02 Jul 2021, 10:17 MST

Joy Williams

A decade and change ago I did a short and wholly inadequate post about a duo I absolutely adore. Their bluegrass-y harmonies and lapping waves of melancholy remain singular and, were it not for their untimely dissolution, we would surely be listening to their fourth or fifth album and wondering how many Best Country Duo Performance Grammys one act could collect. Alas, with the virtual guarantee The Civil Wars are done for good, the sort of person that chases these heartsick highs must look elsewhere, and I have. There are things to hear out there, The Sweeplings, Striking Matches, First Aid Kit sometimes, The Staves a little bit, but if you’re missing the rich honey and delicate power of Joy Williams vocals, well, there’s only one place to look.

Front Porch is not recent, strictly speaking, but it’s recently come into heavy rotation for me, and I’m finding the easy comfort and uncluttered simplicity of these songs exceedingly satisfying. In that way that you sometimes don’t realize you miss things until you find them again, I missed Joy Williams' voice. It’s a superweapon deployed as it is here, with flatpicked guitars and background harmonies. There’s lost love and there’s regret, there’s hope and heartfelt desire in the tracks, but more than that there’s an intimacy that brings you very close. You’re on the porch with her while she sings. That’s the real magic captured here. You can feel a person just right over there, a person you’re there with. These songs are not to me or about me or for me, they’re hers, and it’s a privilege to listen.

Front Porch
Hotel St. Cecilia

Where to find Joy Williams:
Twitter: @joywilliams
Website: joywilliams.com

27 Jun 2021, 14:18 MST

The Japanese House

The Japanese House. I don’t know, it’s hard to wrap your head around. I mean, is she a space alien from an advanced culture that has achieved the platonic ideal of music? Is she a time traveler from our own distant future where the slow and deliberate action of time has polished music into a perfect sphere of transcendence? I await a reply from Science. In fairness, the sounds we perceive from these tracks could be captured transmissions from an advanced culture or signals bent back in time from our own planet, the artist we know as Amber Bain may be a hologram The Government created as a cover. I did see her play live once though and I felt like she was a corporeal presence. Assume nothing, question everything.

Brass tacks: The Japanese House is a Fucking. Artist. An ARTÍST. These aren’t arrangements, they’re soundscapes. These are not songs, they’re time-limited worlds that she allows you to live in. Her command of space, the layers, the effects, the vocal work, just the whole damn thing is stupefying.

It’s important to me to fess up here. I’ve been listening to this album since it came out. Two..years….ago… Sometimes you feel like writin', sometimes you don’t ok. Let’s just get it all out, she also has a series of downright magical EPs that overlap this album virtually not at all! I’ve listened to all of those too, ok? I’ve probably listened to Face Like Thunder as much as any song I’ve ever listened to. I am but a human mortal, I strive and fail daily. Let us not focus on the past, instead let us look forward to this world where you, reader, now also have this music. My failure is no longer shackling you to the earthly plane, you may now ascend through the power of “Lilo”.

Lilo
We Talk All The Time

Where to find The Japanese House:
Twitter: @japanesehouse
Website: thejapanesehouse.co.uk

23 Jun 2021, 16:24 MST

Katie Pruitt

So there I am, making a playlist circling around a country-but-not-quite-country vibe I was feeling, and I’m poking around in various recommendation engines for “if you like then you might like” kind of stuff and there’s Katie Pruitt. I might like Katie Pruitt, the komputormachina said, so I put her album on my playlist all casually, like, “oh, here’s another album”. What a buffoon, what an absolute simpleton I was. 185 tracks on this playlist from amazing artists, The Staves and Lera Lynn and Waxahatchee and Joy Williams and Sarah Shook (coming soon, oh lawdy) but here comes Katie Pruitt and…were there other songs on this playlist? I wouldn’t know. I can’t say for sure how many times I played Expectations the album top to bottom, I’m not sure our common earthly numerals count that high. Katie Pruitt is exactly the kind of addiction I listen to music for. I love her voice, I love her musical sensibility, and by god this album has an Explicit tag cause Katie Pruitt ain’t afraid to crack one out and if history has taught us anything here at this website, dropping an f-bomb on me is a real bonus.

Expectations is a lost Fleetwood Mac track. From one of the good albums. Like Rumors or The White Album. It is. Listen to it, I’m not playin' games. If Stevie Nicks started singing absolutely nothing would be surprising about it. I’m convinced Katie Pruitt has cracked time travel and cat burgled this track right off Lindsey Buckingham’s nightstand. You can’t prove me wrong.

