Nine Lucid Dreams
After a self-imposed three year hiatus (due to Jonathan Kochmer almost cutting off a finger), Seattle’s Two Loons for Tea return with it’s third album, Nine Lucid Dreams. Featuring Sarah Scott’s gorgeous jazz-worthy vocals and Kochmer’s inventive song structures, the duo enlist heavy hitters like Matt Chamberlain, percussionist Mike Dillon, bassist Brad Houser, string master Eyvind Kang and others to flesh out its Zero 7 inspired landscapes. In lesser hands these 12 sexy tracks with their grab bag of styles ranging from pop to jazz to trip-hop, Dixie, folk, rock and even the heavily processed, Latin-laced rumba of “Consuela” could come off as scattered, but with Kochmer and Scott leading the Loons, we get a fully realized album for sultry sunsets or sophisticated after-dark engagements.
Seattle has been synonymous with alternative rock since the late '80s and early '90s; it was Seattle and nearby areas in Washington State that gave us Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Tad, the Melvins, Green River, Alice in Chains, Hole, Mudhoney, the Foo Fighters, Screaming Trees, and Mother Love Bone, among many others. But being Seattle-based and being part of alternative rock doesn't necessarily mean being a part of grunge; Two Loons for Tea have been part of the Seattle scene since the '90s, and their adult alternative pop/rock is far from grunge. Instead, this duo has much more in common with the Cocteau Twins, Massive Attack, Portishead, and early Lush than it does with Pearl Jam or the Foo Fighters; instead of getting inspiration from metal, hard rock, or hardcore, Two Loons for Tea have been incorporating elements of jazz, cabaret, ambient electronica, soul and world music. That approach worked well for lead singer Sarah Scott and guitarist/keyboardist/background singer Jonathan Kochmer (the Seattle residents who comprise Two Loons for Tea) in the early to mid-2000s, and it continues to work well for them on 2007's Nine Lucid Dreams. As usual, Scott and Kochmer are joined by a long list of guest musicians; no less than 14 different players join them on this 47-minute CD, although not simultaneously. The personnel on Nine Lucid Dreams varies from track to track, but regardless of who is or isn't joining them on a particular song, there is never any doubt that Scott and Kochmer are the ones in command -- and Scott's lead vocals are very much the focal point on appealing, dusky items such as "Eyebrows Are Nature's Makeup," "Monkey," "Toxic Shellfish in the Sun," and the Latin-tinged "Consuela." Creatively, Two Loons for Tea don't lose anything at all on Nine Lucid Dreams.
“Everyone here’s become tragically hip”, complains starring Loon Sarah Scott, but not referring to the 24-year old Canadian band. Maybe that’s why this Seattle duo are so free of “it” consciousness on their third LP (first in five years). She and fellow singer-songwriter (and burgeoning Sarathan mogul) Jonathan Kochmer bathe songs in a highly produced, glossy smoothness that’s whimsical and engaging in spirit, but perfectionist in execution – so little of contemporary music bears
comparison. Reaching back, one keeps thinking of the Sundays – before The Cranberries style-takeover diluted our appreciation. They’re sensual enough to recall that missed Harriet Wheeler-led group, like on the soundtrack sweep (with of glimpse of Portishead trip-hop) on “Marietta.” They also take on 50s Latin soul on “Consuela” and 20s Dixieland (really!) on the brief “Dixie it Up!”. With a voice this powerful and languid, they should be better known.
(The Big Takeover - Jack Rabid)
'Seattle's Two Loons For Tea are like some mad Nashville duo lost on planet chill, or perhaps they're Victorian dancehall entertainers forecasting a successful Vaudeville career for their as yet unborn but talented children. Two Loons Jonathan Kochmer and Sarah Scott are very much the local boho couple warping jazz standards for downtown hipsters but their reach is decidedly global. Scott sings with a sassy impertinence that recalls dark heroines from Dinah Washington and Rickie Lee Jones to Beth Gibbons, while Kochmer's stylized arrangements recall Zero 7, Air and a touch of Massive Attack. It's vibrant cocktail electronica for the 7pm set, feelgood music for the modern urban sophisticate.
Two Loons For Tea's Nine Lucid Dreams extends the spell cast on Looking For Landmarks and their eponymous debut, the songs coasting in and out of acoustic trip hop dreamstates with all the surety of a Seattle rainstorm. Recorded in part at Willie Nelson's Pedernales Studios, Nine Lucid Dreams tugs at country heartstrings yet with a bluesy electronic edge borne of Pro Tools efficiency and dance floor DJ demographics.
