The Incredible String Band – U

Style: Psychedelic Folk, Brit-Folk

Vibe: Theatric, Colorful, Eccentric, Eclectic, Imaginative, Messy, Mystical, Playful, Surreal, Warm

Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Lyrical, Conceptual, Indian-Influenced

Lyrics: Storytelling, Philosophical, Fantasy, Humorous, Poetic

Botany – End the Summertime F(or)ever

While the luminescent drones and angelic simulacra of Deepak Verbera expanded out into the cosmos, Botany’s newest LP feels more rooted in the soil of our material reality. The bass heavy beats and impassioned vocal samples inspire movement and action rather than contemplation alone, not to say the results aren’t heady. Rich tapestries of resonant acoustic instruments (harps, flutes, percussion, strings), woozy synths, and warm tape hiss are as intricate as ever and easy to lose (or find?) yourself in.
Recommended to fans of Flying Lotus’ Until the Quiet Comes, Boards of Canada, and Alice Coltrane.


The Books – Lost and Safe

Style: Collage-Pop, Glitch-Folk, Plunderphonics

Vibe: Surreal, Psychedelic, Peaceful, Cerebral, Meditative,  Philosophical, Spiritual, Uplifting, Warm, Playful, Hallucinogenic

Musical Attributes: Sampling, Electro-Acoustic, Melodic, Sound Collage, Vocal Manipulation

Sly & the Family Stone – There’s a Riot Goin’ On

Style: Psychedelic Funk

Vibe: Triumphant, Energetic, Anthemic, Communal, Rebellious, Groovy, Sunny, Psychedelic, Powerful, Confident, Eclectic, Complex

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.

Pharoah Sanders – Village of the Pharoahs

Style: Spiritual Jazz, Free Jazz
Vibe: Communal, Earthy, Energetic, Hypnotic, Intense, Loose, Mystical, Passionate, Spiritual, Tribal, Uplifting, Warm, Dance
Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Complex, Collective Improvisation, Percussive, Dense, Thematic, Suite

Radiohead – The King of Limbs

Style: Experimental Rock, Art Rock

Influences: Electronic, Kosmische Musik, Glitch, Afro-Beat

Vibe: Surreal, Psychedelic, Messy, Hypnotic, Warm, Mysterious, Cryptic

Musical Attributes: Sampling, Percussive, Polyrhythmic, Studio-as-an-instrument, Dense, Looping

Themes: Nature

Sandro Perri – Impossible Spaces

The surrealist sophisti-pop of Impossible Spaces feels both breezy and intricately progressive. Sandro Perri’s evocative songwriting and catchy melodicism are brought into high-definition by warm, futuristic production, atmospheric synthesizers, and lush arrangements for strings, horns, and woodwinds. 

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.

The Incredible String Band – The Big Huge

Warm, mellow Scottish folk with lyrics that border spiritual, philosophical, and fantasy themes. The arrangements are a bit stripped down from their lush psychedelia of previous releases, but still feature a good amount of sitar, organ, Irish harp, and violin to add some color to the vocals and acoustic guitar-centric songwriting.

Ryley Walker – Golden Sings that have been Sung (Deep Cuts Edition)

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.

Exuma – Exuma

Exuma’s first album is a powerful and ritualistic masterpiece of spiritual folk from the Bahamas. Exuma, the Obeah Man, is a master storyteller and preacher, sharing visions, myths, and prayers. His expressive, soulful voice takes on many tones as he delivers his musical sermons, from smooth to raspy, soft to confident. A group of singers, percussionists, whistlers, and toads join him and his acoustic guitar, making me imagine them all circled around a large fire in communal worship and grateful that they let us listeners in on it.

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.

Eberhard Weber – The Colours of Chloë

The German upright bassist and composer is joined by a jazz quartet, cello ensemble, and choir for a colorfully complex album of atmospheric improvisation, progressive structures, and sweeping orchestral arrangements, with occasional segments of groovy fusion or synthesizer spaciness, all draped in the warm, reverbed production ECM albums are known for.

Eric Chenaux – Slowly Paradise

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.