Brenda Xu... After releasing a debut EP and a full-length record in her hometown of San Diego to numerous accolades (including reviews in Performer Magazine and a nomination from the San Diego Music Awards), ambient-folk artist, Brenda Xu (pronounced “shoo”) re-located to Seattle where she has just released her third album. Her ethereal voice has been compared to artists such as PJ Harvey, Daughter, and Aimee Mann.
New Album “For The Winter” Press Release
The five years since Brenda Xu released her debut full-length album “A Little Illusion” have been filled with considerable change, all of which is apparent in her new record “For The Winter”. After receiving numerous accolades for the debut, including a nomination for “Best Acoustic Artist” in the San Diego Music Awards, Brenda relocated to Seattle and took an indefinite hiatus from music, focusing on navigating her way through a new city and finding her place in the Seattle music scene.
Slowly, the pieces fell into place: she became friends with Seattle-based producer Don Farwell and began forming a band to support her new songs. The years between Xu’s debut and her newest release, “For The Winter”, are immediately apparent. Not only has her ability as a lyricist grown far beyond her years, but sonically, the album is a noted departure from her past singer-songwriter career, and instead treads the delicate line between washed-out ambient tones and carefully crafted acoustic arrangements.
“For The Winter” will transport any listener through a range of seasons and emotions, while reminding us that for every season’s waxings and wanings, they all share one commonality: that they will eventually come again. Summer will continue to be followed by autumn, and winter by spring. As for Brenda Xu, she’s leaving an unusually long winter behind and turning the leaf into her second spring.
excerpt from a review Collect PNW by Scott Ryan
"There is a marked difference between chemistry and alchemy. Strictly speaking, chemistry is about the makeup, balance and interaction of different elements. Alchemy is about magic. Those elements blending together to create something that can’t be explained, something powerful and transfixing. That magic, that mystical alchemy, is what makes Mama Doll’s first full-length such a delightful listen. Something deeper than just sultry vocals and reverberating guitars is at work here from the moment the aptly named opening track, ‘Sirens,’ begins. Once its spell is cast, good luck trying to resist.
Mama Doll has seen an impressive amount of growth in a short amount of time. What began with the core of former Terrible Buttons singer, Sarah Berentson, and Austen Case enchanting small crowds has become a full band phenomenon including Cedar and Boyer’s Jen Landis on Bass, and Claire Fieberg on electric guitar. The full band arrangements compliment a strong melodic foundation, and with production help from Bart Budwig, ‘As the Crow Flies’ evokes long nights in smoky lounges, leaning heavily on delta blues and dark, southern roots music. The dirty tremolo guitars ooze like muddy water, complimented by the bass, ukulele, toms, tambourines and other found sounds. The fairly minimal instrumentation allows the vocals to work their magnetic magic, drawing listeners into each tale of love, hoped for or lost. Berentson and Case have an unearthly blend, like one voice with a split personality. Each is unique when singing alone, and yet able to near perfectly match the other’s tone and inflection when singing together. Check out the title track, almost a lullaby as the two sirens sing, “I put all your sweet words in a box by my bed, keep it close to me as I sleep/ hoping that those words will bring you to my dreams,” before Case whispers plaintively, “we are all just lovers, trying to find others.” Both sing with seductive personality, and the interplay between Berentson’s dusky, world-weary alto and Case’s sweet upper register is a highlight throughout."
Katie Kuffel is a composer and musician based in Seattle, Washington. Her first full-length album, Pearls, was released in October of 2015 after a successful Kickstarter campaign. Her first EP, Animal Pragmatist, was released in 2013.
Katie’s songwriting is both innovative and thoughtful, with a contemporary sound that draws from blues, jazz, and folk music as well as her training in classical cello and jazz piano. An openly queer artist, she explores concepts of sexuality and femininity throughout her works.
Katie has been featured as the musical act in popular podcast Welcome to Nightvale, and in PopMatters as one of the ‘best musical hopes to break out on 2016.'
In the words of author Adam Finley: "Pearls sounds like alternate-reality Regina Spektor, heavily steeped in the Pacific Northwest with bright piano and a gorgeous voice gliding, rich and effortless, through craftily constructed songs that balance whimsy and self-awareness."