Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Listen: Lewis & Clarke - "Triumvirate"

There are few bands where the word sprawling seems so wonderfully apt at describing them than the folk-fueled art pop of Pennsylvania's Lewis & Clarke or its mastermind Lou Rogai. Over the course of several years, Rogai has established a clear and honest vision of elevated longform songwriting that's mesmerizing in its grandeur, immersive in its majestic sweep, and yet so neatly contained within its wide expansive.

For those that have followed the career of Rogai's Lewis & Clarke, "Triumvirate", the title track from his upcoming record, is an offering that's wonderful in its familiarity while avoiding mere rote repetition. "Triumvirate" trades the dreamy lushness of Blasts Of Holy Birth for an intriguing openness, employing a sort of horizontal layering effort instead of the vertical - the result is a powerful possession of space as Rogai's proves he doesn't have to package his lyrics in fancy dressings, the melodies enduring in their own right yet floated a long on elegantly arched piano and the barely there whisper of guitar. Even in its rising swells, "Triumvirate" maintains a pervasive quiet, an ever so slight push keeps the track from succumbing to what could easily be a self-destructive sense of lethargy. Instead "Triumvirate" strikes with the subtle strength of ocean's waves - capable of enveloping you in its nearly 9 minute swell before you even know what hit you.

Lewis & Clarke's upcoming full length Triumvirate is out September 9th on  La Société Expéditionnaire bt is available for pre-order via Kickstarter campaign along with a couple rare goodies like a companion book, double 12" LP, silk-screened poster, and more. You can contribute here.

A preview of several of the album's songs is available in A Map of Mazes, a short film/mood piece directed by Kevin Haus.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Pitstop: PHOX

When one of your favorite bands personally recommends another band, it's a good idea to listen to them. That's the takeaway from when Typhoon percussionist/ukulelist Devin Gallagher suggested one time tour mates PHOX to me at a show at this year's SXSW. Turns out the Wisconsin natives were on more than a handful of can't miss lists and for good reason - originally hailing from the circus town of Baraboo, their songs contain a sort of imaginative narrative flourish that's sure to set them apart from the multitudes of other folk pop bands plying their wares.

Framed around singer/songwriter Monica Martin, the sextet take a much more laid back approach to their soulful pop-infused folk. It's never quite about the hooks for the band - who certainly have a knack for it if single "1936" or "Slow Motion" are anything to go off. No instead PHOX's main talent is setting and maintaining specific moods while demonstrating their musicianship in a way that's less flash and all substance.

PHOX is a subtly brilliant blend of typical rock instruments with the more chamber pop ornaments - guitar, bass, drums and voice complimented by banjo, piano, and trumpet, clarinet which recalls early Fanfarlo (though more in the assortment than any true stylistic fingerprints). Aside from Martin's tenderly offered vocals, the rest of the band gathers in a decidedly artful and beguiling dizzy whirl of sound. It never quite rises to the overwhelming crescendo, instead settling for calm plods and gentle swells.

PHOX are the kind of band full comfortable in their sounds no doubt a direct result both of the band members years of friendship and time devoted into developing their sound. There's nothing particularly rushed, nothing truly insistent about PHOX and that's a definite plus - their folky pop songs blossoming naturally but ever wary not to overstay their welcome.

PHOX's self titled debut full length is out June 24th on Partisan Records. Orders available here.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Watch: Sondre Lerche - "Bad Law"

After nearly a decade long career of being known for it, Norwegian singer/songwriter/popsmith extraordinaire Sondre Lerche is making a full on break from his nice guy image. There's been subtler attempts at it before (see lyrics to "Coliseum Town" for the possibly the most overt), but in the video for "Bad Law", the first single from his upcoming seventh full length studio album Please Lerche really goes for the gold.