Grace Has a Gun is the closest thing to Brandi Carlile I’ve ever experienced that was not, in fact, Brandi Carlile. It’s unbelievable. The power everywhere, the lyrics the vocals the mix, it’s a tidal wave of quality.

Expectations
Grace Has a Gun

Where to find Katie Pruitt:
Twitter: @KPmusik
Website: katiepruitt.com

09 Jun 2021, 13:47 MST

The Marías

You might call this post “timely”.

In a scant few days the debut LP from The Marías will be upon us and here you are, nay we are, ahead of the game. I can’t believe it either.

The Marías. Are we on another episode of “Adam Listens to Songs In Languages He Does Not Understand”? ¿Es Un Millón en Español? Sí. ¿Hablo Español? Un poco, y mal. I’m sure I didn’t even get those ten words right, let alone in the right order. Truly, at best I have a vague comprehension of what Un Millón is about. There’s dancing…I’m…pretty sure. Right? 85% sure about the dancing. Look, the point is that sick beats are the lingua franca, the ur-speech, and The Marías speak it natively.

Un Millón
Hush

Where to find The Marías:
Twitter: @themarias
Website: themarias.us

Bonus link: Hot vinyl pre-order

I missed the autographs too, don’t feel bad. I feel bad enough for all of us.

30 Apr 2021, 18:01 MST

Cœur de pirate

Long, long ago, in the distant past of 2009, I wrote a short post about the debut album from Béatrice Martin as Cœur de pirate and I assure you reader, even today the songs from that album are special. I have a kind of nostalgia about not just those songs and that recent-yet-not-recent time but the way hearing those songs felt then, the echoes they throw from then to now. There are songs and albums and artists that are your favorites and you would call them your favorites perhaps out of careful consideration or soul-searching and they come easily to mind when someone asks you to name them. I don’t think of Cœur de pirate this way, though I adore a wide and ever-widening swath of her output. There’s a different kind of song or album or artist, no less critical but often less obvious, that anchor your taste; foundational components of the ethereal equations that describe the dynamics of a system that together encompasses “what you like”. Comme des enfants is that, for me. Cœur de pirate the album and artist is that, for me. There are other piano-heavy artists, there are other non-English vocalists, even the occasional chanson française, the elements that make up the sound are not themselves unique within my experience, but the combination of Cœur de pirate in that place, in that time, staked a position that remains just as apparent to me now as ever. When I hear it, I see this spot where Cœur de pirate landed and I know that’s where I am again.

Last night at 11:30p I learned that there was a new Cœur de pirate album and I immediately smashed the buy button on Bandcamp so hard it knocked the phone right out of my hand. I decided to take in the new album in the morning and so it sat in the cloud, all night, waiting for me to press play. This morning the wait was over, I downloaded my nerd-grade FLAC files and started the album playing on my home hifi while I milled about, and the opening piano notes were beautiful, hopeful, if sounds can themselves be hopeful, and I felt very good about my decisions. The song continued, as songs do, and the piano work was gorgeous and the tune was lovely and yet something. Something. The next song started and it was similarly wonderful and the piano was still there and still wonderful and yet something.

Something.

Where…was her voice? The piano was carrying the melody, the piano was carrying…everything. The third song began and the piano was alone again and there was no more milling about, there was sitting down, there was paying attention. So beautiful and stark, so sharp and striking, melancholy and powerful. It’s utterly, truly lovely. The entire length of the gone-too-soon album is distinctly lovely. There’s gravitas in solo piano that is unmatched in single instrumentation and her compositions amplify that. The mastering is superb, it rings with clarity, it surges and flows with dynamics unique to beautiful piano music. It feels close and personal, and always melodies that are unmistakably Cœur de pirate. I still hear her voice even though it isn’t there.

I wrapped up the first pass and I found myself wondering how this beautiful thing had happened. I felt sure there must be a reason, and I was right, there is a reason. It’s awful and I feel for her, my sincerest hope is with her for a full and speedy recovery of her enchanting singing voice which I unquestionably miss, yet here is this beautiful thing, this beautiful music, une si belle musique. I cannot help but feel grateful to have it.

C’est la vie, je suppose.

