…one of the most distinctive and individualistic artists in what was a thriving Lower East Side and Brooklyn music scene. She remains one of the most eclectic tunesmiths to emerge from there, blending jazz sophistication, trippy downtempo ambience, and a little slashing punk-funk or downtown guitar skronk into her uneasy, picturesque songs. – New York Music Daily
Alice Lee is a beautiful singer/songwriter with a soulful voice that brings similarities to Feist and Dot Allison. Along with own voice, she combines jazzy electronic beats adding a rememberable pop edge to her music. “Lovers and Losers” is her fourth release to date. – Crashin’ In
Alice Lee – Lovers and Losers
Her third album, from 2005, edgily blends oldschool soul vocals and vibes with hip-hop and tropical rhythms, with Lee playing guitars and keys and backed by an inspired crew including Pere Ubu’s Tony Maimone (who also engineered the album) on bass. Her contralto voice cools the burn from lyrics that range from torchy to arsonistic, although the bitterness is sometimes cushioned by her wry sense of humor. A lot of this sounds like what Fiona Apple was reaching for about five years ago but never could hit. In a perfect world, the big hits would have been the concert favorite A New Bruise, the hypnotic trip-hop Retrograde Heart and the catchy, wounded soul-pop of Perfect Girl (which Lee assures she’ll never be). Friendly Fire sets artsy janglerock over a slinky funk beat; Heroin jolts you with a big metal guitar crescendo. The swirling, trippily atmospheric Gloria and I Breathe evoke Lee’s brief flirtation with downtempo chillout music; the masterpiece here is Last Night (as in “last night on earth”), one of the most evocative nocturnes ever written. Lee ends the album with the acoustic soul of Going Home, the gorgeously funky, bass-driven No Idea and the solo acoustic tropicalia of Hard to Forget. The album doesn’t seem to have made it to the share sites yet, but it’s still available at Lee’s site and cdbaby. – LucidCulture
An early contender for this year’s female alternative singer-songwriter album, Alice Lee’s second full-length recording is a varied, challenging and frequently entertaining demonstration of the New Yorker’s talents. Lee’s vocals are balanced between the angst of Alanis Morrissette (especially so on ‘Heroin’ where Lee sounds unusually overwrought) and the “kookiness” factor of Bjork. Encompassing a great diversity, Lee successfully takes on radio-friendly pop (‘Perfect Girl’), experimental home recording (‘Gloria’), acoustic balladry (‘Going Home’) and off-kilter rock (everything else). If there’s one song to pick out it would be ‘Friendly Fire’; featuring a muscular bass backing, Lee’s controlled ululations and – much like the rest of ther record – a strong melodic hook. ‘Lovers And Losers’ is finely tuned towards the middle ground between alternative rock and mainstream adult pop. (standout track – “friendly fire” – Leonard’s Lair (UK)
“A New Bruise” is captivating. It’s almost a dirge and has got slightly dissonant keyboard parts at times. “Perfect Girl” is much more pop/radio friendly. But still not Top 40 (thank goodness). “Gloria” reminds me of Björk’s subtler stuff. Very cool. “Retrograde heart” has some cool piano. “Heroin” sounds bluesy. Check out this music that is a little edgy and a little weird with some unique sounds. – Amy Lotsberg, Collected Sounds
Tony very graciously shared your new CD with me. Spending some time with your music made me act on his suggestion that I send you a note. At first, I wasn’t sure I would, since we haven’t met, but having said that, what you’ve done, what you do, goes out to so many people you don’t know so please accept this note as a form of reciprocation.
The most striking thing about your music for me is its beautifully logical contradictions. Your lyrics and your voice have such a stark, raw fragility as you superimpose them over polished, sometimes buoyant, almost jaunty, or brooding, contrapuntal instrumentals. These juxtapositions create a dynamic honesty that feels natural, and powerful to me…the seemingly delicate, vulnerable intrinsic in the gossamer, atonal minor keys you hit belies the refined, saavy extrinsic… I particularly respond to “i breathe”…..so lovely, Alice…so very poignant and full of the strength, the pathos and these contradictions we can all carry within us is all heard in your voice. And your lyrics they are so very intelligent and visceral. I can relate. “lovers and losers” is full of such good stuff! I wish you lots of success with something you are meant to be doing. True bravery. Thanks for your music.
