Posts Tagged ‘Folk’

Mapache

The sophomore LP from West Coast duo Mapache doesn’t knock the wheel too far from the road they set down in 2017. While the temper (and tempo) doesn’t rise from the comfort of that first LP, the colors do deepen. From Liberty Street is rife with shades of earthen ochre and dust-kicked sandalwood. There are more than a few pale blues that stretch far and wide as the skies that tie Los Angeles to the Baja. There are deep set oranges and amber golds that bake in the sun and seep into the copper rimmed strings of their guitars. Moving against any and all prevailing winds at the moment, the record is full of an endless summer bliss — capturing the kind of lost weekend aimlessness that feels either blissfully ignorant of its own innate good fortune or imbued with the charm to talk its way into those good graces with gambler’s finesse.

The pair swaps seamlessly between Spanish and English as if border hopping between small towns in an era less locked with tension. With the kind of stubbled yet square jawed vocal harmonies that made Fleet Foxes a household name, the band reaches back to a Canyon croon that’s embroidered over every inch of this record. There’s a bygone feeling beat into the bones of this album — patched and faded like a thrift store Nudie suit jacket missing its presentational partner but pulling the outfit together all the same. There are tales of hammock swung afternoons that feel flush with melodies traded back and forth like pot-luck parcels. Half-hewn notes of Gene Clark, The Fist National Band, David Crosby, and a much less Anglophile Heron seem to flutter through the speakers in patchwork perfection. While the band haven’t really shaken the roots that took hole from their beginning, the combination of calm winds across a few different eras all seem to blow this one in the right direction. Seems like if you’re looking for a bit of relief right about now, this is a damn sure bet.



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Mapache – “Read Between The Lines”

West Coast duo Mapache has been more than giving in the run up to their sophomore LP on Yep Roc, with a steady stream of videos pouring out. Each new clip is doused in the late summer sun and cooled by the salt-scrubbed breezes of a slower life. On “Read Between The Lines,” the band lays into a hammock of strum and harmony. The bulk of the album has been unfettered by extraneous production, choosing to focus instead on the pairs interplay and sanguine folk prowess. They don’t stray here, and the video continues a thread of day-in-the-life captures that seem to accompany the lead up to the album, showing the duo enjoying the carefree countenance that soaks into their songs. The record is out next week, and I couldn’t recommend it more.

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Doug Tuttle – “Anywhere You Run”

Another gauzy glimpse of psych-pop sunshine rolls in from Doug Tuttle today. The a-side to his latest single from Six Tonnes de Chair, “Anywhere You Run” lopes in on a gentle jangle and a sun-faded feeling that’s hard to shake. The song is a bleary-eyed cruiser passing by in slow motion, but even so it seems to end too soon forcing the needle back to the beginning for replays again and again. Both sides of the single pair well with Tuttle’s last LP, the blissfully beautiful Dream Road. The songs here are cut from the same cloth as the album’s dream-doused psych-pop, wafting in on autumnal breezes that ripple just slightly in the sun. The single’s limited, so don’t let the lounged feeling lull you into complacency — 2 variants : 200 on black vinyl and 100 on blue vinyl. Artwork created by New Zealand artist Callum Rooney. I recommend nabbing one while you can. The single lands April 3rd.


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Arbouretum – “Let It All In”

Arbouretum cross lines of country, psych, and folk on their new LP for Thrill Jockey — a position that they’ve long occupied, but while much of Let It All In graces the grander schemes of folk and only touches the psych shores, the title track makes its home there. The song, pushing well past the eleven-minute mark, works a nugget of groove into a gnarled, smoldering pile of riff and rumble. The track unfurls over the expanse of its timeframe, pushing into the kind of ribbon of groove that’s locked into a seance sweat and looking to work the rhythm section to the bone. Over a hammered lock-step beat the guitar grit of Dave Heumann finds its wings, stretching into the embrace of volume with little regard for where the winds might take him. The band’s been at it for some time, and at a point when many can write off a release as just another album in the chain, this alone proves that Arbouretum still have a nail to crush into the coffin of their contenders.




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Matt Lajoie

While I’m not likely to do this any extra justice after Jesse Jarnow’s taken a crack at it, a four-day weekend away left this off of my rolls at the end of last week and its more than worth raising more of a fuss about. Lajoie’s been a constant fixture here at the site from Starbirthed to Ash & Herb, Herbcraft and more, but his solo slices come into clear view on Everlasting Spring. The album baptizes guitar in the crystal clear waters of the Kosmiche spring and we all come out born anew because of it. Matt sets the songs adrift on waves of repeated phrasing, mulling figures in circular sway, letting the listener lose themselves in the cascades of notes that fall all around. While this is gorgeous in the room, the headphones hold even more power as they lock the world away outside of the binaural bliss that seems to surround from all sides.

There’s a languid, late morning movement to the record. It’s an embodiment of the unhurried state of mind. Each note holds onto the listener with a subtle comfort, like hands on shoulders in times of pain. In the same regard it only serves to give shelter, shade, and understanding. Lajoie’s creations build a sanctuary of sound that doesn’t feel the need to push or pull with strong arms. Instead the movement of the record is measured in millimeters, but each tiny breeze he stirs up guides the fairest hairs on the skin towards a more enlightened existence by the time the record whispers to a close. Matt’s created a beacon of hope, lighting the path away from the malaise and malign of modern times. Should we all find ourselves inside its beam, we might just make it out, or at the very least make it through another day.



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Doug Tuttle – “No No No No”

Doug Tuttle’s psychedelic folk LP from last year was a definite highlight that left the listener wishing for more from the Massachusetts songwriter. Seems that he might have agreed, and to follow up on the album there’s a very limited (ltd to 50) single coming out this spring on Six Tonnes de Chair. The b-side here, “No No No No,” continues the record’s mix of dreamy psychedelics and country touches. Autumn strums and sighed slides meld together into a track that’s bittersweet, with an overcast tone that’s cool and calm. As I mentioned this one is scarce at best, but even if you grab a digital of this, it feels like an essential piece of the Tuttle catalog. The single is out April 3rd.



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Six Organs of Admittance

There’s always a need to celebrate when a new Six Organs gem tumbles down the belt, and his latest Companion Rises sees Ben back in fine form. Shedding the constrictions of his Hexadic system, which marked his last couple of releases, the album is locked back into the smoggy-eyed smolder that marks some of 6-orgs’ best works, though this time around he’s subbing a crinkled dose of technology in place of splicing tape and overdubbing percussive takes though the night. While there’s always the possibility of hampering the formula and making it feel like a digital copy of a copy that’s somehow both too crisp and yet still off-center, the addition of programing sits seamlessly into Chasny’s style. The programmed percussion still lollops with the same skitter those old hand drums did and that’s part of what makes it click.

Atop the patter of virtual sticks, Chasny lets the guitars do what they do best in the context of Six Organs – they tangle into ornate nests of notes, they singe themselves with a delicate fury, they rest the ornaments of production in a hammock of six-string security. What’s more he makes synthesizers singe in the same manner, pushing their production to the most organic edges of the mechanical spectrum. They ring and burble like replicant technologies, hardly aware they aren’t grown from the ground. When Chasny fuses the future with the past his bio-organic burn feels like an evolution of sound – nylon strings bending around in circular paths that lead forever down in repeated loops of copper wire and crushed circuits. The spark of guitar fury is still there like a wick bound to set the songs aflame and the blaze is beautiful – full of warmth, subtle flickers of orange and yellow, and an ashen ending that feels transformative.



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Matthew J. Rolin

Finally hitting a week where I can catch up on all the great LPs in the pile, many of which come from the esteemed Feeding Tube. This one’s for the fingerpick freaks out there, and while it hits the heartstrings of those weaned on Fahey and, more importantly, Kottke, it appears that Rolin has a more modern thorn in his side. The artist comes from Cleveland garage and psych outfits (most notably Nowhere) that ramble far less than they hop through the haze. After a shift to Chicago Rolin ditched the echoplex dreams for acoustic inflection, leaning heavier on the new class kickers like Ryley Walker, Daniel Bachman, William Tyler, and Richard Bishop more than the Tompkins Square set for his inspiration. No matter what the inroads, though, the impact remains the same. Like American Primitive dominoes the influences trickles through in his playing and he enters into the new class alongside Itasca, Kendra Amelie, and Joseph Allred as carriers of the torch.

Influences aside, the album is a refreshingly vernal take on the form. Tracks tumble and sparkle with life. His runs are rapid, but cut through with a slide-blues dissonance that sides with passion over precision. There’s a forlorn quality to songs like “Siren” and the appropriately titled “Neverendingness,” but Rolin works his way through mourning, meditation, and celebration all in good time as the record unfolds. There’s been a staggeringly great run of new fingerpicked music over the last decade and this is a lovely addition to the roster. Just check out that Ryley curated Tompkins Sq LP for a taste (Rolin’s included) to really get acquainted. This one’s getting scarce (my fault for not giving it some love sooner) but where you find it, you should certainly pick it up.



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Elkhorn

This one’s been eking out piecemeal over the last couple of months, but to be honest, its hard to take The Storm Sessions as pieces. Since, essentially, the entirety of the record was put together as longform improvisations, the spontaneity and flow of the songs should hit the listener with the same fluid intensity in which they were conceived. The Storm Sessions is a journey one shouldn’t disembark lightly. Joined by longtime friend and collaborator Turner Williams (Ramble Tamble, Guardian Alien) in the sequestered aftermath of foul weather, the two sides play out with an appropriate ache of isolation that such circumstances might imply. At the heart of “Electric One” and “Electric Two” lies the interplay between Jesse Sheppard and Drew Gardner on acoustic and electric guitars, their strings as usual, locked into a sonic dive through the dark heart of desperation. Sheppard’s tangle of notes sings in hypnotic, soothing motion before Gardner lets into the improvs with an incandescent electric burn, lending a burnt plastic parlance to portions of the set.

Weaving his way through is Williams who adds shading to the cold confines of the storm with electric bouzouki and shahi baaja. This past autumn I saw Williams lay into the latter on stage with Jesse and it’s a sight to behold. Prowess aside though, Williams is a master collaborator adept at letting his playing lay a bedrock for these improvisations. On the A-side, his playing buzzes around Drew and Jesse in calligraphic embellishment. On the flip, he lays down a thrum that acts as an anchor pulling the two back from the cliff’s edge. Strung together, the three craft an album that’s as engrossing as their double set from last year, records that already stand out at the top of their catalog. With this, they’ve proven that even without planning to, they have the ability to outpace many of their peers with a sheer force of will. We’re barely a month into the year, but this already feels like a defining moment for 2020 musically.


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Steve Palmer

Sunrise Ocean Bender doesn’t push product with the veracity that some labels seem to adopt these days, rolling out a few choice cuts over the last couple of years – Prana Crafter’s, Enter The Stream and Tengger’s Segye among them – but I’m a firm believer in quality over quantity. The label’s back into the fray this year with the sophomore release from Minneapolis’ Steve Palmer. As with labelmate Will Sol’s Prana Crafter works, Palmer seems adept at mixing the spirit of spare folk with elements of Kosmiche and psychedelia, creating a record that’s densely layered, but also built on a tenderness of touch. I’ve expressed admiration for starting a record off with a crusher in the past (see Axis: Sova) and Palmer does just that, thundering into the album with the cosmic crush of “Statesboro Day.”

As Useful Histories peers out of the clearing smoke from the opener, Palmer blends the barren landscapes of Steven R. Smith and Evan Caminiti with a crumbling sense of American Primitive. Palmer’s version isn’t built on the pristine waters of the plains, but on the ash and ache of our current political climate. There’s less hope to his songs, but it’s there between the cosmic aspirations of “Statesboro” and the ambient numbness of “I Am John Titor.” Palmer has a clear vision that spreads over the disparate, but complimentary impulses on this album and it crafts Useful Histories into a record that is patient and propulsive in equal measures. This record feels like the beginning of a conversation about Palmer that will last well into the coming decade.



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