Isle-aux-Coudres
Saint-Irenee

Where to find Cœur de pirate:
Twitter: @beatricepirate
Website: www.coeurdepirate.com

15 May 2018, 23:00 MST

MADE IN HEIGHTS
I am very late
To this MADE IN HEIGHTS party
Which is now over

              Abrupt, unexpected end
             Kelsey Bulkin gone solo

All before my time
All before I even knew
That I should be sad

           Nevertheless, here we are
            Nevertheless, here it is

Listen to these beats
Hear these silky, sweet vocals
Bring it all inside

Murakami
Slow Burn

Where to find MADE IN HEIGHTS:
Twitter: @madeinheights
Website: madeinheights.com

19 Feb 2018, 19:57 MST

Aly & AJ

Maybe you remember Aly & AJ. I did. Vaguely, anyway. I remembered Radio Disney pop that was not my bag. That’s a pretty simplistic hand-wave at a back catalog that includes a gold record, but it’s what I remembered. Imagine my suprise, then, when I found an Aly & AJ song in my Spotify “Discover Weekly”. I was very confused.

I played the song.

I am no longer confused.

While it somehow hasn’t managed to commandeer every post I make here, it is nevertheless true that I have developed a strong propensity for 80s-esque synth-heavy pop music. Strong. I’ve quite literally worn the figurative tread off a playlist unimaginatively titled “The New 80s”; it’s a genre I’m quite enamored with in general. I mention this because, as it happens, this is the angle through which Aly & AJ enter the frame.

Coming off a ten year hiatus since their last album as Aly & AJ (and some steady acting work for both, you may recognize Aly from “iZombie” or “Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television” and AJ from “The Goldbergs”) they’ve returned with “Ten Years”, a four song EP appetizer for a forth-coming full-length album. A solid combo of strong shots to the synth-pop breadbasket, “Ten Years” isn’t blazing any new musical trails but it delivers where it counts. I both honestly and surprisingly enjoy every song on this EP, but Promises. Promises has it. Boy howdy. I can say with confidence that I’m anxiously anticipating whatever their full-length album turns out to be.

So here it is. Just one. There’s only four, you need to go do your duty to music and pay them what you owe to get the others.

Promises

Where to find Aly & AJ:
Twitter: @alyandaj
Website: alyandaj.com

17 Nov 2017, 19:06 MST

Bomba Estéreo

This gigantically tall image was the only one sufficiently excessive to encompass the towering wall of sound pumped out by Bomba Estéreo. Their brand of club-banger cumbia is an all out assault: hot guitar licks, sick beats, razor-sharp vocals with a mix of traditional instruments and electro-magic that rises together into a whirling tornado of the absolute hottest fire.

Bomba Estéreo is no newcomer to the musical scene. You may (I did not, my shame is great) recognize them from their smash hit Soy Yo from their previous album, or the music video of said track which racked up a bananas view count on its way to becoming a cultural touchstone, but their story goes much further back to 2005 and Simón Mejía’s interest in electronica-influenced takes on classic cumbian styles. A single track on the earliest Bomba Estéreo album featured vocalist/rapper Li Saumet, but you’ll find her infectuous energy on every track since and it is truly a wonderful thing. Her rapid-fire Spanglish flow is absolutely top-shelf showcased on Money Money Money, but her melodic coverage on semi-balad Siembra is superb and you throw in the feels-laden delivery on Duele and the conclusion that we’re dealing with a standout talent is unavoidable.

Though my forays into música reggaeton y cumbia y samba are small in the totality of hours I spend between two cans, stumbling into unreal albums like Ayo makes me think I should spend more time here. I’m certified addicted to this album right now. What if there’s more of this out there? What if I’m missing it, you know?

Yo presento los dos, como es mi manera. Escúchalos a todos, no te arrepentirás.

(Yes I had to Google Translate to get that out. The memories of the parts of Spanish I would need in order to build that from scratch, like the imperative and conditional future tenses, have left me for good, I fear.)

Duele
Química

Where to find Bomba Estéreo:
Twitter: @bombaestereo
Website: bombaestereo.com

27 Oct 2017, 19:16 MST

Charly Bliss

Guppy (makes 1 album)

Ingredients:

  • 1 part Weezer
  • 1 part Charlotte Hatherly
  • Veruca Salt
  • Artisanal Kay Hanley

In a shaker, combine Weezer and Charlotte Hatherly over a handful of cool as ice, shake gently. Rim a high-ball generously with Veruca Salt, pour the shaker contents through a strainer. Add two liberal splashes of Kay Hanley before garnishing with a Cherry Bomb. Serve thrown directly in the face.

