Posts Tagged ‘Weyes Blood’

Design Inspiration: Bailey Elder

Been a little while since I’ve had a Design Inspiration, but not for lack of trying. Designers prove to be just as busy as ever, but its worth the wait to see behind the veil of some of my favorites when they get a chance to lay down the influences on some of their best designs. Chances are if you’ve ordered a record off of Mexican Summer in the last few years you’re familiar with Bailey Elder. Her work graces the covers and layouts of a good swath of the label’s current output. Likewise if you frequent certain corners of music and wellness, upstate beers, and even national parks. Her work inhabits an earthen quality that fits forms that seem like they spring from nature itself. The lines aren’t bound by perfection, but somehow they seem preordained. Her work has graced works from Ariel Pink and Weyes Blood to Garcia Peoples. Yet as much as Bailey’s cover work is enviable, she’s a master of the inner cover and the back cover, letting the intricate details of the full package shine through instead of focusing just on the first impression image. She’s given us few covers that have inspired her over the years and a little insight into how they’ve affected her work. Check out Bailey’s picks below.

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RSTB Best of 2019

2019’s drawing to a close, so I suppose this is the place to tie it all up. I’ve mentioned in years past that ‘best’ is a hard line to draw around the music from the year. From a blog perspective ‘favorite’ seems more appropriate, but then for all intents and purposes my choices are qualitatively the best to me, if not necessarily quantitatively best in the sense of the zeitgeist. The drive to figure out what’s best seems to just consolidate consensus and we’re all treated to dozens of lists that cross over with each other, especially in the top spots. I’ve long been a proponent of niche. I say long live finding your voice and letting others find theirs – we can all compare notes and discover new music in the process. I don’t need anyone to sand the edges and offer up a list that’s all inclusive. I like the edges. These are my favorites from a great year, edges and all.

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Best of 2019 (so far)

It’s been a hell of a year so far and now it’s time to run down the albums that have stuck around the turntable the longest. For all the fraught emotions and everyday injustices, there’s still some bright spot of solace in music. That’s not a trade-off, but its something to keep you going. As usual, these are the best records that filter through the Raven aesthetic. I’ll be off next week on vacation so this 30-spot plus the ensuing two and a half hour mix will have to hold you for a week. Gonna take a break until the 2nd week of July. The second half of the year already has a few front runners, so enjoy these gems before the tail end of 2019 comes running atcha.

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Drugdealer

The second LP from Michael Collins under the Drugdealer moniker refines, redecorates, and relaxes in the studio-rat 70’s foxhole he’d dug for himself on his debut. After his psych soft launches in Run DMT and Salvia Plath, Drugdealer has become Collins’ haven for outsized ‘70s pop and he’s attracted similar-minded slick travelers and psychedelic savants to come and lay their lacquered licks, honeyed vocals, and perfectly coifed contributions onto his pop vision. So, naturally, frequent collaborator and fellow master of ‘70s AOR brilliance Natalie Mering (Weyes Blood) drops in for a vocal contribution on “Honey.” Harley Hill-Richmond (Harley and the Hummingbird) adds a Laurel Canyon sunset to “Lonely” and country crooner Dougie Poole shifts “Wild Motion” into a down gear that freezes the album’s honey into an amber-hued heirloom that almost pops it into a permanent soft-focus time delay.

Collins’ dedication to a more opulent time in pop music is admirable if also indulgently nostalgic. Songs like “Lost In My Dream,” with their horn stabs and hammock sway could easily hang with contemporary(ish) travelers like Sloan or Jenny Lewis. Those artists have found their footing in lush productions that tend to feel timeless, but despite protestations Drugdealer almost always conjures up the past. There’s a feeling that you’ve heard Collins’ songs somewhere before, but the exact names seem lost in a wood-paneled labyrinth of memories that keep the references from pushing just past the tip of your tongue. Still, if Collins and his crew weren’t so good at what they do, they wouldn’t be able to pull it off at all.

Aside from his kindred spirit Mering, Collins has been in the orbit of Ariel Pink (who doesn’t show up his time around) and Mac Demarco, who finds his way behind the boards to give the album its late-night luster. The spirit of all of those artists has long been to whittle their own images out of vintage wood and with Raw Honey Drugdealer is proving to be a contender among any of them. But for an album that’s dressed up as the kind of studio campout that Brian Wilson once shepherded, the record could use just a little tightening at the seams. It often feels like a soundtrack with some truly golden cuts sprinkled in, but it also chafes in the same way. Collins is becoming more confident as the focus of his albums, but he still hands over the reigns a bit too often to guest vocalists. It would be great to keep the momentum built through the run of songs 2-6, or even go all-in on a full collaboration between Drugdealer and Weyes Blood. The future will tell what’s next, but for now Raw Honey offers up some future lost classics drifting on a sea of AM static.



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Drugdealer – “Honey”

The second single from the sunset slathered new LP from Drugdealer reaches out this week and it features a vocal contribution from his longtime collaborator Weyes Blood. The pair have always managed to shift time in a way that drapes the listener in memories of the past without truly succumbing to the kitsch of nostalgia. It’s the feeling of childhood FM radio as you fall asleep in the car with the sun on your face – a sense of coming home, safety, security, serenity. There’s more than a little George Harrison coursing through the strings here and Collins lays out an inviting musical landscape for Natalie Mering to luxuriate in. Her vocals here, as on her own eternally classic compositions, are tinged in sepia tones and tugging at the emotions like a permanent lump in your throat. Mering is just one of a few great vocal ringers that Michael Collins employs on his latest album, which is proving to be his most complete and immersive album to date. Pick it up from Mexican Summer on April 19th.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

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