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Terami Hirsch


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Beautiful & fierce, evocative/eclectic, alternative pop

Status:

Most recent release, A Broke Machine (2008)

See also:

Terami Hirsch's site

The Breathing: A fan site

CDBaby's Terami Hirsch page

Comparisons:

Comparisons are often difficult, especially with someone as delectably creative as Terami Hirsch. But since comparisons can be helpful, you might say that Terami Hirsch's music is a cross between Kate Bush, Suzanne Vega, Tori Amos and Paul Simon.

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

Terami Hirsch's songs are clever, catchy and confessional. The piano work is delightful, but it is Hirsch's lyrics that are the best part. Her songs tell stories, which are introspective, and often quirky. As you listen to her music you get a sense that you are being drawn into her life. It's important to mention that, while expressive, her songs are not the traditional heart-felt kind of song that often permeates pop music. No "la-la" lyrics here. Rather, All Girl Band is an intimate portrait. The first time you listen to All Girl Band you might enjoy it for the piano playing (Terami is a classically trained pianist), but the second, third and fourth times you're going to listen for the words.
     And I should mention that Terami Hirsch has an exceptionally lovely voice.
     Terami Hirsch's lyrics are confident, and rough and tumble. They make you think. In "Queen of the Prom," the second song on "All Girl Band," she sings: "One little girl in a million grows up to be queen of the prom like there's nothing wrong. It wasn't me." Sometimes it is the contrast between Terami's delicate voice and melodic piano playing, and her candid lyrics that make many of these songs so compelling. (billonline@adlerbooks.com)

Anyone open to hearing another girl with piano (at least mostly—there's lots more instrumentation, too) might want to give Terami Hirsch a listen. Her work is a captivating mix of sounds, strong piano, interesting vocals, and intriguing lyrics. Way ahead of the crowd. (Neile)

Terami Hirsch is ace. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)

I like the way Terami sounds like she's smiling when she's singing. I haven't seen her perform, but her voice seems turned up at the corners with warmth. (k_hester_k@yahoo.co.nz)

I really like Terami, but I haven't found her work (at least what I've heard—only have Entropy 29) distinctive enough to fall in love with. (timjy@sbcglobal.net)

*obsesses* That is all. (woj@smoe.org)

I have to be honest and say that I probably listen to the remix album From the Ash as much as I listen to Entropy 29, which didn't click for me the way To the Bone did. (jeffrey@burkas.net)

Comments about live performance:

I just wanted to let everyone know that if you ever have a chance to see Terami Hirsch live or better yet, have her perform in your home JUMP AT IT!
     On August 2 I was lucky enough to host a living room show. It ended up being in my backyard because we had too many RSVPs to fit everyone in my house! She was just fabulous. Everyone loved her, though most had never heard of her before that night. She and her husband Kevin (on the sequencer) put on an amazing show. Not to mention she and Kevin are two of the coolest people I've ever met. (08/02)
     I have seen Terami play live several times (twice at my own home) and she does indeed get better every time, even though I never think it's possible. I can't say enough good things about her and her music. She's a fantastic musician and a great person. If any of you ever get a chance to see her live do it. You won't be disappointed. I only wish I could see her play more often. (7/03, ecalos@earthlink.net)

Recommended first album:

All Girl Band

Recordings:


All Girl Band

Release info:

1999—self-released

Availability:

CDBaby's Terami Hirsch page

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended. Hirsch's voice is one you can listen to over and over again. (billonline@adlerbooks.com)

Group members:

Terami Hirsch—all instruments and vocals

Guest artists:

K. Benson—accompaniment on "Make it Vocal"

Produced by:

Terami Hirsch and K. Benson

Comments:

This is a masterful debut CD. All Girl Band was recorded in Terami Hirsch's apartment. While it lacks the kind of strong production values that many music fans have become accustomed to, Terami Hirsch shows how much you can do with relatively little. All Girl Band isn't a light, easy-listening CD. The songs are edgy and often thought-provoking. There's often a stark contrast between the introspective, compelling lyrics and the sparse piano work. This is a CD that you can't put on as background music: You feel that you have to listen carefully. And it's worth listening to. (billonline@adlerbooks.com)

I have been listening to this disc with embarrassing frequency. I just happened to run across her sound files at CD Baby, and was intrigued enough to order the cd. It is full of interesting sounds. If you're interested in weird timings and off-beat songs, you might like this as much as I do. There are a few Tori Amos-influenced soundings here, but she gets beyond that into her own individual sound. Anyway, I like her music a lot so far. (Neile)

Also I wanted to add my endorsement of Terami Hirsch...I am really enjoying the disc especially her use of xylophone. One of my favourite albums of 1999. (gordoja@optonline.net)

I really like this a lot too. It's a little uneven, but there are a lot of unique-sounding songs, and even the ones that didn't strike me first are growing on me over time. I also strongly endorse it—it is a lot of fun and pretty varied piano-based pop with an edge. (neal)

I quite enjoy it. Parts of it strike me as just *too* derivative of Tori Amos in the vocal tricks—it's definitely an album that could never have been made without Tori influence—but it stands on its own quite well, and is a decent album. I wouldn't call this a *great* album, but I'm definitely looking forward to see what she does in the future. (iclysdal@redmaple.yi.org)


Stickfigures

Release info:

2002—self-released

Availability:

Limited edition; out of print

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Terami Hirsch—pianosmith, storyteller, introvert with a microphone

Guest artists:

Kevin Benson—knob twiddler, machinist, potty mouth

Produced by:

Kevin Benson

Comments:

NOTE: This is the first in a prospective series of releases Terami and Kevin are calling their "Pajama Jams Project": informal one-take recordings made at home, very much home demos, and an insight into Terami's creative process. The songs have brief introductions by Terami.

Produced in the raw—well, in pajamas—these are close-to-the-heart lyrics, intimate, brocaded piano melodies teasing my attention with occasional unexpectedly placed notes. Terami's commentary and introductions are also lovely and intriguing; she has a rich speaking voice, too. Bottom line, she is a highly talented lyric and melody creator—and then she sings! The honesty of her expression grabs me all the way.
     This idea of giving away a cd-ful of music as advertising is the most pleasant form of commercial capitalism—or a wonderful gift. Well, since I have not yet ordered Terami's first album—All Girl Band, it has to be considered advertising because I will now order it. (I knew I would eventually, but I'm so busyyyy........) After I have ordered it, then I will consider Stickfigures really a gift (as it was intended).
     Mmmmmmmm, this music just makes me feel good.... Thanks, Terami. I needed that. (jwaite@ucsd.edu)


To The Bone

Release info:

2002—7seven Records—061502-04

Availability:

CDBaby or see website for availability

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Terami Hirsch—vocals, keys

Guest artists:

Kevin Benson—programming, knobs

Produced by:

Kevin Benson

Comments:

Terami's new album is fantastic. I've been playing it almost nonstop for a few days now. Her voice and her piano playing are even stronger than on her first album, and she's added some electronica to the mix, but the core is very much still the piano. Some of the songs remind me of Emm Gryner in her most recent 2 albums a bit, and on the song "Fire" she sounds somewhat like Tara MacLean, comparisons I don't hear on Terami's first album. This album also seems less confessional. Anyway, it's a must for fans and a great entry point for people interested in discovering her. (JoAnn Whetsell)

On my best of 2002 list. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)

To the Bone is an incredible record and you should all do your selves a favor and order one. [This author has a full review of this album on her Collected Sounds site.] (ecalos@earthlink.net)

