Adieu Caribou come from Portland in Oregon. Over the weekend they released a new album called I Do Care About You and it is really, really good. Beyond that, I don’t know much about them, so I’ll have to skip the biography for another time.
This is one of those albums that is difficult to pin down with a genre. It’s part folk, part lo-fi pop and part indie rock, and the real success of the album is how they balance these elements to make something that is both energetic and melancholic, something that is displayed perfectly on the track ‘Up North’. I’m tempted to label it “bedroom pop”, because it’s sad and earnest and was released on Bandcamp, but as to whether it was recorded in a bedroom is currently unknown (I think it’s unlikely, it sounds great so I think they may have found somewhere a little more professional).
In terms of references, there are similarities to fellow Pacific Northwesterners BOAT in terms of the energy and vocals. Lyrically, if you liked Small Wonder’s Wendy then you’re probably going to like this as well. It’s got that same heart-on-sleeve sincerity, that same sense of internal struggle and self doubt.
You can get I Do Care About You on a pay-what-you-want basis over at Bandcamp.
Rivergazer is the recording project of songwriter Kevin Farrant. Random Nostalgia is his first full-length album, having previously released demos and an EP (Oh My Ego) and played in numerous other bands, including with childhood friend Aaron Maines in Porches.
This is an indie rock record at heart, and a step away from the uber-lo-fi recordings of Farrant’s previous releases. It’s catchy and sunny and pretty easygoing, but also deals with some darker thematic material. As the press release put it, “the album tells the tale of modern sadness — growing up in the suburbs, getting married and divorced, having no money, being in debt, driving mom’s car, friends, isolation, wanting a dog, finding zen, and making memories.”
Listen to first single ‘Safari Jack’ in the player below:
Electronic virtuoso Will Wiesenfeld (of Baths fame) is back with another release under the Geotic moniker (which we have featured numerous times, for example here and here). Morning Shore is the first release under the Eon Isle header, with a series of three full-length releases planned. Each will utilise a single instrument, with Morning Shore using nothing but the guitar, Sunset Mountain (planned for Autumn ‘14) using only the voice, and Evening Sky (Winter ‘14-15) purely piano.
It may not be wise to judge and album by it’s cover, but in this instance the lovely artwork is a good indictor of the lovely music within. The songs are a gentle brand of ambient music, filled with interesting quirks and nuances that give the soundscapes a sense of the natural world. The title is also indicative of the atmosphere, each song filled with a gentle optimism of a bright morning. The album captures that feeling of being on holiday in a sunnier clime, the relaxed, carefree nature you fall into as if it is your default setting.
You can buy the album over at Bandcamp, and be sure to check out the newly added Geotic back catalogue which is now available while you are there.
Every so often an album comes along that I find myself leaning on. Sure, every month or so brings new music and short-term obsessions, but on rare occasions an album perseveres for months and years, developing a sense of importance. Albums like Hospice by The Antlers, White Lighter by Typhoon and Spectral Dusk by Evening Hymns have not grown old, even after a silly number of repeated listens. It’s too early to say if this year will bring one of those gems, but it’s only July and there are already a few candidates (see my Strand of Oaks review for starters).
The other candidate is a bit of a cheat. Unplug is a live album from Cloud Cult, recorded at a sold-out show at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis. “We dug through the Cloud Cult discography," frontman Craig Minowa describes after the first track, “and picked out the songs that had the philosophical messages that we want to be putting out there right now." That essentially means that they dig out the jewels in their back catalogue and shine them up with brand new orchestrations so that they become even more precious.
I’ve been a big fan of Cloud Cult for a long while, from their often bizarre avant-garde beginnings to their more hopeful recent albums such as Light Chasers and Love. Apart from being one of the most musically innovative bands around, and one of the most experimental (their live shows often have people painting on-stage during the show), they are also pioneers in terms of ethical and moral ways to progress in the music business. Rejecting labels in favour of self-publishing, the band were practicising green methods of releasing and touring their music back when that sort of thing should have started (the band’s merch is all postconsumer recycled or made from organic materials, they have planted thousands of trees to absorb the band’s CO2 output, and they donate renewable energy project such as those that generate revenue on Native American reservations). In other words, these are good people, folks trying to do it right.