It's Scott's unique vocals that provide the emotional sustenance; she's a star in the making, her wailing, bad-girl-longing-for-love allure captivating from start to finish. Tremulous and knee tingling, Scott is equal parts organic earth child, teasing sex kitten and crooning soul sistah. You can practically see her change from sleepy chanteuse to all powerful soothsayer in "Sunset Room," the song bubbling with jazzy Rhodes piano, bustling brushed drums and atmospheric electronic blurps and bleeps. Scott's lyrics are equally enchanting, framing "Sunset Room" as a "portal to another world, where we have no need for clothes or shoes...and I will show you what I'm made of." And..."dreaming on clouds of saffron and silk, bathed in golden light we defy gravity completely." Is this is one of the best descriptions ever of the LSD experience or has Scott mastered the elusive ESO (Extended Sexual Orgasm) technique practiced by Tantric masters from Sting to Johnny the Wadd? Either way, she transports us to another world, for sure.
"Monkey" is less dream-sexual, more Saturday night chill fantastic. Like a flowing trip hop version of Sheryl Crow's "All I Wanna Do," Monkey kicks a mean blues beat with halo electronic effects, while Scott demands that you "Put your hands on the monkey." Rickie Lee Jones got nothing on this!
Kochmer's jam bag of composer treats gets it due on the below the border surge of "Consuela." Swaying like a bent outtake from Los Lobos, "Consuela" is all whispered spoken word vocals, chattering bongos, glowing vibraphones and spooky rumba beat. Like a scene from Orson Welles' Touch of Evil, "Consuela" remains a mystery long after the song has finished, "hummingbirds melt in the dark" little more than a mental tease as you pass through its Mexican shanty town in song, parched, paranoid, and sleepless.
(Yahoo! Music Blogs : Better Living Through MP3s)
"Sarah Scott has one of the purest voices in pop music... [Nine Lucid Dreams] features her dreamy vocals over Portishead influenced trip-hop and spacey, ambient pop... strings, keys, drums and horns... create a
luscious background for Scott's sensuous purring".
(Seattle Sound, Bumbershoot 2007 issue)
"The album is unusual and catchy... Nine Lucid Dreams will certainly have many fans" (Celebrity Cafe)
"Unless you’re a meteorologist or a storm-chaser, when you start talking
about atmosphere, you’re usually not referring to the literal air we breathe. It’s more likely that you’re referring to the vibe of your workplace, how a painting establishes the ambiance in your living room, or the general mood of you and your friends as you’re hanging out together one afternoon. Atmosphere is more about how you’re feeling inside or how you’re digesting and interacting with the world. And few mediums of expression are as effective at creating atmosphere as that of music, whether it’s music to start a revolution by or music by which to make babies - the tunes that stream through our ears go a long way towards establishing the soundtrack for our lives.
And with their most recent release, Nine Lucid Dreams, the dreamy duo Two Loons for Tea have crafted an album destined to fill every canal in your ears and every room in your residen with their lush beauty. Seattle denizens Sarah Scott and Jonathan Kochmer travel to great lengths as they explore the far reaches of the band’s sonic palette, all while centering their explorations on solid ambient pop sensibilities.
Recorded primarily at Willie Nelson’s Pedernales Studios, Sarah and Jonathan were able to blissfully and artfully merge the temperament of their laid-back Northwest home with the aura of the rolling, wide-open spaces that define the Texas Hill Country. From the opening strains of “Sunset Room” until the last notes of “Stand On Your Head” waft into the distance, the listener becomes spell-bound as intricate folk-guitar work, brushed drums, keyboard fills, wandering (yet measured) bass lines, and
Sarah’s voice work their aural magic. The record’s standout section is the
triumvirate of “Strongest Man in the World,” “Marietta,” and “Eyebrows are Nature’s Makeup,” where powerful storytelling aligns itself, every ebb to every flow, with excellent musicianship.
So, if you’re on the lookout for an album that was created in two of the
more stunning atmospheres on this continent and that is able to create an equally awe-inspiring atmosphere in your neck of the woods, then you’d be well served to obtain yourself a copy of Nine Lucid Dreams from Two Loons for Tea." (Amplifier : -- Adam P. Newton)
"I think this album has the perfect title - 'Nine Lucid Dreams', because throughout listening, you almost feel as if your in a dreamlike state. It creates all these visions throughout your mind that sweep and soar around your thoughts. You can picture everything word being sung, it verges on strange, but the kind of strange that you find yourself fascinated by and must get closer to if given the chance to have a more in depth look at it. Though it may not be for everyone, as some just might not get it, I have no doubts it will be loved and cherished by many!
