Thursday, August 28, 2014

Listen: Ólöf Arnalds - "Patience"

While first single "Half Steady" might've signaled Icelandic singer/songwriter Ólöf Arnalds' absconding from the beaten path into the previously uncharted territory of synth-inflected pop, "Patience" acts as its foil. Palme, it appears won't be all folk/electronic hybrids after all. Instead, it appears her team up with Gunnar Örn Tynes of múm will result in more subtler tweaks to Arnalds' style of lush folk pop. Unlike "Half Steady" "Patience" isn't all that atypical to Arnalds' other works but it's immediately evidentl Arnalds has leveled up her production.

"Patience" might be Arnalds most catchy song to date with its winding melodies and the push and pull of its song structure that culminates into Arnalds' layered choir-like harmonies. It's a sultry surge - never quite picking up from its lilting bow and bend but never quite losing steam either. The video, directed by  Máni M. Sigfússon, seemed to realize this - growing from a soft focused afterimage effect to casually (and most importantly gradually) shifts Arnalds' surroundings from a dark room, to derelict ruins and overgrown forests and fields. Nothing about the direction is immediate; everything growing from a seed of an idea while gently nodding towards Arnalds lyrics.

Ólöf Arnalds' fourth full length album Palme is out September 30th on One Little Indian Records.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Listen: Buke and Gase - "Seam Esteem"

The best thing about the now Hudson, NY based experimental duo Buke and Gase is that they arrived more or less with a fully formed signature sound and a predilection for surpassing even your most wildest of expectations. In a way that's only real descriptor that sticks as the riotous twosome manage to elude and evade absolutely everything even vaguely resembling a genre classification. Earlier this year when Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez decided to post snippets of their upcoming third album in its earliest stages, it was a rare look into the band's creative process that still managed to be completely nonrevealing as to what the album would sound like. Not due to any subterfuge but the fact that Buke and Gase so frequently scrap or warp ideas or employ their improvisations and experimentations in a variety of different ways that you were never quite sure if what you heard then would sound anything like the end product.

"Seam Esteem" is however a proper glimpse at the yet to be titled/detailed third album. On it, Buke and Gase have seemed to settled into comfortable groove - with a direct line of growth evident from last year's General Dome. It continues in their established vein of cacophonous, multi-layered pop-oriented songs while still populating its own universe in terms of style and substance. It's surprisingly straight forward, a firmly established boom-clap beat underscoring the real variant which is Dyer's vocals which undergoes a number of microtransformations throughout. Her unaffected howl making its way towards an ironic computerized detachment as she sings "It feels so for real" in the track's chorus. The twosomes trademark buke and gase made their appearance but more or texture than any real spotlighting.

There's no official word of the third album yet but considering their going on a tour in the Fall, news of the album should be hopefully be revealed soon.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Listen: Ólöf Arnalds: "Half Steady"

For fans of the Icelandic chanteuse Ólöf Arnalds' previous efforts, "Half Steady" is going to come as a bit of a surprise but a epiphanic, euphoria-inducing one to be sure.

On her upcoming fourth album Palme, Arnalds is taking a page out of her cousin Olafur's book and imbuing her sound with a bit of electronics. It's not a wildly radical idea with other more folk oriented singers like Alessi's Ark and Basia Bulat going that route on their releases last year but damn if Arnalds' doesn't absolutely sell the shift AND stick the landing. Taking a song she original wrote in her teens, Arnalds, along with Gunnar Örn Tynes (of múm fame) and frequent collaborator Skúli Sverrisson crafts an utterly radiant experimental pop gem. A gifted songwriter, Arnalds' true talents have always been not solely the words of her songs but the feelings they invoke and that's firmly on display here as Arnalds glides above the music box melodies. It's delicate in its construction, oddly simplistic despite in its resplendent cacophony while managing to be charmingly human despite its many inorganic elements. Arnalds' knack for creating little pocket realms for the listener to slip into is still at play here, although "Half Steady" is much more of frenetic clockwork retaining Arnalds' smooth, soaring melodies but upheaving much of the terrain for glimpses at mountainous jags.

Ólöf Arnalds' fourth full length Palme is out September 30th on One Little Indian Records.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Listen: Steve Gunn & Mike Cooper - "Saudade Do Santos-o-Vehlo"

Singer/songwriter Steve Gunn is certainly having a busy year.  After putting out his Paradise of Bachelors debut Time Off last year, he's already prepping to release its follow up Way Out Weather in the fall of this year. What's more sometime in between the production of that record, he somehow had time to work on not one but two collaborative LPs that also came out this year. One with fiddler Mike Gangloff and the other with one of Gunn's own influences British guitarist Mike Cooper.

