Drag City

Ghost – Hypnotic Underworld

Style: Prog, Psych Rock, Acid Folk

Vibe: Epic, Mysterious, Ancient, Eclectic, Suspenseful, Spiritual, Retro

Musical Qualities: Progressive, Odd Time Signatures, Riffs, Atmospheric, Complex

Rangda – Formerly Extinct

Style: Psychedelic Math Rock, Free Rock

Vibe: Desert, Serpentine, Epic, Adventure, Intertwined, Energetic, Bombastic, Mystical

Musical Qualities: Shredding, Riffs, Improvisation, Dynamic, Instrumental, Uncommon Time Signatures, Noisy

Mickey Newbury – Better Days

Style: Country, Singer/Songwriter

Vibe: Bittersweet, Reflective, Breakup, Intimate, Introspective, Melancholy, Poetic, Sombre, Longing

Musical Qualities: Lyrical, Sparse, Acoustic, Slow

Bill Callahan – Woke on a Whaleheart

Style: Singer/Songwriter, Americana, Alt-Country

Vibe: Observational, Deadpan, Earthy, Reflective, Rustic, Confident, Warm, Storytelling, Contemplative, Loner

Qualities: Lush, Choral Vocals, Lyrical, Rhythmic, Simple

Matt Sweeney & Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – Superwolf

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

Vibe: Tender, Bittersweet, Stark, Cryptic, Storytelling, Melancholy, Lethargic, Poetic, Autumnal, Heartfelt, Mellow, Playful

Musical Qualities: Lyrical, Soft, Sparse

The Silence – Hark the Silence

Style: Psych Rock, Prog

Vibe: Adventure, Epic, Mysterious, Fuzzy, Psychedelic, Retro, Energetic, Propulsive

Musical Qualities: Riffs, Dense, Jams, Progressive

Instrumentation: Electric Guitar, Organ, Saxophone, Electric Bass, Drums, Synthesizers, Flute, Tanpura

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

Flying Saucer Attack – Chorus

Style: Bedroom Psych, Drone, Noise Pop, Shoegaze, Space Folk

Vibe: Nocturnal, Murky, Dreamy, Introspective, Hazy, Hypnotic, Intimate, Washy, Ritualistic

Musical Qualities: Feedback, Drone, Atmospheric, Noisey, Lo-Fi

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

Eiko Ishibashi – Imitation of Life

Style: Chamber Pop, Prog-Pop, Jazz Pop, Singer-Songwriter

Vibe: Lush, Warm, Sunny, Sci-Fi, Playful, Philosophical, Surreal, Energetic, Imaginative

Musical Qualities: Progressive, Dense, Catchy, Complex, Melodic, Dense, Technical, Rhythmic

Instrumentation: Piano, Vibraphone, Drums, Flute, Rhodes, Electric & Acoustic Bass, Saxophone, Clarinet, Violin, Cello , Synthesizers, Steel Drum, French Horn

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

Mess Esque – Mess Esque

Style: Slowcore, Post-Rock, Progressive Songwriter

Vibe: Oceanic, Ethereal, Unstable, Intimate, Bittersweet, Tamed Wilderness, Reflective, Gentle, Exploratory, Hypnotic, Pastoral, Poetic

Helena Espvall & Masaki Batoh

On this self-titled collaboration, acid folk luminaries Helena Espvall (Espers) and Masaki Batoh (Ghost) create mysterious and earthy interpretations of traditional Medieval, Swedish, Japanese, and Finnish folk songs, plus a Son House cover, an original, and a handful of free improvisations.

Ghost – Tune In, Turn On, Free Tibet

Style: Psychedelic / Chamber Folk

Vibe: Pastoral, Spiritual, Sentimental, Haunting, Medieval, Spring, Peaceful

Musical Qualities: Acoustic, Progressive, Improvisation

Instrumentation: Acoustic Guitar, Cello, Flutes (Kaval, Recorder), Hurdy Gurdy, Drums, Piano, Tanpura, Analogue Synthesizers, Electric Guitar, Tympani, Vibes

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

Laetitia Sadier – Something Shines

Style: Space Pop, Art Pop, Kosmische Lounge

Vibe: Retro-Futuristic, Spacey, Political (Communist), Breezy, Mellow, Elegant

Musical Qualities: Sleek, Groovy, Lush, Melodic, Catchy

Bonnie Prince Billy – Ask Forgiveness

Bonnie covers Björk, Mickey Newbury, Danzig, R. Kelly and others with help from Espers’ Meg Baird & Greg Weeks

Style: Folk, Slowcore, Singer/Songwriter

Vibe: Introspective, Morning, Melancholy, Existential, Bittersweet

Musical Qualities: Covers, Vocal Harmonies, Sparse, Soft, Acoustic

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

Gastr Del Sol – Camofleur

Style: Post-Rock, Avant-Rock, Experimental Singer/Songwriter, Chamber-Folk

Vibe: Cryptic, Warm, Cerebral, Spring, Exploratory, Eclectic, Melancholy

Musical Attributes: Odd Time Signatures, Progressive Structures, Melodic

Ghost – Lama Rabi Rabi

Style: Progressive Folk-Rock, Psych-Folk, Raga Rock

Vibe: Mysterious, Earthy, Eclectic, Epic, Exploratory, Psychedelic, Ritualistic, Tribal

