Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 10:41 am
There are four official members of Houndmouth: guitarist Matt Myers, keyboardist Katie Toupin, drummer Shane Cody and bassist Zak Appleby, all of whom also pitch in with the singing and songwriting. But far more people than that contribute to their second album, Little Neon Limelight. Only artful alt-roots producer Dave Cobb, recording engineer Vance Powell and mastering engineer Pete Lyman pop up in the credits, though.
Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 10:39 am
It'd be inexact to describe Matthew E. White as a reluctant frontman, but up until the advent of Fresh Blood, his excellent second album, "rock star" wasn't exactly how he saw his future in music. His plan was more quixotic than becoming a successful singer-songwriter: He was starting a label, called Spacebomb Records, in the manner of Motown or Stax or Studio One, with a band and production team in-house. (Literally — his drummer is his roommate and their attic is Spacebomb Studios.)
Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 10:42 am
Working as a music journalist means that some days you get to tell people, in breathless prose, about an incredible new record you've discovered. On other days, you have to tell people that an artist you've followed and respected for years is no longer living. That part is never any fun. Listening to the hushed, elegantly spare Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith, I found myself transported back to the period right after Smith died, of apparently self-inflicted stab wounds, in 2003.
Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 11:31 am
In his rockabilly history Go Cat Go!, ethnomusicologist Craig Morrison describes the typical cradle of rock 'n' roll: a community hall reconfigured to serve as a nightclub for a night. "There might be Christmas lights strung across the back of the stage, tables and chairs around the perimeter of the room, food available for purchase, and maybe booze," Morrison writes. A jittery, ambitious band plays as loudly as possible, in order to be heard over the din of all the flirting, fighting and dancing.
He opened his last album, 2013's band project Junip, with a thought experiment Nietzsche could love: "What would you do if it all came back to you?" The song, "Line Of Fire," dwells in a mood of idle 3 a.m. musing; González tosses out existential/metaphysical conundrums like he's feeding bread to ducks — casually, without worrying much about concrete answers.
Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 2:18 pm
Two stretched concepts made the rock 'n' roll coming out of Sun Studios in the 1950s unlike other music of its kind: time and space. In a shabby little room near downtown Memphis, Sam Phillips gave the men and kids he recorded all the room in the world. "Spontaneity" was Phillips' mantra, which was particularly potent for the youngest Sun cats.
Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 9:41 am
What does it take for a work of art to become an intervention? In music, any reinterpretation alters the original, if only because different fingerprints touch it. But certain lineages — folk music, for example — are built on the bones of those retellings. Whoever owns a song for a period of time connects it to her lived experience and the world in which she lives, and it changes. It might also change the world, or a small part of it.
Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 11:58 am
The songs of Elliott Smith are widely revered — especially by those who came of age in the '90s — but a new generation of listeners is only beginning to discover him. Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith is likely to expose new fans to the great singer-songwriter. Smith released five albums in his lifetime and died in 2003 from two stab wounds to the chest; he'd left a suicide note. His songs, which often dealt with depression and desperation, were beautiful and frequently quiet.
Originally published on Sun November 16, 2014 8:59 pm
Damien Rice's creative ambition has always outstripped his personal ambition: The Irish singer-songwriter's 2002 debut O yielded many lavish orchestral flourishes, and even a foray into opera near the end, but Rice himself always seemed a reluctant star. After 2006's 9, he quietly retreated from the public eye and relocated to Iceland, barely popping up publicly since, so the arrival of these eight new songs comes as a welcome and periodically thrilling surprise.
Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 10:36 am
It's rare that a record lays out a mission statement as efficiently as the new supergroup Thompson does in the first 60 seconds of "Family." Here's Teddy Thompson, singing about the perils of being surrounded by his particular relatives:
My father is one of the greats to ever step on a stage
My mother has the most beautiful voice in the world
Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 10:34 am
For a record about journeying deep inside the darkest recesses of the mind, there's nothing introverted about the Cleveland duo Mr. Gnome's new album, The Heart Of A Dark Star. Named for an evocative phrase in a Neil Gaiman book, The Heart Of A Dark Star is a bold and blustery hurricane of guitars, organs and voices, all swirling around in the night air.