We have been absolutely floored by the mountain of killer releases that reached our virtual door this month. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the other great albums and EPs that we’ve been loving over the last few weeks:
The Man From Atlantis – Volume 1
We are crazy about this album.
Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, The Man From Atlantis is an artist that creates a particularly unique psychedelic folk rock melange that is rich with heart, empathy and dream-like atmospheres.
Throughout this release, TMFA combines elements of American bluegrass, blues and even Indian classical music together into raw expressions of acid-influenced catharsis. Some tracks, like the meditative “Death Rattle,” feature pastoral acoustic mantras that eventually bloom into full hallucinatory meanderings, complete with Matt Valentine-like fried electric solos. These, as well as all of the other tracks, feel as though the artist is actively breaching through their own darkness, and finding a light that moves them forward in real time.
Other highlights include the tearfully poignant “Wondering Star (Love in Outer Space)” and the bedraggled and painfully tender tribute to the late Anthony Bourdain, “Travel Light.”
For a record that feels like it understands you more than you even understand yourself, check out The Man From Atlantis’ first of what I hope will be many volumes.
Various Artists – Inside the Outside...Experimentations in American Primitive Guitar
Released by Ramble Records, the same label who released Volume 1 by The Man from Atlantis, Inside The Outside is an excellent collection of some of the more exploratory examples of modern solo guitar music.
This fascinating compilation features some names that should be familiar to RCU readers, like Joseph Allred and Matthew J. Rolin, plus artists that deserve to be just as recognizable, like Ameel Brecht, who beautifully marries aspects of flamenco guitar with delicate minimalism on the stoic “Moving Islands.”
Much like Tompkins Squares’ legendary Imaginational Anthem series, Inside The Outside is an eye-opening peak into how expansive and amorphous the genre of guitar soli can be.
Click here to check it out.
Emmalee Hunnicutt – Picnic, Moonside
On the stunning Picnic, Moonside, Emmalee Hunnicutt uses her cello, brisk vocalizations and the sounds of nature to create profoundly moving soundscapes that are simultaneously intimate and greatly cinematic in scope.
Based in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, Hunnicutt (of whom you may know as a member of Library of Babel) paints the most sincere portraits of what lies within her heart with layers of droning cello and vocal overdubs.
Some tracks, like the sweeping title song, feature Hunnicutt utilizing her instrument in as many different ways as she can, creating a vast spectrum of unique sounds. She develops an entire symphony of textures, colors and subtle moods that makes each song feel intently human and relatable.
There are echoes of folk traditions in Hunnicutt’s music, but her material leans further into the avant-garde side of modern classical, bringing to mind the works of Kronos Quartet or the more abstract film scores by Johnny Greenwood.
Get it here today
Mercy Choir – Kitchen Knife Collection
For a smoky, whisky-fueled singer-songwriter LP, look no further than Mercy Choir’s irreverent Kitchen Knife Collection.
Rife with impish humor, sorrowful ballads and gritty surrealism, this is an album that any fan of Dylan and Tom Waits could appreciate. The opening track, “Just for Fun,” even feels like a spiritual child to both “Rainy Day Woman #12 & 35” and something off of Rain Dogs.
If there’s one thing you could say about the album, is it’s a showcase for Mercy Choir’s poetic lyricism:
“There’s a fiery streak burning through the sky headed straight for the tide, she said if one of us could reach out and grab it, maybe it’s something we could ride out of purgatory over the angry sea, so vicious and violently stirred, if she wanted my hand, I would rise up and stand and tell her just say the word.”
Totally outstanding. The entire record is littered with vividly poignant gems like this one.
If you like good word play, strong and creative metaphors, click here and get this album today.
Austin Leonard Jones – The Wonder Years of Austin Leonard Jones Vol. 1 & 2
Perpetual Doom Records is doing the world a favor by collecting a massive amount of the homemade recordings of lo-fi bedroom pop wizard, Austin Leonard Jones, and releasing them together on this tidy two-volume set.
Jones is a rather prolific DIY singer-songwriter, with a multitude of releases under his belt, and this collection pulls together a fantastic sampling of his output from 2010-2018.
His songs often feature country and folk instrumentation, surreal lyrics and a warmly stoned atmosphere. At times, they’re reminiscent of the loose lo-fi psychedelic pop nuggets of The Sky Green Leopards, and at other points, his tunes sound like private demos of a group like Uncle Tupelo (especially the wistful “No Slow Dancing”).
The bedroom recording quality and wonderfully eccentric songwriting skills present across these 30 tracks also brings to mind the likes of Daniel Johnston, but there might be a closer relation to Flying Nun artists of yore. The ever shifting amalgamation of styles, insatiable pop hooks and an ever-present openness to experimentation (just check out “D.B.’s Dream,” for a startling example of that) should make this compilation a huge favorite to fans of Tall Dwarfs, The Clean and The Chills.
Get this collection on cassette or digital today.
Free Agent – What’s Yours is Mind
Free Agent is a creative outlet for singer-songwriter Wes Buckley’s (of whom you’ve read about here before) most experimental urges.
Recorded in a single live uncompromising take, What’s Yours is Mind features Buckley creating a howling hurricane of fried, fuzzed-up sounds on his guitar and homemade gear.
While what you hear is firmly planted within the realm of noise, there are certainly musical aspects that emerge through the mists of damaged static, like the murky echoing guitar solo that makes up “Wiry Dreams Pinging Conch.” The assault of effects on this track make the guitar ring out like a wounded beast in a shroom-induced nightmare, bending wildly in pitch and constantly slipping into reverse.
Another fine moment on the EP is “Stentorian Cosmology,” which periodically shreds like something from a fierce Zamrock LP or even like a more menacing Khun Narin Electric Phin Band. As the kids say, this is pure fire.
Dig it here.