Quite often Terami's vocal line follows the piano line, and I wonder if this is a beginner songwriter thing. She also creates wonderful instrumental music like the plucking at the beginning of 'raising the dead', almost Cocteau Twin-ish, but in several songs, like this one, I think the song itself is a bit disconnected from that part of the music, it could belong to another piece, and then the song turns another way with the spoken part. At first it seems a patchwork with visible seams, and then it becomes so fascinating and special to Terami.
     Other songs like 'paperweight' and 'stained' and 'boxes' are completely integrated in music and vocals and all.
     'the river' and 'raising the dead' and 'boxes' are my favs from this album at the moment, and it is so great that Terami is putting out another lp, if she continues this once a year I'll be so happy! (k_hester_k@yahoo.co.nz)

I really had trouble with much of To The Bone, so much so that I don't listen to it—it's mostly beyond my smooth pop tolerance, though I totally love the songs, "Stained", "The River", and "Falling", and I love the whole of All Girl Band. The problem is that I don't like the kind of smooth pop performed by such artists as Emm Gryner or Tara Maclean, and so Terami heading in that direction breaks my heart. (Neile)


3 of X

Release info:

2003

Availability:

Promotional only

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans

Group members:

Terami Hirsch—keys, vocals
Kevin Benson—knobs, programming

Produced by:

Kevin Benson and Terami Hirsch

Comments:

This three-song demo shows the next steps in Terami and Kevin's collaboration on Terami's music. As such it feels very like To The Bone. The first song, "astronaut" is a catchy mainstream pop-sounding song, using outer space as a metaphor for the progress of a relationship. "1984" is the quietest and most introspective-seeming; it's the kind of song I can enjoy for its melody or the weaving of the individual parts that make the song (the vocals, the piano, Kevin's additions) or just for the overall "feel" of the track. "Coming around" is my favourite of the three: it's catchy and straightforward without being predictable, and has a wonderful, authentic sense of urgency that really grabs me.
     I'm definitely looking forward to the album. (Neile)

I'm enjoying 3 of x and was surprised that the songs are demos, she and Kevin are becoming so good with their noises. It took me a while to accept the programming (particularly the percussion) on to the bone, since that direction was unexpected to me. (k_hester_k@yahoo.co.nz)

Groan. A good while ago Terami sent me a free copy of her three-track demo, 3 of X. Frankly, I would prefer not to write anything, but obligation is an obligation. so here we go: Truth is, I didn't like it. At first I *really* didn't like it, though after familiarity set in I've come to appreciate it more, so it's probably a good thing I didn't rush in with comments!
     For starters, I admit I usually dislike it when artists go and change their style on me! Sometimes I come around, sometimes I don't—but it always takes me a while to adjust. So that was the first hurdle: with the memory of Sarah Slean's conversion to cabaret singer still at the back of my mind, now I had to adapt to Terami's new, enriched sound.
     But my main problem is something else...to me, somehow she now manages to sound...I don't know...generic. "Astronaut" might be my favourite on that demo, but it could just as well belong on Tara Maclean's disk, or Emm Gryner's maybe, or a number of other artists I can't even think of. And that's a problem for me.
     Now, I'm talking about a three-song demo. I'll definitely buy her album when it comes out. And don't get me wrong, the demo isn't bad, by any means. It's just that I remain underwhelmed. (afries@zip.com.au)


Little Light

Release info:

2005—Madstone Records

Availability:

Limited edition; see website for availability

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Terami Hirsch—keys, vocals
Kevin Benson—knobs, programming

Guest artists:

Hector Ferreiro—bass
Emily Spaude—violin
Carter Dewberry—cello

Produced by:

Terami Hirsch, Kevin Benson

Comments:

"Little Light" is the kind of catchy, charming, urgent song that grows on me, and I like both of the versions here; the "Halo Mix" a fun, electronic mix of the more straightforward album version. "Mission the the Moon" is atmospheric, bluesy, yearning. "Time Machine" is the b-side, and reminds me very much of Sarah Slean from her Blue Parade sound: the point is atmosphere and emotion, the song less crisp than most of Terami's. Overall, a promising introduction to the forthcoming album. I know I'm going to like this more than To The Bone; while they still have pop catchiness, they're pushed just enough to be more edgy and less predictable. (Neile)

