Released in 2015 on Brainfeeder Records Format: 12″ EP, Red Vinyl
Released in 2015 on Space Lung/Land Breathing Records Format: LP
Released in 2016 by Thrill Jockey Records Format: LP
Released in 2019 on Eremite Records Recorded in 2017 Format: LPx2, Screen-printed jacket
Released in 2018 on Jagjaguwar Format: LP
Compared to the immediate songwriting and lush textures of Helplessness Blues, the progressive folk-rock opus Crack Up feels like an impenetrable wilderness on first listen with its dense, tangled arrangements and complex compositions.
The apocalyptic chamber-folk of Bethpage soundtracks multiple chapters of cryptic storytelling, mixing one’s darkest thoughts with religious imagery and allegory through banjo sing-alongs and haunting spoken word passages. The heavy climaxes are whirlwinds of bombastic drums, driving bass, fiddle, clarinet, and banjo that often recall the communal chamber-punk of Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra. While many tracks feel seeped in shadow and darkness, a heavenly light occasionally floods in through some truly serene and beautiful passages.
Released in 2013 on Matador Records Format: LPx2, 45rpm
Released in 2012 on Brainfeeder Records Format: LPx2
Released in 2014 on Southern Lord Recordings Format: LP
On his latest, producer/composer/multi-instrumentalist Bibio blends serene folk pop, lush instrumentation, pastoral guitar instrumentals, nature field recordings, Walt Whitman-esque lyrics and beat-oriented grooves into the perfectly crafted springtime album. Ribbons feels like daydreaming in a garden or out in the woods under a tree or by a trickling stream.
The Books’ music is simultaneously funny, innovative, catchy and enlightening. They use found sound and spoken word mixed with innovative recording techniques and acoustic instruments to create beautiful sound-collages that somehow create unity between all these disparate sources, as if they were all meant to be together. Everything these guys do, solo or together, is absolute genius.
Progressive Cool Jazz with thematic structural development, and ECM-Style reverbed production. Recommended track: Ark La Tex
Released in 2016 on Thrill Jockey Records Format: LP
Released in 2014 on Innovative Leisure Format: LPx2
These transcendent drone meditations will envelop you in a dark blanket of fuzzy guitars and blooming synthesizers.
Ryley Walker’s virtuosic fingerpicking and intricate folk-rock songwriting vibe heavily with a backing band of Chicagoan jazz musicians, including upright bass, drums, Rhodes and electric guitar. The first LP of this release is a studio album of jazzy folk rock songs for fans of Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks or Tim Buckley’s Happy Sad, while the Bonus Lp of this “Deep Cuts edition” is a 40 min live improvisation on one of the album cuts that probably beats anything on the studio LP. It’s rad to be able hear both the concise, song-centric studio side and the loose jammy side of this exciting artist in the same release.
Released in 2013 on Warp Records Format: LPx2
Self-released in 2013 Format: LP, includes CD
Released in 2013 by Drag City Format: LPx2 Front and back cover by Michal Mozolewski Inner gatefold drawing by Simon … More
Released in 2014 on Drag City Format: LPx2, 45rpm
Released in 2012 on Invada Records Format: LPx2, orange vinyl Limited to 500 copies
Released in 2011 on Blackest Rainbow Format: LPx2, 180g Ltd. to 750 copies
“Side one features a collection of songs performed by a pliant and almost pristine quartet playing songs by Ornette Coleman, Paul Motian, Chris Schlarb, and Shadduck himself, while side two finds Anthony leading a loose, rocking and roiling double quartet performing more obliquely structures pieces and employing a healthy dose of spontaneous improvisation. Both ensembles strike my ear as CLASSIC, spanning the areas of jazz impressionism and edgy-yet-controlled “free jazz” with dedication and distinction.”
[From the liner notes, written by Nels Cline]
Released in 2015 on Sargent House
A far cry from the sparse folk usually recorded by Will Oldham, “Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties” finds his intimate voice and warbly acoustic guitar enveloped by the cosmic drones, blooming synths, airy flutes, and hypnotic tape loops of Chicago new age trio, Bitchin Bajas. The lyrics are essentially fortune cookie mantras and, while there’s a chance they’re tongue-in-cheek, it’s difficult not to smile and feel a brightening of the spirit when hearing uplifting phrases like “Your hard work is about to pay off, keep on keepin’ on” or “you and your whole family are well” get repeated over and over. This collaboration is a soothing, heartwarming listen and a refreshing change-of-pace from Oldham’s tendency towards melancholy and solemn lyrical content.
