Category: Music Reviews


Snail Mail
Lush
Matador

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Lindsey Jordan has released her second recording as Snail Mail. Following on 2016s EP, “Lush” features astonishing guitar work and confident vocals that really work and are undoubtedly going to place her on the charts now and going forward.


Review by Clara Zicaro

Modern Studies
Welcome Strangers
Fire Records

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Modern Studies band suits well its name, uniting pastoral chamber pop and folk, their approach is experimental. Pooled of creativity, this group of multi-instrumentalists first appeared in 2016. This Scottish chamber pop quartet is composed by the Glaswegian singer/songwriter and doublebassist Emily Scott, the singer/guitarist Rob St. John, the cellist Pete Harvey and the drummer Joe Smillie. Their gentle blend of sounds and harmonies could be inspired by some Britain visionaries such as Fairport Convention, Kate Bush, Pentangle, Nick Drake, Richard & Linda Thompson, Alasdair Roberts. Modern Studies just released last 18th, ten tracks in their second record “Welcome Strangers” led by the nagging and hypnotic voice of Emily Scott. The first song called Get Back Down, begins as a tuning instrument time before concert, then a complex jazzy rhythm is installed where string and brass flourishes. Airy vocals made by Emily are then joined by Rob St John. Progressively, the orchestra opener is transformed into a real concert. The lead single “Mud and Flame” demonstrates a rich vocal presence. Inventive techniques have been established with analogue synths, tube organs, drum machines and mellotrons, this exposes how Emily creates the stuttering rhythm at the beginning of the song.

This second album is a big leap for Modern Studies, showing a promising future in the music industry. See you to their next concert, on Wednesday, May 25 in Edinburg!


Carla Bozulich
Quieter
Constellation

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Recognizing that time moves on and artists evolve (a least the very goods ones), “Quieter” is Carla Bozulich’s fifth album, and perhaps, it is her best. The list of collaborators include Marc Ribot, Shahzad Ismaily, Ches Smith, Freddy Ruppert, Andrea Belfi, JHNO and our friend Sarah Lipstate. Not that her earlier work should be overlooked, but “Quieter” seems more mature. If you are into music-color pairing, you might think about Bozulich’s earier work as red with the kind of tense, scary vibe you get by using diminished 7th chords.

The tension is still there, but maybe the album takes on a sort-of-purple-blue color. It’s hard to say. In any case, with this new release Bozulich demonstrates her continued willingness to experiment, which makes the album particularly important. The opening track “Let It Roll”, a collaboration with John Eichenseer (JHNO) and Andrea Belfi, is eerily seductive in it’s lyrics and instrumentation/effects. “Written in Smoke” is a collaboration with Sarah Lipstate gives exceptional expression to a hazy or murky atmosphere. The final track, “End of the World,”is a jazz-blues piece co-written by Marc Ribot leaves us with the uncomfortable proposition that the end will come in its own time and fostering the kind of pain that parallels the sound of shutters on rusted hinges whipping in the wind. The album is intelligent and deserves acclaim.


Tess Roby
Beacon
Italians Do It Better

“Beacon” is Tess Roby’s debut release. Roby is a classically trained musician who has deployed her skills moreso in her compositions and in the arrangements. There’s nothing particularly complex going on here. In fact, the songs themselves are quite straightforward, but that is not a criticism as the album is entirely in line with her musically set reminisciences.

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Laura Veirs
The Lookout
Raven Marching Band Records

This is Laura Veirs’ tenth album and her exquisite, smooth vocals are blended with excellent musicianship from guests like Sufjan Stevens and Jim James. Her husband, Tucker Martine, can claim high recognition for the production. The tracks on this album lend themselves to feeling a sense of naturalness or freedom and given solidly based musical foundations it’s an album deserving of attention.

