A Winsome Russian-American Songstress-Pianist
June 9, 2007 10:00 AM   Subscribe

Regina Spektor is a Russian-born American singer-songwriter and pianist associated with the anti-folk scene centered on New York City's East Village. Incorporating "piano riffs and integrating moans, nonsense words, groans, gurglings, or warblings," Spektor has a pretty unique voice (Seattle P-I: "an instrument with the agility of an athlete and the flexibility of a yogi") and style which incorporates "beatbox-style flourishes in the middle of ballads, or the use of a drum stick to tap rhythms on the body of the piano or chair" (wiki). She's got a pretty unique voice and "Fidelity" is a very unusual and rather enjoyable music video. Someone to keep an eye on (although Mefites already had been doing so).
posted by WCityMike (68 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
I bought copies of "Begin to Hope" for a girlfriend, and for my sister when she was about to have her baby. You didn't link to Regina's homepage, which allows you to stream the entire album..
posted by autodidact at 10:17 AM on June 9, 2007


"On the radio/We heard November Rain/The solo's pretty long/But it's a pretty song"
posted by smackfu at 10:19 AM on June 9, 2007


Well they love using her songs in TV commercials so you know she's good. ;)
posted by jca at 10:25 AM on June 9, 2007


I really like Kimya Dawson from the anti-folk scene. She used to be one half of the Moldy Peaches. As for Regina Spektor, I really haven't heard enough to decide if I like her or not. My daughter likes the song Fidelity, so much so that it's hard for me to listen to it anymore.
posted by Sailormom at 10:29 AM on June 9, 2007


Looks like I'll have to pick some up. Although, it doesn't hurt she's also pretty cute...
posted by Samizdata at 10:36 AM on June 9, 2007


I heard her first in Second Life. The album is cued up there to listen to, which I thought was pretty cool.
posted by Hildegarde at 10:38 AM on June 9, 2007


He steps right into sombody's fat loogie
And everyone who sees it says "ew"
Everyone who sees it says "ewwwww"
posted by ORthey at 10:42 AM on June 9, 2007


Land of Talk is a three-piece band led by Elizabeth Powell that's associated with the Montreal indie rock scene. Incorporating "sweet hooks; brash, progressive instrumentation; and endearing charisma," Land of Talk takes the basic indie rock template and bends it to its will (Prefix: "'All My Friends' evolves from a catchy but by-the-numbers structured pop song into a progression of furious, unrestrained racket"), with Powell leading the charge with her "snotty, sensitive and dynamic" vocals (wiki). She's got a pretty unique voice and "Breaxxbaxx" is a pretty straightforward but nonetheless interesting live studio video. Someone to keep an eye on (although sadly Mefites have yet to hear of this great band).

Coldplay is a British rock band that's been getting a lot of attention lately around the world. Incorporating "melodic approachability unconnected to high-studio slick," Coldplay has a pretty accessible sound (Village Voice: "the melodies are sculpted into a golden modern mean of plummy pop-rock sing-alongs") which, on the most recent album, incorporates lyrics "written in the language of e-mail—clipped, curbed, cool, ruthlessly to-the-point" (wiki). Coldplay has a pretty accessible sound and "Yellow" is one of the band's earliest successes, the archetype upon which all their other hit songs are based. Someone to keep an eye on (although Mefites are apparently well aware of the band).

Merzbow is Japanese-born Masami Akita, an experimental artist and one of the pioneers of the Japanese noise scene centered on Japan. Incorporating "chaotic sheets of static and ear-splitting metallic scrapes," Merzbow has a pretty unique sound that will give you a fucking headache if you're not prepared (some guy I know: "what the fuck is this shit") and his style incorporates elements of "psychedelic music, progressive rock and later free jazz" (wiki). Merzbow has a pretty unique sound and this video of Merzbow freaking out a small Korean village is a very unusual and rather enjoyable video. Someone to keep an eye on (although Mefites seem to bring him up often as a joke response to people's questions).

</snarky response>
posted by chrominance at 10:48 AM on June 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


i love her songs and voice : >
posted by amberglow at 10:57 AM on June 9, 2007


They are a little old now, but The Beatles were a great skiffle band. Check 'em out.
posted by Raoul de Noget at 10:57 AM on June 9, 2007


Well they love using merzbow's songs in TV commercials so you know it's good. ;)
posted by andywolf at 11:01 AM on June 9, 2007


Music listener/reader rant: If she's unique, tell us why.