"Saudade Do Santos-o-Vehlo" is for most, the amuse-bouche to Gunn & Cooper's collaboration and for me at least a much needed/belated introduction to Mike Cooper - a man whose been consistently releasing music for the past 50 years. Cantos de Lisboa, the 11th installment in RVNG Intl's Frkwys series, finds the duo teaming up in Portugal of all places for a set of improvisations inspired in part by the Portuguese culture and their surroundings but also by the two's shared musical backgrounds in folk, jazz, and blues.

"Saudade Do Santos-o-Vehlo" is an instrumental ramble not entirely out of Gunn's normal oeuvre. Cooper & Gunn are in total creative consonance, swirling about and meshing together fluidly enough that you can't really tell which melodic lines are Cooper's and which are Gunn's. You have your guesses but for the most part, the two are in perfect sync feeding off of each other's flourishes. It's a track that could very well go on forever and kind of does, considering it ends with a fade; never quite reaching a true resolution.

Steve Gunn & Mike Cooper's collaborative album Cantos de Lisboa is out now on RVNG Intl

Monday, August 4, 2014

Listen: Marissa Nadler - "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings" (Father John Misty cover)

If you follow Boston singer/songwriter Marissa Nadler's non-album endeavors her latest team up should be of no real big surprise to you. After enlisting the aid of Angel Olsen and Cat Martino on past collaborations, she's apparently set her sights on Father John Misty's Josh Tillman and they've engaged in a bit of a song swap for a 7" out on Bella Union. For the 7" Tillman's offering up a take on Nadler's "Drive" from her newest full length July while Nadler's tackling arguably the most popular song on the Father John Misty record "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings".

Nadler turns the rugged rock jam into a lamentation. Some of the lyrics which were humorously eyebrow raising in Tillman's delivery, instead are handled with a delicate care that instead makes them appear as a direct response to grief instead of questionable drug-addled adventure. As is Nadler's way, she manages to stay true to the source material while displaying her own strengths - giving herself elegantly craning vocal lines in the balladic version.

The 7" split with be available both on limited edition vinyl and digitally from Bella Union on August 4th.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Listen: Steve Gunn - "Milly's Garden"

Considering how populated the industry is these days, it's actually a pleasure when a musician pops up with a clear vision of both what they want to do and how they're influences can inspire that. In singer/songwriter Steve Gunn's case, he's had plenty of years playing music with a revolving cast of musicians and ensemble permutations to properly solidify his leanings for jazz and blues and imbue not only that technical precision but the shades of coloring into his dusty plain swept rambles.

While that alone makes for some interesting in its own right, Steve Gunn possess a narrative sweep that manages to parlay unaffected plainspeak with a curious knack for just the right kind of details. It's an entrancing simplicity that never actually insists upon its own simplicity. Gunn's songs are not unlike a casual conversation, a story told by two invested parties that feed off each other to enrich the details. The pair just so happens to be Gunn's lyricism and his band however. Equal weight is given not only to what Gunn sings but to the sounds he's able to draw out of his guitar and his collaborators; where even at their jammiest, their path is still firmly in sight and in no danger of being abandoned in favor of too much flash; of too much sizzle.

"Milly's Garden" offers up more of what Steve Gunn does best. On "Milly's Garden", Gunn conjures the feeling of unfettered expanses both musically and technically while continuing his new role of singing full band leader from Time Off , keeping everything firmly on the rails even as the song gives the impression of spreading out into the infinity.

Steve Gunn's Way Out Weather is out October 7th on Paradise of Bachelors.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Listen: The Wilderness of Manitoba - "Leave Someone"

If you weren't aware that Toronto based folkies The Wilderness of Manitoba were on album four well no one would really blame you. After their US debut (which was actually their sophomore record) When You Left The Fire back in 2011, they've pretty much kept things north of the border while venturing south for the odd show here or there. With the announcement of their upcoming record Between Colours however, hopefully another US release in on the horizon because first single "Leave Someone" is for lack of a better term such a jam.

For those that missed Island of Echoes, "Leave Someone" is an introduction not only to The Wilderness of Manitoba's new addition Amanda Balsys but also a distinctly less folk-oriented sound. In fact, Between Colours sees the band trimmed down from quintet to trio but rather than slowing them down, "Leave Someone" shows that the band has been galvanized by it's metaphorical new blood as they bypass folk pretty much altogether and land squarely at rollicking, fervent rock. Though the track isn't all aggressive forward momentum, leaning on the brakes at precisely the right time to offer a slight reprieve in the form of  Will Whitwham's tender vocal solo. From them on, it's back to the spirited gallop to the finish and right into the hearts of Wilderness of Manitoba fans old and new.

The Wilderness of Manitoba's third full length album Between Colours is out September 16th on Pheromone Records.

(via Exclaim!)