Paula Frazer's angelic voice first gained recognition under the band name Tarnation; she released 3 albums with various musicians under the Tarnation name: I'll Give You Something To Cry About (Nuf Said Records), Gentle Creatures (4AD) -- which Rolling Stone included in its list of definitive Americana records -- and Mirador (Reprise Records in US, 4AD in Europe).
These albums reflect a deep love of American styles like traditional and 1950's style country and folk, while being just as influenced by the music production styles of Phil Specter, 60's British Dream-Pop and even Ennio Morricone's Spaghetti scores.
Paula Frazer has been singing since she was a child, growing up in the Smokey Mountains of Sautee Nacoochee, Georgia, where her father was a minister and her mother a piano teacher and leader of the church choir. She grew up and eventually found her way to the great city of San Francisco.
Paula spent the better portion of the eighties and early nineties playing with various bands (Frightwig, Pleasant Day, Trial, Cloiter and Virginia Dare), but it was not until she formed Tarnation that she found a catalyst for her songwriting and singing accomplishments.
Tarnation started as a classic example of San Francisco alternative country music. But what made it different from other bands was the quality of the songwriting, exemplified in "The Game of Broken Hearts", and in Paula's immediately recognizable voice, a voice that has the clarity of Karen Carpenter with the soul of Billie Holliday or the Carter Family singers. She has also sung on other artists' records including Cornershop, Dan "the Automator" Nakamura with Sean Lennon and Mephisto Odyssey.
At the tail end of his three-year stint as the piano player for the Los Angeles ensemble Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Aaron Embry finally found the voice for which he’d been searching. He discovered this voice captive in an arch top tenor guitar, a harmonica, and a small stack of moleskine notebooks. Travel-ready and now equipped with his new discoveries, Embry found a current and the songs came up like a flood.
He wrote at a prolific rate while on tour throughout the late spring and fall of last year, a body of songs born among communal, creative atmospheres of life on the road with Sharpe and of time on the rails with the numerous musicians of 2011’s Railroad Revival Tour. As a songwriter, Embry cut his teeth by recording and touring with greats such as Elliott Smith, Willie Nelson, and Daniel Lanois, among plenty of others.
In April 2012 he began recording, and the outcome is Tiny Prayers: a 10-track collection that explores a wide range of emotions while anchored in the cardinal folk tradition of simplicity. Elemental song structures and spartan acoustic arrangements bring Embry up close and in focus as a songwriter, singer, and musician. Lyrics such as “Is my happiness dependent on its own design? Am I only waking up to leave my dreams behind?” are evidence of his love for emotional complexity, while his voice and bare instrumentation carve melodies that are built like something low to the ground yet wide as the sky.
Fort King, nom de guerre for Ryan Fuller, a songsmith who grew up in Ocala, FL and resides in Los Angeles. Steeped in old folk traditions and country blues like Mississippi John Hurt, his outsider view of LA life made him something of a citified crooner of New Weird Americana. "Black Palms" is a dirge of nascent teen suicide in a country setting. "Osceola" highlights the psychology of the Seminole Indian warrior, much as Neil Young chronicled new world holocausts in his "Cortez, the Killer." Heartbreak is also a theme and Ryan's fingerpicking and soft delivery have invited comparison to Elliott Smith.