What does "pretty unique" mean?

Can she warble to shatter glass? Can she hit a low note to cause furniture to move and cause cows two counties over to give chocolate milk? When she sings do the birds suddenly appear? Is it a hushed whisper that drips with implied menace? What about an emotional caterwaul that tugs at your heart and makes you want to take her home, maker her hot soup and tell her it will all be OK? Is it a weapon more than a voice? Is it unique like Mike Patton's voice is unique or more like Vincent Price's? When the vocals start will you drop your drink and go glassy-eyed? When the CD is playing will neighbors stop and ask why in the world you're punishing your cat? Will the voice make you forget the time you hear it in a commercial and truly listen? Is it so unique it makes it through a dozen listens before you can figure it out? Is it unique in a way that one listen and you're done, never needing to hear it again? When the drums start will you curse the drummer for cluttering the pristine stage the voice is inhabiting?

I mean, you know, just give us a little more.
posted by boonerang at 11:04 AM on June 9, 2007


The video for Fidelity was inspired by Frank Jackson.
posted by kenko at 11:11 AM on June 9, 2007


Thanks for posting this. I'd never heard of her.

Metafilter: 75% snarky bitching about FPP.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 11:15 AM on June 9, 2007


I like Fidelity, but the other songs I've heard from her weren't very good. Her lyrics are out there and her voice can tend toward the extremely annoying.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:20 AM on June 9, 2007


Speaking of Merzbow, I like quoting my husband on them:

It's got a good beat and I can dance to it -- ON THE SKULLS OF THE DEAD.

It's got a good beat and I can dance to it -- WHILE FUCKING GOATS IN HELL with my diamond penis.

I don't any thoughts about Regina Spektor, sorry.
posted by melissa may at 11:30 AM on June 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


I now officially do not understand the label "anti-folk".
posted by unknowncommand at 11:34 AM on June 9, 2007


A friend and I went to the Knitting Factory basement to see Kimya Dawson play (January 2003), and Regina was one of the other acts. We fell in love with her music/voice instantly. I think what really endeared her to us, though, was using a drum stick on her keyboard, and how shy she was (she kept insisting that Kimya play more instead, so she wouldn't have to go).

cmgonzalez: her voice can, in some songs, get pretty annoying... but i think songs like "rejazz" and "braille" (from 11:11) make up for it. Or at least that's how I feel about it.
posted by lisawin at 11:37 AM on June 9, 2007


I love Regina Spekter, she is one of my all-time favorite musicians. Her voice is incredible. Try listening to Lacrimosa, Apres Moi, or Chemo Limo.

The Flowers is the song I was listening to on my iPod when the doctor came into the room to tell me I had had a miscarriage. That kind of thing sticks with you.
posted by arcticwoman at 11:47 AM on June 9, 2007


Spektor, Regina? I hardly know her!

I like some of the songs on that album, but only about a third of them. That google video is effective advertising!
posted by interrobang at 11:47 AM on June 9, 2007


I got interested in her around Soviet Kitsch, which was definitely ... less commercial than Begin to Hope. I pretty much stick to it for a few tracks and those alone. They do feel less polished, more raw. Begin to Hope is more fun than that, and I'm addicted to "That Time," especially the bit about the pigeon ("I thought I was gonna be sick").

Oh, and if you don't like MP3s, good luck finding 11:11 in pressed disc form. I just watched it sell on eBay for $177. I really, really wish she'd re-release that.
posted by adipocere at 11:56 AM on June 9, 2007


I'm glad to see Regina being discussed on the blue.
posted by chuckdarwin at 11:56 AM on June 9, 2007


I met her briefly backstage at a Strokes show a few years back and she gave me a beer out of her own stash. Shy, sweet, unassuming girl. Seeing her live is entirely charming and the radio doesn't do her presence justice.
posted by sarelicar at 11:58 AM on June 9, 2007


"This is how it works
You're young until you're not
You love until you don't
You try until you can't
You laugh until you cry
You cry until you laugh
And everyone must breathe
Until their dying breath

No, this is how it works
You peer inside yourself
You take the things you like
And try to love the things you took..." : >
posted by amberglow at 12:14 PM on June 9, 2007


DO NOT WANT
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:20 PM on June 9, 2007


Uther Bentrazor: I don't think I'm ready for LOLspektors.
posted by lukemeister at 12:22 PM on June 9, 2007


Baobabs, Another Town, 20 Years of Snow, ... mmmm...

/re-listening to all of her stuff i have now
posted by amberglow at 12:33 PM on June 9, 2007


I enjoyed it; thanks for the post. Are the snarkers really under the impression that this young woman is already internationally famous and known to all? Because she's not.

(I must say, though, the glottal stop in "better" set me back on my heels: "be-'-er" just sounds weird in the context of the song, especially when she goes on to pronounce it normally.)
posted by languagehat at 2:06 PM on June 9, 2007


Uther, if we're gonna 4chan Ms. Spektor, I think I'd vote for a "TITS OR GTFO" over "DO NOT WANT."

I'm a bad man. *hangs head*
posted by adipocere at 2:29 PM on June 9, 2007


Though not all of her songs appeal to me, as a musician I can't help but be blown away by the crystal clarity and astonishing acrobatic power of her voice. I would kill to have that much control.

And thanks for the video link! It's quite charming.
posted by Saellys at 2:35 PM on June 9, 2007


Hey chrominance - if you had put that much effort into a FPP, you would have.... made one by now.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 2:46 PM on June 9, 2007


Love Regina Spektor. So, so much. On The Culture Show last year she said that Fidelity was inspired by the John Cusak film High Fidelity. Which makes a funny sort of sense.

And also, Languagehat, right at the beginning, she explained that the glottal stopped be-'-er in Fidelity is a piss-take of her friends in Tottenham (London). You can see the interview and the performance of Fidelity here on YouTube.
posted by featherboa at 2:48 PM on June 9, 2007


WCityMike, this was nice -- especially the linked "Fidelity" video. It was um, well, sort of palate-cleansing -- I've gotten pretty sick of videos but liked this one a lot.
posted by pax digita at 2:57 PM on June 9, 2007


Ok how about

"DO NOT WA-ha-ha-haa, ha-ha-hah, ha-ha-ha-hu-ha-haaNT"
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 3:03 PM on June 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


I enjoyed it; thanks for the post. Are the snarkers really under the impression that this young woman is already internationally famous and known to all? Because she's not.

Yes, she is. She's on a major label and has been around for awhile. Just because you haven't heard of her doesn't mean she's obscure.

Sorry to be a sourpuss, but I'm with chrominance. What's the point of this? Do we announce our new favorite band on the front page now?
posted by ludwig_van at 3:09 PM on June 9, 2007


She may be the only anti-folk artist who doesn't make me want to slit my wrists, so I suppose that is an accomplishment of a sort. I swear, I am open to a lot of music and can even see what people see in things I don't care for, but this is the only genre that makes me want to hurt people and then myself and then use my mutilated, badly bandaged appendeges to hurt more people.
posted by dame at 3:09 PM on June 9, 2007


She's probably a lovely person. But damn, i'd rather scoop my testicles out with a melon baller than hear "Fidelity" one more time.

-listens to BT's "This Binary Universe."-
posted by ELF Radio at 3:10 PM on June 9, 2007


I love her playfulness, particularly how she can be both mournful and goofy, as in Musicbox.
posted by stefanie at 3:13 PM on June 9, 2007


Music on MeFi is always so odd. I heard Regina Spektor several months ago, liked what I heard, bought a couple of CDs, enjoyed them. I considered putting something up here about her, but decided that there's just so much pent-up bile among the members that posting is just not worth the effort.

Perhaps there should be a new MeFi rule: If you can buy it (or an example of it), it cannot be the subject of a post. That way we can ensure that only sufficiently hip artists can be featured. Nothing in a gallery, nothing released on disc (except vanity projects), nothing in print, nothing with with a total traffic count over three digits.

Thanks for making the effort, WCityMike. I hadn't thought to check YouTube for her videos, and they are good.

[scrubs Residents post from list of to-do items, assured that they are too mainstream for this crowd]
posted by mkhall at 3:19 PM on June 9, 2007


Dude, it has nothing to do with how hip/unhip anyone is. A post that consists of "hey, check out this band" and nothing more is lame. Should I make an FPP about every band I'm into that has a music video and a wikipedia entry? Because maybe someone hadn't thought to check YouTube for their videos?

Anyway, I'm going to proceed to the "move on" step now.
posted by ludwig_van at 3:33 PM on June 9, 2007


Hey chrominance - if you had put that much effort into a FPP, you would have.... made one by now.

So you're daring me to make an FPP about one of the bands I mentioned, or one of a gazillion others? Because I'll do it.

