Check out the great new EP from The Beekeepers. I met Elena Rossman when she was living in New York and was taken by the raw authenticity of her solo work. This is her Santa Cruz, CA based project with long time friend Olivia Radovich.
They’re already establishing a trademark of languid harmonies that flow like honey over super catchy alt-country melodies. “High and Low” and “Stoned” are standouts to me. This is a pair that will be fun to follow in the future. You can stream the whole album here for a limited time before it is officially released.
Husky is a four piece indie folk band from Melbourne consisting of Husky Gawenda (vocals, guitar), Gideon Preiss (keyboards, vocals), Evan Tweedie (bass, vocals) and Luke Collins (drums). They are the first Australian band to be signed to Seattle’s legendary independent label Sub Pop Records and have toured with indie heavyweights, The Shins (as well as Neil Young, Devendra Barnhart and Gotye). Their debut album Forever So was released in early 2012.
I just got back from Sri Lanka yesterday and am nursing a serious vacation hangover. It’s a truly extraordinary country. Rolling hills and peaks covered with verdant tea estates, gorgeous cave temples, fascinating colonial heritage towns, delicious food and some of the most stunning palm tree lined coastlines with crystal blue water that I have ever seen (and I’ve been to beaches in Cambodia, Thailand, Bali and Greece, so that’s saying something). Its hard to not feel pangs of nostalgia just thinking about it. I would love to share some photos, but tragically my camera was lost somewhere between the Colombo, Singapore and Phnom Penh airports. Thus, other than a few pictures on an old camera and from my ipad, I mostly just have my memories.
I had this song by Lord Huron (who I already featured a month or so ago) on repeat while I was on the coast in Unawatanu and then Tangalle. Something about this track just seems to embody what I was feeling sitting on a nearly deserted beach watching the waves crash and the palm trees swaying in the wind. That is ultimately one of the things I love the most about music: the fact that individual songs can expand and deepen the texture of any given experience. So, I hope this grainy Ipad photo of Tangalle can give you at least a bit of a Sri Lankan visual to go with this track.
Tangalle Beach on the southern coast of Sri Lanka
Dana and I went to college together and though we ran in similar groups of friends I never really got to know her well. Still, I always admired her from afar. She’s got a soft spoken kindness to her and I think her music really reflects that. I’d heard her play around campus a couple times and was really taken by her voice. However, I was really blown away when I went to see her final jazz performance of our senior year. You can hear her jazz training and tone in this track and considering she writes all her own music I think we can expect a versatile career from her.
I’ve got a double feature for you today.
Wolf Alice is a North London rock/folk quartet. The raw, bluesy sound of this track (and their latest single “Fluffy”) is reminiscent of 90s feminist lo-fi grunge. But the melody and harmony driven backbone of this song belies a more contemporary indie folk slant. “White Leather”, another track off their EP that I’ve added below, is just plain sweet and “Wednesday” is electronic infused downtempo. Clearly there’s a lack of cohesiveness on their EP, but each song individually is solid, so we’ll se where they go with a full length album.
Nina Simone. I could probably write an entire blog (or book) purely of love letters to this magnificent woman. Although she’s usually categorized as a jazz singer (and one of the best ever, at that), I associate her music more with blues and folk. There’s a soulful and profoundly melancholy tone to her voice and her lyrics tend to be more narrative and self reflective, something I affiliate more with folk music. Its always hard to measure an artist’s impact after they have passed, but something tells me that Nina’s impact, musically across genres and socially as one of the civil rights movement’s greatest activists, will be felt for generations to come.
I can listen to this track over and over again without tiring of it. Its just simply beautiful.
Shovels and Rope are a country folk duo from Charleston, South Caroline made up of married couple Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst. Both musicians in their own rights working on separate projects, they only began working together after they got married. They’ve been compared to Johnny Cash and June Carter and have reportedly been pegged to tour with Jack White. Their debut album O’ Be Joyful has made some serious waves with a raw, unadulterated sound and I would not be surprised if Shovels and Rope are a household name within the next few years.
Daughter is the folk project of 23 year old Brit, Elena Tonra with her partner Igor Haefeli. Although her lyrics and tone have a distinctly moody texture, they manage to tow the line from becoming overly pessimistic and despondent. Last spring I came across “Landfill”. It’s paired down and evocative and stays with you long after it ends. However, “Youth” is significantly more dynamic and poignent. This acoustic set especially display’s Tonra’s keen aptitude towards crafting pieces that are both simple and profoundly impactful.
“If you’re still bleeding you’re the lucky ones. ‘Cause most of us are heaving through corrupted lungs.”
As a voracious consumer of all kinds of music, I tend to be a serial genre and artist hopper. Although I love and appreciate all music and have an extensive list of “favorite” songs, there aren’t many tracks I come back to over and over again for many years. For nearly 10 years this has been one of those songs that has stood the test of time with me. Iron & Wine has to be one of the most influential nu-folk acts in the past decade, with good reason. However, it was Sam Beam’s 2005 collaboration with Tuscon’s Calexico, In the Reins, that i think produced some of their most enduring pieces. Beam’s forlorn vocals and lyricism perfectly complement Calexico’s Americana styled post-rock arrangements and the entire album has a depth and dynamism not always reflected in their respective projects.
And there is just something about this song. Perhaps its the muted horns woven throughout that give it such a hauntingly arresting impact. Maybe its those muffled harmonies and barely audible lyrics that get me. Regardless, this is one of those few tracks that will remain at the top of my playlists for the indefinite time to come.