Pardon my language, but:

This. Fucking. Album.

Charly Bliss is absolutely killing it. They’ve recaptured a kind of earnest, crunchy power pop/punk that I haven’t had a craving for in years. In a post-Blue Album time-frame, there are certainly plenty of bands that aimed to do this, but you can count on one hand the few that even knocked on the door. Charly Bliss kicked it in. They live here now.

As proscribed by the rock gods and set down in the before-times, Charly Bliss is correctly a four-piece outfit: sibling duo Eva and Sam Hendricks on guitar and drums respectively, Spencer Fox on second guitar and Dan Shure on the bass. Eva pulls lead vocal duties combining an intrinsic hard-candy sugar with the sharp glint of a razor. Applied to her borderline-oversharing lyrics and the occasional scream/squeal for punctuation, the result is infectious in the very best way. As a musical entity, it’s difficult to explain how they walk this tightrope hanging over a bottomless chasm of “merely nostalgia” without a single misstep, but you can hear it for yourself. Their sound isn’t replicating something specific, they’ve absorbed a fundamental quality that makes it genuine. It feels contemporary to Weezer but it doesn’t feel like they’re playing Weezer songs. It feels adjacent to Letters to Cleo but they’re not Cleo songs.

Basically it’s a miracle. This is a miracle album. Quality is bursting from every seam. A veritable cornucopia of brilliance. I’m out of words. The ones I used don’t really feel entirely adequate. Black Hole is amazing. Ruby is amazing. Look, they’re all amazing, I’m serious. Do the needful. I even added a Bandcamp link so you can give your sweet sweet dollars slightly more directly to the band.

I can only do so much for you, it’s your time now.

Go.

Black Hole
Ruby

Where to find Charly Bliss:
Twitter: @charlybliss
Website: charlybliss.com

20 Oct 2017, 15:33 MST

Elizabeth and the Catapult

In a totally unexpected turn of events that no one could’ve possibly predicted, I’m back at the Elizabeth and the Catapult well imbibing the sweet, clear nectar of Elizabeth Ziman’s musics and let me tell you: it is damn good to be back. Over a relatively long tenure of fanhood (squeeing fanboy alert, like, more than usual) I have come to not just love and adore Elizabeth and the Catapult music, I’ve settled into a sort of implicit trust with her output. I just know in my knowing place that whatever she puts into the world is straight up gonna be good. Much as I did with the last album, I got in on the PledgeMusic for this album over two years ago at this point (912 days, to be precise), and not once in that time did I have concerns. As it happens, I was quite right.

Mea Culpa
We Can Pretend

Where to find Elizabeth and the Catapult:
Twitter: @thecatapult
Website: elizabethandthecatapult.com

03 Jul 2017, 18:34 MST

Now, Now

I had a real photo problem with Now, Now. See, they used to be a three-piece with Jess Abbott (who I know from Tancred and not from this, what a world) but they’re back down to the original duo of Cacie Dalager and Bradley Hale. Unfortunately, most of the band photos on the intertron are interminably ancient and as such depict the trio and therefore are not what I’m after. As an additional wrinkle Cacie Dalager is currently sporting some super rad pink hair, as seen above, and there’s no way I wasn’t gonna showcase that situation, so this is what I’ve got. It’s the press photo you’ve probably already seen or will see everywhere you look for more news about Now, Now. I try, reader. I swear I try. As an aside, in the wake of our collective loss of Hayley Williams' venerable flame-job locks, it heartens me to see Cacie Dalager in good company with the likes of Lights picking up the vibrantly-colored torch and carrying it forward.

Oh right, music. Not a hair color blog.

YET.

Now, Now has been lying dormant for a while. Their 2012 outing, Threads, is not an album I was particularly taken with at the time (though listening to it now I find a lot more to like), but in the interim they’ve been hard at work. Ahead of a full album release, they’ve let slip this one single and if this one single is in any way indicative of what they’ve got in the wings, we’re in for something great.