The story in the "Bad Law" video is one we're all probably far too familiar, Lerche in a show of poor decision making has a little too much to drink and starts to humiliate himself more and more at a party. It says a lot about Lerche's charm that he can embody what everyone would probably agree as the absolute worst part of any party and draw a strange sort of enjoyment out of watching his drunken, increasingly embarrassing antics not with fingers over the face watching cringeworthiness but unabashed delight at his antics. Taking his cues from the track, Lerche's dancing is wild and erratic, especially during the track's most cacophonous moment building toward near nuclear levels of instability. There's an almost limitless potential for the video to dip into a pitiable tragicomedy but things are kept surprisingly and appreciatively light as we're shown not only Lerche's continuous unraveling but a little of the aftermath of the night's shenanigans.

Watch Sondre Lerche's video for "Bad Law":

Sondre Lerche's upcoming record Please is out September 23rd on his own Mona Records.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Watch: Dry the River - "Gethsemane"

Just in time for their stint on the summer festival circuit, English folk-invoking indie rockers Dry the River have not only announced the follow up to 2012's Shallow Bed but also offered up a spanking new video for new single "Gethesamine".
The video, which features the new lineup after the departure of multi-instrumentalist Will Harvey, is a simple affair - capturing the band doing what they do best while dressed in their spiffiest duds in one of the concert halls they're sure to revisit on their upcoming Fall tour. Dry the River have a talent for the spirited crescendo, a tumultuous ebb and flow in their songcraft and "Gethesamine" is no different. After a heart-stirring slow burn where Peter Liddle offers his articulately descriptive lyricism, the track comes to a full on boil, picking up and galvanizing Liddle's lamentations into a ferocious sprint for the finish. "Gethesamine" is more than just a highlight reel of Shallow Bed's most winsome moments however - the new track is just that offering different applications of the band's learned skills and while working within the confines of their band identity. The three part harmonies and monumental climaxes are here to stay but the journey (and in this case the pacing) is a completely different one. 

Dry the River's sophomore full length Alarms in the Heart is out August 25th on Trangressive Records with details of a US release hopefully forthcoming. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Listen: Sea Wolf: "Young Bodies"

It's happened to everyone - you hear that one song from a band that's so right, so perfect in your eyes that you wish the band would make more music exactly like that or that at the very least that the song was a tiny bit longer. That's how I felt about Blind Pilot's "Oviedo" and what original drew me to Sea Wolf's "Young Bodies", from his upcoming Song Spells No. 1: Cedarsmoke is how alike in sound it was. I wasn't craving a exact replica of "Oviedo", I could just listen to "Oviedo" more if that were the case but what I responded to was the sheer simplicity of the track.

Alex Brown Church is stripped down, just him and a guitar and everything from the graceful strokes of his fingerstyle picking to the hushed tone of voice whispers delicacy - there's a gentleness that keeps the perpetual motion of the guitar melody from growing tired or boring, cradling Brown's stormy vocals that ache with regret. They're rich and emotive, tender yet reassuring in their resolute delivery.

Sea Wolf's Kickstarter funded album Song Spells, No. 1: Cedarsmoke will be out July 15th on a pay what you want basis. "Young Bodies" and it's instrumental lead in "Cedarsmoke" are however available now for free download here.

(via FILTER)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Listen: Andrew Rinehart - "Doin' What You Have to Do" ft. Cheyenne Mize

I'd be lying if I said the biggest factor behind my listening to "Doin What You Have to Do", the latest single from singer/songwriter Andrew Sellers' new pseudonym Andrew Rinehart wasn't the guest appearance from Cheyenne Mize. Field tested and approved, Mize was more or less one of my first peeks into the Louisville music scene (along with the Deloreans) and while her role on it is somewhat slight, it nevertheless helped distinguish Andrew Rinehart from the pack of faceless musicians I've yet to see or hear.

Born in Louisville before striking out for New York and then Los Angeles, Andrew Sellers has the traveler's heart that seems to be a prerequisite for creating emotionally resonant but temporally displaced folk music and that's certainly on display here. Featuring tender guitar melodies and a violin part that gets as much spotlight as Sellers and Mize's narrative interplay. Sellers' lyricism strikes an artful balance between the poetic and plainspoken prose, his vocals free from all affect; homey and comforting despite the necessity of their doleful coloring. "Doin' What You Have to Do" is simple but aurally arresting folk due in part to Sellers' delicate approach to songcraft and his pleasant, willowy vocals.

Everything (Part I), the first in a three part split album is out digitally on June 17th.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pitstop: Buried Beds

When it comes to the art of selecting an opening band, Kishi Bashi is proving to not only a quick study but a gifted master. For the East coast leg of his most recent headlining tour (this time to promote recently released sophomore effort Lighght), he selected Philadelphia based chamber pop group Buried Beds. While the presence of a viola on stage was enough to theoretical link Buried Beds with Kishi Bashi by nature of their string-centricness, their tendency to quickly and efficiently rend all your preconceived notions about what you're about to hear makes Buried Beds the perfect support.

Buried Beds curiously operates on a higher tier of songwriting prowess; crafting delightful pop songs out of unlikely subjects from story tales, paintings, to dream journeys. Buried Beds are imaginative but not without restraint - able to present their fantastical vision in easily consumable slices of pop that nevertheless brim with an obvious heightened sense of musicianship. A fivesome onstage, Buried Beds greatest asset both in performance and on record is their versatility easily able to shift between lush, elegant arrangements, cacophonous percussiveness ("Breadcrumb Trail", "1000 Acres"), and sharp edged intricate rock-fueled pop ("Steady Hand", "Future Death") while retaining its resplendent harmonies. Any instrument could be the focal point or merely the jumping off point for an even more exciting musical journey and whether watching or simply listening to Buried Beds one thing is clear: the band is anything but predictable.

Buried Beds' most recent album In Spirit is available to stream on their website here.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Listen: Avi Buffalo - "So What"

For those outside of the Bay area, the last time anyone had really head from Avi Buffalo was give or take four years ago around the release of their self-titled debut full length on Sub Pop. It was an album that pretty much universally acclaimed and for good reason - Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg was a young and gifted guitarist, his band much the same, and the music they made together rather unlike what you'd expect a bunch of high schoolers to make; polished with just the right bit of imperfection, noteworthy without being entirely too self-serious. 
After a couple lineup changes and Avi Zahner field testing songs at intimate shows for the past couple years, a follow up seems to be well on the horizon - slated for a Fall release in fact. "So What", our first sampling of the upcoming At Best Cuckold is a pleasantly turbulent return. Where much of Avi Buffalo rooted around in spindly jams, "So What" is pure insistent rock with a noticeable pop sensibility. Zahner's grown in pretty much every way - from his bolder, more direct vocal delivery to his psychedelic stamped lyricism, there's a refreshing air of change, a triumphant return that's far more than just more of what Avi Buffalo had to offer. Far from predictable both in terms of songwriting and musicianship, one thing is clear: Avi Buffalo aren't pulling any punches; emerging from their relative radio silence with the kind of tune that'll stick with you for days. 

Avi Buffalo's sophomore full length At Best Cuckold is out September 9th on Sub Pop Records.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Listen: Bro. Stephen - "The Shape"

One of the markers of former Louisville based singer/songwriter Scott Kirkpatrick aka Bro. Stephen was a pervasive sense of quiet introspection, not necessarily of the melancholic sort but his debut full length Baptist Girls as an album of calm, carefully trod nostalgic reveries. There's probably a ton of factor's responsible for the change in sound in "The Shape", Kirkpatrick's triumphant comeback single but almost all of them probably stem from Kirkpatrick's relocation to the West Coast. "The Shape" is probably the most upbeat we've ever heard Bro. Stephen.

Enlisting much more than his acoustic guitar, "The Shape" functions as a delightful deviation from the barn-creaks and captured whispers of Baptist Girls without really dabbling in all the more enjoyable narrative subjects. Despite the bighter tones, Kirkpatrick is still singing of missed opportunities though filtered through the lens of his sudden long distance relationship with everything he once knew. "The Shape" is the kind of song that comes from someone who is content with the life they are leading but mindful of the path they've traveled to get there - that Kirkpatrick is singing of those he left behind instead of all his rich new possibilities both keeps in line with his established tendency towards internal inventory and grounds his new material in a relateable sheen.

Bro. Stephen's "The Shape" digital single with b-side "Gathered Up" is out June 10th on Crossroads of America but available to stream/pre-order now.