Dave Holland – Life Cycle

Style: Chamber Jazz, Solo Cello

Vibe: Longing, Contemplative, Elegant, Focused, Introspective, Driving, Passionate, Searching

Musical Qualties: Virtuosic, Acoustic, Sparse, Instrumental, Improvisation, Dynamic, Rhythmic, Melodic

Fountainsun – Sweep the Temple

Style: Spiritual Folk, Outsider Folk

Vibe: Mystical, Pantheistic, Contemplative, Uplifting, Enchanting, Intimate, Heartfelt, Forest, Ritualistic, Meditative, Morning, Warm, Storytelling

Musical Qualities: Acoustic, Suite, Spoken Word, Melodic, Lyrical

Instrumentation: 12-String Banjo, Acoustic Guitar, Marimba, Vibraphone, Vocal Harmonies, Gong, Percussion, Shakuhachi,

David Sylvian – Brilliant Trees

featuring Ryuichi Sakamoto, Holger Czukay, Jon Hassell, Danny Thompson, & Mark Isham

Style: Sophisti-Pop, Art Pop, Ambient Pop

Vibe: Longing, Introspective, Elegant, Ethereal, Sentimental, Sleek, Melancholy, Contemplative, Autumnal, Mellow, Sombre, Nocturnal

Musical Qualities: Polished Production, Melodic, Rhythmic

Mickey Newbury – I Came to Hear the Music

Style: Singer/Songwriter, Progressive Country

Vibe: Introspective, Reflective, Heartfelt, Bittersweet, Longing, Lush, Warm, Soothing, Rustic, Tender, Sentimental, Spiritual, Contemplative, Intimate

Musical Qualities: Acoustic, Lyrical, Melodic, Orchestral, Polished, Background Vocals

Magnolia Electric Co. – Josephine

While Magnolia Electric Co’s final record is still tinged with the weariness & melancholy that pervades all of Jason Molina’s previous work, Josephine also feels imbued with vital life force, bittersweet romance, and hopefulness that make it uplifting despite the odds.

Recommended if you dig dobro & lap steel, ditch-trilogy Neil young, and autumnal contemplation

P.G. Six – The Well of Memory

Style: Mystical Americana, Ritual Folk, Loner Folk

Vibe: Seeking, Contemplative, Gentle, Spiritual, Heartfelt, Intimate, Healing, Mystical, Pantheistic, Reflective, Soothing, Introspective, Warm, Nature

Musical Methods: Acoustic, Suite, Raga, Lyrical, Soft, Droney, Fingerstyle

P.G. Six – Slightly Sorry

Style: Loner Folk, Weird Americana, Folk Rock, Singer Songwriter

Vibe: Peaceful, Melancholy, Reflective, Romantic, Gentle, Rustic, Warm, Autumnal, Bittersweet, Breezy, Contemplative, Lethargic, Mellow, Intertwined

Musical Qualities: Soft, Lush, Lyrical, Vocal Harmonies, Acoustic, Atmospheric

Sam Amidon – Sam Amidon

Style: Dream Folk, Jazz-Folk, Warped Americana

Vibes: Warm Melancholy, Springtime Reflection, Rootsy, Early Afternoons in the Garden, Dreamy, Intertwined, Heartfelt

Musical Qualities: Lush; Improvised Arrangements; Studio-as-an-Instrument, Melodic, Vocal Fx

Instrumentation: Banjo, Saxophone, Acoustic Guitar, Percussion, Flute, Acoustic Bass, Synthesizers, Piano

Smog – Red Apple Falls

Style: Singer/Songwriter, Americana, Slowcore, Alt-Country, Loner Folk

Vibe: Existential, Warm, Morning, Spiritual, Deadpan, Peaceful, Poetic, Introspective, Lonely, Melancholy, Mellow, Contemplative, Intimate

