Way up in college town of Madison, Wisconsin resides a neat little indie label called Science of Sound. The collective could be compared to K Records or Marriage Records or something. Originally, SOS was formed by Terrin and Ricky Riemer so that they could release their own music, but it's branched out to become a "real" indie label. Very quaint and very worthwhile. You can check out some samples on the MySpace page.
Anyway, the artist that stands out most for me is this twee folk-pop singer named Elliott Kozel, although he goes by the length moniker of She Is So Beutiful/She Is So Blonde when recording. The self-titled bedroom recording comes with the usual story: it took a long time to create and produce (four years for Kozel), it features a formidable stylistic range, and the album was by no means the only project the artist was working on during the creative process (Kozel is in the "spastic-pop trio Sleeping in the Aviary, which released its debut LP in February this year, and spent several months touring).
That being said, the music is wonderful and certainly not by-the-book (if you could call any home produced pop album such!) There's a crispness to all the songs, an unusually high quality of production and crispness to the instruments and vocals. Though there's certainly a looseness to the style ... a sluggish folksy tendency shines through many songs, a more energetic and hopeful one in others ...
Truly one of my favorite albums of this variety, certainly one of my top for the year, although there may be no sophomore effort ... Sleeping In the Aviary seems to consuming the bulk of Kozel's time! -Nik Mercer of BiBaBiDi.com
I've often wondered how important time and place are in the enjoyment and appreciation of music. If I'd first heard Joy Division while lying in the sun on holiday on a hot Saturday morning rather than late at night on a tinny transistor radio followed by the dulcet tones of John Peel eulogising them would they still mean so much to me or would I have dismissed them as miserabilist doom mongerers and loaded my walkman with Duran Durans latest album with renewed relish (it's torture even to merely speculate!)?
Well this week I tested this theory and listened to the forthcoming album by the exotically monickered She is so Beautiful/She is So Blonde, the solo project of Elliott Kozel guitarist of Sleeping in the Aviary (first featured on the Devil's blog back in May 07, click here to read more.), whilst slowly sipping a Caramel Machiatto in the Starbucks in Bold Street, Liverpool. Yes I am fully aware that Starbucks are evil and my soul has been corrupted just by spending time in there but there is no coffee in the world that can match a Starbucks Caramel Macchiatto and how can the Devil's soul get any more corrupt?!!.
So anyway back to SISBSISB's self-titled album, which has been over four years in the making, and my theory on the relevance of time and place in the appreciation of music. After about half an hour spent listening to the usual Starbucks mix of plastic soul and faux authentic and self confessed deep and meaningful singer songwriters I slipped on my headphones and was immediately transported to a world where music is produced for its artistic merit rather than to adorn the walls whilst uninterested people sip their slightly bitter tasting beverages in plastic cups.
SISBSISB's album has a shambling, messy, laid back folk vibe (maaaannn!! I'm beginning to turn into a parody of myself, is this normal?) with a slightly sinister undertow, kinda like a crystal clear pond full of piranhas. One track ('Biography') is accompanied by the sounds of a female who could either be in the midst of a particularly great orgasm or being tortured by a sadistic serial killer (not being able to tell the difference possibly accounts for my lack of success with the female of the species (that and the fact that I'm happily married!!)).
Elliott has created an impressively engaging, Sunday morning album that ranges from the sparse acoustic side of Smog via the gothic dream pop of This Mortal Coil to the spacey soundscapes of Califone and The Microphones . This is one of those albums that rewards repeated listens continually surprising with subtleties easily missed on first hearing. Having time to luxuriate in this album made me appreciate it's subtle textures and intricate patterns and confirmed my long held belief that time and place do have a key part to play in the enjoyment and appreciation of music.
She Is So Beautiful/She Is So Blonde will be released November 6, 2007 on Science of Sound so go check it out. Just don't forget that time and place have a part to play in how you'll feel about the album. -The Devil Has The Best Tuna www.besttuna.blogspot.com
With Sleeping in the Aviary, Elliott Kozel tumbles through garage-incubated indie rock that's by turns poppy, snotty and appealingly unhinged. It's geek-rock with guts, and it's little wonder that members of the music press and the blogosphere who actually listen to the stuff they receive from small, unheralded labels based in terra incognita like Madison, Wis., have singled out lead mouth Kozel for praise.
It's likely the same outlets will appreciate the sweet bejesus out of She Is So Beautiful/She Is So Blonde, albeit for entirely different reasons. This is quite literally Kozel's bedroom band and disc. He wrote the songs and recorded all the instruments there over a four-year period, and it has the groggy feel of dreamland.
I guess you'd say that standout cuts like the wistful, Neil Young–meets–Smog mood piece "On the Bus" and the keyboard-dappled lamentation "Piano Room Blues" are folk-rock. But this is hardly a typical singer-songwriter affair. For the most part, Kozel mumbles and keens in middle space as glockenspiel, harmonica and what sounds like echoed slide guitar tinkle and whirr around him. The result is psychedelia for people who can't stand paisley and lava lamps or references to walls dripping with candy-coated sunshine. -Tom Laskin, Isthmus/The Daily Page
The Elliott Kozel of Sleeping in the Aviary and Elliott Kozel the solo artist are very different animals. With the former, Kozel careens through inspired pop tunes that are by turns ramshackle, anarchic and sweet. As a solo artist, he paints in far more muted colors.
Lo-fi alt-country-folk lopes easily toward the hazy horizon, atmospheric sonic experiments envelope Kozel's quavering voice as a few piano chords or an echoic sonic filigree blur the line between aural collage and deliberate composition. On his own, playing all the instruments and singing all the vocal parts, he's more surrealist than ash-can pop-punk. "On the Bus," one of the dreamiest pieces on his dreamy debut solo She Is So Beautiful/She Is So Blonde, is a light psychedelic smear of wan harmonica, quavering guitar, brushed cymbals, whooshing sound effects that suggest a rolling thunder storm and, most important, Kozel's narcotized, half whispered vocals.
In some ways, the tune recalls Calexico and even Madison expat Carl Johns. But Kozel's definitely exploring personal musical mysteries, too. In fact, like a lot of the album, "On the Bus" is so hermetic it's meant to convey much more than the absurd lightness of being.
An MP3 of the track are available in the related downloads at right. More music by Kozel on She Is So Beautiful/She Is So Blonde can be found on its MySpace page.
-Tom Laskin, Mad Tracks on The Daily Page
Here's the link: http://www.thedailypage.com/daily/article.php?article=13321