Posts Tagged ‘Guitar’

Richard Youngs & Raül Refree

Soft Abuse is kicking out the quality this week, with the announcement of a long awaited album from Donovan Quinn earlier this week and now inklings of one of Richard Youngs’ best yet. The Glaswegian guitarist teams with Raül Refre on an album of long, winding, hypnotic pieces that work together the artists’ interest in chamber music, liturgical song, and the heavy-hearted folk of Tim Buckley. “Nil To Mind” swirls ‘round the listener, built on a circular guitar form but aching with overwhelming sadness from Refre’s string accents. Youngs is prolific, to say the least, and you’d be forgiven for becoming overwhelmed by his outpouring of collaborations, solo works and experimental output under the “Foot Guitar” heading. That said, this album exemplifies why Youngs is such a vital force in folk and composition. This marks the duo’s first collaboration, but with such staggering work at hand, I hope this winds up the beginning of something big. The LP is out December 6th.



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Chris Brokaw on Kevin Drumm – 1983 & Quiet Nights

If you traveled in certain circles in the ‘90s, in particular the kind that tipped towards the inward gaze of slowcore and the knotted tussle of indie then you’re likely already well versed in the works of Chris Brokaw. The artist spent years in the ranks of Codeine (drums) and Come (guitar), punching double on his indie-cred free coffee card with releases on Sub Pop and Matador in the same year. Throw in aughts favorite The New Year and a stint on Touch & Go and that indie rock bingo sheet is rapidly filling up. More recently Chris has been laying down down high quality solo spins that brush post-rock, jazz, and American Primitive, scoring for films, and occasionally flaying some brains in RSTB faves Charnel Ground alongside James McNew and Kid Millions. Just off the release of his excellent new LP for VDSQ Brokaw found time to kick in a pair of faves for the Hidden Gems series, giving the nod to experimental guitarist Kevin Drum’s run of CD-rs in 2013. Check Chris’ picks below.

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Chris Forsyth on Robert Quine & Fred Maher – Basic

Over the past few years there have been few guitarists as singular and intriguing in moving the needle forward as Chris Forsyth. As I’ve mentioned in the past, he aims for some sort of ragged, ozone-blasted bliss and always come up shaking off the cinder and ash of sonic debris. He’s exactly the sort I’m always looking for with Hidden Gems – an artist with a perspective informed by years of carving through likeminded stringsmiths to better his feel for the instrument. Its no surprise that when asked what record was sorely overlooked he found solace in another singular guitarist, but his pick is as off the path of usual touchstones as one might hope. Picking a out a piece of Robert Quine’s history, Chris opts for an oft overlooked collaborative record from 1984 with Fred Maher. Check out how this came into his life and what impact the record and Quine have had on his music.

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Chris Forsyth – “Tomorrow Might as Well Be Today” & “Mystic Mountain”

The last record from Chris Forsyth was a monster of guitar grit – his style is emotive, fire-ridden, and fluid, but not flashy or maddeningly technical. Dreaming in the Non-Dream felt like it barely fit into the one LP allowed, especially the namesake shaker. For the follow-up Forsyth has spread the fire onto four sides of wax, for an even heavier statement that begins with these two tracks. “Tomorrow Might As Well Be Today” is a pronouncement of what’s to come. It’s a gauntlet asserting Forsyth’s place in any imagined pantheon, but its quickly supplanted by the hearth-hammered rocker that follows it. “Mystic Mountain” is Forsyth and the Solar Motel band taking root and burning a circle of ash around them not only with the power of their performance but with the fire-throated growl of Chris’ vocals as well. The song-writer doesn’t always chime in with words, but “Mystic Mountain” makes its case for quality over quantity. Like that David Nance LP from last year, this has all the earmarks of an album ready to writhe. Make sure you’re paying attention.



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Bill Orcutt on James Blood Ulmer – Odyssey

This week I’ve got a two-parter Hidden Gems that focuses on a couple of underground legends. In anticipation of the release of their latest collaboration, Brace Up!, both Bill Orcutt and Chris Corsano have contributed picks to the series. I’m starting here with Orcutt, whose singular guitar style defies all schools of tradition. As such, he gravitates to a guitarist who’d been flouting conventions long before him and it seems fitting that Bill has payed tribute to the great James Blood Ulmer here. Orcutt has built an enviable catalog of works going back to his ’90s work with the seminal Harry Pussy and on through collaborations with Alan Bishop, Michael Morley, Circuit des Yeux and Loren Connors. Check below for how Ulmer’s work came into the life of Orcutt and how Odyssey impacted his own musical journey.

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Steve Gunn

First time I heard Steve Gunn was back in 2007 on a small label called Onomoto, known for acts like Taiga Remains and Ghosting. Gunn was pulling down ragged fingerpicked odes that hung in the air like frost. The sound quality was scratchy but the talent was clear under the hiss. Its been years since those days and ever since the second phase of Gunn’s life rolled down with 2013’s Time Off he’s been marked for greatness, steadily straightening the rumpled blazer sound that he’s stepped into. Eyes On The Lines is Gunn fully formed, running at peak but still never feeling flashy about it. The man can play. If you need any proof, plunk down a copy of Seasonal Hire, his collaboration with The Black Twig Pickers. That ought to set you straight. But even with the talent in tow, it’s the way he wields that makes him unique. Most of his songs tend to capture the feeling of the highway stretching endlessly on the horizon; sauntering in a way that clips by like the steady pace of pines out the rolled window. In this respect his solos never blister, they feel like the pent up relief of a good stretch when the car stops. They’re air in the lungs and feet on the ground.

Eyes On The Lines deploys those moments of clarity in ample doses but the surrounding build and fade is hardly shabby either. Sure its a more accessible and, dare say, mature record from Steve, but he’s finding a way to show age in style. The country touches whisper in at the edges, a bend of twang here and a dusted dose of strum running its way under the chorus. He’s still got some of his ragged roots showing though, there’s certainly a warble of psych that curls in with the rest of the smoke filling up the rooms of this record. In the end though, its all those touches coming together to make a perfect montage of diner coffees, halogen lights flickering over gas pumps, center lines and steel girders; the air peppered with throat dust and the cold freshness of leaves on the air. That’s the heart of Eyes On The Lines, that and the itch of needing to get moving, even when it feels good to stretch.

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Steve Gunn – “Ancient Jules”

Steve Gunn’s made the amiable transition from his instrumental roots to road worn troubadour, and the video for his latest taste of Eyes on the Lines is steeped in that traveler’s ethos. The video sees him winding backroads and ending up in what looks to be quite a nice little night hanging with fellow guitar legend Michael Chapman. The song has a tarnished brass feel to it, driven by Gunn’s country flecked guitar sound and brought home with his weathered sigh of a croon. The album’s positioned to bring Gunn to a much bigger audience and frankly there aren’t more deserving. If this and that Kevin Morby album aren’t soundtracking your early summer nights, then you’re kinda missing the point.

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