Released in 2014 on Stones Throw Format: LPx2
Darkly cinematic rock instrumentals with some creeping, Dostoevskian vibes. This is probably the most meticulous and progressive album I’ve heard from these guys, who are always finding new ways of funneling their omnivorous library of influences into their dramatic and atmospheric psych rock stylings.
Whilst in Istanbul for an artist residency, the adventurous Canadian chamber rock group (featuring past members of Silver Mt. Zion and GY!BE) recorded with an ensemble of Turkish musicians, augmenting their core sound of cello, marimba, drums, and tenor banjo with the saz and several other instruments used in Turkish and Arabic folk music.
Released in 2012 on Southern Lord Records Format: LPx2, etching on D-side
After 20+ years of using his introspective songwriting as a playground for psychedelic lo-fi experimentation, underdog hero Emil Amos hands the production reins to John Angello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr.) for his most polished album yet, capturing the best aspects of 70’s rock classics without ever feeling cliché. The hi-fi analogue production brings a newfound clarity and depth that allows Amos’ songwriting and instrumental performances to bloom; the choruses are anthemic, the atmospheres are darkly psychedelic, and his lyrics are just as philosophical and contemplative as ever.
This was released in 2017 on Black Truffle Records Recorded live on October 28, 2014 at SuperDeluxe Tokyo by Masahide … More
Released in 2014 on Invada Records Format: LPx2 Tannum Brown vinyl, limited to 1000 copies
Released in 2015 on Drag City Composed using Ben Chasny’s Hexadic System
On Towards Language, Norweigan trumpeter Arve Henriksen creates a blend of meditative and suspenseful ambient-jazz, demonstrating a more soothing side to his playing than his noisier output with electro-acoustic improvisers Supersilent.
Released in 2018 on Kranky Format: LPx2 Track Notes and Observations A1. This Life (Droney, Climactic, Mournful) Synths slowly dancing … More
The Whole Thing is Just There is another beautiful and life-affirming release from Young Jesus, the second with the current L.A. iteration of the band. Their inter-band chemistry seems stronger than ever, with telepathic improvisations, symbiotic catharses, and a mutual love for each other that is easily felt from a listener’s perspective. The lyrics deal with self-exploration and one’s relationship with the world around them, finding solace in spirituality, existentialism, literature, and the ethos of free jazz. Stylistically the music seems rooted in late-90’s indie rock and emo, with seamless but adventurous detours into post-rock, noisy post-hardcore, and free improvisation. Excited to see where these guys go next.
Released in 2018 on Domino Records Format: LPx2 Includes 12″x12″ glossy lyric and photo booklet
Released in 2018 on P.W. Elverum & Sun Records Format: LP
Released in 2018 on Thrill Jockey Records Format: LPx2, Metallic Silver Vinyl
Released in 2017 on Domino Records Format: LPx2
There is a fathomless void within each of us. And while many choose to run from it, clinging to anything to keep from falling in, Deradoorian dove right in on her meditative release, Eternal Reccurrence. Here she provides somewhat of a sonic roadmap for diving deep within yourself, guided by the blooming drones of harmonium, Juno synthesizers, and flutes. Arising from the ether, layers of otherworldly voices sing mantras of facing our Shadow (“Mirrorman”), finding the love that resides in the core of our being, and bringing it back with us into this material dimension.
An ethereal and somewhat haunting ambient-folk collaboration between guitarist/singer Meg Baird (Espers, Heron Oblivion), and harpist Mary Lattimore, who’s recorded with Fursaxa, Steve Gunn, and others in addition to her hypnotic solo work.
Highly Recommended for fans of Natural Snow Buildings, Laraaji, and 60’s British & Scottish Folk music
The new album from guitarist Yonatan Gat finds cohesiveness in its sprawling diversity. Stylistically it combines the rawness of garage rock, the thematic improvisation of Free jazz, and the experimental editing of musique concréte with psychedelic production, Arabic and Klezmer scales and surfy tremelo guitars.
Recommended for those who know that “psychedelic” is not a sound, but a spirit of creativity and exploration within the mind. Those who know Deradoorian for her work with Dirty Projectors will appreciate the complex arrangements and production, albeit in a much more mysterious context. Fans of Bjork, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Flaming Lips, Portishead, or Can will also find a lot to love.
