Today I'm going to talk about Laura Barrett. She's a classically-trained pianist from Toronto, but made her mark creating hauntingly beautiful kalimba music with quirky lyrics on her first independently released EP Earth Sciences. I first heard Laura via (what else?) a unique kalimba cover of Weird Al's Smells Like Nirvana and knew I had to buy the EP, which also featured the blogosphere favourite Robot Ponies. Now when I say independently released, I mean it arrived in a wonderful hand-stitched green CD case with a little personal note after ordering it directly from Laura. Her latest 4-song EP Ursula which also includes a music video for Robot Ponies was released in December, though unless you live in Toronto and can go to indie record store Soundscapes you'll end up having to e-mail Laura for further instructions...
[Earth Sciences EP re-release]
Last month Laura signed on with Paper Bag Records who are re-releasing her Earth Sciences EP with new artwork and a bonus remix next Tuesday. So ordering some Laura Barrett CDs is that much simpler now. And by the sounds of it, she's working on a full-length album (including, but not limited to the kalimba) to be released by Paper Bag Records later this year. She'll also be performing at SXSW next month among a ton of other Canadian artists. Tomorrow Laura will be live on CBC radio's morning show GO! and you can even go see it live, that is of course if you live in Toronto.
(**Note: I'm going to be particularly stringent this week about the temporary hosting of this particular track. One week max!)
Both the Earth Sciences and Ursula EPs have different versions of Deception Island Optimists Club, a song for which she was nominated for the inaugural SOCAN ECHO Songwriting prize in 2006. There's kind of a curious story to go along with this that I'll have to elaborate in a later post, but here's the short version: The winner of the 2007 ECHO prize was Toronto rapper Abdominal (who also deserves a future post of his own). I'm a big fan of Abdominal's collaborations with DJ Format, though I didn't find out until the new year that he released a new solo album, which after listening would have made my top 10 of 2007. There's an amazing CBC Radio show on Saturdays called Fuse that fuses seemingly disparate artists together to create new music. On a December show of Fuse (listen here), Abdominal was paired up with a band I was unfamiliar with called Henri Fabergé & The Adorables. I came away with a great appreciation for both artists. Now just this past week, alerted by a CBC Radio 3 blog, I read that Henri Fabergé & The Adorables were going to be featured on In Sessions on CBC Country Canada this week and a preview was up on youtube. I was vaguely startled while in the middle of watching the preview... did I just see Laura Barrett?
Now all I've been talking about is her solo work, but Laura has been playing in and touring with a number of bands in the past couple years and that includes being a member of The Adorables playing clarinet! I knew she was a member of The Hidden Cameras, but randomly seeing her in the Adorables was a delightful surprise. That was just further incentive to pick up their self-titled album from Fuzzy Logic (also available digitally from Zunior, but I like CDs).
Let's Get Baked with Laura Barrett: Lemongrass Coconut Curry
I'm sure all that reading has made you hungry, so join Laura for on the music/food podcast Let's Get Baked with Mat and Dave, where musical guests prepare a dish with some music in the mix. Check the archives too. Ever wanted to make Wyld Mushroom Risotto with Final Fantasy? Basia Bulat's Polish Apple Cake? Chicago Deep Dish Pizza with OK Go? Lots of notable guests (100+ episodes since 2005) including Fong Songs fav Danny Michel, Geoff Berner, You Say Party We Say Die, Joel Plaskett, Immaculate Machine... The catch? They're all vegan dishes, which is not exactly my food scene (near opposite, in fact-- meat, meat meat), but it's a fun listen.
...And for those of you who entered the Harvey Danger giveaway, I'll pick winners tonight using some random unscientific method and announce it soon thereafter. Good luck, all eight of you!