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Goat Girl
Goat Girl
Rough Trade

Rough Trade always seems to be on the cutting edge whether it be rock, post-punk, garage, alternative…and now we have London-based Goat Girl, aka Clottie Cream, Naima Jelly, L.E.D., and Rosy Bones. The band’s debut album is hard to pigeonhole as there’s some post-punk mixed in with twists from the dark side (Siouxsie and the Banshees) and even a twinge of country. Goat Girl’s debut release has guts and it’s certain that they’re just beginning.

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Frankie Cosmos
Vessel
Sub Pop

Frankie Cosmos (Greta Kline) has released “Vessel”. While the album follows on previous recordings (“Zentropy”, 2014; “Fit Me In”, 2015; and “Next Thing”, 2016), this is the first full-band release. Frankie is joined by bassist Alex Bailey, who joined after recording; the keyboardist and vocalist Lauren Martin; and the drummer Luke Pyenson. The album is just plain great indie pop. Songs are not too complex, often short and they always hace an idea; something to say. Now, your new to Frankie Cosmos , you might start with “Next Thing”, but in any case, “Vessel” hits the mark.

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Review by Clara Zicaro

Sunflower Bean
Twentytwo in Blue
Mom + Pop Music

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Meet the 22-Year-Old Brooklyn Rockers of Sunflower Bean. With lead singer Julia Cumming, guitarist Nick Kivlen, and drummer Jacob Faber, this alternative rock band released their much clearer second album “Twentytwo in Blue” exposing a new identity of twenty-two year olds from their younger 2013 selves. These young millennials chose their band name out of their two favorite things: sunflower seeds and coffee beans.

Derived from some albums of the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix or The Doors, their music is psychedelic rock. Newly inspired by the current political turmoil under Trump’s presidency, songs in their album, specifically “Burn it” and “Human for,” expresses honest emotions of life as they have evolved into twenty-two year olds dealing with rising challenges of growing up. This hypnotic and repetitive rhythm communicates a pleasant, yet rebellious attitude. The melodic sound, much more defined than before, has eighties rock vibes connected with deep lyrics supported by strong emotions. Critically acclaimed by many as their “most complete” song, “Twentytwo”, incorporates elements of Dylan Thomas’ poetry backed by Julia Cumming’s solid songwriting. They also pay homage to their roots in “I Was a Fool” and “Memoria” as they refer back to “Human Ceremony” on their first album.

The Sunflower seeds have sprouted, and they are shining brighter than ever. Look for Sunflower Bean to enjoy an extended life.


Elk City
Everybody’s Insecure
Bar/None Records

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Elk City’s Ray Ketchem (drums) and Renée LoBue (vocals) are back with “Everybody’s Insecure” their first release since 2008. The hypertalented duo have teamed with guitarist Sean Eden, keyboardist Carl Baggeley and bassist Martin Olson. The band has most certainly held on to its brand of eclecticism melting together shades of rock, pop, jazz and a bit of soul. The album earns high marks for both virtuosity and strength with the scale pretty much in balance between the two. Ray Ketchem deserves special recognition for outstanding production work, and one simply cannot overlook (overlisten) Renée LoBue’s extraordinary vocals, which are so essential to the recording’s melodic shapes. “25 Lines” is posted for a listen below, but there are other standout tracks such as “Ride the Slide” and the album’s title track “Everybody’s Insecure”.


Gloria
Oîdophon Echoram
Ample Play / Howlin’ Banana

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The French band, Gloria, is back after their 2016 release “In Excelsis Stereo”. If you’re familiar with the band, the new six-track recording “Oîdophon Echoram” will no doubt be in line with expectations. It’s true that the group is to some extent framed by psych-garage, but that seems a bit too narrow. In fact, the group is quite eclectic, and pinning them down one way or another doesn’t seem entirely just. Okay, go with psych-garage, but you can’t help but pick up on the texture. Moreover, the female vocals make it hard not to think back to pop “girl groups” from the 80’s and the early ’90s. Have a look and listen to “Heavy” which is the lead track from “Oîdophon Echoram”. You’ll have a pretty good sense for what to expect from the rest of the album. Check out Gloria. It’s definitely worth your time to have a listen.


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