SGL (a short-hand reference to the phrase “shotgun lover” you’ll hear in the track, I’m hip, I’m down, how do you do fellow kids) is, more than anything, a track of driving rhythms. The no-nonsense elements stack up through the first verse into a building chorus that drops off like a hard down-shift for the second verse, in a theme you’ll see repeated through the track of a staged mountain climb that barrels right off a cliff at the finish. I’m definitely not saying they invented the form, this is certainly a phenomenon you’ve encountered before, but this particular instance of it is powerfully tight. The relative sparseness of the early arrangement really drills the chugging guitar riff and drum’n’bass rhythm into you; by the time they’re sprinkling in the light ‘tronicas and reverb-y echo magicks, you’re part of the machine. I don’t know exactly what this machine does, but it sounds damn good doin’ it. Cacie Dalager’s smoky near-monotone melody works a treat; anything more vocally acrobatic would’ve upset the groove and anything less would’ve sounded like spoken word. They’ve really got something I’m digging here and I anxiously await the revelation of the fullness of this album. My breaths are appropriately bated.

Now, as a general policy, I don’t normally post random singles I find on the intertron. I like albums, and I could wait for the album quietly while you, dear reader, perhaps know nothing of this track, but that feels like a real waste. We’re coming into the peak of summer music season and maybe you’re making your road trip or family beach outing or vacation airplane playlists and I want you to have SGL in your bag o’tricks for that. I want that for you, reader, so I’ve done this thing. I will re-visit Now, Now when the time arrives and we’ll find out if my enthusiasm today pays off, but right now? Right now I bring you this.

SGL

Where to find Now, Now:
Twitter: @nownowband
Website: nownowmusic.com

31 Mar 2017, 22:05 MST

Maggie Rogers

It’s likely you’ve heard about Maggie Rogers already. We all know that’s not gonna stop me from doing my bit here according to my own particular idiom, but it is nevertheless a thing that needs to be acknowledged. Alaska is a certified Internet Event after her, and I’m quoting her directly here, “gif-able moment with Pharrell” and I linked Alaska down there like I damn well must because in addition to being a phenomenon it is a planet-killer payload of quality.

So what is Maggie Rogers doing here that is so magical? Pharrell went a little around the bend on exactly how unique this situation is (Wu Tang reference though, Liquid Swords!, recognize), I expect I am (as are you, dear reader, almost surely) steeped somewhat more significantly in the genre contemporaries than our boy there. I expect that any of you that have read the other posts around these parts might be thinking that you can hear some Sylvan Esso or VÉRITÉ or maybe just a little Ryn Weaver and I don’t think you’re wrong about that, but there is definitely a unique alchemy coming out of Maggie Rogers' lab.

It may surprise you to know (well, not if you watched all the videos up there, but you probably didn’t) that Maggie Rogers used to make banjo music. Alright it’s not exclusively banjo music, but it’s certainly not this. Well, it’s not ALL of this. When you listen to these folk/singer-songwriter songs, you can hear some threads that run up into this new EP and I think that may be where some of the magic is gestated. Her music is coming from this other place and it’s passing through this filter, the disillusionment and her nature detour and the reinvigoration, and out the other side of that is this organically danceable, tightly arranged electro-pop with bumpy-bump synthetic bass lines and space-y reverbs and clean beats, but the singer-songwriter is still in there and it’s the addition of her stellar vocal work that puts this over the top; just the right vibrato and a smooth falsetto and a sprinkle of echo…que belíssima.

Since Alaska is a given (and I will fight you if you disagree with that) I only had to pick one from this five song (well, four remaining) EP and while that should’ve been easy it really wasn’t. I like On + Off a lot and I was pretty convinced it was the right choice, but when I really got down to it I loved the first pre-chorus at a 12/10 and the rest of the song at about an 8 and I had all of Dog Years at a 9 so here we are.

Go to one of the links down at the bottom there and get this EP. Pay the money, I want the LP, or more EPs, singles, literally whatever she does with all our sweet sweet Benjamins, I want it. You do this for me and we will forget about all the things I’ve done for you. I mean, also I need you to buy all the other things I’ve told you to buy, but right now, today? This one, buy this one right now.

Alaska
Dog Years

Where to find ARTIST:
Twitter: @maggierogers
Website: maggierogers.com

07 Mar 2017, 19:13 MST

Dead Sara

* WARNING     WARNING     WARNING *
This is not the oft-soothing sounds of CGPLS you’ve come to expect. No, this is a brutalist rock beatdown with face melting danger level RED. Prepare your mind and body for an all out assault before you click the little play buttons. Also I’m definitely gonna drop the F-bomb. Just keep swimming, we’ll all get through this together.

