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Artist: Nico Vega
Nico Vega
Record Label: Myspace Records
CD Review by Brooke Mason

Nico Vega’s new self-titled release issued by Myspace Records really captures the current Los Angeles music trends nicely with an eclectic mix of electronica (Million Years), rapcore (So So Fresh) and a little bit of southern twanged shoegaze (Medicine Man, Coal Miners Son) thrown in for good measure. The production is exceptionally strong by mixing engineer Tchad Blake with traditional long fades (So So Fresh) and stereo speaker play (Beast). The latter is the strong finale of the album with pounding drums, electronica buzz and powerful anti-establishment lyrics: “Stand tall for the beast of America/Lay down like a naked dead body/Keep it real for the people working overtime/They can’t stay living off the governments dime.” Believe it or not some of the songs on this album are so polished they actually reminded me of Ramin Djawadi’s musicial contributions to the film Iron Man.

What makes this album exceptional are the individual contributions by this three piece. The band excels at dynamics; throughout Dan Epand’s drums impress as they break to highlight Aja Volkman’s vocals and build to powerful crescendos. I felt the strongest examples of this could be heard on Wooden Dolls and Family Train. The dissonant, intentional and subtle single note compositions of guitarist Rich Koehler are both atmospheric and melodic; tunes like Rabbit In The Bag capture a Buzzcock style while Gravity recalls The Cars.

Burn Burn and Living Underground have a great dark electronica feel with primal drums and chants. At times the production is also reminiscent of progressive rock groups like Pink Floyd and Radiohead, but at the same time the catchy choruses take on a New Wave feel in part due to Aja Volkman’s vocal stylings that reminded me a bit of German new wave singer Nena and of course the primal scream of a Bjork.

Overall my favorite songs on the album can be best described as primal pop. Nico Vega excel at crafting strong choruses, building tension and tempo changes. Their self-titled release is a project to be proud of. R ad my review of Nico Vega’s live show: here.

Check Out Nico at : Myspace
Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics

Artist: Danielle Egnew
CD TitleRed Lodge
CD Review by Brooke Mason

Although Los Angeles based Danielle Egnew is actually a Montana native I don’t think you can get anymore Hollywood than this actress/psychic/musician. But don’t let those back-slashes fool you; this prolific artist is for real! She has fourteen albums to her credit, including five with her band Pope Jane. Red Lodge is the second solo album for Danielle. I had the chance to attend her Los Angeles CD Release Party at The Knitting Factory where she performed with her Whiskey Roadshow Band. Her music is extreme in the sense that it shifts from being very bare (Swinging at Nothing) to complex, with Egnew integrating a long list of eclectic instruments, drawing from her background of composing for meditation albums. Beartooth Medicine is a Native American influenced instrumental including the flute, egg shaker, a muted Chumash tribal drum and jingle bells. Hey Sadie also utilizes the thump of the tribal drum; the sort of country music that captures the true essence of wildlife.

Danielle’s lyrics are poignant. Erased is a raw piano and strings instrumental: “Give me a minute to become a memory/I’m a smudge on the paper where your thoughts used to be.” Introspective again on You Were, a song that captures Egnew’s finely crafted finger picking arrangements which reminded me at times of Jim Croce: “Im not a liar/I just pretend to be just what you need.”

My favorite tracks on this album are Drive and Me Me Mine Mine, indicative of the scope of the album, which is best categorized as country folk and folk rock. The country comes through on tracks like Me Me Mine Mine where Egnew channels June Carter with a catchy melody that recalls Eric Clapton’s Lay Down Sally. Egnew’s Story of My Life features an original method of finger plucking with the mandolin.

Drive was definitely my favorite song on this album and of her live set. The style is reminiscent of The Indigo Girls, maybe a littleR.E.M., with lots of mandolin and harmonizing in the mix with songs like The Red Door and Wendy. The latter is an epic ode to a childhood lesbian friend who never came out, unlike Danielle whose fans are urging the producers of The L Word to get her a cameo. Egnew has already shared a theatrical stage with such talents at Ally Sheedy and Jennifer Beals in Eve Ensler's Obie Award-winning play The Vagina Monologues as part of an annual V-Day worldwide campaign to raise money and awareness to stop violence against women.

You can hear Danielle as a special guest on Sheena Metal’s radio show at:
The Sheena Metal Experience
archived shows
And if you’re curious about Danielle’s psychic abilities check this out : Danielle's Psychic"

Danielle's Website
Danielle's Myspace

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