Also, what ludwig_van said.
posted by chrominance at 3:37 PM on June 9, 2007


And seriously, if you want to use metafilter to promote a musician, you could pick one who doesn't already have 13,669,735 plays on myspace. Ok, I promise I'm done now.
posted by ludwig_van at 3:37 PM on June 9, 2007


I think I liked anti-folk better when it was called "Bob Dylan." But since that's not really my generation, let me say I liked it better when it was called the "Violent Femmes."

BTW: I love Aimee Mann. Just had to say that. She's real good. This lady is good too.
posted by MarshallPoe at 3:45 PM on June 9, 2007


the video for "fidelity" (.mov) is as drab as the video for "on the radio"(.mov too) is rare sublime.
posted by progosk at 4:07 PM on June 9, 2007


anti folk: This genre takes the earnestness of politically charged '60s hippie music and subverts it into something else: music that sounds raw and poorly executed, but mocks the seriousness and pretension of the established mainstream folk scene and also mocks itself. In Anti-folk, self-mockery and self-aggrandizement have somehow fused, just as political commentary fused with poppy love songs in the sixties.

God, this makes me never, ever, ever want to hear an anti-folk song.

Personally, I think there are too goddamn many names for different types of music.
posted by Justinian at 4:18 PM on June 9, 2007


Weird. The first time I heard Fidelity I thought "it's nice to hear Fiona Apple on the radio again, though she seems a bit happier."
posted by Ryvar at 4:31 PM on June 9, 2007


Wait... she was on The Culture Show and I missed it?

FUCK.

p.s. For those of you who don't know, The Culture Show is what keeps the punters clued up.
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:50 PM on June 9, 2007


She's on a major label and has been around for awhile. Just because you haven't heard of her doesn't mean she's obscure.

I didn't say she was obscure. I said she wasn't already internationally famous and known to all. Which she's not. You are evidently one of those people who, once more than your tiny coterie of uberhipsters have heard of someone or something, declare it over and move on to the next unknown phenomenon. Let the rest of us enjoy good stuff; meanwhile you can sneer quietly to your coterie.
posted by languagehat at 5:00 PM on June 9, 2007


Are the snarkers really under the impression that this young woman is already internationally famous and known to all? Because she's not.

I guess not many musicans are "known to all" though, are they? My dad's never heard of Christina Aguleria and you'd pretty much call her an established artist. So by those terms, Spektor would harldy be considered internationally famous.

However, her music is played on all the mainstream radio stations here and there's been a big promotion for her concert in July and we're such an out of the way little town, too (kind of).

I would have actually assumed that many people here would know of her because whenever those awesome indie music threads appear on AskMe I'm let in on a whole lot of music that I hadn't been exposed to before.

So, no real snark here just genuine bafflement (and an excuse to say "bafflement").
posted by liquorice at 5:18 PM on June 9, 2007


My personal favourite is Samson but ymmv. On the subject of you tube videos of great new musicians I'll submit Andy Mckee who does have the most popular video on youtube.
posted by TheCassiniDivision at 5:23 PM on June 9, 2007


Well put languagehat and thank you for the post WCityMike.
posted by Binliner at 5:31 PM on June 9, 2007


Okay, now that this thread's been around for a while and is clearly not in danger of deletion, I will explain:

My comment was not about who knows her or how "mainstream" she is or whatever. My comment was simply that if everyone did what WCityMike did, then the front page would just become a giant list of everyone's favourite bands. It doesn't really matter if it's Kylie Minogue or Jon Rauhouse or the band one of my friends plays in that none of you have ever heard of. All this is is saying "I like this band! Do you also like this band?" Which is why I'm semi-serious about being dared to make an FPP in a similar vein. Do you really want me to post a bunch of links to the bands I like? Because there's certainly no shortage of them.

But now that we're here discussing Regina Spektor: not my favourite thing but she does sound decent. She does nothing to clarify what "anti-folk" is supposed to be, though, aside from the vague association with CocoRosie. My inability to discern the proper meanings of music genre names is clearly coming to a middle.
posted by chrominance at 6:04 PM on June 9, 2007


Are the snarkers really under the impression that this young woman is already internationally famous and known to all? Because she's not.

