Okay peepers, because we are about to expedite ourselves to the hustling and bustling of NAMM, National Association of Music Merchandisers, convention in Anaheim, CA this weekend, we are sharing 4 rather than 5 picks with you this week. But in all fairness, two of those picks have a plethora of songs to fill a whole other blog post if we wanted to. One of them is a free long-awaited double album and another is a fantastic compilation of various artists from Paper Bag Records. In between, we see a return of the indie sensation Cloud Control and a stirring cover of one of Arthur Russell's best.
We can't wait to see what NAMM has to offer in the way of new music gear (some of which we hope to share with our music-playing audience in the form of monthly giveaways). So stay tuned for some great stuff coming in the next few weeks. And enjoy.
1. Joseph Arthur - Redemption City
(free album download from artist)
Double album: Redemption City
Joseph Arthur is giving away his new double album, Redemption City, for free on his website. He's been working on it since 2009 and even built a studio for the express purpose of recording this album. Playing every instrument on the album himself, he gives each song a rich, multi-layered soundscape, often centered around a simple strummed guitar, with synthesizers, drum machines and other electronica swirling out around it, enveloping the guitar in pulsing and driving rhythms and accompanying vocals that skirt the boundary between talking and singing.
2. Cloud Control – Meditation Song #2 (Why, Oh Why)
(click to stream or right click to save as)
LP: Bliss Release
Cloud Control is already a musical staple in their home county of Australia but are quickly on their way to achieving the same fame here in America. They blend the catchiness of pop with the lush auras of folk and psychedelic sounds. Their latest endeavor, Bliss Release, is out now.
3. Arthur's Landing - "Don't Forget About Me (cover)"
(free download from Soundcloud)
Nirosta Steel, performer of "Don't Forget About Me," is the alias of Steven Hall, a member of a group known as Arthur's Landing. This band, which specializes in covers of late disco/experimental/classical genius Arthur Russell, consists entirely of musicians who were friends with Russell during his lifetime. "Don't Forget About Me" is another cover, and it's a beautiful rendition that embodies the elusive, touching nature of Russell's body of work perhaps even better than the country-leaning original version did (check it out below). Despite the stripped-down, bedroom recording feel, the tune is instantly gripping with Hall's fragile vocals doing justice to the delicately probing melody. Awash in atmospheric bass and slippery guitar licks, his harmonies bring to the fore the longing and naivete of the lyrics. Arthur's Landing's debut album came out earlier this week. Learn more here!
4. Various Artists - The Paper Bag Sessions Vol. 1
(free compilation download with email)
Once in a while, a record label or other music producing parent company releases a compilation of their best and brightest artists that they don't want the world to miss. Paper Bag Records, a label carrying some fantastic new artists, has done just that and the compilation is up for free. One of their artists, Austra, is one of my new personal favorites, and the two songs on this record are urgent renditions of a beautiful operatic female voice carried over precise piano. I seriously lose it over "Lose It." This group's other songs grow to include electronic beats and synth machines, and I might characterize them as dark electronic opera. Katie Stelmanis's voice is seriously out of this world.
After that, the whole album is a mellow compilation of some folk, some bluegrass-y and some pure feelings of longing expressed through guitar, harmonica and tambourine. PS I Love You delivers painfully plaintive vocals and The Rural Alberta Advantage produces no less than a modern regret ballad, and a song slightly reminiscent of Neutral Milk Hotel but with their own powerful lyrical spin.
The full track listing is as follows: