Posts Tagged ‘Folk’

Michael Nau – “Funny Wind (demo version)”

The work of Michael Nau often captures a temperamental magic — when the sun dips just below the horizon and the colors take a turn towards cooler greens. His recordings, though not overly adorned, drape his songs in a studio softness that’s often buffeted by some ace collaborators. His voice lays swooning in the velvet trappings that recall the ‘70s vocal treasures that spawned a golden age of honey-hued folk and singer-songwriter prominence. However, before any of his songs made it to the velour and vernal sounds of the finished project, they started as an idea alone at home. Nau has been capturing his songwriting process on tape for years, but the vaults have remained sealed up until now. With Demo Versions, 2014 to 2017 the songwriter lets us all behind the veil to hear how many of his well-loved songs began. The record is by turns sparse and affecting. Once the studio buffer is removed, the songs land like a private-press folk record cut on a budget, but that temperamental magic is still coursing through each one.

“Funny Wind,” in particular, is given a tender tread. The original is laced with a buttoned-up grace, but here Nau is unwound on the porch, letting the lyrics dance around the tape hiss. His voice comes through unfettered, but perhaps its tugging at the soul just a bit more because of it. The song quivers a bit more in its infancy. The final product still lands among the heartstrings, but the demo has a country crooner’s charm and a lingering sweetness that doesn’t quite come through as completely after the polish dries. Sometimes there’s just a perfect take, and this nails that feeling. The record lands this Friday on Suicide Squeeze.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Jeffrey Silverstein

Played a bit of this on the last RSTB radio show, but as the excellent mass of great albums this year has outweighed my free time, I’m just now getting this one up on the site. Silverstein has created a meditative oasis of gently loping guitars and cool waters of pedal-steel. Inspired by the landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, long distance running, and the sunbaked brevity of lost icon Ted Lucas, the record has an innate laid-back quality to it that tends to pass by with a touch of highway hypnosis. Among the marbled greenery of Silverstein’s playing the listener is invited to look inward. Time passes inside tis bubble while the rest of the world slinks by in time-lapse. I’m not going to use the reviled term of 2020 here, this isn’t a balm of sorts, but instead a reset, a meshing with the earth and sky to achieve balance.

There’s a feeling of photosynthesis to the album, as if the vibrations between the light refracted off of You Become The Mountain can energize the listener. The slow pacing never lags, but lingers in just the right manner. Silverstein, along with Barry Walker Jr. (Mouth Painter, Roselit Bone) and Alex Chapman (Parson Redheads, Evan Thomas Way) help to slow down the frantic pace of the year, an asset to an album if there ever was one. While moored in folk, the record takes many of its cues from the amniotic float of Kosmiche while keeping a bit of Neu in the rearview. The latter crops up in the subliminal click of programmed drums that are ever obscured by the heat lines rolling off of the pavement. The elements come together nicely to form an album that suffused with the natural world – the fresh green smell of cut plants, the warmth of wooden surfaces in the sun, the gentle sound of cotton curtains in the breeze. While it seems simple, Silverstein makes the ordinary feel essential for just a few moments.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Best of 2020 (so far)

2020’s been a hell of a year, and one that doesn’t feel like definitive statements do it justice. Still, no matter how many seismic changes have occurred during the year, the music has been a source of solace and inspiration. The fact that so many artists have had their livelihoods upended gives it a slightly sour note, especially for some that may have been working years to let these statements out into the world. Keep hitting the Bandcamp revenue shares to support artists and labels directly. If you need some suggestions there’s quite a few below. Keep in mind that ‘best’ is by no means definitive, but these are some of my favorites. We all know that Run The Jewels hits hard, but someone else is gonna tell you about it better than I ever could. Still lots to look forward to musically in the second half, but the first part of the year has been a bounty to be sure.

Continue Reading
0 Comments

rootless – “Lost At Sea”

While the Flower Room family largely encompasses the output of Matt Lajoie and Ash Brooks, it’s great to see that a recent tour with Jeremy Hurewitz’s rootless has lead him to enter into the ranks of the label. While he’s released some lovely tapes on Aural Canyon, Hypnic Tapes, and Null Zone, this LP opens up a new chapter for rootless. Hurewitz’ meditative, patient guitar lines still grace the headspace, but this time the set is augmented by the haunting, yet perfect touches of instrumentation provided by Mexican musician and folklorist Luís Pérez Ixoneztli. Luís Pérez’s prowess comes in subtle waves, adding all manner of pre-Columbian ocarinas, whistles and shakers to the record and they carry with them an earthen ache that sets this track and album apart from the rootless catalog. Docile Cobras arrives 8/21 and promises to be a necessary addition to 2020.





Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Jan Dukes de Grey – Sorcerers

Often overshadowed by its follow-up Mice and Rats in the Loft, which would see Derek Noy expand his compositions into long, winding epics that pushed the norm at the time, there’s plenty to love in hindsight about Jan Dukes de Grey’s debut. The group was formed as an offshoot of Buster Summers Express, which Noy had been a member of before he began working on his own compositions, splitting to work on his own band in 1968. When approached by guitarist/flautist Michael Bairstow about joining the Express, Noy instead convinced him to form the new outfit with him and the group began crafting Noy’s expansive library of songs into an album, eventually signing with Decca.

Cue the usual tales of underperforming sales and poor distribution. While the band did well on the road, opening for Pink Floyd and The Who, the record was met with tepid reactions, which isn’t entirely fair. While its pretty standard hippie folk for the time, there are some notable inclusions that push them, if not to the top of the pile, past quite a few of the more revered stragglers. There’s a bit of an early Tyrannosaurus Rex warble in these tracks (apparent in the title track for sure) and Biarstow’s flute adds some lightness to the record. They’d change labels following the release of Sorcerers, putting out their seminal Mice and Rats in the Loft on Transatlatntic in 1971. The band then shifted lineups until the name wore away, replaced by the simple Noy’s Band.

Noy’s Band wouldn’t find much footing and eventually that too was disbanded. Not would go on to play in a proto-punk outfit, Rip Snorter before trying once again with Jan Dukes de Grey in 1975 with his wife, Fiona Deller and a rotating cast of mucians. Through connections with Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, the band obtained a production deal with Britania Row studios and put together their third and final album, Strange Terrain, which, through costing a small fortune to record was never released at the time. It was finally issued by Cherrytree in 2010, which brought a bit more light to the band among folk-heads at the time. Good to see the band’s early works getting the reissue treatment, though.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Leah Senior

Capturing the sun-faded ease of the ‘70s has become a bit of a genre unto itself of late. From Drugdealer and Weyes Blood, to Foxygen and The Lemon Twigs, there are plenty who seek to hitch their hammock in the light of post-Laurel Canyon vibes of reclusive solitude and worn-leather comfort. For her third record on Flightless, Leah Senior lets slip out another entry to that canon, and one that’s quite a welcome addition. She’s been no stranger to folk that leans towards the macrame decade as she’s been simmering low-key among the less ferocious names on the Aussie imprint’s roster. She’s played the troubadour aptly. Yet, with The Passing Scene, she’s found a new niche between confessional poetics and a lusher sound that pulls her off of the solo stool and into a studio sound that conjures thick wood panels, tapestry draped lamps, and a soft curlicue of smoke rising from behind the glass. There’s a verdant wooded aura to the record that taps into not only the Valley’s lineage but the valley itself.

Lyrically the album hits on some of the same imagery that would have marked her ‘70s influences, from the lovelorn dreaming of Baez and Mitchell, to the sunset sighs of Sweet Baby James and the slightly religious psychedelia of Judee Sill. In fact, the latter feels like she has a large thumbprint in Senior’s songwriting, merging an often reclusive personal nature with a clear talent for orchestrations that makes her songs soar much further than the studio walls. Like Sill, no matter how well-crafted the trappings around her, Senior’s voice remains the magnetic draw, and she uses it well to form an album that’s drawing her out as an artist to keep tabs on. Between this and the excellent album from Grace Cummings, it seems that loudness and Lizards aren’t all that Flightless has going for it.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Modern Nature

Right on the heels of their excellent LP from last year, Jack Cooper’s Modern Nature issues a mini-LP that further expands on his grey-streaked pastoral direction. A master of nocturnes, Cooper’s built Modern Nature into a hybrid of psychedelic folk that creeps along the underbrush with a soft footing and jazz impulses that slink through the streets at night breathing tendrils of smoke and steam into the flickering lamplight above. From the coiled confines of “Flourish,” rife with cool discomfort, to the pulsing skitter and deep sighs of “Harvest,” the album pushes Modern Nature’s world beyond the walls that were cobbled on How To Live. While mostly built on the same lineuep, “Harvest” features Kayla Cohen on vocals, and she’s a welcome addition to the focused, twilight shimmer of Modern Nature’s sound.

That sound in particular is what attracts the listener to Annual. What’s most apparent is that this suite of songs all share the same wounded heart. How To Live explored the basis of the sounds that crop up here — the slow amble of piano lines, guitar sway, Jeff Tobias’ foggy sax smears, and the inky slink of brushed drums — but Annual ties the temperament of its songs together in such a way that they feel like a vignette that needs to be cracked over repeated listens. The mini-LP plays out like a single night spent getting one’s head straight after a loss or life upset. The suite is reserved and pensive, never quite letting us get close enough to see how bad the wounds are, or at least doing a good job of covering up the blood that seeps out in emotional ripples, but the hurt can be felt in every note. It’s an excellent companion to the LP and further argument for Modern Nature’s wounded folk strain to continue evolving under a close eye.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Sally Anne Morgan – “Thread Song”

Sweet serenity is given flight on the first peek into Sally Anne Morgan’s upcoming LP for Thrill Jockey. The House and Land member is solo, but not quite alone on this LP, assembling a backing band that includes Andrew Zinn, Nathan Bowles, and Joseph Dejarnette. As with her collaborative work in H&L, there’s a traditional folk focus, though “Thread Song” nips at more modern fare, feeling every bit at home with Daniel Bachman, Mountain Man, Black Twig Pickers, or Jake Xerxes Fussell. Morgan’s fiddle gives the track a bittersweet soul and it lilts on the breeze with a fragrant flutter. The rest of the album’s sure to be as winsome and affecting as this. It arrives August 21st on Thrill Jockey.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Zachary Cale

The latest album from Zachary Cale, while awash in a sort of sunset dulcet feeling is also soaked in a good dose of uncertainty that feels rather relatable. While the album’s been in the works for the last five years, that uncertainty captures the feeling of a year that seems unable to let up. Cale’s pace quavers between rambling fingerpicked rivulets and the kind of buttered comfort that’s made Kurt Vile, Mike Polizze and the Philly set simmer. He peppers in instrumentals that let his understated prowess shine — skewing pensive at some times, and propulsive at others — tying the album together like a faded tapestry. It’s in his equally worn and weathered lyrics, though, that Cale glows the warmest.

False Spring, as the title suggests, deals with a glimmer of hope snuffed by chance and change. Time is beast on this record, leaving the protagonist stranded, stifled, and generally set adrift. Cale’s songs gnaw at uncertainty and are in turn gnawed right back. Occasionally he revels in the looseness of it all, but more often than not Cale is leaning into the bitter winds with an eye in both directions. He’s looking for the lamplight on the horizon and it’s never quite clear if he’s bound to find it. He brings along a pretty good crew on the voyage, though. His tight backing band including Brent Cordero and Charles Burst of The Occasion is amplified by particularly languid pedal steel from Dan Lead, whose lent his tone to Jess Williamson, Kevin Morby and Cass McCombs. The record is a raft in waters that aren’t so forgiving and its worth holding on tight.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Mike Polizze – “Revelation”

I love it when a track comes in that I didn’t know I needed, but once its in the headphones the resolve is instant. It should come as no surprise if you’ve been crawling through the Raven feed over the last few years that Purling Hiss is always on the turntable, but now Mike Polizze turns the hiss down to a hum and lets his soft side shine through. With fellow Philly luminary Kurt Vile in tow, he shapes this track into an azure swoon lit on clear skies, yet burdened with a slightly heavy heart. While some similarities might arise with his recording partner, Pollizze finds his own faded grace in his new digs, shaking off the yolk of fuzz for a surprisegly clear view of pop that’s littered with strums, horns, and sing-along choruses. The album finds him on indie-folk outpost Paradise of Bachelors and heads this way in July. Gonna want to mark the calendars and get this one prepped to pop on repeat pretty soon.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments