The Tallest Man on Earth SagresThe Tallest Man on Earth has shared the first preview of Dark Bird Is Home, Kristian Matsson’s new LP due in May. “Sagres” — named after a small Portuguese village — drops the intimate, fingerpicked folk guitar and singing of his earlier work in exchange for lush strings, a traveling beat, and an echo-washed vocal. It’s a lovely fresh step, recalling Phosphorescent’s expanded sonic palette of late. Hear it above.

Alabama Shakes Don't Wanna Fight No MoreNot long after we introduced the Shakes, they changed their name to Alabama Shakes, blew up in the press, and seemed eager to brush off the retro-soul label. A 2012 Zeppelin cover drove the point home further that this is a rock band, through and through, bound to subvert expectations. Well, here’s our first taste of the second record — or, as I’d like to call it, the post-breakthrough debut. On the surface it brings labelmates the Arctic Monkeys to mind a bit (dueling, stereo-panned electric guitars, etc.), but beneath that it’s simply a great band with a concrete mission statement at hand. The LP, Sound & Color, arrives in April, and it should make for another worthy introduction. Dig the new cut above.

SOAK: Sea Creatures

January 26, 2015

Soak Sea CreaturesDerry/Londonderry singer-songwriter Bridie Monds-Watson first hit our radar last year with an incredibly promising debut EP, Blud, released on an imprint from the band Chvrches. Now she has a full-length on the way, due via Rough Trade later this year. “Sea Creatures” — the new LP preview — is a cut that arrived in solo-acoustic form last year, but now it’s even more affecting as a midtempo swoon, a beautiful piece of gloaming akin to some of her neighbors to the north. Hear it above.

Jessica Jalbert Faith HealerEdmonton’s Jessica Jalbert released one of my favorite under-the-radar LPs of 2011, Brother Loyola, and now she’s back with a new record. Jalbert goes by Faith Healer these days, teaming up once again with René Wilson for a 12-track set titled Cosmic Troubles, due via Mint Records in March. There’s a colorful collage of nods to the ’60s infused here (sunny harmonies, handclaps, indelible melody, et al.), but — as with her previous work — something completely present persists, too. Among Jalbert’s many talents, the interwoven electric guitar work remains a standout. Here are two cuts from the record:

Jose GonzalezJosé González returns with Vestiges And Claws, his first record in years under his own name, after recent material from Junip and 2010’s still-haunting Red Dead Redemption cut “Far Away.” The latest taste, “Leaf Off / The Cave” recalls Junip, with its undulating rhythm and dog-eared melodies, but “Every Age” is something a bit different from González. It’s an optimistic tune set over that ever-moving “Be My Baby” intro beat, with a message for the zeitgeist I’m hearing a lot lately: “Take your time, build a home, build a place where we all can belong.” Both are below:

Laura Marling False HopeLaura Marling’s gone electric on her next record, Short Movie, and — as always — she’s followed the muse in an inspired direction. Where a December glimpse at the title track offered a seamless transition from rousing folk-rock moments off her excellent last LP, “False Hope” leaves the acoustic guitars behind for good, complete with breathless, multi-tracked vocal accents and a rollicking, unhinged drum part. Hear both preview cuts below:

It’s been three years since Seth Avett broke out a poignant take on Elliott Smith’s “Angeles” for his band’s YouTube covers channel, soon followed by Jessica Lea Mayfield joining him on “Twilight” live. Turns out, the summer of ’11 had only just begun the pair’s off-and-on Smith covers project, now due this March. While previous live cuts and bits we hear in the album trailer below suggest a faithful set, bear in mind that’s no simple feat when it comes to channeling the complex underpinnings of Smith’s work. Striking a reverent tone without being overly precious isn’t easy either, so I’m interested to hear how their adept live takes move to the studio. The discography-spanning tracklist, along with a trailer and Avett’s early go at “Angeles,” are below:

Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith

01 “Between the Bars”
02 “Baby Britain”
03 “Fond Farewell”
04 “Somebody That I Used to Know”
05 “Let’s Get Lost”
06 “Twilight”
07 “Ballad of Big Nothing”
08 “Angel in the Snow”
09 “Pitseleh”
10 “Angeles”
11 “Roman Candle”
12 “Memory Lane”

Seth Avett Performs “Angeles”

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy: Bad Man

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