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.

Nev Cottee – Broken Flowers

Made in Manchester, started in Made in Manchester, started in India and finished in Wales. Nev Cottee’s Broken Flowers – A deeply cinematic, string-soaked album rich in atmosphere and brooding ambience.

A Psychedelic rapture, resigned with reflection and widescreen atmospherics amidst tales of heartbreak, melancholy and troubles to come

 

Nev Cottee may hail from Manchester (his former band Proud Mary were the first signing to Noel Gallagher’s Sour Mash label) yet his heart and muse seem firmly attached to some outpost in the southern states of America, and the sun-kissed atmosphere and narcotically-enhanced mellifluousness of ‘Broken Flowers’ will have it taking pride of place in the more enterprising head’s collection. Something akin to a Ry Cooder platter enhanced by the production and arrangement nous of Air’s ‘Virgin Suicides’, ‘Broken Flowers’ is a thing of lazy majesty indeed.

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

Emm Gryner – Only of Earth

Emm Gryner is known for her typical folk pop stylings. Her latest project has a little divergence from the norm. It   s a 3-part series known as Only of Earth. It will be accompanied by graphic novels and other literature to really set the scene of what Gryner is going for.

The project begins with Days of Games. It delivers a very different feel than what Gryner fans are used to. The inspiration comes from the birth of a child, the death of the iconic David Bowie, and the passing of Greg Lowe. All of these can be felt throughout the album. A former member of David Bowie   s band, Gryner goes for a style much more similar to his, using heavy rock guitar riffs, usually played by Greg Lowe, and adding a synthesizer to give it a more space adventure feel.  The guitar work fits in perfectly with the rock stylings of the    70s and    80s, in a form that would make Bowie proud.

Imagination    is the first single from the album and helps to remind the listener that this is a science fiction album. The whole album really tells a story, and it is in full swing by the time    A Mission    rolls around. It has a beautiful guitar intro that pairs perfectly with  Gryner   s voice. Lowe   s guitar work comes through though and provides for the serious tone of what Gryner is saying. He helps to establish the idea of the mission by showing his guitar work to add a dangerous factor, but it also feels triumphant. This means that the mission Gryner is singing about will be accomplished, though it may be difficult.

The Spark    begins with a powerful guitar solo that rolls right into a rock riff that can   t be easily forgotten. This song actually seems to feel a lot like    War Pigs    by Black Sabbath. It does so by splitting up lines in the verse with a heavy guitar part and impressive guitar soloing throughout. Gryner   s voice just adds to the feel of a powerful classic rock sound because of the reverb added to it.

Though Days of Games is a different take to what Gryner is usually putting out, it still has some legs to stand on. It escapes the folk genre completely, but it does a very good job as making an appearance as a rock album with a very classic vibe.

Rachael Sage – Myopia

Sonically, Myopia is a bold departure for Sage, with a much stronger emphasis on her guitar playing over her usual piano palette, with inventive contributions by Hoboken-based guitarist James Mastro (Patti Smith, Ian Hunter) who Sage affectionately calls “the king of wah.” Produced by Sage and her longtime engineer John Shyloski, Myopia was recorded last summer at Carriage House Studios in Stamford, CT as well as at Sage’s home studio in NYC’s East Village, and you can feel the swelter.

The heavily electronic “Haunted By Objects” – on which Sage plays Moog synthesizer – describes the psyche of a hoarder whose only potential recourse may be to set everything on fire, while “This Darkness”, a bluesy lamentation about the Dakota Pipeline, reflects the urgency and courage of Native Americans’ resistance to environmental desecration; the enemy in the dark is indifference, the iciest kind of blindness.

Sage – whose eclectic list of champions includes UK chart-topping legend Howard Jones, 60’s folk icon Judy Collins, and teen dance sensation Maddie Ziegler – possesses a creative outlook that seems perfectly in sync with the beginnings of Spring: “This is a warm-weather record. These are songs about getting out there, thawing things out, and unearthing the truth. Sometimes you can’t do that in the dead of winter. But when the sun is shining, even the murkiest future appears hopeful.”

Ruby Boots – Don’t Talk About It

A natural chanteuse who possesses just the right blend of sass and savvy, Aussie-born singer Ruby Boots (aka Rebecca Louise “Bex” Chilcott) was a seeker from early on. After leaving home at the age of 16, she took off for the outer reaches of Australia’s west coast, eventually landing a job on a pearl fishing trawler. It was there where she started dabbling in guitar, and eventually writing songs. After adopting a new name, she embarked on a career that’s brought her numerous awards and a fan following as well.

Chilcott, or Ms. Boots if you will, previously released three EPs and a full length debut she christened Solitude. However, her new album, the tellingly named Don’t Talk About It, handily elevates her standing. A set of songs that dwell on the wreckage left in the wake of romance, it pointedly addresses those prone to all sorts of sexual manipulation. Granted, that kind of abuse is nothing new, but in view of recent headlines, the focus Boots finds here seems especially apt.

Boots is aided in her efforts by the astute backing of the band Texas Gentlemen and support from a kindred spirit, Nikki Lane, who co-wrote the title track and provides the backing vocal. However, the focus remains wholly on Boots throughout, thanks to a saucy delivery that turns each song into a clear statement of purpose. “Don’t Talk About It” offers an especially strong example of her swagger and defiance. The determined “I’ll Make It Through,” has her declaring “I’m more than you can handle,” turning a song about survival into a hard won ode to independence.

