Alexis Marceaux & the Samurai (New Orleans, LA)
From the ‘Orange Moon’ press release:
“It’s fitting you might have caught a glimpse of Alexis Marceaux on Treme, HBO’s pantheon to New Orleans musicians. The soulful young artist is a lifelong New Orleanian, with credentials that best that of the cast. Her father is a local musician, and Alexis not only grew up surrounded by artists via rehearsals and sessions in the house; she also attended New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (alumni include Harry Connick Jr. and Wynton Marsalis), and sang in the St Bernard Parish Choir. Now, the 22-year old is releasing her second album, Orange Moon on August 23, 2011. Under the tutelage of Polyphonic Spree’s Rick Nelson and producer Sam Craft, Alexis drew an all-star cast, 25 of NOLA’s finest musicians of every genre, for an album that is big and lush — yet finessed with restraint and space.
This is the second album for Alexis, who also keeps a spot as a touring musician and vocalist with Susan Cowsill, playing guitar, piano and harmonica, and is part of the local indie-rock band Glasgow. She released Dandelion in 09, and its songs were picked up by various television shows, but with Orange Moon, she’s elevated from a singer/songwriter — to an artist that pulls more wholly from her city and life experiences. “I was really green, I had just started writing songs at age 13, and recorded the first album at the age of 18. The material was very song-writerly and folky, before I began to turn to metaphor,” says Alexis. “With that, the instrumentation naturally progressed and got more a bit more complicated.” She makes that clear with the cinematic title track, a testimony to her friend Leila Foret’s battle with cancer. Alexis’ richly expressive and classically trained alto soars and dips with a brass section featuring Bonerama’s Craig Klein, Big Sam’s Funky Nation’s Sam Williams, and a host of other New Orleans horns, making it one part jazz, one part funk and indie rock. The brooding storm of disquiet that the combined textures create, parallel not only Leila’s fight to overcome her illness, but also the battle New Orleans waged to recover from the perils of Katrina.
Alexis’ family had long been ensconced in St Bernard Parish and lost everything in the floodwaters, sending Alexis further afield to SLU for vocal studies. Not long after she came back, St. Bernard’s and many other parishes’ prolific fisheries were crippled as oil from the 2010 spill washed ashore. The tale in “Wishing Well” is told from that heartbreaking perspective, but from the point of view of Louisiana’s state bird, the Pelican. “I just want to spread my wings and sing like a songbird sings, but suddenly I’m overcome with fear,” the Cajun descendant sings before caustically biting into, “Those suckers will be lucky if I ever come back.” The song’s message is translated into an indie-rock song, only slightly disguising its Cajun undertone complete with frottoir (Cajun washboard) by Russ Broussard (Terrance Simien, Zachery Richard and basically every major Cajun/Zydeco band of the 80′s/90s). The last 60 seconds or so of the song features an anthemic chorus made up of a sizable chunk of the New Orleans music establishment (including Paul Sanchez, Susan Cowsill, and about a dozen others), banded together like an angered and militant crowd.
On “Fox,” a song that would fit snugly into a Decemberists album, she sings of the dangers of making hasty generalizations in an Aesop-meets-Orwell parable of clandestine love with a poppy guitar and whistles before swirling into a frenzy.”
Elaine Greer (Austin, TX)
Elaine Greer’s interest in music stemmed from a variety of influences, ranging from her love for Broadway musicals as a child to her numerous attempts at punk rock bands as a teenager. Although she began writing songs at a young age, she was secretive about it for years before starting her first active band in 2005, The Bluebirds. The Bluebirds didn’t last long though, and thus Elaine Greer the solo artist was born. Years (and several line up changes) later, Elaine was playing regularly around Houston, where she drummed up quite a bit of local interest and opened for such celebrated acts as The Fiery Furnaces, Tilly and the Wall, and Tim Barry. At the end of 2008, Elaine realized that her lo-fi home recordings could only take her so far, and headed to Master Bedroom Studios to record her first legitimate EP, “Making Plans and Going Places.” The 6-song EP, described as a “distractingly pretty collection of folk pop songs”, was released in May of 2009. The EP featured a number of guest musicians and was mixed by Steve Christensen from Houston’s SugarHill Studios. Later on in 2009, Greer reunited with Christensen (who soon after won a Grammy for Steve Earle’s “Townes”) to begin recording her first full length album. The recording of this album stretched through 2010, taking place at Steve’s apartment, SugarHill Studios, and Elaine’s apartment in Austin (where she had decided to move at some point in all of this). A little over a year later, the album, to be entitled “Annotations”, was complete and sent to The Lodge in New York to be mastered. Set to be released in early 2011, this album melds the genuine feel of Elaine’s early recordings with that of a studio album throughout 9 intricately composed songs that are layered in vocal harmonies. Greer, now 22 years old, is currently still living in Austin, Texas and playing with a new band of talented individuals.
-Won “Favorite Solo Artist” in the 2008 Skyline Sammy Awards.
-Nominated for Best Female Vocalist in the 2009 Houston Press Music Awards.
Day Sailor – (Houston, TX)
Hailing from Houston, TX, Day Sailor is a breath of fresh air in the Houston music scene. The band has, in a few short months together, created a special breed of indie rock that can be defined as both introspective and sweeping, from climactic moments of layered guitar to quiet piano reflections. Since April, the band has played local Houston venues such as Continental Club, Fitzgeralds, Jet Lounge, Avant Garden, and Rudyards, and is currently underway with their first EP.