Eric Chenaux’s gentle falsetto is the most constant, tangible element on an album characterized by a permanent state of flux. The guitars are warbly and unsteady with their fluctuating tones, volume, and pitch. Yet, despite their experimental nature, they never sound abrasive and, together with some mellow Wurlitzer, create a soft, pillowy environment for Chenaux’s romantic crooning about the nature of love, the moon, and warm nights.
Dynamic and uplifting house music characterized by filtered drums and enveloping synth textures. With its driving arpeggiations, danceable 4-on-the-floor grooves, hypnotic build-ups, and soothing ambient tracks, Singularity is extremely well-paced, and it’s most beautiful moments full of sublime wonder.
On Automaginary, the Gnawa-inspired cosmic jazz of Natural Information Society is augmented by the flowing textures of Chicago new age trio Bitchin Bajas to create an album of enveloping drones and trance-inducing rhythms. (Follow link for full Review)
Over the past decade, Josh Abrams has been using his guimbri to create music inspired by the ceremonial music of the Gnawa in North Africa, infusing it with a wide variety of influences from kosmische to minimalism to the avant-garde jazz of his local scene in Chicago. On this album, the focus is on “pure motion” driven by double drummers hypnotically interlocking with guimbri, guitar, keys and harmonium. Each individual plays unique rhythmic figures that push and pull against each other like polyrhythmic tectonic plates, creating constantly changing, yet circular grooves.
An Angel Fell is a call to action for protecting and healing our planet, using folklore, group vocals, uplifting themes, deep grooves, and expressive improvisations to deliver the message. While not as wild and loose as the dense free jazz the Pyramids made back in the 70s, this record is an organic and vibrant fusion of spiritual jazz, dub, and Afrobeat that will give fans of musical geniuses such as Sun Ra, King Tubby, Fela Kuti, and Pharoah Sanders plenty to vibe to.
An acoustic trio of piano, upright bass, and drums utilize creative extended techniques to play evolving minimalist compositions of mutating grooves, polyrhythms, and textures.
Released in 2010 on 4AD Records Format: LP, white vinyl
Released in 2014 on RCA Records Format: LPx2 Includes 12″x12″ lyric booklet
Categorization and comparison are the least of lojii’s worries, instead prioritizing creative expression and finding spiritual truth and power in this dimly lit dystopia. He delivers his prophetic words with a focused, unwavering determination, while the beats are gritty and nocturnal with their open percussion, eerie synths, and negative space. Don’t miss out on this one.
Released in 2011 on Sub Pop Records Produced by Phil Ek and Fleet Foxes Format: LPx2 Includes large foldout poster
Originally released in 2010 on Columbia Records 2014 RSD pressing Mastered from original analogue tapes No. 1175/4000 Format: LPx2, 180g
On this mournful offering, Cave’s poetic reflections on loss, longing, and loneliness slowly float down a river of gloomy synth drones, somber strings, and sparse piano. While not exactly uplifting, the album has a sense of peace and beauty that continues up through the repeating final refrain, “and it’s alright now”.
A unique blend of post-rock, stoner rock, and shoegaze crafted into a cohesive, perfectly fluid 25 minutes. Hallucinogenic atmospheres, shadowy guitar effects, and mysterious pitch-shifted vocals envelope driving, stoner-fuzz bass lines that often liquify into the watery chorus-bass you might find on the Cure’s Disintegration or an Isis album.
“Four relentless bouts of inspired fire music forged from the true spirit of free jazz, driven by searing poetic narrations of Black trauma, survival and power” (from press release)
Click for review
Hailing from Jersey Island in the U.K., Astral Cloud Ashes’ sole member Antony Walker channels math rock, third-wave emo, post-hardcore, prog, and shoegaze through shimmering and melodic alternative rock.
For fans of Circa Survive, HRVRD, Dredg, Oceansize, Taking Back Sunday
Lushly cinematic folk-rock draped in sweeping string arrangements and spacey synth atmospheres. Damien’s reverbed falsetto recalls Jim James (My Morning Jacket) and Bon Iver as he softly sings of God, “spaceships”, and other imagery blending Christian themes with science-fiction.
