Our Girl – Stranger Today

While the band isn’t immune to occasional aimlessness on tracks like “Sub Rosa” and “Heat,” their debut album should be praised for what it is—a strong record with memorable melodies, lovely vocals, impactful lyrics and some of the best guitar playing you’ll hear this year.

The Sea the Sea – From the Light

The headlong rush to consume, categorise and understand new music before, quickly moving on to the next new single, new EP, new album has become one of the defining characteristics of the contemporary listening experience.

Some albums, though, require and deserve close attention, repeated listening, revealing their intricacies and inner-depths long after the initial rush of vibrant rhythm or sugary close harmony has faded away. It will probably come as no surprise to you that I consider From the Light the second album from The Sea the Sea to be just such and album. This is folk-tinged pop of the highest order.

Having grown from the initial pairing of Chuck and Mira Costa, primary songwriters for the group with the addition of Cara May Gorman on vocals and synthesizer, as well as drummer and percussionist Stephen Struss, the sonic possibilities open to The Sea the Sea are much wider, as well as more challenging and ultimately exhilarating for the listener than they were previously. Production from Tony Pohl gives each element of the band plenty of room to breathe and space to shine, showcasing the versatility of both the songs penned by the Costa’s and the quartet themselves.

This album has everything you could possibly hope for. It starts deceptively-gently with ‘All Go Right’ which gives the initial impression of being an off-cut from The Civil Wars before expanding it’a palette with orchestral and percussive flourishes. Beautifully mixed vocal lines sweep in and out, weaving around and in between one another as the newly-expanded four-piece set their stall out early on.

But it would be a mistake to think of this record as an insubstantial slice of atmospheric pop. For every gentle ballad-esque moment such as ‘Gemeni’ or ‘Let it Be Said’ which is as ready made for a key scene in Grey’s Anatomy as any song has been in recent memory with its “When you come to me, let it be real, may the road rise to meet you the wind at your heels….we go with no apologies or we go alone” refrain and lilting 6/8 rhythms, there’s the pleasant surprise of the driving ‘Phototropic’ or the aptly named ‘Ricochet’, which skitters around, giving each member of the band the opportunity to truly shine.

By the time of closer ‘Take That’ any sense that The Sea the Sea are mere pretenders will have long-since faded away. This is substantial modern pop music, in the vein of bands like The Magic Numbers, another act with a recent album who are incredibly consistent and innovative but who remain oddly overlooked. This is a beautifully mixed and intricate record deserving of wider acclaim.

M. Ward – What a Wonderful Industry

Perhaps best known these days as the Him in She & HimM. Ward hasn’t abandoned his solo career. In fact, the musician released a brand new unannounced album today called What a Wonderful Industry.

It marks the follow-up to 2016’s More Rain, and perhaps as indicated by the LP’s title, it’s a self-released effort through M. Ward Records.

The 12-track offering even features a guest appearance by Ward’s Monsters of Folk bandmate and My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James on “Miracle Man.”

Cat Canteri – Inner North

Singer-songwriter Cat Canteri has been slowly been building herself an impressive career that now numbers three solo albums.

The sense of patience, self-determination and the evolution and refinement of her songwriting makes Inner North her most rewarding record to date.

Canteri’s ability to drift between styles is a real strength and the way she does it so seamlessly is a testament to her versatility. Primarily this is an album of contemporary folk music, both electric and acoustic, yet it also draws on indie rock and pop, country music, jazz and languid blues. Opener The Only One is as ragged as she gets, with her ringing Ryan Adams-styled guitar balanced by her warm and rich vocal tone. Canteri’s singing is prominent in the mix throughout this album and it impresses with dips into deep soul on Remember The Time and pure, rollicking country on How Crazy I’ve Been. One of the strongest moments on the album is the exquisitely presented, heart-wrenching tale of Bridget Agnew.

Reminiscent of the sound of Joan Armatrading, Eleanor Friedberger and the occasional flash of Joni Mitchell, Canteri’s album is a wonderful sonic snapshot of Melbourne’s inner north, past and present, through the eyes of the people that inhabit these suburbs.

Samara Lubelski – Flickers at the Station

Biography:

Samara Lubelski… Songwriter, Singer, Multi-Instrumentalist, Improviser, and Engineer…

With a voluminous musical pedigree, the list of artists (individually and collectively) that Lubelski has played/performed/recorded with, reads out like a best-of the who’s who of the art, noise, free, improv, experimental, etc. Hall of Fame, The Tower Recordings, MV and EE, and Thurston Moore are just a few to mention.

Her first solo outing, 1997’s “In the Valley”, was a major installment in the recorded legacy of experimental string music, a dense exploration of drones and resonance. The Fleeting Skies followed in 2004 with a full-band recording of lush psychedelic folk-rock. Since then, Lubelski has released a wonderfully colorful series of albums: “Spectacular Of Passages” (2005), “Parallel Suns” (2007), “Future Slip” (2009), “Wavelength: (2012), and “The Gilded Raid” (2016).

Ms. Lubelski has also studio-engineered records for Double Leopards, Sightings, and Mouthus, amongst many others. Her current projects include an improvisational duo with Marcia Bassett and a long-standing collaboration with German collective Metabolismus. Additionally, Ms. Lubelski has worked with the prolific Thurston Moore on a variety of outings, including playing violin on Mr. Moore’s solo records “Trees Outside the Academy” and “Demolished Thoughts” and recording and touring with his band Chelsea Light Moving.

Her most recent collaborative album is with Body/Head’s Bill Nace, which came out on Nace’s Open Mouth imprint earlier this year. “Flicker At the Stations” on Drawing Room represents Lubelski’s most current full-length offering. 

“Flickers At The Station”:

There are experimental musicians that know how to well craft the best of pop music, and there are pop musicians that know how to experiment at upper echelons of instinct. Samara Lubelski is both of these musicians in one. It may be a bold statement, but yes, it is true, every word. Her breadth of experience in both of the otherworldly sides of these spheres grants her an enlightened gift in song writing. It is elegant and transporting, and it coalesces in that golden new age of purple and orange psychic pop music that ducks its head into the present realm from time to time.

“Flickers At The Station” is an album that showcases Lubelski at a creative apex. Beautiful and breathtaking, it is a forever keeper of a baroque pop record. It’s late evening music. It’s early morning revelation music. It’s a glorious day unto itself. The pure connection between Lubelski’s outré improv and instrumentation and her pop–psychic songwriting is in complete harmony.

Recorded in 2017 in Germany with Lubelski’s forever time collaborators, Metabolismus, and others, “Flickers At The Station” is an essential statement of baroque glory. It’s a cerebrally sensed listening expedition with all future endings open and most hopeful. Bless yourself with this one.

credits

released May 11, 2018