Nicholas Rowe – “Sacred and Profane”: This wasn’t what I expected from the songwriter. Folk side projects aren’t all that surprising, generally. But one can tell this is more than a side project. Rowe likes to hang out in a mood that is somewhere in the evening clouds. I’ve gotten similar feelings while listening to the likes of Saintseneca and Mount Eerie. This music is therapeutic, but slightly disquieting. And very vulnerable.
The Courtneys – “Minnesota”: When I heard this the other night I realized it didn’t exactly fit my narrative of songs to sip a hot drink to – yet I feel like including it here anyway. Something about the melodic progression here just gives me a heartwarming feeling. The vocals are a little echo-y, which isn’t something that usually translates to a warm feeling. But here we are. I really enjoy the little solo near the end too. Who said traditional song structures need to be dull?
Balto – “Shots in the Dark”: In all honestly I clicked on the link to this song because I had to see what an alt-psych-country song sounded like. In all honesty, it sounds pretty natural to me and not at all convoluted. If you like your songs with a little twang in the vocals, gnarly guitar solos with some reverb, and with a melody you can catch onto easily, this is a good place to start. This is off the band’s forthcoming release titled Strangers, out 2.24.
Anna Pancaldi – “Brother”: This is so corny, but the first thing that came into my mind when I heard Anna’s voice was that it was rich and full-bodied – like a satisfying glass of wine. Be assured that the song isn’t corny at all. The sparse song is compelling listen. Honest lines like “just cause I’m getting older doesn’t mean I’m any stronger without you here” permeate the song. I wonder if the person Anna is singing about is someone in her life or just an archetype of many relate to.
Mount Eerie – “Real Death”: It’s a little unsettling how conversational Phil Elverum sounds when singing about the passing of his late wife. Yet, his tone is natural in a resigned sort of way – the acceptance stage of grief in song form. Yet, he seems to wonder if it’s kosher to approach the topic in this way. “someone’s there and then they’re not / it’s something for singing about / and it’s not for making into art,” he bemuses. The song is very mimimalist compared to what I’m used to hearing, but the tone of voice and guitar is the same that I got used to hearing on Clear Moon – a paradigm altering record for me. I’m both looking forward to and dreading what the rest of “A Crow Looked at Me” will sound like.
Omen – “48 Laws (feat. Donnie Trumpet)”: The Interscope/Dreamscope artist is inviting his fans to get a little introspective on this short video, that he is treating as a birthday gift for those that have been following him for a long time. The Chicago rapper isn’t afraid to embrace his spiritual side either, and there’s an authenticity in the song that comes forth. He says what he needs to say – doesn’t beat around the bush or fluff things up. Plus, any hip hop track that uses trumpet is already a winner in my book.