Entropy 29

Release info:

2005—MadStone Records (P.O. Box 3855, Burbank, CA 91508), USA—040605-07

Availability:

See website for availability

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Terami Hirsch—vocals, Rhodes, sampler Wurlitzer, electric piano, keyboards, programming, necessary noises

Guest artists:

Carter Dewberry—cello
Emily Spaude—violin
Hector Ferreiro—bass
Kevin Benson—tambourine

Produced by:

Terami Hirsch

Comments:

It's been about three years since Terami Hirsch's last CD, To the Bone, but her music just keeps getting better and better: Entropy 29 is in a class of its own. Dreamy pop melodies with a touch of electronica, and edgy lyrics (one of Terami Hirsch's trademarks) are part of every song on this stellar CD, which fully engages your brain. It's always helpful to be able to compare a musician to somebody else, at least to give a frame of reference. But there are no close comparisons to singer-songwriter Terami Hirsch: She does her own stuff, and oh so fantastically well. This is the CD to buy if you've been bugged lately by the eternal question, "why?" (billonline@adlerbooks.com)

Entropy 29 seems to occupy the space between dreaming and wakefulness. A beautiful album, with melodies and images that carry me away to places both dreamy and disturbing. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Terami's music could be described as atmospheric, dreamy pop. There's certainly a techno-vibe to it. She plays piano beautifully and then enhances it with her techno-toys and lovely soaring voice. On some songs she's even added cello, bass, violin, and yes—even tambourine.
     I usually say, if you like such-and-such artist, you'll like this artist. But she really doesn't sound like anyone else. So I'll just say, if you like music, you need to get this record. (full review.) (ecalos@earthlink.net)

In my opinion, Entropy 29 was a major step forward for Terami as a songwriter and arranger. I feel that CD is brilliant. (wpm@value.net)


A Broke Machine

Release info:

2008—Madstone Records—021108-09

Availability:

CDBaby or see Terami Hirsch's site for availability

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Terami Hirsch—keyboards, programming, vocals

Guest artists:

Hector Ferreiro—bass guitar (1–4, 6)
John "Breeze" Ladson—drums/percussion (1, 3, 6)
Carter Dewberry—cello (5)

Produced by:

Terami Hirsch

Comments:

Good grief, what the heck happened to her voice? It's become utterly incredible, where before it was merely captivating! Her vocals on this album are richer, more assured, jazzier, more sultry, and, I dunno, maybe "grown up" is the right term.
     Anyway, Terami fans should be lurching to get their hands on this one, and I'm guessing she'll get a lot of new fans with it too. Been listening to this daily since I got it. Still a wow! (jeffrey@burkas.net)

From what I have heard so far of A Broke Machine, Terami's voice has really blossomed and matured to match her incredibly strong songwriting and musicianship.
     I am very happy to see Terami's continued growth as an artist and I wish her all the best. I think that she will continue to be a creative force for a long time to come. (wpm@value.net)

The sound clips really don't do the album justice, and that's just the nature of not being able to capture this kind of complexity in 30 or 60 seconds. Also I generally find that Terami's music takes a while to sink in, and that's even more the case with A Broke Machine, which is such a strange and intense place. Terami's vocals are indeed much stronger (check out "What I Didn't See"), and there are all these weird little computer sounds. The album gets stranger as it goes along, and when I listen to it I feel like I'm stuck in a broken time machine (to borrow from the title), whirling through a new universe. Incredible. (JoAnn Whetsell)


Further info:

In 2003, Terami Hirsch and Dan Lloyd released From the Ash, a collection of remixes/reimaginings of songs from To the Bone.


Thanks to Bill Adler and JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2015-05-16 20:28:06.
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