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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

New (to me) Artist: Julia Stone

I love whenever I'm fortunate enough to discover a new (to me) artist that just clicks with me right away. It's plenty exciting hearing new music from bands you already know, but there is just something extra exhilarating about discovering an artist you've somehow missed. The artist's entire back catalog is suddenly new to you all at once. It's like having a favorite artist release several albums all at once.

Well somehow Australian singer Julia Stone has completely slipped under my radar these last few years. I've since learned that she is best known through Angus & Julia Stone, a folk duo with her brother. I feel like I have heard the name before, but I don't know their music. Well, fortunately I stumbled upon Julia Stone performing a cover of the song "Bloodbuzz Ohio" by The National on the music blog All Things Go (on a sidenote, I added a list of my favorite blogs on the sidebar for anyone who is interested). The original song was on 2010's "High Violet" album. It features The National's trademark deep baritone vocals and a persistent drum beat dominating much of the sound. Other instruments and noises fill in around the vocals and drums. Their version is a great song and one of my favorites from that album, but there is just something about Julia Stone's cover that I loved right away. She takes the drum beat a bit more into the background than on the original (although apparently borrows The National's drummer for the song). Instead the focus is more on the atmospheric noises around the drums and on her voice, which allows the lyrics to stick out a bit more. I'm not sure what it is about her voice, but there is something there that I just can't get enough of. Anyhow, here's her cover of the song along with the original by The National.

Julia Stone's cover is on her album "By The Way," which just came out about three weeks ago. It's one thing to be able to handle a good cover song, but another to be able to write your own. I was a bit wary of the rest of the album going into it, but the lead track "Let's Forget All The Things That We Say" is great as well and immediately alleviated my fears. Again, the focuses of that song is mostly on her voice, which is OK with me. After the two songs I've discussed, the rest of the album is similarly strong and didn't disappoint. I've listened to it several times over now, and "By The Horns" will definitely show up in my "Favorite Albums from April - June" post at the end of the month. Once I'm able to listen to this album enough times, I'll have to move on to her first solo record and also check out Angus & Julia Stone's stuff as well. Needless to say, I've got plenty to keep me busy for a while now!

Here's the lead track that I mentioned, and if you enjoy it, you can grab the album from Amazon, iTunes, or eMusic (which is the cheapest if you're a member). If anyone knows Angus & Julia and wants to tell me the best place to start with their music, let me know!

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