Following the death of his two year-old son Kaidin, Minowa and his wife went through some very tough times. “There was a very, very low point, where I really wanted to follow our son and find out where he was.” Unplug is a collection of songs that charts their ascension from these depths, drawing heavily from the post-Aurora Borealis Cloud Cult catalogue that is based around/born from an epiphanic moment described by Minowa during the performance: “I all of the sudden felt this light around me and heard voices as clear as day… it became apparent that… for all of us, there is a much bigger calling for everybody. We just have to listen.”
I don’t want to write too much about the songs themselves. I’ve tried a few times and trying to put my feelings into words makes the whole thing seem clumsy and saccharine. Just let it be known that the album is a special one, and songs like ‘Breakfast With My Shadow,’ ‘Running With The Wolves,’ ‘Chemicals Collide,’ ‘Chain Reaction’ and ‘You Were Born’ all feel important. I think that a pair of songs around halfway through sum up the record perfectly:
We Made Up Your Mind For You:
“We made up your mind for you last night,
so you can decide that you’ll be alright.
It’s no small trick to beat-beat
the pessimistic motherfucker sleeping inside your head.
Do you believe in you?
Cuz no one else can do that for you.
Are you ready yet? Are you ready yet?
you don’t want to hear it.”
That Man Jumped Out The Window
“It’s the thoughts that you feed
It’s the habits you need
It’s the things that you don’t think that you’re seeing
When you’re really seeing.
That man jumped out the window
Come back in the window.
It’s your tone in my mouth
It’s the things that we’re too scared to talk about
It’s the feeling that you’re dreaming
(You’re not really dreaming)”
In a time where irony and skepticism are valued above all else, Cloud Cult are a breath of fresh air (it could be argued that the act of appearing intelligent/sophisticated/worldly (i.e. not naive) is the biggest drain on the time and energy of young people today). Their music is forthright, their positivity and hope border on something of a spiritual level, something which could leave them open to ridicule. That their songs and ideas don’t come off as New Age-y clap-trap is a testament to 1) how much we (or at least I) want to hear/identify with what they are saying, and 2) the sense of authenticity that surrounds their work. This is something that is heightened with the Unplug arrangements and recordings. It is clear, at least to me, that the band fundamentally believe what they are playing. You get the impression they would be singing these songs even if nobody was listening.
You can buy Unplugfrom the Cloud Cult store page. Be sure to check out the original albums too. (And if you, like us, aren’t from the US, think about sticking with the digital download. Shipping = carbon emissions).
There was a man named Armando from Mexico City who toured Canada with his band The Oats. Armando met a woman named Dawn from Dundas, Ontario. Armando liked Dawn, and Dawn liked Armando. Every so often, Dawn would visit Armando in Mexico City. But each time, Dawn had to leave Mexico City and separating at the airport was a sad and lonely task. The couple wrote songs together when they had the chance.
Dawn and Armando are now married and play together in a band called The Tallest Tree. You can hear their first single, ‘Tree’ right now.
We reviewed the Baby Cages single ‘Dark Arts’ a while back, and Halifax’s Halloway Jones is back with a full-length album.
Indelicate takes the unsettling tones of the single and runs with it, putting the ‘dream’ into dream pop. Opener ‘Porcelain’ sets out the stall - a strange, off-kilter song that simmers away without ever boiling over, and is back by what can only be described as understated moans. If a song could ever be described as haunted it would be this one.
The lyrics across the whole album are abstract and unsettling. Their fragmented nature means that you are constantly picking up images and storylines in brief snippets, leaving you to try and piece together something coherent. Kind of like when your brain picks out faces in cloud and wood grain, you unconsciously form a narrative thread or ‘complete picture’, or rather a collection a bizarre Lynchian scenes that slowly merge to form a complete picture. It’s like taking a thousands of weird screenshots from Twin Peaks and Blue Velvet and Eraserhead to make one giant mosaic that is super-weird. Hyper-Lynchian.
