Ever since catching a bit of Bry Webb‘s “Someplace I’m Supposed To Be” on the radio last March, I’ve been waiting for the official cut to surface. (Turns out many others were, too, as his FB page blew up with inquiries after the broadcast.) A few things got in the way for Webb, though, with a reunion of his rock band Constantines and a solo LP in the works amid family life. Now the reunion and record are set for 2014, complete with said track due in May. Today we have an intro to Free Will in the form of “AM Blues,” a sullen, pastoral shuffle with a brief Wilco-esque feedback flourish and breezy backup vocals recalling (Webb admirer/former tourmate) Leslie Feist. The sophomore set, produced by Jeff McMurrich in Toronto, comes out on May 20th. Hear a taste above and in the trailer below:
On the heels of December’s Sugar Blind EP, Marika Hackman returns with a follow-up to one of our favorite sets from an emerging artist last year. The new one is right around the corner, due in April with opening cut “Deep Green” making its debut this week. In the last year alone, Hackman has released a short covers set, a 7-track original set, and the aforementioned EP. Yet despite that prolific run, this taste of Deaf Heat proves the palette is nowhere near running thin on new colors. In particular, the tune cuts between tension-building, minor-key melodies and a major-chord release in a way we haven’t heard from her other work. Underneath it all is a buoyant sampled rhythm section that shifts from disconcerting and urgent to settled on a dime. The full EP arrives on April 14th.
Anything “recorded live to tape” gets at least a few spins around here, but this one has been stuck on repeat. Holy Holy are an Australian duo comprised of Timothy Carroll and Oscar Dawson, a singer-songwriter and composer/guitarist, respectively. They took their time building these tunes, first demoing cuts as a team while in Stockholm and Berlin back in 2011. It was worth the work, though, as “House of Cards” and — their previous single — “Impossible Like You” find the pair settled into an ambitious singular vision of melodic folk-rock and cinematic swells. Add producer Matt Redlich to the mix and this stuff bustles with the kind of freshly inspired energy only a new collaborative project might conjure up. Check out the latest single above; it’s off their The Pacific EP, due out via Wonderlick on March 28th.
It’s been four years since Holly Miranda‘s last LP, her excellent sophomore set The Magician’s Private Library, but the wait is almost over. She recently shared these two new tunes — “Desert Call” and “Everlasting” – to help bide time for a full-length. They’re both slow-burning ballads built around Miranda’s heartfelt vocal; still one of the best voices around in the smoky, soulful department. “Desert Call,” in particular, recalls the bar scene in Twin Peaks a bit, with guest backing vocals by Kelis channeling the ethereal timbre of Julee Cruise. According to Idolator, longtime collaborator Dave Sitek produced the single release for his Federal Prism label last fall. Check out both cuts below:
Cate Le Bon’s “Are You With Me Now” drew copious Nico/VU comparisons, and now here’s a previously unreleased number to drive the point home. For both cuts, there’s something in the dry vocal and raw, untreated space between instruments that builds the perfect palate cleanser. Each part is a small thread integral to the tune’s sewn together whole. Hats off to producer Noah Georgeson, as well, for these standouts from the Mug Museum sessions.
Here’s a promising cut from Bristol, England’s Oliver Wilde, the first taste from his new LP, Red Tide Opal In The Loose End Womb. Replete with unexpected arrangement turns, Wilde weaves a subtle, homespun melody under lush strings and a stuttering beat for album opener “On This Morning.” I’d call it baroque pop for the introverted bedroom set, but really this stuff defies genre altogether. It arrives with the full record on May 5th via Howling Owl Records.
UK songwriter Michael Kiwanuka returns with the first new release since his 2011 breakout debut, Home Again. As with a number of our favorite discoveries over the years, Third Man Records have taken notice, this time with label head Jack White producing a new Blue Series single: original cut “You’ve Got Nothing to Lose” backed by a cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Waitin’ Round to Die.” Fans of Kiwanuka’s debut will find the soulful, Bill Withers vibe familiar, albeit dressed up here with a few Nashville-style flourishes from Lillie Mae Rische on fiddle, pianist Cory Yount, and Dominic Davis playing upright bass. He isn’t credited, but it sounds like White himself on the drums. Check out the tune’s video, directed by James Cathcart, above.
Two years after the National’s ”I Need My Girl” debuted as an acoustic sketch, the romantic centerpiece of Trouble Will Find Me arrives in its most realized form. The official clip is a classy, black tie event, with couples slow-dancing surreally slower thanks to director Sophia Peer’s long-duration shutter speed. It’s a nice valentine from the National and fine reminder of a record aging notably well.
Last month’s Johnny Cash archival track, “She Used to Love Me a Lot,” proved there is indeed an ’80s session worth mining from the vaults of music’s Man in Black. Where that cut was a forbear to his Rick Rubin years, this one is a curtain call from the outlaw country phase of his collaborative days. It’s called “I’m Movin’ On,” and the words — studio banter and all — speak for themselves above. Among the Stars comes out late next month.
Here’s another cut from Diane Cluck‘s new LP, Boneset. As mentioned in the “Sara” post, her influence on songwriters from Laura Marling to Sharon Van Etten is well-documented, and that can be keenly heard on “Heartloose.” Cluck’s songs are self-reflective, poetic and facile without pretension. She’s not singing to an existing, potential, or internal crowd, just, perhaps, for the sake of the (lovely) song. Hear it above.