Musical Qualities: Slow, Lo-fi, Lush, Soft, Sparse, Lyrical

Instrumentation: Pedal Steel, Piano, Hammond Organ, Guitar, Trumpet, Drums, Drum Machine, Hurdy Gurdy, French Horn

Robbie Basho – Visions of the Country

Style: American Primitivism, Singer/Songwriter, Folk, Raga
Vibe: Mystical, Nature, Open, Passionate, Pastoral, Peaceful, Airy, Contemplative, Earthy, Impressionistic, Meditative, Morning, Spring, Spiritual,
Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Indian-Influenced, Sparse, Technical

Damon & Naomi – Within These Walls

Style: Chamber Folk, Slowcore, Dream Country

Vibe: Flowing, Lethargic, Peaceful, Dreamy, Melancholy, Elegant, Airy, Romantic, Bittersweet, Contemplative, Intertwined, Intimate, Mellow, Sentimental, Smooth, Soothing, Twangy

Musical Qualities: Acoustic, Lush, Slow, Soft, Simple, Chamber Arrangements, Melodic

Bert Jansch – Birthday Blues

Style: Chamber Folk, British Folk, Acoustic Blues, Jazz-Folk

Vibe: Breezy, Mellow, Contemplative, Autumnal, Uplifting, Melancholy, Warm, Joyful, Love, Intertwined, Reflective, Poetic

Musical Qualities: Acoustic, Melodic, Lush, Rootsy, Bluesy, Chamber Arrangements

Instrumentation: Acoustic Guitar, Upright Bass, Flute, Saxophone, Harmonica

Hiss Golden Messenger – Terms of Surrender

Vibe: Contemplative, Tender, Soothing, Warm, Bittersweet, Rustic, Open, Pastoral, Light

Themes: Family, Existential, Spirituality, Love

Musical Qualities: Soft, Melodic, Vocal Harmonies, Atmospheric Production, Lyrical

Instrumentation: Vocals, Acoustic & Electric Guitars, Banjo, Piano, Organ, Harmonica, Mandolin Synthesizer, Electric Bass, Lap Steel Slide Guitar, Omnichord, Drums, Percussion

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – Beware

Style: Singer/Songwriter, Americana, Loner Folk, Slowcore-Country

Vibes: Contemplative, Bittersweet, Warm, Loner, Mellow, Uplifting, Love, Break-up, Intimate, Heartfelt, Playful, Soothing, Intertwined

Musical Qualities: Acoustic, Lush, Lyrical, Vocal Harmonies

Do Make Say Think – & Yet & Yet

Style: Post-Rock, Space Dub

Vibe: Intertwined, Autumnal, Contemplative, Warm, Pastoral, Spiritual, Spacey, Meandering, Exploratory, Mellow

Musical Methods: Dynamic, Instrumental, Atmospheric, Loose, Studio-as-an Instrument

Günter Schickert – Überfällig

Style: Loner Psych, Kosmische, Tape Music, Berlin School, Inner Space Music

Vibe: Nocturnal, Introspective, Exploratory, Hypnotic, Brooding, Contemplative, Mysterious, Suspenseful, Sombre, Loner, Hallucinogenic, Paranoid, Aquatic, Haunting

Musical Qualities: Studio-as-an-Instrument, Pulse, Loops, Atmospheric, Echoey

Jakob Battick – Rabbit’s Moon

Style: Dream Country, Slow-Drip Americana, Gothic Country, Singer/Songwriter

Vibe: Sedated, Nocturnal, Contemplative, Dreamy, Haunting, Pastoral, Soothing

Musical Qualities: Slow, Sparse, Acoustic, Lyrical

Fletcher Tucker – Unlit Trail

Style: Ritual Folk, Drone

Vibe: Ancient, Forest, Meditative, Ritualistic, Intimate, Devotional, Earthy, Nature, Autumnal, Contemplative