A thing you may not suspect about me, based on the content I post here, is that I used to listen almost exclusively to raging guitar-driven hard rock and alternative. I know, right? And here’s the thing, as in so many other ways, deep down inside that kid at the Deftones concert that doesn’t really know how to mosh but feels the mosh INSIDE, he’s still in there. The only thing that gets him out of the cage is a raging distortion-fueled guitar set, though that is not a frequent happening of late. That’s on me, of course. As you might expect, I have strong opinions on what my rock music should sound like and my experience over the last decade or so has been that I didn’t really care for much of what was going on. I’m not saying it’s all bad music or anything but you can see what I’ve been listening to, singer/songwriter, electro-pop, it was really gonna take some legit shakabuku to get me back on the other side. The songs at the bottom of this word-wall, they are so, so that.

Straight dope: Dead Sara rocks so hard it’s fucking absurd. They’re a straight up four-piece but they produce a devastating tsunami of red-hot lava. Emily Armstrong’s voice is once-in-a-generation stunning. Through the action of some type of sorcery I do not understand, she is simultaneously pitch-perfectly melodic while also a screaming, visceral rage-angel. The gravel will sandblast you to the bone, the register shifts and cracks speak in a primal language you know but did not know you knew, the phrasings and the fills, ugh. I love every single bit of it. You are laid bare before this voice, the you that is You is SEEN. Then you back that with Siouxsie Medley conducting a master class in rock guitar, and I’m not talking about double-tapping speed-metal minute-long pentatonic Steve Vai acrobatics, I’m talking about chugging, crunchy rock; no-nonsense licks, the occasional blistery harmonic and when the solo comes it is fucking worth it. And the rhythm section, Chris Null on the bass and Sean Friday on the trap, solid like rock, strong like bull. It’s a trim four-piece and a four-string and they just play the living hell out of them. This madness is held together by these guys and they get that done with style. So let’s review:

  • Singularly gifted vocalist: ✓
  • Crunchy, raging guitar: ✓
  • Rhythm section like a tactical metronome made out of buzzsaws: ✓
  • Enough energy to power Los Angeles: ✓

Yep, it’s the perfect rock band. This is it, we found them, it’s Dead Sara.

You wanna know just how hard they shaka’d my buku, I drug my electric guitar out of a very long retirement and wailed on a truly pathetic cover of Weatherman for an hour and it felt so good. I was back in the garage with my very first rock band teaching myself how to shred correct.

So here you go. I’ve waxed poetic, I’ve confessed my guitar sins, now you get to hear the magic, and it is that. Buy every album. I’m just going to set up a direct deposit from my paycheck to go to Dead Sara on the regular, I want more music forever. If it’s not tax free, it damn well should be, this is a public service.

Weatherman
Test On My Patience

Where to find Dead Sara:
Twitter: @deadsara
Website: deadsara.com

PS: This album, self-titled Dead Sara, came out in 2012, but there’s ANOTHER album, a NEWER album that came out in 2015 called Pleasure To Meet You, and I also love it with my whole body. They funded it on PledgeMusic and that makes me a little sad because I missed it but also hopeful that they’ll go back to that well for the next album and I can get a signed LP for my wall, at minimum. However, since I only talked about the FIRST one, now I get to write ANOTHER thing about the SECOND one and I want that for myself so I’m taking it, it’s mine. So stay tuned sometime for Dead Sara: Take Two, Pleasure To Meet You.

10 Feb 2017, 17:43 MST

Beck

So, story time. I got some new speakers for my home audio setup, they’re very spiffy and they sound great and I was looking for interesting music to listen to on them. Whilst stumbling haphazardly around various audio review sites looking at what songs they used as test tracks, I saw a mention of a 2013 Blu-ray Audio release of Beck’s 2002 album, Sea Change, mixed for full surround sound and in a lossless format. At this point in the story I’m not really a Beck fan. I mean, I knew the older radio singles (Loser, Where It’s At, etc) but I don’t listen to Beck as a rule and I hadn’t listened to any Beck in years, that I could remember. Since I had lived in an essentially Beck-free bubble since Odelay, I had never heard a single track from Sea Change and considering what Odelay and Mellow Gold sound like, I was very curious why an audiophile stereo reviewer would be playing a Beck album to test out speakers in the Honda Civic price range.

Here’s the thing about Sea Change. It’s categorically amazing. As it turns out, a lot of people said that when it came out, but I wasn’t listening to Beck then. I didn’t care if Beck made more songs like the Beck songs I knew. They were fine, my “Where It’s At” supply was stable. No. That’s not how Sea Change works. That’s not how any of it works.

