Well that month flew by. Before we roll into a very release-heavy November, let’s take a look through some of the other releases we’ve been digging this month:
Patrick Shiroishi – Hidemi
Along with Floating Points and Pharoah Sanders’ Promises, Patrick Shiroishi’s Hidemi might be one of the most stirring and arresting jazz records of the year.
Based upon Shiroishi’s grandfather’s experiences of being liberated from the Japanese-American internment camps of the 1940’s, this album (which is also named after Shiroishi’s grandfather) sparks with both anxiety and hope.
Shiroishi fills each track with multiple layers of his overdubbed saxophone and woodwinds, creating a kaleidoscopic barrage of sound that truly stuns the listener. From assaulting truck horn-like blasts to soaring solos that appear like a celebration of life itself, Shiroishi reveals his extremely wide versatility as an evocative and compassionate musician.
Fans of 75 Dollar Bill, Daniel Carter and Susan Alcorn need this record in their collection. Click here to get your copy now.
Jeffrey Alexander – Sounds of the Bardo III
Psychedelic Sangha has released yet another brilliant entry in their guided meditation album series. This time, Dire Wolves’ Jeffrey Alexander takes the reins on the music side of the album.
Alexander provides a spacious and genre-defying soundscape to back Jennifer Dumpert’s spoken meditation instructions. Throughout the 55-minute piece (and its three instrumental counterparts), cosmic keyboard phrases and warbling electric guitars ripple endlessly. Meanwhile everything from bamboo saxophones to an amplified white dwarf star (!) slide in to provide deeper dimensions and more complex textures. Coasting somewhere between ambient music, space rock and spiritual jazz, Alexander cooks up the perfect mood and atmosphere to reach a zen state of mind.
Set yourself down outdoors, put in some earbuds and close your eyes while Alexander takes your mind to peaceful valleys and calm oceans of sound.
Click here to get this digital album now (with or without the accompanying T-shirt and blotter paper).
Book Club – Wild Town
Introduced to me by Emily, a good friend and invaluable supporter of RCU, Book Club is an Atlanta folk rock group that performs soberingly authentic songs that either cut straight to the bone or fill you with a rowdy joy. This is especially true on their latest album, Wild Town.
With apprehensive strings, dusty acoustic guitar and intense drumming, the tracks on this album grab your attention immediately. Somber or fun, all of the songs here move and completely absorb the listener.
Just take the the brooding “Every Morning Mercies New,” for instance. With its growling organ, whimpering violin and curt vocals, it completely stuns with an unexpectedly raw power. This track haunts you and its murky atmosphere sticks with you throughout the rest of your day. Think Will Oldham meets Time Out of Mind-era Dylan, and you get close to the vibes of this track.
For an album that is a total experience, check out Wild Town today and be sure to catch Book Club in person if they happen to be performing somewhere near you!
The Modern Folk – Primitive Future
To be released on Warhen Records this weekend, The Modern Folk’s Primitive Future II features J. Moss heading deeper into minimalist solo guitar territories.
With elements of pastoral blues, folk and atmospheric drone music, the tracks here are mostly brief snippets of what feel like improvisations, which likely went on originally far longer. Yet, the short runtime on these songs help to reinforce the album’s overall stripped down and conservative approach. You get the feeling that you’re only hearing the finely polished pearls that were carefully mined from expansive sessions with fellow musicians, Zach Barbery, Austin Richards and Remi Lew.
Most guitar records today feature lengthy, drawn-out pieces, which are great in their own right, but the strength in this album is its reserved and simplistic nature. It allows you to hear the subtleties and focus on the nimble dexterity and sharpened prowess of Moss and gang so much more. This is a great example of less is more.
The B-side however, loops in more of Moss’ crew and goes a little more complex, with electric guitars banging out with synthesizers, bass and a drum kit. These tunes stretch out a bit further and even edge into psychedelic jamming zones. The acoustic based songs build up to these electric tracks, slowly advancing with a palpable tension. A fascinating and expressive end to an otherwise barebones release.
Lovers of Leo Kottke, Peter Lang and William Tyler should dig this record. Grab a copy on vinyl today before all 100 copies are sold.
