November 2020 Roundup

Last week’s roundup post barely put a dent into the pile of great new releases that were sent to us, so we just had to rush out a second roundup right away.

Nick Jonah Davis – When the Sun Came

Nick Jonah Davis is a guitarist from Derbyshire, England, who plays in a style that is heavily inspired by the American Primitive school of fingerpicking, as well as a fair amount of British bluesmen, like Bert Jansch. His latest album, When The Sun Came, is a collection of tranquil instrumentals that all possess a unique sense of pastoral melancholy.

Yet, the album bears enough outside influences that it certainly presents a wide variety of sounds. There’s a hazy and slightly disoriented vibe to the electrified “The Muckle Master,” for instance, while “Like a Teardrop” combines roughened dissonance with modes and phrases that have a distinctive Middle Eastern flavor.

Elsewhere on the album, Davis is able to conjure up the stoicism of early Windham Hill releases (further proving that this label needs some serious re-appreciation).

If the likes of Matt Rolin, Eli Winter and Suni McGrath have been on your turntable frequently these days, then you’ll want to grab this album fast. Click here to order yours today.

Pefkin – The Crows EP

Wouldn’t you know it, Pefkin has yet another new release out!

Released through Sondido Polifonico, which is run by the master craftsman of lathe cut special edition releases, Paul Cross, this single pairs two shadowy ethereal psych-folk tunes that tremble with the cold of a late autumn night.

On the single’s two tracks, electronic drones hum beneath Pefkin’s (AKA Gayle Brogan) spectral vocals and hushed spoken word segments, as strings (and simulated strings) occasionally rise up through the mix, giving the music a rich, yet creeping starkness.

Also included with this lathe cut record is Gossip Among The Leaves, a companion compilation of deep cuts from Brogan’s vast back catalogue. If you’re new to this artist, this is indeed a fine entry point purchase.

You can find out more about this release here.

The Rowan Amber Mill – “Synthesizing the Grain and the Sea (Samhain Mix)”

Much like last week, we also have another new release by one of Gayle Brogan’s collaborators, The Rowan Amber Mill.

“Synthesizing the Grain and the Sea” is a song taken from the group’s forthcoming folk horror soundtrack album, Disciples of the Scorpion (we’re so excited for that!), but this is a special Samhain-themed mix of that track released specifically for Halloween.

So what you get here is gothic-tinged psych-electronica, like something that could have been the intro for an eerie 70’s BBC kids series, like Children of The Stones or The Owl Service.

A great tune for the Halloween season (I don’t care we’re in November, it’s early enough that we’re still in the Halloween season, if you ask me!), through and through. Get your copy here.

While we’re talking about Rowan Amber Mill and Gayle Brogan, now is a great time to mention that Meadowsilver (which includes Brogan and Stephen Stannard of RAM) has released an expanded version of their self-titled album. Including bonus tracks, stickers and pieces of art, this is the version you should buy, if you missed out on this psych-folk gem the first time. You can find that release here.

The Left Outsides – Are You Sure I Was There?

When something new by The Left Outsides appears, there is a good reason to be excited.

Combining the sheen of Paisley Underground bands like The Rain Parade with the darker shades of Shirley Collins’ days with The Albion Country Band plus the gothic gloom of Nico’s solo work, The Left Outsides are as versatile as ever on this record.

For instance, “My Reflection Once Was Me,” which was a highlight on their recent live record, A Place to Hide, is a menacing dirge with chopping fuzz riffs and icy vocals that could easily fit on a Watersons LP. Yet songs like “The Wind No Longer Stirs The Trees” and “Only Time Will Tell” weave together folk rock melodies with melancholic garage rock instrumentation in a way that brings to mind bands like Antietam.

Elements of traditional English folk music, psychedelic rock and post-punk can also be felt flowing through much of this album, especially on the catchy “November On My Mind” and the prowling “Seance.”

For those of us who have well-loved records by Trees, The Bevis Frond and Opal on their shelves, this is a must-have album.

If you’re in the US, you can preorder this album from our friends at Feeding Tube Records. Click here to do that now ahead of its November, 13th release.

Middle Blue – Weird Funk in Small Bars

Brooklyn’s Middle Blue creates an indie rock-jazz fusion that is so unique, it’s as though the band crept out from some strange parallel universe.

While each track on this improvised live album features a different lineup, the band consistently drifts way out with heavily textured solos and instrumental duets, roughened all the more by the album’s warmly lo-fi production.

A great example of this is the clarinet (provided by Ben Goldberg) gliding through “Ben Goldberg’s Sound of Greenpoint,” taking turns harmonizing with and providing a strong contrast for an especially skronky saxophone. The clarinet bounces fast between bird-like sweetness and harsh dissonance, all while leading the band into pastoral and grungy territories.

Elsewhere on the album, the band heads into mutated New Orleans second line zones on “Leany Lean”, Booker T & The MGs-meets Sun Ra fantasies on “Melvyn” and psychedelic bop on “Thank You, Mike Clark.” There is not a single boring moment to be found on this record.

If you’re a fan of Angel Bat Dawid and 75 Dollar Bill, then Middle Blue is a band that you need to start following. You can preorder this album digitally from Bandcamp here ahead of its Friday release.

Erika Lundahl – Daughter, You’re a Storyteller  

Erika Lundahl, a singer-songwriter that we’ve been covering since the early days of RCU, has returned with a stellar collection of deeply personal ballads and tributes to the heart.

With songs that are inspired by the unlocking of the stories within our genetics, and seeking to explore our pasts to better understand our present adult minds and bodies. It’s a beautifully sobering album that any person coming into their thirties could relate to (and dare I say, absolutely needs to hear).

Keeping primarily to acoustic guitar and dulcimer, Lundahl is accompanied by a sweet backing of piano, percussion and bass, allowing for her voice to take the lead. Her vocals are absolutely at the height of their power here. No matter if she’s whispering or belting her lyrics, Lundahl’s voice is always arresting and rich with genuine emotion that never ceases to hit hard.

Laura Marling and Joni Mitchell fans would love this album, and so would just about anyone who’s trying to learn more about themselves through their familial background.

Check out this heartwarming release right here.


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Published by Record Crates United

Keith Hadad, the creator and manager of RCU, has been a contributing writer to Elmore Magazine and and maintains a regular column, “Keith Hadad’s Choice,” in Blicker magazine. His writing has also appeared in the Smithsonian Folkways' Guest Blog and the Optical Sounds Fanzine. Also, please check out the blog's super-active Instagram account, @recordcratesunited for daily blurb-styled music reviews.

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