Musical Qualities: Acoustic, Field Recordings, Drone, Atmospheric, Sparse, Suite

Eric Chenaux – Dull Lights

Style: Warped Americana, Free Folk, Singer/Songwriter

Vibe: Heartfelt, Airy, Raw, Lethargic, Soft, Psychedelic, Peaceful

Musical Qualities: Loose, Lyrical, Acoustic

Instrumentation: Vocals, Banjo, Electric Guitar w/ Fx, Lap Steel, Drums

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billie & Matt Sweeney – Superwolves

Style: Americana, Singer-Songwriter, Folk, Slowcore

Vibe: Moody, Cryptic, Grim, Playful, Surreal, Stark, Sexual, Bittersweet, Warm, Dark Humor

Musical Qualities: Lyrical, Acoustic, Melodic, Sparse

Meg Baird – Don’t Weight Down the Light

Style: Psychedelic Folk, Singer/Songwriter

Vibe: Flowing, Dreamy, Nocturnal, Mellow, Soothing, Introspective, Haunting, Pastoral, Airy, Ethereal, Intimate Bittersweet, Melancholy, Contemplative, Loner, Peaceful, Soft

Musical Qualities: Vocal Harmonies, Acoustic, Lush, Melodic, Sparse, Reverb

Roy Harper – Valentine

Released in 1974 Chrysalis Pressing (US, 1978) Format: LP Style: Psychedelic Chamber Folk, Singer/Songwriter, Progressive Folk Vibe: Romantic, Floating, Heartfelt, … More

Fripp & Eno – (No Pussyfooting)

Style: Tape Music, Drone, Ambient

Vibe: Meditative, Dreamy, Quiet Catharsis, Alien, Mysterious, Contemplative, Hypnotic, Mellow, Cosmic

Musical Qualities: Loops, Atmospheric, Repetition, Instrumental, Droney, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Progressive, Improvisation

Papa M – Whatever, Mortal

Style: Singer/Songwriter, Slowcore, Americana

Vibe: Apathetic, Bittersweet, Breakup, Contemplative, Depressive, Humorous, Intimate, Lethargic, Loner, Love, Melancholy, Mellow, Moody, Personal, Rootsy

Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Sparse, Simple

Gil Scott-Heron – Pieces of a Man

Style: Soul Jazz, Singer/Songwriter, Jazz-Funk

Vibe: Conscious, Bittersweet, Political, Uplifting, Sunny, Warm, Urban, Sombre, Poetic, Contemplative, Observant, Passionate, Determined, Confident

Musical Qualities: Groovy, Lush, Spoken Word, Technical

Wendy Eisenberg – Auto

Style: Progressive-Pop, Avant-Songwriter, Jazz-Rock, Math-Pop

Vibe: Whispery, Angular, Intimate, Heartfelt, Cerebral, Reflective, Love / Breakup, Restrained, Introspective, Contemplative, Anxious, Loner

Musical Qualities: Odd Time Signatures, Jazz-Influenced, Technical, Dynamic, Lyrical

Cluster – Sowiesoso

Style: Progressive Electronic, Kosmische Musik

Vibe: Forest, Mysterious, Pastoral, Cosmic, Nature, Mellow, Contemplative, Focused, Motorik, Nocturnal

Musical Attributes: Instrumental, Repetition, Studio-as-an-Instrument

Instrumentation: Analogue Synthesizers, Drum Machine

Esmerine – If Only a Sweet Surrender to the Nights to Come Be True

Style: Chamber Rock, Post-Rock

Vibe: Mournful, Lethargic, Contemplative, Exploratory, Melancholy, Moody

Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Atmospheric, Chamber, Instrumental, Slow, Murky

Instrumentation: Cello, Mallet Percussion, Drums, Violin, Harmonium, Upright Bass

Sam Amidon – The Following Mountain

Style: New Weird Americana, Post-Modern Appalachia, Jazz-Folk

Vibe: Autumnal, Earthy, Imaginative, Lush, Morning, Peaceful, Rootsy, Rustic, Warm, Contemplative

Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Melodic, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Improvisation, Progressive, Lyrical

Instrumentation: Fiddle, Drums, Banjo, Vocals, Percussion, Saxophone, Acoustic Guitar, Drum Machine, Percussion, Electric Bass, Organ Synthesizers, Flute

Collaborators: Leo Abrahams, Shahzad Ismaily, Sam Gendel,
Milford Graves, Chris Vatalaro, James Sultan

Hiss Golden Messenger – Haw

Style: Country-Soul, Americana, Singer/Songwriter


Vibe: Passionate, Rootsy, Rural, Spiritual, Triumphant, Uplifting, Warm, Contemplative, Introspective

Musical Attributes: Lush, Lyrical

Lyrical Themes: Existential, Christian

Tortoise – TNT

Style: Post-Rock, Experimental Rock
Influences: Dub, Kosmische Musik, Bossa Nova, Lounge, Minimalism, Jazz, Electronic
Vibe: Contemplative, Eclectic, Focused, Futuristic, Impressionistic, Lush, Meditative, Peaceful, Soothing
Musical Attributes: Atmospheric, Complex, Digital Production, Percussive, Polyphonic, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Loops, Headphone Album, Rhythmic, Pulse, Instrumental, Progressive, Polished

Mount Eerie – Sauna

Style: Experimental Singer/Songwriter, Avant-Folk, Drone

Vibe: Winter, Existential, Imaginative, Introspective, Contemplative, Epic, Philosophical, Poetic, Ethereal, Loner, Meditative, Eclectic

Musical Attributes: Atmospheric, Droney, Lo-Fi, Lyrical, Progressive

Spencer Zahn – Sunday Painter

Composer and upright bassist Spencer Zahn crafts a peaceful album of impressionistic and pastoral jazz that recalls Talk Talk, ECM Records, In a Silent Way, and Bill Frisell. The atmospheres are open and washy thanks to sweeping piano gestures and Dave Harrington’s guitar loopery, while the slow, rolling rhythms of drummer Kenny Wollesen and percussionist Mauro Refosco keep the results grounded.

Mogwai – Mr. Beast

Style: Post-Rock, Shoegaze, Slowcore

Vibe: Cinematic, Moody, Contemplative, Focused, Fuzzy, Melancholy, Sombre, Cathartic

Musical Attributes: Dynamic, Melodic, Noisy, Repetitive, Slow, Atmospheric, Polyphonic

Ilyas Ahmed – I Am All Your Own

Style: Loner Folk, Singer Songwriter, Psych Folk

Vibe: Lethargic, Loner, Peaceful, Soothing, Airy, Mellow, Contemplative, Dreamy, Droney, Hypnotic, Intimate, Introspective

Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Droney, Slow, Sparse, Soft

Jim White and Marisa Anderson – The Quickening

This impressionistic and contemplative collaboration channels deep American folk roots through free flowing improvisations. The panoramic and sensitive drumming of Jim White (Dirty Three, Cat Power, etc) is a perfect match for Marisa Anderson’s primitivist guitar sensibilities, which feel both immediate and abstract.

Mike and Lal Waterson – Bright Phoebus

Style: British Folk, Country-Influenced
Vibe: Contemplative, Earthy, Introspective, Melancholy, Rootsy, Rural, Storytelling
Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Vocal Harmonies, Lyrical, Melodic, Simple, Sparse

David Grubbs – Prismrose

Style: Free Folk, American Primitive Guitar, Poly-Free Improvisation, Experimental Rock

Vibe: Contemplative, Pastoral, Loner, Moody, Melancholy, Mellow, Abstract, Eerie

Musical Qualities: Improvisation, Complex, Electro-Acoustic

Brian Eno – Ambient 4: On Land

Style: Ambient, Progressive Electronic

Vibe: Suspenseful, Desert, Desolate, Earthy, Mysterious, Eerie, Ethereal, Contemplative, Lonely, Impressionistic

Musical Qualities: Atmospheric, Instrumental, Analogue, Abstract

Bibio – Ribbons

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.