I mean that with all sincerity,
Her breakout album, a deep, rich collection of pop gems. Oxymoron? No way. This is my favorite cd of the year so far. On her third release, the Brooklyn multi-instrumentalist whips up a pitcher of intoxicatingly catchy, radio-ready hits without sacrificing any of her underground cred.
It’s been interesting watching her evolve: her first cd, the Quicksand ep was a fiery, fearless multi-stylistic effort that established her as a force to be reckoned with. Her second cd, The Art of Forgetting was a surprisingly lush affair, all sultry downtempo beats and swirling atmospherics. Lovers & Losers combines the bite and snarl of the first album with the polish of the second. It reveals its treasures like an artichoke, slowly, as the layers peel back. But this one’s marinated, and there are spines everywhere. Be careful. This cd could make you bleed. It’s unabashedly pop and musically upbeat, but a darkess pervades, grounding the songs in reality.
While virtually every recording session has its own horror stories, this cd sounds like it was a blast to make. Lee’s vocals may often be stark, wounded and battlescarred, but the music is playful, witty, sometimes even joyful. You can almost see the grins on the faces of the musicians as they nudge each other into raising the art of the surprise to new levels. The cd opens with New Bruise, Lee’s sensuous, soul-inflected voice floating over a recurrent hook which she plays on the harmonium. This is the album’s paradigmatic what-the-fuck moment (there are many). Take the big hit with the big hook and stick a harmonium in there. That’s Alice Lee for you. Predictability factor: zero.
The next song, How Will I Be Now bounces along on a tasty acoustic guitar hook over hip-hop beats, masking the song’s sad undercurrent. The following track, Perfect Girl is the cd’s most overtly pop moment, an irresistibly catchy song appropriate for both urban and CHR radio formats. Of course, its blissful sunniness eventually gives way to clouds, and with them redemption. It wouldn’t be real otherwise. Friendly Fire, driven by ex Pere Ubu bassist Tony Maimone’s swooping bass and Lee’s tinkling piano, is perhaps the album’s artiest moment: “I can’t see your scars but I can feel them,” she muses ruefully.
Other standout tracks include I Breathe, featuring tastefully layered harmonies over funky, fluid bass and a memorable chorus: The live concert staple Retrograde Heart (from the Quicksand ep) is reprised here as a downtempo piano-driven hit. The quietly deadpan Last Night perfectly captures the weariness of the wee hours, the endorphins kicking in as the clock runs down on the apocalypse. Lest all the catchiness start to get to you, guitar maestro Joel Hamilton’s completely over-the-top, faux-Hendrix noise on the pseudo-metal Heroin will wake you up.The cd concludes with an above-average musical joke, one that works surprisingly well for what it is, probably a studio accident that Lee or one of her accomplices stumbled on and decided to keep.
This is a shockingly accessible album. Virtually without exception, every song on this cd could be a radio hit. The album is as likely to be a repeat selection on the cheerleading squad’s boombox as it undoubtedly will be over the sound system at funky-chic Bedford Avenue bars and clubs. After it’s out, Alice Lee should be opening for Avril Levine at Madison Square Garden. She should tour with Norah Jones. But it’s too bad that Nina Simone left us before she could cover an Alice Lee song or two, because that’s where Lee’s heart is really at. More than anything else, she’s a soul sister, the closest thing to Nina Simone we have these days. With a well-honed sense of outrage, a knack for the lyrical bon mot, a powerful set of pipes that swoop effortlessly from her usual alto to the upper ranges of the vocal stratosphere and fingers that light up the fretboard, the keys of the piano and accordion with equal ferocity and finesse, she defies description. She’s just very, very good. – Alan Young, Trifecta Music