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A Fine Frenzy
"One Cell in the Sea"
Voted: Most Likely to Succeed, Best All-Around
The cover of A Fine Frenzy's debut disc could easily be mistaken for a back-to-school fashion spread, with its amber-drenched tones and fiery-maned songstress Alison Sudol posed strikingly like a Barneys window display. A broken-hearted beauty with an affinity for literary references and nature's wonders, Sudol is the sweetest sound to emerge from the singer-songwriter front this season.
The piano-centric melodies of this one-woman venture falls somewhere between Coldplay and Damien Rice, and the CD embraces a stunning sense of melancholy. The entire disc spills forth effortlessly and consumes you in a rush of warm tones and words that should be housed in a dusty, leather-bound journal. For the recently dumped or romantic at heart, it's the perfect companion piece to a deep conversation or a good cry.
Best Looking, Most Musically Inclined
Audiophiles will rejoice in textured sounds and tweaks on the debut disc from Annie Clark, best known until now for her work as a guitarist for The Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens' touring band. Comparisons to Kate Bush and Tori Amos abound (and are fair, considering a track like "Now, Now"), but Clark is an original by all means. This anything-but-predictable first effort is a sonic labyrinth that incorporates everything from the clinking of childlike instruments to sophisticated lounge music. Clark's wry sense of humor on tracks such as "Jesus Saves, I'm Spending" will amuse careful listeners, but this is a disc suitable for even the casual listener and perfect to throw on at your next soiree. A "Who is this?" is guaranteed at some point during the evening.
Bat for Lashes
"Fur and Gold"
Shyest, Most Likely to Run Away With the Circus
Autoharps, beat machines and the occasional marching band collide on this imaginative debut from multi-instrumentalist Natasha Khan. For all of the risks that Khan takes on the disc, each one proves a success. From the eerie folktale-esque "Sarah" to the haunting cover of Springsteen's "I'm on Fire," these intriguing tracks verge on vignettes and warrant an intimate headphone listening by candlelight. Think film noir and the smell of wet leaves on a sidewalk in October. Both haunting and exquisite, this is perfect music to carve your jack-o'-lanterns by.