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Artificial Fire

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Editors’ Notes

"Eleni Mandell is an artsy singer-songwriter who mines the underbelly of the Los Angeles scene with a strong appreciation for the craft of Tom Waits and Rickie Lee Jones. While she never veers that far to the extreme, Mandell does favor the twisted guitar lines, the noir-like slink, and the nightclub seediness that adds a layer of grit to these poetically charged compositions that slip from narrative into mysticism (""God Is Love""). With a consistent backing group that gives her a reliable rhythm section and guests that include X drummer D.J. Bonebrake on vibes and singer Inara George, Mandell creates a swell of sound that peaks with the horn-punctuated strut of ""Right Side,"" the '60s-pop inflection of ""Little Foot,"" the tough punk brawn of ""Cracked,"" and the smooth, elliptical flow of ""Personal"" where Mandell walks between the raindrops of the luxurious orchestration of cello, violin and viola. Her music doesn't immediately grab and shake anyone, but slowly seeps into the atmosphere where it feels right at home with a warm, ominous night."

Customer Reviews

Eleni Mandell, sultry songstress still mesmorizing with her music ...

Eleni Mandell is one of the best musicians around. She is in that class of PJ Harvey, Fiona Apple, Patty Griffin, and more recently Sarah Jaffe, Amy Correia and other wonderful female songwriters. Mandell never disappoints. She finds an easy home with blues, country, alternative, Americana, and even the strange (Nickle-Plated Man) and back to whatever label one has for this album. I find her to be such a breath of fresh air with every listen. Truly a stunning artist. I'd be surprised if this wasn't talked about -- by the end of the year -- as one of the top 30-40 albums of 2009. Try "In the Doorway" or "Artifical Fire" or "Front Door" or "Needle & Thread."

Sonically interesting - Repeat listens encouraged

Exceptional effort. Eleni Mandell continues to evolve and improve. This effort has much more a layered and interesting sound than her last two or three releases. Consistently outstanding bass lines drive the songs forward and accompany her soulful vocals like hand in glove. More varied drumming this time out as well gives the entire release a more danceable vibe, although very much in the swaying back and forth mode rather than full-blown getting down. Definitely has more of a Neko Case feel this time (at least to me). Favorite tracks so far are Little Foot and Needle and Thread. I very much recommend this, especially with headphones enabling you to pick up the considerable nuance.

Strong, sultry, beautiful

I just keep coming back to this album, time after time, for the gorgeous vocals and perfect, intimate moments catpured. I love "Artifical Fire", "It Wasn't the Time" and "Two Faces" and . . . I could keep going. I wish more people could hear this album, it deserves to be widely loved.


Born: Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Singing and writing in a style that fuses vintage barroom cool with a here-and-now intelligence and faintly ironic wit, Los Angeles hipster Eleni Mandell initiated her recording career with arty-cool albums packed with her smoky, noir-ish sketches. Mandell, who was a huge fan of L.A. punkers X and beatnik revivalist Tom Waits in her teens, was raised in the Sherman Oaks region of the San Fernando Valley, and began performing out during her years as a student at Berkeley. Soon after, she fell under...
Full Bio