Album opener Sunset Room is a sleek, sultry and melodic little number. Bellowing in like wind through a window, the tempo enchants and teases slowing building. They do quite well to give listeners something they've never heard before and it's quite evident that vigorous amounts of body and soul went into putting this together. I like the light and airiness of this; you could easily sit back and listen to this over and over. It does well to set the mood and tone for the rest of the album; this is definitely one of my favourites already, with its sensuous expansions, just simply gorgeous!
Monkey bounces in next, it instantly creates a sunny rumba like atmosphere, its perfect listening for the summer season. At times the tempo and vocals remind me a bit of Sheryl Crow's 'All I Wanna Do', just because they both attain that infectious beat that you can't help but dance alongside to. The background itself is one not to be ignored, presenting itself in a very poppy and ambient way that easily sweeps you up, drowning your senses in the track.
Following on is Waiting which is simply stunning, the deep rich tones of the vocals melt like chocolate and you can't help but fall for them endlessly. For a song like this, you really need vocals that can bring the emotion of the song alive and this is exactly what they do here. As the song plays on it seems to unfold and expand in all these different and most colourful ways, showing great depth.
Strongest Man in the world is one that starts off slow, but builds to this brilliant rhythm that I quite like. It catches you off guard and keeps you wondering what will pop up next. The pitter patter of the drums in the background, give this marching like quality to the song during the beginning then just seem to explode as the chorus comes in. This is one that might at first seem too slow for some, but is definitely worth hanging on till the chorus comes in, as that's where the true beauty of the song comes alive.
Next in is Marietta, a little darker sounding at first compared to the others. This doesn't have the typical over-used tempo that many songs tend to have; this is choppier which I find more interesting. Somewhat of a story line appears here as well, which creates great cinematics in the mind whilst listening. Good stuff!
Dixie it up takes you on a journey back in time and this suits Sarah's vocal tones to a tee. They dance alongside the backdrop which is charming all on its own. This is a really lovely treat to find on this album and its one you'll find yourself playing more than once as good things come to an end far too quickly!
Lastly here is Stand on your head and I absolutely love the backdrop to this one, for me it stands out more than anything. There's a purity that seeps in Sarah's vocals, but at the same time, you could quite believe that she could sing anything she set her heart on no matter what it was. The haunting enchantment of this seems to softly sing me to sleep, gently bellowing out to a close; really lovely and worth many listens.
There are some songs on this album that have a more filler like quality to them, but are worth a listen despite this. Two Loons for Tea seems to shine brighter when the songs have a bouncier tempo to them. Sarah's voice flies high to soar above the clouds and you really get more of a feel for what you're listening to. This album takes you on a journey of lush soundscapes and heartfelt moments. If you're like me, you can appreciate the differences and non-conventional direction this album takes on, it's completely unexpected, but warmly welcomed. It would be interesting now, to go and listen to previous works to get a feel for how they've changed or evolved! I think this is a charming yet peculiar album, that will reach out in some way to those who have a listen!"
Sexy, just too sexy to even mention, almost erotic, really! These are the words that immediately come to mind when addressing Two Loons for Tea's beautiful work. "Nine Lucid Dreams" is this Seattle-based duo's third album and it's like their "Simple Things", the big breakthrough for Zero 7. It starts in style with an incredibly gorgeous track, "Sunset Room", sure to insufflate fresh air into any toxic brain.
It's impossible not to fall in love with Sarah Scott's voice and Jonathan Kochmer's gently layered music patterns. The diehard downtempo fan will probably be surprised by these often acoustic, somehow voice-centered numbers but, as "Consuela" comes in, the agnostic jaw will probably drop like autumn leaves in Canada. This rumba-inspired track feels so beautifully out-of-place it will tuck you in as if it were your grandmother getting you ready for a nights sleep.
"Monkey", the second and thus decisive track, brings in a bagful of styles from the jazzy ambience to the trip-hopped folk rock. It should work pretty well as electronic music for the hearing impaired – the vibe is so intense and rich the deaf would at least sense it in the back of their mind. But, above all, Two Loons for Tea will end up setting the mood for beautiful, sunny afternoons spent in the park with the headphones on.
Far from me to get all horny when the shades are still up, but "Nine Lucid Dreams" does add that little twinkle to any bedroom. It's like the cinnamon stick you mix your drink with. And with track names like "Eyebrows Are Nature's Makeup" and "Dixie It Up!", you're sure to (forgive my directness) get laid tonight. Two Loons for Tea is definitely a band to keep an eye on and invite for a cup of...tea. Seattle never sounded so sexy, except maybe for Heather Duby!
(properlychilled.com / Helder Gomes)