David Grubbs – The Thicket

On experimental musician David Grubb’s first dedicated songwriter outing, he synthesizes technical bluegrass banjo and fingerstyle acoustic guitar playing with imaginative arrangements, abrupt stylistic shifts, philosophical questioning lyrics, improvisation, and drones. Featured musicians include drummer John McEntire (Tortoise, The Sea and Cake), bassist Josh Abrams (Natural Information Society), and drone violinist Tony Conrad.

Brokeback – Field Recordings from the Cook County Water Table

Doug McComb’s first album as Brokeback is imbued with pastoral Impressionism, experimentalism, and a sense of Zen contentment. The record is mostly centered around his Bass VI, a short-scale bass with six strings that is trebly enough to function in both guitar and bass roles. This versatile instrument is usually wet with chorus and reverb that sculpt a fluid, aquatic tone to complement the slow, tranquil melodies. Outside of some solo pieces Doug is joined by a variety of accompaniment including lap steel guitar, synth, upright bass, Rhodes, vocals from Mary Hansen, and light percussion provided by producer/Tortoise bandmate John McEntire. This is a record that can be appreciated from a passive impressionistic standpoint, as well as under the microscopic attention of an engaged ear. (Follow link for full review)

Recommended for fans of Tortoise or Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti Western soundtracks

Godspeed You Black Emperor! – Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada EP

“Side A is cut at 45rpm and features “Moya”, a broiling cascade of upward scales that repeatedly explodes beyond its own threshold. “BBF3” on Side B clocks in at 18 minutes, and was the band’s most lyrical, multi-movement music to date — more elaborated melodic figures wind around an angry spoken-word field recording (infamously culminating in the recital of the speaker’s poem — verses lifted straight from Iron Maiden)”

Holy Sons – In the Garden

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.

Natural Information Society & Bitchin Bajas – Automaginary

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)

Tonto’s Exploding Head Band – Zero Time

A psychedelic synth odyssey created with only an expanded Series III Moog by Robert Margouleff and synth-guru Malcolm Cecil (who programmer synths on legendary albums by Stevie Wonder and Gil-Scott Heron in addition to his ambient solo work). The intricately layered results here feel like a synthetic wilderness, with a wide variety of colors and textures that sound warm, organic, and natural despite their electronic origins.

Sandy Bull – Fantasias for Guitar and Banjo

On his debut album, the guitar and banjo virtuoso starts off with a 22-minute droning epic fusing American and Arabic Folk music with Indian Raga on his acoustic guitar (often trying to imitate the feeling of the oud). Here, he is accompanied by the fluid, driving drums of Billy Higgins. Side 2 is made up of 4 shorter solo pieces, mostly for the banjo, including an impressive rendition of “Carmina Burana” by German composer Carl Orff and a folky mountain song.

Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld – Never Were the Way She Was

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.

Ryley Walker – Deafman Glance

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).

Do Make Say Think – Goodbye Enemy Airship, The Landlord is Dead

“Recorded in an old wooden barn, this second album is swaddled in twilight autumnal ambiance. While the record is bookended by the band’s awesome psych-rock explosions, much of the material here shows increased referencing of jazz influences (modal horns, brushed percussion) and a more organic deployment of micro-electronics. Raw and polished, visceral and cerebral, the band combines rock and jazz traditions of space music with the ‘instrumental’ potentials of mixing room to present a true gem of a record.” (Press Release)

Songs: Ohia – The Magnolia Electric Co

“Sometimes it’s hard doing anything”. Somehow Jason Molina knows how to perfectly express what depression feels like without ever succumbing to hopelessness. His music has been a friend and a voice of encouragement when I need it most, reminding me to persist and not beat myself up when I feel unproductive or lazy or unmotivated. “The real truth about it is no one gets it right. The real truth about it is we’re all supposed to try”