TonyDoug's Best Music of 2003
by tonydoug wright
Over the past two years, I have missed the deadline for Erasing Clouds "Best of" issue. This year, I made a mini-resolution to make the deadline because there were some great albums that I reviewed in 2003. Recently, I took the opportunity to go through the stack of CDs I reviewed last year determined to find one that stood out above the others. The decision came down to two CDs. After some thinking, I felt that both artists deserved to be called "TonyDoug's Best of 2003". The selected albums and artists are Clean by Heth and Dark Little Rooms by Dark Little Rooms.
The first album is Clean from Heth. Heth Weinstein, a New York City singer and songwriter, delivers a CD with six fantastically crafted pop songs. Clean draws its influence from the 80s and modern electronic pop. "Falling Together", the album's opening track, and "So Easy" can be easily mistaken for long lost INXS songs (which is a compliment on my part). Heth even pulls off a Christmas song "Christmas (Sweeter Than Wine)". If you would like to check out some of Heth's songs, please click on the following link: www.hethmusic.com.
I e-mailed a few questions to Heth and he was kind enough to answer them for me. Thanks, Heth.
Heth, I really enjoyed your Clean CD. Tracks such as "Falling Together" and "Homegrown" are fantastic pop songs. You and your brother Jed Weinstein wrote all of the songs for Clean. How long have you two been writing songs together?
Wow, thanks for your kind words Tony! Jed and I have been writing together for about 8 years now. We have similar views on melodies and lyrics. This keeps the disputes in our band to a minimum and we seem to balance out each other's ideas. In other words anyone of us can become the voice of reason at any given moment. This is a help since it keeps us from making truly retarded mistakes. Butů. that may be debatable. :-)
When I first heard your music, I began drawing comparisons to some "old school" 80s bands such as INXS. How much of an influence has 80s music been on your career?
Hugely influential. Bands like INXS, The Cars, Joy Division and The Psychedelic Furs all hold such a special place in my heart. They are like oxygen to me. I love the innocence of New Wave records. They make me feel kinda warm and fuzzy. The music of the forefathers just seems so much more innovative and less contrived than what we are getting today.
What are your musical plans for 2004? Touring? New Album?
We are on the second printing of our record Clean. We achieved this by busking on the street corners here in Manhattan everyday, all summer. We managed to sell almost 2000 CD's while meeting people from seriously far-flung places. On the street corners there was no division between "the stage" and a reality sandwich. We basically learned how to get people in to what we do or else we wouldn't be eating that night LOL!
This year we are going to keep ourselves in everybody's faces as much as we can. We just signed with a Booking Agent so there is a lot of living in a van in our future. I have a good feeling about 2004 and I want to thank you and everyone who has made this year such a success for us. Rock On!
What were your favorite albums of 2003?
Beck - Sea Change
The second album is Dark Little Rooms by the Virginia-based band Dark Little Rooms. This album stood out as a solid CD with a major soul influence. Although this is a DIY effort, the album sounds extremely slick and well produced. "God Given", "Losers Game" and "Wanted it Simple" are amazing songs by lead singer and songwriter Scott Crowder. Filled with emotion and delivered with plenty of soul, Dark Little Rooms is simply one of the best CDs for 2003. If you are curious to check out more info concerning Dark Little Rooms then go to their website at www.darklittlerooms.com.
David Jones of Dark Little Rooms was kind enough to answer some of my questions via e-mail. Thanks, David.
Dark Little Rooms brings some soul into the Indie Rock world of DIY. How much do R&B, Soul, and Gospel influence the band?
The R&B/Soul/Gospel thing means a lot to Dark Little Rooms and shapes just about everything we do musically. It has a lot to do with our general taste in music, but also the desire to find something musically that is devoid of all winks, nods or inside jokes. Old Stax stuff, O.V. Wright, James Carr, Carla Thomas just do it for us. Nothing in the Indie Rock world that I have heard in the past 15 years can come close emotionally.
I noticed on your website that you were able to play a few shows in New York City during the fall of 2003. Was that your first gig in NYC? How was the experience playing there?
First gig in NYC was at Pianos with StellaStar and some friends from Richmond called Zetamale. Good show, okay place. Sold some CD's. Made some new friends, had a good time with some old friends. We have been back up 3-4 more times since then. Better each time. Last show at Mercury Lounge was pretty special. We ended up playing with that Michael Cavanaugh guy that is doing Billy Joel on Broadway in 'Movin' Up'. He came off very Richard Marx, but Billy Joel had a baby Grand delivered to the club for the show and Scott got to use it. Very Nice. We have now decided Billy Joel will supply us with his Baby Grand every show.
What albums can be listed on your Best of 2003 list?
Best of 2003- *Bought and enjoyed, not necessarily new in '03: Baxter Dury, Richard Hawley, Tahiti 80, Exploding Hearts, Bunnymen Reissues, The Magnolia Electric Co
Will Dark Little Rooms be on tour in 2004? What else can we expect from the band?
More recording, more east coast shows, making more friends that want to put out our records, making ends meet.
Note: To read the "What We Loved Most in 2003" feature straight through, click here to go directly to the next article.