don’t tell, oh

Her television début was on CBSLate Late Show with Craig Ferguson on June 22, 2009. She also appeared on Late Night with David Letterman on July 22, 2009. Other major television appearances include The Carson Daly Show and Jimmy Kimmel, as well as a recent performance of the Daryl Hall webcast called Live from Daryl’s House as well as The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.

Birch’s live band is composed of Jay Foote on bass, Eric Bloom on trumpet and flugelhorn, Josh Dion on drums and Alex Foote on guitars.

The song Rise Up was chosen as the Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week for October 20, 2009.

Birch has recently had a top 10 hit in Japan and has played sold-out shows in Osaka and Tokyo. The Japanese release of “Bible Belt” includes the previously unreleased songs “Cheap Ass Love” and “Every Now and Again”.

To buy the music of Diane Birch click HERE

March 7, 2010 Posted by | New Music, Video | | Leave a comment

   

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