When I heard the first songs from Viet Cong, I thought to myself “Oh, this is what everyone’s been trying to do.” A haunting mass of lo-fi haze and paranoid noise punctuated by seriously catchy pop elements, “Continental Shelf” is not without a hint of Talking Heads vocal delivery. On their earlier cassette release it wasn’t quite clear that they had fully settled on a sound. Maybe “Continental Shelf” is that sound, maybe they won’t settle on a single sound, either way I’m more than pleased. I suppose we’ll just have to wait for their debut LP out next January to find out for sure.
The album version of Tara King th.‘s “L’Enquete” mixes dischordant harpsichord with spaghetti western guitar melodies and a bass line that drips with Franco-pop cool. The atmosphere it builds relies so heavily on the arrangement that it’s almost shocking how lovely this acoustic version is–the first time it hits the falsetto, it’s pure chills. Without the more propulsive elements in the original arrangement, the song doesn’t really build to anything–in fact, the false-stop two-thirds through would be a complete moodkiller if the mood were just a little less rich. But even if the song isn’t exactly a journey, it’s still a lovely piece to sink into.
Also worth mentioning: Tara King th. has a new LP coming out with Danish folk-rockers Hazalan Bazar, and it is magnificent, moving from baroque pop to Lee & Nancy psych country to vibraphone-heavy French lounge with an effortlessness that’s almost offensive. Without mincing any words, it is very good from top to bottom, and after only a couple of plays is quickly establishing itself among my favourite albums of the year.
When I came across Hungry Cloud Darkening it was described as “part bummer Beach Boys, part Twin Peaks soundtrack” and, dammit, if you need any more convincing than that you are reading the wrong blog. They’ve got a new track called “I Am Seen” from their new album, Glossy Recall, that strikes me as what Broadcast would sound like if it was less menacing. Even when Hungry Cloud Darkening gets dark and brooding there is an underlying light that is really comforting.
There are few performers I’ve ever seen that brings the kind of power to a stage that Dorian Wood does. And there was no exception made when brought a string quartet into the studio for the third installment of our monthly session series. I couldn’t be happier to share this one with you.
There is an indelible playfulness in Jonnie Common‘s “Shark”, but that’s not to say it skims the surface of emotional intelligence in its writing. It’s really that quality that makes “Shark” stand out in my mind, you get all the effortless reward of a good pop song but if you focus in on it looking for more depth it’s there and plain to see.
The track is available for streaming and free download on Soundcloud. The album it is taken from, Trapped In Amber, will be available on CD and the vinyl on Halloween via Song, By Toad Records.
A bit over a week ago I went out to catch Dorian Wood before he left on his European tour, and as is unfailingly the case he invited an astoundingly talented friend to join him for the evening. This go around it was someone who’s escaped my notice for far too long, Simone White.
Her voice rolls off her lips with such effortlessness and does so imbued with a gentle power. I’m really glad to have “Backwater Blues” to share. It’s a cover of Bessie Smith’s 1927 version of the song. Certainly a very different take on it, and it just so perfectly encapsulates what I felt seeing her play live.
Tour Dates Below
This weekend was Dublab‘s 15th anniversary, 15 years. That’s a pretty serious milestone. And they celebrated accordingly, filling room upon room in the massive complex of Bedrock LA with dozens and dozens of acts. But wandering through the labyrinth of hallways I heard something very different from the electronic beats that dominated the event, piano notes, one rolling over top another – and this voice, this really wonderful voice.
Some time ago I woke up to a hangover with a gentle melody looping in my head. My first panic-filled plan was to go back to the bar I had last left the previous night and wait and wish they’d play the lost tune again. As my mind slowly clarified I suddenly remembered where the sound originally belonged to: it was the opening track “Ancestral Oak” from Village of Spaces‘s new album Welcome in (Turned Word Records, 2014).
I bless you infinite light,
To nourish the night,
I bless you infinite light.
Last June I had a chance to see Village of Spaces perform live in Portland, Maine. They played in an old barn, while kids and dogs were running around or sleeping, all of us celebrating the summer solstice. At that moment the tradition of forever that is folk music felt very real.
GOODNIGHT CODY // (KAREN’S BICYCLE MELODY)
Goodnight Cody‘s debut album is on it’s way, get familiar.