For me, coming at this from 1/10 on the Beck familiarity scale, Sea Change is kind of like putting Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd and a string section in a blender with Beck, but a different Beck, a Beck I didn’t know was out there. Beck′.

Beck′ might be a musical genius. The arrangements on Sea Change are flawless; direct and sincere and seeded with a mellow ennui that reverberates on a level just beneath consciousness. In case you didn’t think it could get better than that, the surround mastering on the BD-A release elevates his already-unassailable work with a command of space and ambience that’s honestly breathtaking. Dumbfounding, even. I put this on all casual like and minutes later I found myself, hand-to-god, frozen in place. I was staring directly at my speakers, confused, as if I hadn’t heard sounds before. I did not understand what was happening.

I know I play the embellishing, smitten rube on here often for laughs and because many times I actually am one in some way or another, but this is not that thing. This is the feeling you only get when you hear something and you immediately realize that you’ve Heard Something. Something profound. Something unequivocally brilliant. I don’t have a crush on this album, I think this is honestly an album that everyone should hear. It’s beyond my normal mania for new music, this is timeless wonder.

Sea Change is a masterpiece.

The Golden Age
Already Dead

Where to find Beck:
Twitter: @beck
Website: beck.com

21 Oct 2016, 18:17 MST

Lights

TO: Lights, Canada, Action
FROM: Adam, Tucson, It’s still hot here I swear
DATE: Today

Dear Lights,

How are you? I am fine. I don’t know how you keep doing it, but you are super good at music-ing. Even though you’re a Canadian from America’s hat, I’m glad you let us buy your music here in the USA. I went to Canada once, it was very cold but also very pretty. I was at a lake I can’t pronounce. Anyway, please always make more music and I will listen to all of it.

Sincerely,
Adam
Esq, DDS, LLC

I haven’t mailed this. Yet.

Friends, I have heard the words of the great philosopher Robert Palmer and decided I might as well face it, I’m addicted to Lights. I love what she does. I have no reason to suspect I will not love everything she does going forward. She is my biggest fan.

Midnight Machines is a cut-down run at several tracks from Little Machines with some new content thrown in for good measure. In that way that Lights does, she has made magic and now here is that magic for you to listen to. If I haven’t sold you on Lights by now, I think we’re at the time in our program when you must ask yourself hard questions like:

  • “Do I even like music?”
  • “Can I actually hear sounds?”
  • “Am I a robot who cannot feel?”

I hope the answers are not too disturbing, but that your personal revelations will make you a stronger and better person who understands that you actually do like Lights.

Here are the two. No more. No less.

Meteorites
Running With The Boys

Where to find Lights:
Twitter: @lights
Website: music.iamlights.com

05 Jul 2016, 18:13 MST

VÉRITÉ

VÉRITÉ (Kelsey Byrne) comes to us from the land of alt-pop indie-tronica (also New York, I guess) with a voice that I would follow right into a burning building. It’s a textural toolbox; smoke, gravel, breathy falsetto, vibrato, she just pulls out the tools and goes to work. Also, and not in these tracks, but sometimes, just sometimes, she’ll reach in there and pull out an f-bomb and just drop it right on you and I think we all know I love a good f-bomb.

If there’s one thing that’s frustrating to me as a member of the ancient Music-Comes-In-Albums people, she’s fond of dropping singles and then collecting them up into EPs and, I assume at least, potentially gathering them together again into the traditional LP that I would normally direct you to, though this final form has yet to manifest. This makes it hard to know if I’m listening to the newest VÉRITÉ, and I often forget and must check the Spotify artist page again to see if there are more singles. It’s really a point upon which I am genuinely torn. On the one hand I like the organization and demarkation of albums, even EPs, as often they’re thematically organized and I can refer to the tracks found within as a grouping in some terms or other. On the other hand, I am genuinely chuffed as hell that we’re living in a musical landscape that’s conducive to an artist putting out a series of singles and being successful.

It’s just another entry in a distinguished list of things that demonstrate my inherent aversion to change. Functional obsessive-compulsives of the world unite.

So here are a couple. I mean this when I say that she’s just generally fantastic at this music thing and though I can’t direct you to an LP for consumption, I’d head on over to the artist pages I’ve linked below and get to gettin'. “Underdressed” and “Strange Enough” and “Colors” and and and. You have much to do, reader. Much to listen to.