You can buy the album over at Bandcamp.
Lewis & Clarke - Triumvirate
Lou Rogai (AKA Lewis & Clarke) is set to release his first full release since 2009. Triumvariate is a double LP of grand, epic folk music that deal ‘with process, and how we often create complexity from simple scenarios.' Help him get over the finish line by backing the project on Kickstarter before Wed 15th July (EDIT: he has reached the goal, but any more pre-orders would be welcome I’m sure). There are loads of goodies (a variety of artwork and posters, signed test-pressings etc.) to get your paws on besides the music. If that’s not enough to whet your appetite, there is also this short film directed by Kevin Haus. The album is due for release in September via La Société Expéditionnaire.
Benjamin Woods and The Golden Dregs
This suggestion comes from our good friend Jeremy over at HI54LOFI. The Golden Dregs are from Falmouth, UK, and make a lo-fi brand of rock music that is perfect for a languid summer day. You can grab the EP on a pay-what-you-can basis via Bandcamp.
The Parade Schedule - Friday Night
The Parade Schedule is the recording moniker of Seattle-based Matt Kinder. Friday Night is his (and his band’s) new album. It’s a really good folk rock record (perhaps with a little more emphasis on the “rock” than in his previous work) with Kinder’s deep and honest vocals. Fans of David Bazan and Damien Jurado need to check this out. Listen to my current favourite, the title track, in the player below. You can Friday Night over at The Parade Schedule’s bandcamp page.
P.S. If you’re not familiar with the band’s previous album, Seeds to Be Planted, Trees to Be Cut, then I recommend to remedy that fact right now.
The Rural Alberta Advantage - Terrified
The Rural Alberta Advantage have unveiled a new song, ‘Terrified,’ the first track off of their upcoming LP Mended With Gold. The album was apparently written by frontman Nils Edenloff during a stay at a remote cottage up on the Bruce Peninsula, where he slept with a pocket knife within reach for fear of bears and wolves. Fans of the Toronto-based trio will be glad to hear RAA’s distinctive sound is still intact, with their tales of hometowns and heartbreak still is as powerful as ever. The album will be released on Saddle Creek and Paper Bag Records on the 30th September.
Field Report - Wings
Christopher Portertfield’s Field Report have also released a new song. With itsambient electronics, ‘Wings’ is a slight departure from the sound of their previous album (and Porterfield’s Conrad Plymouth stuff), but his “grizzled midwestern vocals” (as Stereogum put it) are thankfully still present. The band’s new album Marigolden, which will deal with homesickness and alcoholism,is out in October on Partisan, and we will no doubt be writing more about it when we hear the rest of it.
Jerry David DeCicca - First and Last
Finally, Jerry David DeCicca, from the band The Black Swans, has released a solo LP Understanding Land. The album features guest appearances from people like Will Oldham, Kelley Deal and Spooner Oldham. Watch the video for ‘First and Last’ below, and buy Understanding Land here. He is also planning a UK tour this autumn so keep an eye on that.
Titus Andronicus are back! The band have announced a new 7” singles subscription series, starting with ‘Stranded (On My Own).’ For more information on the series, let me point you towards frontman Patrick Stickles ‘live press conference’ below. Be prepared for a weird pseudo-fictional monologue/rant that you can read into as little or as much as you like.
'Stranded (On My Own)' has apparently been a staple in Titus Andronicus sets for a good while. It opens with the instruction/declaration 'Let's rock!' and then duly obligies. The lyrics are as strong as ever, with Stickles exercising his talent of sounded strong worded and eloquent, yet also sloppy and disorderly and uninhibited.
‘I could have made history,
but now i’ve been made history.
Who knew that victory,
could be so slippery?
Cover the thick bloodstains
on your sick young brain.
Just take your ritalin,
and you can play the old hits again.’
You can hear it below.