Music, Magic, and Makepeace

This is for the Jason fans.

For those of you who have clicked our little “About the Indie Handbook” link and realized  it is indeed the same tiny, vague paragraph on our sidebar explaining a bit about who we are (cheap labor) and what we do (cheap labor, again), I have  news.  We will soon be posting something more.  Eric and I want you to understand more deeply what we’re all about here at the Indie Handbook–how such lovely, unassuming people could even deign to call ourselves something so pretentious as “The Indie Handbook,” as if we, more than you or your friends or Paste magazine, could be the Indie Authority.  So, just know that we’re working on it.

In the meantime, I’m going to put my indie cred at stake by reviewing a band closely associated with Jason Mraz.  I love Jason Mraz, but hearing “Geek in the Pink” on the radio station in my hometown beats into my brain that he is definitely not indie.  What many of you may not know is that Jason has a beautiful down-to-earth coffeeshop side, and you may consider checking out his album “Live at Java Joe’s” and some of the various recordings you can dig for online rather than basing your opinion of him on “Wordplay.”  Here is an example of one of his lesser-known, unavailable on iTunes tunes.

My real reason for writing today, however, isn’t to talk about Jason, no matter how much I adore him. If you were fortunate enough to go to Jason Mraz’s “Music, Magic, and Makepeace” tour last spring, you may have heard of the Makepeace Brothers. Finian, Ciaran, Aidan, and Liam Makepeace + Conor Gaffney = the Makepeace Brothers. Their influences include a lot of big names in American music, including Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, and their music really does have a uniquely American feel. Their harmonies are simple and lovely, and their lyrics adorably hopeful. While this may put off some more flamboyant indie lovers, fans of Jaymay, Brett Dennen, or Ben Kweller will adore the Makepeace Brothers’ soulful, laid-back indie-folk. Check out their myspace here…I particularly recommend “Lonely Days” and “I Can Always Do It.”

Jaymay…did I hear her first?

Yes, I did hear her first.  I heard her before Starbucks put her on one of their mixes.  Reasons I am reviewing her now:

1) Dutch week starts in 45 minutes (eastern time), that is if Eric is still going for it, and she is not Dutch, soooo…
2) If I don’t hurry up, they will not only be playing her in Starbucks, but they will also be playing her in Gap (I heard “Asleep on a Sunbeam” by Belle & Sebastian in there a couple of months ago, p.s.), and then she will lose her indie cred completely.  But I like her.  So there.

When asked what he would choose to eat if he could pick his last meal, famous chef, food writer, and world traveler Anthony Bourdain said that he would want comfort food…maybe meatballs.  And comfort food is what Jaymay is to the indie/folk music scene.  While lacking the depth of musical theory knowledge, elaborate instrumental combinations, and massive numbers about which bands like the Polyphonic Spree and Pink Martini can boast, Jaymay gives musically and lyrically pure, laid-back, melancholic, driving-in-the-rain perfection.

Although she’s originally from New York, Autumn Fallin’, Jaymay’s first complete album, came out in November 2007 in London on the Heavenly/EMI label.  “Sea Green, See Blue” has been featured in the embarrassingly pathetic CBS television show “How I Met Your Mother” and on a recent Starbucks mix.  Oh, how ironic that Starbucks would be indie…

Back on track, Autumn Fallin’ provides a unique mix of jazz, folk, and acoustic influences.  “Hard to Say” has the most notable jazz influence with its swing rhythms and dominant chords–if only Jaymay wouldn’t save her improvised mouth trumpet scat for one track!  While not one of her songs isn’t absolutely beautiful–light and moving, with simple chord structures–her storytelling sets her apart.  Through each track’s narrative, she wears her heart on her sleeve, begging for personal connection.  And she gets that connection, as love for a friend (“Gray or Blue”), the impossibility of reconciling some situations (“Ill Willed Person”), and transitions and regrets (“Sea Green, See Blue”) are all situations not unfamiliar to us.  Not to mention that Jaymay has a sparkling and seductive voice, less bizarre than Jenny Lewis’ and less boring than Norah Jones’.

We’re all praying that this precious coffeehouse brunette can avoid selling out to Starbucks or crappy CBS television shows, but she seems to have enough Punky Brewster spunk to stick it out in the indie/folk scene.  Save Autumn Fallin’ for one of those days when you’re dying for some lovely introspectiveness.

she is so cute.

[happy Easter, by the way.]