For fans of My Morning Jacket, Band of Horses, and Beck’s Sea Change
Released in 2015 on People Teeth Format: LP
Released in 2018 on Yakketeeyak Music Review: Right out of the gate Little Boat sounds like an homage to the country-tinged … More
Armed with only an acoustic guitar, harmonica, and her sultry, resonant vocals, the trans-femme folk-punk songstress tells raw, direct stories recalling raunchy escapades with ex-lovers, nostalgic adventures of hitchhiking and robbery, and not-so-fond memories of gambling-addicted boyfriends and escaping hometown judgement.
Poliça’s brooding, atmospheric trip-hop/synth pop consists of the passionately dynamic vocals (from co-leader/lyricist Channy Leaneagh), prominent, groovy basslines, driving double drums, and occasional string and horn arrangements all run through effects and mapped into intricate, quantized webs of programmed beats and synthesizers by co-leader/producer Ryan Olsen. Lyrically, the album centers around themes of isolation, fading love, and even addressing on police violence on “Wedding”.
For fans of Portishead, The Knife
On their debut long-player, the Houston quartet explores apathy, disconnectedness and the loss of relationships through their sludgy post-hardcore.
For fans of These Arms Are Snakes, Drive Like Jehu, Unwound
Album Information: Self-released in 2017 Format: LP Also available as a visual album on Blu-Ray Written, Performed, and Recorded by … More
Kendrick travels through the history of African-American music and into the future, taking inspiration from P-Funk, G-Funk, jazz, trap and everything in between. His lyrics display an acute awareness of someone battling with the weight of fame, institutional racism, and his own depression. This album is simultaneously personal and universal, and nothing short of revolutionary.
Lush, beautiful psych-folk with a spiritual jazz fluidity that comes from Larkin inviting her close musician friends to improvise over her passionate songs with harp, trumpet, strings, woodwinds, etc. Think Tim Buckley meets Alice Coltrane
Julie Byrne’s gentle new-age folk is so light and airy it’s easy to miss its depth, but repeated listening shows that it’s strength lies in its weightlessness. Her soothing voice and delicate fingerpicking are enveloped in warm string arrangements, all tied together by soft reverb and pristine production that makes for an inviting, peaceful listen every time.
The singer makes an album dealing with the grief and eventual acceptance that followed her sister’s suicide. The style is reminiscent of the spacey lounge-pop of her previous band, Stereolab, although much lighter and dreamier.
Makes me feel like I’m sitting alone at a party, gazing across a dark, smoky room; an outsider looking in. Chill beats, hushed atmospheres, melancholy melodies.
Compilation of 3 EPs released in 2013 on Temporary Residence Format: LPx2, etchings on each side
Psychedelic post-punk from Chicago with noise rock dissonance, free jazz sax freak outs, Rhodes keyboards, proggy time signatures, and anxious vocals drenched in delays.
Album Information: Released in 2014 on Constellation Records
Released in 2014 on Merge Records Format: LP
Album Information: Released in 2012 on XL Recordings Format: LPx2
Pastoral psychfolk from guitar master Ben Chasney. Here his serene acoustic fingerpicking is occasionally accompanied by harmonium drones and trippy guitar overdubs, but overall the album is extremely sparse and meditative.
Released in 2012 on Editions Mego Format: LP
Saxophonist Colin Stetson and violinist Sarah Neufeld employ innovative performance techniques, mutating ostinatos and an atmospheric sense of texture to compose minimalist compositions that are as brooding and haunting they are hypnotically beautiful.
Kamasi Washington and his band The Next Step, pick up where their forefathers and mothers left off by making spiritual jazz that respects the jazz canon without getting stuck in the past. This album ranges from free to groovy to melodic without losing sight of its mission. The inclusion of such a large band, an orchestra, a choir, and even a turntablist allows an infinite, colorful array of tonal and dynamic possibilities.
Acoustic-shredder/singer-songwriter ventures out of the jazz-inflected folk-rock territory explored by his last few albums to create something that feels fully himself. Deafman Glance is full of angular left turns, complex structures, airy flutes, jazz detours, and psychedelic atmospheres. A balance of great songwriting, jazz musicianship, and experimental/art-rock tendencies. Recommended to fans of Tortoise’s Standards, Tim Buckley’s Starsailor, and King Crimson’s Red. (Click for full review).
Album Information: Released in 2010 on Drag City Records Produced by Joanna Newsom Arranged & Conducted by Ryan Francesconi Recorded … More