"The #1 Edmonton album of 2012...a near-perfect collection. Her music is inescapably complex, bittersweet and catchy at the same time, with just enough experimentation to enrapture the listener." - GigCity
#1 Edmonton album of 2012 – GigCity
#1 - Alice Kos, You Missed It All
“And the women of Edmonton take the top spots of 2012! This debut album, released back in January, is a near-perfect collection. Her music is inescapably complex, bittersweet and catchy at the same time, with just enough experimentation to enrapture the listener. Her bevy of influences, from the end of a marriage to volunteering in Africa, is controlled and coalesced by Everett LaRoi, who recorded, mixed and produced the album, and who’s also been Alice’s guitar teacher since 2007. You can also catch the pair performing from time to time in Edmonton under the name Goldtop.”
Weekend Music Preview: Scintillating Alice Kos – gigcity.ca
A fairly sedate weekend for live gigs in Edmonton, but there’s definitely a handful you should think about checking out, including Steel Wheels (all the way from Virginia), the eclectically diverse Sultans of String, and a release party for what could easily be one of the best albums of the year from an Edmonton act – Alice Kos.
This weekend’s requisite CD release party is for the album “You Missed It All” by this sensational and scintillating singer-songwriter, whose music has plenty of unexpected twists and turns, and has been acclaimed by practically any media that’s taken a listen. Smokey opens. Artery, 8:30, $10.
Sat, Feb 11 (8:30 pm)
The Artery, $10
Alice Kos didn't set out to make You Missed It All a breakup album. Or even to make it a full album, for that matter: originally a much-shorter collection of songs, You Missed It All's greater shape and content came after the initial recording process was already finished.
"Initially I had a handful of songs that I knew I wanted to record, and we thought we'd put out an EP," the 29-year-old explains, in a voice that's chipper and melodic over the phone.
Kos recorded that batch of songs, then left for Africa for a four-month stint of volunteering. Then her personal life unspooled: her relationship with her husband was deteriorating, and a couple of months after returning to the continent, Kos and her then-husband, her high school sweetheart, separated.
The record she'd completed took a backburner position while she sorted through her personal troubles, but when it came time for Kos to return to the music, the tumult of that year arranged itself into a revised and expanded batch of songs for release. She couldn't help but let the honesty of her situation come through in her writing.
"I'm in a place right now where I feel like I can't write a real song unless it's something I know about, y'know?" she says. "Unless it's something I've experienced in some way. And for me, it's important that my songs be somehow relatable. So I feel if I can't write from some experience or some truth I've gained from my own life, it's hard for me to come up with something real."
The revised and finished You Missed It All carries a certain rawness in the melancholy air of its songs. Scored beautifully by Kos's backing band—bassist Tom Murray, Mike Silverman on percussion, violinist Scott Zubot and guitarist/producer/mentor Everett LaRoi—it finds both quiet and loud moments of introspection as it explores the final steps of a relationship on its last legs. The album's not just another songwriter's walk down Blood on the Tracks territory though: Kos's songs find their own take on the mourning-and-moving-on process, and define it with her sharp eye for inner obervation.
That all said, Kos seems surprised with just how open-book the album she made seems to everyone else.
"I've been told that hearing it is like reading a diary, or correspondence between two lovers," she says. "I don't think I intended on it being so transparent, and I find that a bit unnerving, but because I feel I've moved past that heartbreak, I feel like I'm more comfortable with the notion of putting those songs out there now.
"It sounds silly, but I thought that I was a little bit more vague in my songwriting," she says with a laugh. "I didn't realize it was so completely spelled out while I was writing those songs. But now I hear it and I just think, 'Well yeah, It is like a diary.' It's very much like a diary."
- Paul Blinov, Vue
Alice Kos - "You Missed It All" CD Release Party This Saturday – New Music Michael
I happened across the announcement for Alice Kos’ CD release party the other day, and after not only listening to her album, but buying it, I must say, I’m over-the-top impressed with her. She has an incredible voice, her talent as a songwriter will smack you upside the head, and the production quality of her debut album “You Missed It All” may just leave you breathless. The latter is undoubtedly in large part to Everett LaRoi (Idyl Tea, manraygun), who recorded, mixed and produced the album, and has also been Alice’s guitar teacher since 2007. And he’s obviously done a hell of a job.
But the fact this 29-year-old has extraordinary musical talent is inescapable, having refined her craft far beyond her years – and her music is inescapably complex, blending her experiences as a volunteer in Africa with the end of a marriage. The music is at once bittersweet as it is catchy, reminiscent of Crash Vegas and Brandi Carlile all at once, but throwing in “hymn-like organ drones” (my favorite phrase of the week), and subtle ambient reflections and noise. Seriously, one of the most talented artists I’ve come across in quite a while – and she’s from Edmonton!
Her release party is this Saturday at the Artery (doors 8:30 / $10); hopefully she’ll add more shows soon (my weekend’s a writeoff because of my continuing quest to become a CMA). And yes, of course we have some of her music to stream, from her bandcamp site (and check out the full Alice Kos website here).
-Michael Senchuk, newmusicmichael.com
You Missed It All review – Vue
There are moments on You Missed It All where Alice Kos slips very comfortably into the sort of well-worn nuances that mark the work of Emmylou Harris—not so much in the specifics of her voice so much as in the spirit—but, like Harris, there's much more at work here then a singular sound. On "Three" Kos sweeps out the ashes with a hearbreaking melody and lyrics to match, while Scott Zubot punctuates the pain with his violin, while just around the corner is "Fair-weather Friend," where Kos takes off on a trip that sounds something like an early '60s pop song filtered through the darker recesses of the '70s. The songs are all Kos's, but credit also goes to the band: Zubot, along with guitarist/producer Everett LaRoi, bassist Tom Murray and drummer Mike Silverman. Standing alongside Kos this quartet conjures a remarkable noise when called for—the growing, thunderous drive of "Bring You Down"—and settles into the cracks when it needs to—the gentle ether of "Meet Me Here." Kos's voice remains at centre, though, and her songs hold together strong as an album that delivers on the promise of its opening notes.
Eden Munro, Vue
You Missed It All review – Edmonton Journal
3 1/2 Stars
“You are always leaving, you are always coming back,” Alice Kos starts slowly on her first album, a rumble of organs, tremoring cymbals and strings emerging around her like a battlefield dawn. Like many of her sad/pretty songs, the first is about the dance of the human heart – Kos sometimes playing the fleeing deer on the album cover, but more often the eluded bowhunter. The lyrics are inhabited by phantoms vague enough to be universal, though clearly with a real face or two in mind. From the underground country and pop musicians in her midst, Edmonton’s Kos continues the tendency to underplay a song at first, tensing and exploding by her own clock. At the end of the title track she bursts with an energy that lights up the room. More! Though I like her Lisa Germano wounded dove side, lots, when Kos seems actually pissed off – take the pounding Bring You Down – the effect is cathartic for the listener. Fair-weather Friend has a pleasantly late-’80s feel, when pop got gruffer but still bounced. Love the image “small smile, small smile and humour.” Everett LaRoi of Idyl Tea and ManRayGun does a masterful job of production here, the album really paying off between good headphones; his harmonizing is great, too, along with Tom Murray and Mark Davis on the album part of an indie Edmonton Mount Rushmore of sorts. It’s an emotionally engaging hello from Kos, an antidote to dance music if you need one. She plays ARTery Sat. Feb. 11. Arrows flying, there will be blood.
Fish Griwkowsky, Edmonton Journal