Winterhawk – Electric Warriors
Don Giovanni Records have done the world a favor by reissuing the much sought after discography of indigenous 70s metal group, Winterhawk, on CD and digital for the first time ever.
The first of these privately pressed albums, 1979’s Electric Warriors, erupts with fierce riffs and rebellious lyrics about reservation life and the struggles of North America’s native population. With the Wounded Knee Occupation a mere six years before this release, rallying songs like the stinging “Fight” burn with a personal passion that could have been universal to anyone within the indigenous community at the time.
Most of the songs feature howling Roger Daltrey-like vocals and the guitar crunch of groups like The James Gang and Thin Lizzy. However, on songs like “Restaurant,” the group appears to be more influenced by the hard rock instrumentation of groups like Zeppelin or the proto-metal of Toad and Cactus.
More metal fans need to know the power of Winterhawk. Don Giovanni’s reissues will surely will bring the band to the hands of all those who need it.
Gold Dust – s/t
Gold Dust’s debut full-length LP is a psych-kissed folk rock album that shows off the artist’s brilliant songwriting chops and deeply eclectic taste.
Gold Dust (AKA Stephen Pierce of Kindling and Ampere) combines elements of sunshine pop and folky 90s melancholia with a deeply cosmic openness. Songs like “Brookside Cemetery Blues” feature pleasing melodies, glowingly bright harmonies and fuzzed-up guitars, sounding not too unlike the more grounded works of The Sunshine Fix.
Other tracks, like the celestial “Run Into Clouds,” are way more heady, with warm acoustic fingerpicking and hushed vocals sliding from speaker to speaker while piercing electric guitars twinkle in the distance like barely visible stars peeking through dawn’s early light. This might be one of the most subtlety hallucinogenic tracks of the year.
Lovers of Circulatory System, The Millennium and Elliott Smith would surely dig this record. Get your copy here today.
The Rowan Amber Mill – They Worked The Fields
It’s always a treat to have new music by the “woodland folkadelic” group we know and love, The Rowan Amber Mill, in the autumn.
This new single, They Worked the Fields, is a welcome addition to our personal fall playlists this year, with its brisk strings and keyboard-centered instrumentation and misty ambience.
The A-side is perhaps one of the most accessible tracks by TRAM in ages, with new age-like echoing vocals, a snappy beat and graceful melody. Yet, there’s still plenty of little stylistic flourishes, like its swirling production and hazy guitar solo, to keep the track feeling characteristically dreamy.
The B-side is a more pastoral instrumental overture of the A-side, which fully embraces the group’s symphonic influences. The A-side’s baroque and rustic roots come out strong on this version, resulting in a calming and beautiful morsel.
If these two tracks are anything to go by, TRAM’s upcoming album, Through Dark Polished Glass, is going to be something special indeed. Keep an eye out for that in 2022.
Click here to download your copy now.
Jordan Perry – Beautiful Swimmers
On Beautiful Swimmers, Jordan Perry continues to prove himself to be one of today’s most innovative and unique guitar players.
Recorded in January in Chincoteague, VA, this album finds Perry doing acrobatic leaps all over his acoustic fretboard, landing on the most unexpected notes possible. Tracks like the opening cut almost sound like live music collages, with dozens of mini-phrases and melodies split and scattered across space.
Yet despite the abstract and somewhat discordant nature of this tape, Perry’s playing can be relaxing to listen to. He obviously savors the bell-like resonance of his instrument, and he revels in allowing its sound to ring out sweetly, which gives each performance a calming quality.
Dalthan – 3
Dalthan, a side project of Gary Dalton and Sunburned Hand of the Man’s Rob Thomas, released their third album of experimental psychedelic soundscapes back in August, and it’s as wild and mind-bending as its cover art.
The record is one large bath of sound, all broken into smaller pieces, built out of a thousand barely identifiable samples that have been tweaked and manipulated by an assortment of disorienting effects. With The Prefab Messiahs’ Kris Thompson providing additional electronics, percussion and vocals, you know this album has to be an absolutely brain-frying experience.
This is a sound collage that appears like the sonic equivalent of a dream, with various memory-like fragments captured from TV, radio and the daily minutia of the outside world all blending together and warping into mutated and vaguely familiar shapes. It’s an endlessly intriguing listen that reveals more of itself the more you play it.
Click here to check it out now.