Kristian Matsson starts out in familiar territory on this one, the title track to The Tallest Man On Earth’s next album, Dark Bird Is Home. “Sagres” felt like a “Song For Zula”-esque turn toward echo and synth-washed sounds, but the Swedish troubadour goes back inward this round. Until the coda, that is: an unexpected, jubilant rush that makes the previous solo-acoustic minutes feel like a contemplative run-up toward some kind of assured transcendence. Underneath any such pomp and circumstance, though, is a fine bit of indelible melody from the Tallest Man. Hear it above.
“The Glow” was the first track among four on our introduction to Esmé Patterson last spring. And while that unfolding arrangement from Woman to Woman did the tune justice in studio form, this live take — featuring Paleo‘s David Strackany on a ramshackle drum kit — lets the cut breathe further, filling it with even more awkward pauses and dynamic nuance. This tune was inspired by Brian Wilson’s “Caroline, No,” and there are other men-penned love songs that warranted a fresh take on her debut here. Patterson & co. are on tour with William Elliott Whitmore right now.
Even without knowing the album’s unabashed bohemian mission statement, words like “celestial” spring to mind on these tracks from Portland’s Johanna Warren. But they also conjure up something more personal and haunting than what she calls a dedication to the phases of the moon. “Figure 8,” “True Colors,” and “Less Traveled” aim inward as much as they pull from the heavens, recalling the intimacy of Nick Drake, Sibylle Baier, and Sam Beam, as much as broader-minded luminaries like Joni Mitchell and a long list of British folk forebears. These hushed tunes do, as she says, “make peace with the cycles of all natural things,” but they sure do find a pretty way to make peace within oneself, too. The LP, nūmūn, is out via Team love next month.
They have been known for epic collaborative live sets at their Largo home base for years, but now the Los Angeles collective starring siblings Sara and Sean Watkins are finally putting out a record. Along with an incredible lineup (Fiona Apple, Benmont Tench, Don Heffington, Greg Leisz, and Sebastian Steinberg), the Watkins Family Hour will release their debut LP on July 24th, the same day they’ll head out on a dozen summer tour dates. Featured on the set are 11 covers by the likes of Roger Miller, Bob Dylan, Lindsey Buckingham, and others, reworked Watkins-style with a rotating cast on lead vocals. Check out the trailer above and tracklist below: [Read more…]
These cuts move well enough without the recording backstory, but dig this: Tom Brosseau and John Parish (longtime PJ Harvey collaborator, Sparklehorse producer, and all-around underrated genius) put the whole record live to tape, the 5-piece gathered around a single microphone, Sun Studio-style, in Bristol, England. Brosseau says, [Read more…]
It’s one thing to make a record as good as Trouble Will Find Me, but to be able to leave tracks like this on the cutting room floor? Amazing. Sharon Van Etten makes a cameo — as she did elsewhere on the National’s 6th LP — for “Sunshine On My Back,” a stirring companion to Tom Berninger’s uber-meta documentary on the band, Mistaken For Strangers. The song was cut back in 2012, but they are offering it up today in exchange for purchasing the film over here.
This cut from Melbourne’s Alyx Dennison takes some unexpected turns: from the sparse and wistful opening minute to an eastern interlude becoming near Irish folk in its second minute, to a lush and rousing final act. Yet somehow it’s woven together without artifice, just wholly heartfelt precision and charm. “Jewels Are Just Lumps” (h/t Autumn Roses) appears on Dennison’s new self-titled record.
There’s something in the frustration opening this track that feels incredibly rare nowadays — a break from the usual wound-in-hindsight poet. Plenty of songwriters pen cathartic cuts (“Ballad in Plain D” comes first to mind), but catharsis in real time, without affording oneself such wit of the staircase, is rare. Cillie Barnes’ “Facework,” which was recorded with Mike Mogis and Nate Walcott in Omaha, opens her new EP out next month.