To be sure, these songs never find Boots in retreat. If her attitude is any indication, she remains steadfast and undaunted. “Infatuation,” “It’s So Cruel” and “Easy Way Out” come across with drive and insistence, ample indication that she’s not about to back down. Happily, she’s willing to lure her lover by offering assurance as well. “I am a believer, standing strong by your side, I’m a hand to hold on to when its too hard to climb,” she declares on the spare “I Am A Woman.” Unlike the defiance Helen Reddy once railed about on her similarly-named song, this is one instance where Boots finds no need to roar.

Ironically, the relatively subdued song that ends the set, “Don’t Give a Damn,” is also the most emphatic. Boots rebukes an unfaithful lover while dishing out her disdain. As it climbs to its crescendo, it becomes increasingly clear that Don’t Talk About It makes certain statements that definitely need to be said.

Megan Bonnell – Separate Rooms

Megan Bonnell’s new release, Separate Rooms, is a powerful collection of reflective, genre-defying pop-folk balladry. In other words, more of what the Toronto-based singer-songwriter is so, so good at.

Bonnell’s third full-length is more spare than 2016’s Magnolia, and the narrative is decidedly darker this time around. Separate Rooms explores relationship breakdowns (as on the title track, co-written with the great Donovan Woods) and mental illness (“Breakdown”). See also “Someday I’m Gonna Kill You,” though “Radio Silence,” the middle track, feels like the record’s darkest moment.

Rest assured, there’s softness and light here too, on “What’s Good For You” and “Where Is The Love.” “Crossed My Mind” is the anthem the record desperately needs, while “California” jangles and disperses any pent-up energy before “Can’t Be Undone” completes the soul-baring journey. “I’ve changed / I have changed,” she sings, as if to reassure herself and us.

Bonnell’s incandescent voice conceals none of the heartbreak and redemption and nor does the instrumentation. Cleverly, the musician     with her usual co-conspirators, Joshua Van Tassell and Chris Stringer     accentuates the sad-happy storytelling with glittering percussion, piano, and electric guitar, giving shape to an utterly compelling and expansive set of songs.

Lloyd Green and Jay Dee Maness – A Journey to the Beginning -Tribute to the Byrds

Clark had left the Byrds by the time the group   s now-classic Sweetheart of Rodeo was released in 1968. Gram Parsons had just joined the group, bringing his country-fueled vision with him. Green and Maness, the two pedal steel guitar players on that album, put together, along with producer John Macy, this beautiful new album on the 50th anniversary of Sweetheart of the Rodeo. The album   s opening track,    You Ain   t Going Nowhere,    features Sam Bush on mandolin and Jim Lauderdale, Jeff Hanna, Matraca Berg, Herb Pedersen, Richie Furay, Jim Photoglo, and Bill Lloyd on vocals. Drenched in the lush steel guitar playing of these two masters, this classic album takes on new life for fans and new listeners alike.

Craig Duncan & The Appalachian Orchestra – Smoky Mountain Fifties

Pop hits of the 1950’s featuring Hammered Dulcimer.

Performed on authentic mountain instruments. Includes bluegrass inflected renditions of “Sixteen Candles,” “All I Have To Do Is Dream,” “Bye Bye Love,” and more.

Craig Duncan is no stranger to the Nashville music community. His talents on violin, fiddle, hammered dulcimer, mandolin, guitar, bass, and viola can be heard on numerous Nashville recordings. A graduate of Appalachian State University and Tennessee State University, Craig is a member of the North American Fiddler’s Hall of Fame and Who’s Who in Music and Musicians.

Abi Wade – Beautifully Astray

Abi Wade’s ‘A Bit Like Love’ helped cast off our daily duties, and for a moment, took our hand and navigated together through the virtual forest – mysterious, looming, pyramid-like. Abi’s music is a wonderful continuity of sound, mixed with haunting but demure beckoning of solitary serenades. It’s a delight.

“She cast aside the thunderous tangs, which upon she scattered her vocal complaints. Why does it come to this maladie of tragedies? She silently cast off, into that void. Lonely, and forever hazed.” -CHF-

“Why can’t our relationship be better than this?” she asked.

 

“Don’t know. I really don’t.”

“I really wish..”

Then before he could finish his excuse, she put her index finger near his lips, silently shouting at him to stop. She was crying. She hated when he groveled like this. She hated the situation they were in.

Again. And again.

Was there a end? Was her patience, as deep as space?

It was eating her alive.

She crumbled, continuing her silent sorrow, on that cold un-feeling kitchen floor.

 

Abi’s rendition is a vivid account, of things could or should have been, in this life or in another dimension. It’s a fascinating tale, without many words, but it ensures so much with calculated weight within the arrangement and impactful emotions of its emissions. Her natural vocal uniqueness and talents, bounce off of her external instrumental notes, accurately and empathetically.

We were taken by the production.

Kudos, Abi. Kudos.

We’re fans.

She’s a talent and we’re captivated by her vocals. Looking forward to many great things.