Musical Attributes: Progressive, Dynamic, Acoustic, Complex

Jim O’Rourke – Simple Songs

Style: Singer/Songwriter, Chamber Pop, Progressive Pop

Vibe: Playful, Bittersweet, Satirical, Catchy

Musical Attributes: Lush, Progressive, Melodic, Lyrical, Polished

Ka Baird – Sapropelic Picnic

Style: Psychedelic Minimalism, Post-Minimalism, Ritual Folk

Vibe: Ritualistic, Hallucinogenic, Hypnotic, Earthy, Primal, Psychedelic, Spiritual

Musical Attributes: Electro-Acoustic, Loops, Minimalistic, Sampling

Instrumentation: Manipulated Vocals, Flute, Synthesizer (Moog), Drum Samples, Vibraphone

Espers – The Weed Tree

Originally released in 2005 on Locust

Drag City Reissue (2020)

Format: LP

Style: Chamber Folk

Vibe: Mellow, Morning, Melancholy, Rootsy, Ethereal

Espers – II

Released in 2006 on Drag City Records Format: LP Style: Progressive Folk, Psych Folk Vibe: Melancholy, Psychedelic, Nocturnal, Sombre, Forest Musical Attributes: Melodic, Dynamic, Lush  

Ambarchi / O’Malley / Dunn – Shade Themes from Kairos

Style: Drone-Rock, Experimental Rock

Influences: Dark Ambient, Psych Rock, Kosmische, Noise, Drone-Metal

Vibe: Shadowy, Ominous, Brooding, Dark, Driving, Haunting, Hypnotic, Mysterious, Exploratory, Nocturnal, Hallucinogenic

Musical Attributes: Studio-as-an-instrument, Dissonant, Droney

Ensemble Pearl – Ensemble Pearl

Style: Drone-Rock, Dark Ambient. Experimental

Vibe: Suspenseful, Eerie, Atmospheric, Slow, Haunting, Dark, Psychedelic, Mysterious,

Musical Attributes:  Dissonant, Repetitive, Sparse, Instrumental, Noisy

Musicians: Stephen O’Malley (Sun O)))), Atsuo (Boris), William Herzog, Michio Kurihara

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

Om – God is Good

Released in 2009 on Drag City Format: LP Recorded by Steve Albini at Electrical Audio, Chicago, March 2009

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.

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy & Bitchin Bajas – Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties

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.

Palace Brothers – Palace Brothers

Style: Singer/Songwriter
Subgenres: Slowcore, Country, Folk
Vibe: Depressive, Intimate, Lonely, Sad, Introspective, Raw, Loner
Musical Attributes: Lo-fi, Sparse, Raw, Simple

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)

Laetitia Sadier – The Trip

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.

Bill Callahan – Dream River

Released in 2013 on Drag City Records Format: LP Overview In an interview around the release of Dream River, Bill Callahan said he wanted it to be “the last record you could listen to at the end of the day, before you go to bed, around midnight.” So for my first listen of the album I …

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Jim O’Rourke – Insignificance

After a prolific career as a noise/improvisational/experimental guitarist and a few forays into folk and chamber pop, Jim O’Rourke surprised his audience with an album closer to straightforward rock than his audience could have ever expected of him. Yet underneath it’s catchy, cheery, and polished exterior, his lyrics are full of humorously bitter resentment. Like his debut singer/songwriter album Eureka, Insignificance is full of the meticulous and lush arrangements that Jim would become known for.

Six Organs of Admittance – Asleep on the Floodplains

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.

Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me

Album Information: Released in 2010 on Drag City Records Produced by Joanna Newsom Arranged & Conducted by Ryan Francesconi Recorded by TJ Doherty, Noah Georgeson, Ryan Francesconi, Dana Gumbiner Mixed by Noah Georgeson & Jim O’Rourke Mastered by Steve Rooke at Abbey Road Studios Format: 3xLP Box Set, includes 12″x12″ lyric booklet with full musician …

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David Grubbs – Creep Mission

Album Information: Released in 2017 on Blue Chopsticks Records (Imprint of Drag City Records) Eli Keszler – Drums, Percussion (Tracks 1,2,4) Jan St. Werner – Electronics (1,4) Nate Woolley – Trumpet (1,2,4,6,7) Recorded by Mitch Rackin at the Seaside Lounge, Brooklyn, Jan-Mar 2017 Mastered by Douglas Henderson Cover Art: Albert Oehlen Back Photo: Tom Van …

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Jim O’Rourke – The Visitor

A fingerpicking folk odyssey that traverses through passages of delicate piano motifs, tribal drum circles, meditative ambience, celebratory horn arrangements, reverent organ drones, and even a cathartic drum solo, all within a single 40 minute track.

Jim O’Rourke – Bad Timing

An introspective, instrumental journey of pastoral fingerstyle guitar, occasionally joined by piano, synth and horn arrangements