Weekly Roundup: May 1 – 7, 2011

Lots of great stuff to share in this edition of Weekly Roundup, so let's not waste any time. Check it out!

-I'd like to start with an incredible performance video for the song "Your Move" by Kris Orlowski. It features Kris, the Passenger String Quartet, and a bunch of friends. This was done on a whim as Kris was recording his new Freemont Abbey EP. I'm not sure what compelled them to film a live take, but whatever the reason, they captured something truly special. I love the setup: Kris plays his acoustic guitar in a circle surrounded by the strings and a choir of singers, and the camera slowly circles around. The beautiful song builds gracefully, and it is impossible not to get swept up in it. The sound of the room is excellent; I really like hearing the echoes. It kind of reminded me of another folksy singer-songwriter I like, Joe Pug, only with a more orchestral feel from all the other performers. The whole thing is great, and I especially love the humming part. Check out the video and studio version of the song below and click here for more on the EP.

-The Australian duo Big Scary released a series of four EPs last year that corresponded to the four seasons. On May 17th, those works will be compiled into one full length. Below you can listen to the song "Autumn," which I'm sure you can guess the season EP it comes from. Hint, it's not summer. It seems there are lots of great duos making music lately and what always impresses me are the ones that refuse to let the number of people in the band limit their sound in any way. That, and how most duos have good harmonies. Both are in full effect in "Autumn." I like the energy of the drums and piano, they seem to capture the vitality of the season embodied in the blaze of colors in the leaves and the refreshing crispness in the air after summer, before things give way to winter. Have a listen, and you can find more information on the band here.

Autumn by bigscary

-If the only video I was bringing to you was from Kris Orlowski, it would still be a hell of a week. So I don't even know how to describe the bounty of this roundup, because I am really digging another awesome video from Vandaveer. There might some similarities between the two, in that they are visual presentations of really great songs that have majestic crescendos and involve large ensembles. I would have to say this cut is the more immediately rousing, you can just instantly feel the energy singer Mark Charles Heidinger imbues into his opening verse. I love the visual of the rest of the band lying in the snow and then seeing how they rise and march to the sea, looking like a folk-rock Arcade Fire. The last shot is awesome too, with Mark walking into the sea and the instruments lying on the beach. Unlike when Moe the Bartender's professor makes a similar move in an episode of "the Simpsons" (Hey, don't you want to take your shoes off before you go swimming, Professor? Oh…), I see this as triumphant. And it looks like it was filmed here at Presque Isle (I'm sure it wasn't), which is always cool. Check it out. Vandaveer's site is here.

-You thought I was done with the awesome videos, didn't you? Well you have another thing coming: the video for "Sleeping Moon" by Wes Swing. Wes is a cellist (I believe I've mentioned in the past how I think this is a pretty awesome instrument) and this song is an all too brief delicate beauty – with whistling! The video for this song is just so cool and it should do for buttons what the White Stripes "Fell in Love with a Girl" did for Legos. That's right, I'm talking stop motion, homes. Using only a colorful variety of those circular clothes fasteners, the video presents a series of transitioning images that parallel the song, sometimes concretely and sometimes abstractly. I love the early scene, it's like "Starry Night" if Van Gogh used buttons instead of oil paint. Watch the video below and find out more on Wes here. Also, for those in the Erie area, Wes will be playing in Pittsburgh May 28th at the Club Cafe.

-Ok, this has been a packed a roundup and I'm running out of steam, but we're still not done. There are a couple more tunes to dig. Keegan DeWitt has released a song called "Thunder Clatter" and I'm digging it. It drives along with a steady beat and bumping bass. Keegan's voice is complemented by some nice harmony and things give way in the chorus to a zig-zaggy riff that reminds me of Modest Mouse. This will be on EP due out in August. But I think "Thunder Clatter" will do nicely until then. Here's Keegan's website.

Thunder Clatter by Keegan DeWitt

-We will draw things to a close with Romance is Born a cut from their forthcoming album All Talk. It's called "W4M." I don't know what that means but I do know this is mixture of wistful yet slinky funk is a good listen. It's heavy on the handclaps and boasts a grooving bass line. The guitars and keyboards give nice contrasting textures and the singer is not afraid to belt it out. You can listen to the song below and find out more about the band here.

W4M by romanceisborn