I dunno man, I heard her first on the radio. That thing that transmits waves that you can pick up and listen to via speakers. Perhaps in your car. Or, in my case, your friend's car. Perhaps it's not "international acclaim" but similarly in the way that one-link NYT posts are decried because "HOW IS THIS BEST OF WEB?" how on Earth is an artist who you can download on MySpace or choose as your ringtone worthy of an FPP based on nothing more than the fact that they exist? I wouldn't debate a post about "[Insert musician here] does cool thing" but just "Oh, this person is neat" should be limited to someone who you couldn't really have been exposed to without the good will of the 'Filter. Unless of course, we want to be up to our necks in posts about Architecture in Helsinki.

I like Regina Spektor just fine, but I think that making a post like this is lame. I wouldn't want to read "PostaboutyourcurrentfavoritemusicianFilter." That's why God invented Pitchfork.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:31 PM on June 9, 2007


chrominance: You don't know what anti-folk is?!?!? Now you'll tell me you can't identify the differences between house, synthpop, darksynth, acid house, eurotrance, hard style, psytekk, detroit techno, detroit house, gloomcore, microhouse, experimental house, tech house, breakbeat, nu skool, new jack swing, big beat, speed garage, braindance, jazzstep, speedcore, metalcore, trancecore, techn--- oh fuck it, I'm going to go kill myself.
posted by Justinian at 6:41 PM on June 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


I love music, and live for the thrill of discovering new artists.
So, thanks, snarkers, for sparing me the risk of such a find.
I thank you for your slavish dedication to protecting MeFi from anything you somehow just "know" to be sub-worthy of a FPP.

Also: your diapers need changing.
posted by Fupped Duck at 6:42 PM on June 9, 2007


Oh great, I love getting to play the sneering hipster strawman. Someone pass me a PBR.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:18 PM on June 9, 2007


Interesing artist, thanks WcityMike
I never loved nobody fully
Always one foot on the ground
And by protecting my heart truly
I got lost in the sounds
I hear in my mind
All of these voices
I hear in my mind all these words
I hear in my mind all this music
I particularly like the way the director interpreted the fear of the lover, that wants to love but is afraid of getting harmed and is torn by "voices" in the mind. The solution is to just stop over protecting and by letting go the "heart" it may break, symbolizing the risk of being harmed, but that will unleash color ...sugar and spice and all things nice kisses sweeter than wine. Messy colors maybe, but still a lot better then a bipolar black and white.
posted by elpapacito at 7:22 PM on June 9, 2007


I liked Soviet Kitsch more than Begin To Hope. It seemed more real. The second album's good too, but it's a bit overproduced.
posted by fishmasta at 11:57 PM on June 9, 2007


She sounds like a Tori Amos sound-check.
posted by RavinDave at 12:35 AM on June 10, 2007


I thought the exact. same. thing. RavinDave.
posted by Justinian at 12:36 AM on June 10, 2007


Her voice reminds me of Erin McKeown.

I don't know if Erin qualifies as obscure-enough-for-comment, god forbid someone find out about new music.
posted by uri at 1:01 AM on June 10, 2007


Ugh.
posted by spitbull at 4:40 AM on June 10, 2007


I first encountered her on late-night Radio 3 (the classical station in the UK) and bought Mary Ann Meets the Gravediggers, which was only released in the UK. The songs are far less over-produced than the ones on 'Begin to Hope' and I recommend it completely! Now I'm going to try to get hold of Soviet Kitsch and 11:11.
posted by altolinguistic at 7:20 AM on June 10, 2007


Now I'm going to try to get hold of Soviet Kitsch and 11:11.
There are torrents around for them...i just got them myself.
posted by amberglow at 9:54 AM on June 10, 2007


This is pretty pretentious, but at least it's not snarky: That music video was so compelling I paused Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony to watch it, and then forgot to turn the Mendelssohn back on.
posted by tepidmonkey at 2:44 PM on June 10, 2007


Thanks for posting this. The other night, someone I'd just met kept calling me "Regina". She apologized, saying it was hard to remember my name because I looked like Regina Spektor (whoever the hell that is, I thought). Now I know.

Yeah, I kind of look like her. But I hate looking like people. And she looks more like Tori Amos anyway.
posted by Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson at 1:04 AM on June 11, 2007


Nice thing about her in the NYT today from Ne-Yo: Where’s the Melody? It’s Everywhere You Look
posted by amberglow at 12:47 PM on June 17, 2007


boonerang: If she's unique, tell us why. What does "pretty unique" mean?

Clause in FPP that precedes "pretty unique": "Incorporating 'piano riffs and integrating moans, nonsense words, groans, gurglings, or warblings ... '"
posted by WCityMike at 1:21 PM on June 21, 2007


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