Jan 27, 2012

The Parlour Suite and Nina Ferraro at Beat Kitchen on 1/15/12

The Parlour Suite

The Parlour Suite is a Minneapolis band with a vintage pop-vibe. Inga (vocals, keyboard) and Joel Roberts (vocals, guitar), a handsome married couple (sorry single ladies and gents) have collaborated musically to create their first EP, Welcome to the Garden Party. Their music is surf inspired (Joel is originally from Australia) and also draws influence from the Phil Spector vault of girl groups (ie. The Ronettes). Beat Kitchen is a great local spot (about the size of Schubas) to see up and coming new bands for a small price. Despite the tattoo and piercings observed at the venue, the crowd and staff are exceptionally friendly. If you are hungry they also have a good bar menu.

Parlour Suite performed the songs from their release and I videotaped my personal favorite "The Goldenhand" for your enjoyment. This song immediately reminded me of the retro-pop sound of "She and Him" (Zoey Deschanel and M. Ward). They had a new drummer with them who played as if he had been with them for years.

My friend Wendy accompanied me to the show and commented that "someone needs to feed her (Inga) a burger". I swiftly told Wendy to "stop being a hater" and to go to the gym. Really, Inga is friendly, talented, and has a great figure (and luckily can enjoy a burger without being cursed with an unsightly muffin top as punishment for the indulgence). She also knows how to wear a pair of high silver sparkle shoes.

With the retro 60's girl thing being resurrected (Lana Rey for example), Parlour Suite has good timing. It will be great to follow them over the next year. With a little polish and fine tuning they just might have something here. For me, the sound was a bit loud for the size of the space and small crowd (possibly a sound guy issue) and the lighting was off since you could not see Inga's face at the keyboard (see video). For more on the Parlour Suite and to see where they are touring, check out their website here. They plan to have a full length CD out soon also.

Nina Ferraro

She had me at "My name is Nina Ferraro and I am 16 years old". She is a prodigious young singer-songwriter that can easily rival any of her older, more experienced contemporaries (Colbie, Ingrid, and others). The maturity in her writing and vocals was remarkable. In all honesty I was VERY tired and not planning to stay for Nina's set which began close to 10:30pm (I did not know who she was). After hearing her first song I was in for the duration. She is a doe-eyed singing-songwriting Chicago teenager from out of nowhere. I spoke briefly to her mother who claims no genetic responsibility for her innate talent. She told me that there is no other musical talent in the family and that when Nina was a young child, she just randomly started writing songs that were well beyond her years. They were so impressive that her mother thought she was plagiarizing them.

Nina has been a guitar student at Old Town School of Folk in Chicago and also plays ukelele, piano, and toy piano. She is clearly influenced by Regina Spektor in her song "Same Boy" and according to mom, is a big KT Tunstall fan.
Nina has previously performed at SPACE, Taste of Chicago, Abbey Pub, Old Town School, and other venues in Chicago. She is not "touring" yet and trying to keep it simple and Chicago based. Her recent 5 song EP release "The Promise" is well worth $5. All the music and lyrics were written by Nina and each song of this freshman debut is unique and reveals the innocent sweet quality of her voice. Her live performance was vocally flawless (and trust me I am picky). She had a great range and perfect soothing pitch with nuance. She was also professional (introduced her band, thanked the audience, introduced her songs) demonstrating her intent to be taken seriously as a future star on the rise. She was very naturally comfortable on stage as if born to perform.

Her recent EP was produced by Will Gilden of Meiko, Eric Hutchinson, Michelle Branch acclaim and as a result is a professionally produced debut. Her EP band includes impressive musicians such as Jonny Flower (The Weepies), Joshua Radin, and Ingrid Michaelson. Keep an eye out for Nina, she is on her way up, I promise. For more on Nina, check out her website here.

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