Sober
Weekend

Where to find VÉRITÉ:
Twitter: @Verite
Website: veriteofficial.com

05 Jul 2016, 14:46 MST

Christine and the Queens

I’m gonna keep it simple on this one. First, hot knowledge bomb for you. Her name is not Christine. It’s Héloïse Letissier, which may be the most French name I’ve ever seen, and I keep pronouncing it in a truly awful French accent in my head over and over. I’m talking Steve Martin in The Pink Panther bad, here.

But never mind that. Brass tacks: “Tilted” is one of the best songs I’ve heard in a long, long time. Thick and round and warm and then she does the spoken word in French and…::sigh:: I want to wrap myself up in this song and stay there. It’s synth-y heaven. “Paradis Perdus” I love for the Kanye “sample”. She really does justice to it and since she sings the rest of the song in French, of course I adore it even though I have no idea what it means. I understand the lyrics are from a ’70s French song of the same title, but I wouldn’t understand it any better on the original recording, so this is just gonna be a CatQ song for me.

Tilted
Paradis Perdus

Where to find Christine and the Queens:
Twitter: @QueensChristine
Website: christineandthequeens.com

PS: I feel like I’d be remiss if I didn’t also point you to the video for “Tilted”. It’s kind of an avant-garde pop-n-lock modern dance showcase, and it is mesmerizing and wonderful and I keep watching it: Tilted (Official Video)

Honestly if I ever moved like that I’d probably need to see a doctor.

09 Jun 2016, 19:01 MST

Lera Lynn

This was a total accident. Maybe fate, if you believe in that sort of thing.

I got a notification from PledgeMusic that Elizabeth & The Catapult had posted an update on the new album project and I popped over there on my phone and it gave me one of those “you might also like” situations and I’m not even kidding you, I hit the wrong spot on the phone and there I was looking at Lera Lynn’s PledgeMusic. She’s just put out her own new album, RESISTOR and I mean, once I’m there, may as well listen right?

The beautiful weight of Lera Lynn’s sound is a hard thing to describe. Deep and dense and dark, guitar-driven tracks cut across a reverb-infused mix, intimate vocals with just a little grit. It’s intent, and earnest, and consuming. I can’t stop listening to Fade Into The Black. It pulls on me. It has gravity.

Listen, buy, etc.

Fade Into The Black
Shape Shifter

Where to find Lera Lynn:
Twitter: @LeraLynn
Website: leralynn.com

06 Jun 2016, 17:13 MST

Marian Hill

Come with me on a vision quest for a minute. Picture the word “slinky” in your mind. No, dammit, not Slinky®. Slinky the adjective. Cat burglars and black dresses and smoky nightclubs, steamy noir streets, tuxedos and delicate curls of cigarette smoke against an inky sky, right? Now, imagine slinky as a sound. That’s Marian Hill. That’s what they do. It’s jazz, it’s dubtronica, it’s chill tempos, thick bass and sultry melodies that radiate classy cool while they whisper untoward nothings in your ear.

Marian Hill is a Philly export, nominally composed of vocalist Samantha Gongol and electronic producer/artist Jeremy Lloyd. Their current LP, Sway, also heavily features jazz player/saxmaster Steve Davit, for the betterment of all mankind, I assure you.

Look, I didn’t want to tell you this way, but you’ve got a fever. And the only cure is more saxamaphone. Luckily, Marian Hill is here to save you.

Got It
Lovit

Where to find Marian Hill:
Twitter: @MarianHillMusic
Website: marianhillmusic.com

Light PS: they are well on their way to releasing their second album, ACT ONE, some songs from which are already available and in at least one case (Amazon) if you pre-order the album, you’ll get the tracks as they release going toward the finish. Also, they’ve got a super cool looking murdered-out signed vinyl pre-order situation on their main site store, so also give that the ‘ol eyeball. I am beset on all sides by temptation, reader.

08 Apr 2016, 19:04 MST

Genevieve

As foretold in the previous post, I am again attempting the difficult task of brevity. I struggle, as all do.

Genevieve sprung from the electro-pop fairy land that I exist within right now, but I find her further toward the pop end of that spectrum. “Show Your Colors” hooked me up front with an easy-going, uplifting, uptempo groove and a sing-a-long refrain, but as I went through the EP the depth and weight of “Human Again” really seeped into my pores and quickly became the track that defined Genevieve for me. I have many hopes that her first full-length will be with us soon.

Show Your Colors
Human Again

Where to find Genevieve:
Twitter: @hellogenevieve
Website: hellogenevieve.com