Posts tagged folk.


Chris from Otherworldly Mystics had been at me to listen to this SNOWBEAST EP for a couple of weeks, but for whatever reason I kept putting it off. Damn, that was stupid of me because this thing is so great and so incredibly up my alley. And even though their Twitter bio says that they are a ” tropical chill wave rock band from Vancouver, BC” I’m going to go ahead and say that you should probably just ignore that because it is so incredibly misleading. Also it’s very 2010.

No, what you’re more likely to find on the band’s latest EP S N O W B E A S T is five tracks of ramshackle folk rock (emphasis on the “rock”) that borders on unhinged. There is a nice dusty, lo-fi crust hanging over all the songs as if the band recorded it to tape in a musty old cabin. Then add to that the fact that the vocals waver between a whiskey-throated rasp and downright frantic screaming. If that sounds like it would put you off, don’t worry. It all reads as passion as opposed to raucous noise. Listen to their track “Somewhere, Ontario” to see exactly what I’m talking about and then go ahead and grab the tape from Otherworldly Mystics.



11/08/13 at 02:07pm via Bandcamp



Bad Kisser // Loss

Struggling with this one. Don’t get me wrong, I love these tracks, but they are so damn short that they are teasing me hardcore. It’s like offering a starving man two potato chips. Are you insane? I need more than that!

Bad Kisser is the ghostly side project of mysterious femme fatale Foie Gras. She tossed these five painfully short songs on her Bandcamp to literally no fanfare late last month. While not completely abandoning her drone homebase, she elevates the material into song territory with sparse instrumentation and whisper-like vocals. Everything is incredibly lo-fi, but somehow she twists the tape hiss’ arm behind its back and forces it into beautiful submission. The melodies are short but incredibly sweet, and just before they have the opportunity to fully bloom, she snips it off at the bud. I suppose this forces the imagination into dreaming up the possibilities of what these seeds of songs could be if left to grow.

Last night I described Bad Kisser as “like Grouper in a graveyard” so if that seems like it would be your thing (and why the heck wouldn’t it be?), then by all means grab this free release from the Foie Gras Bandcamp page.



Bad Kisser  Foi Gras  drone  lo-fi  folk  

06/13/13 at 04:22pm via Bandcamp



Trace Mountains // “Salty/Sweet”

Oh, Dave. Ohhhh, Dave. Dave Benton. Dave Benton who also plays in LVL UP and Spook Houses. That Dave. He’s killing me.

In addition to the aforementioned bands, Dave also runs passionate New York indie label Double Double Whammy. So he’s a busy guy. Somewhere along the lines though he found time to steal away and record some solo material under the name Trace Mountains. Though only two of the tracks have surfaced so far, they are excellent. Sticking to the acoustic guitar and hushed vocals, the songs can be summed up in one word: bittersweet. In other words it’s the kind of music that makes you happy and sad at the same time, but you can’t exactly put into words why. So I’m not going to try.

PS - Is that someone playing the saw at the end of “Salty/Sweet”? Please tell me that’s someone playing the saw.

PPS - Dave also said that these tracks are going to be seeing some form of release on Double Double Whammy in the future. So there’s that to look forward to.



05/01/13 at 03:20pm via Bandcamp



The Big Ship // A Circle Is Forever

Side note: I essentially came to discover this project through my obsession with horror movies. You see the label who released this album is called Hausu Mountain, named after the psychedelic cult Japanese horror film Hausu (a film for which I owe my love for to my good pal at Unholy Rhythms. Props.) I checked the label out and here we are. It all comes back to horror.

So The Big Ship. First of all this experimental ambient duo’s Twitter handle is EnoWorship, so that’ll give you some clues as to what’s in store here. Most of their sprawling musical numbers extend out towards the 7-minute mark with singing only occurring on a tiny fraction of the runtime. Within that framework the tracks range from gentle, rolling folk themes to soothing ambient synth work to marching electric guitar stomps that skate close to post-rock. And all the while the band is sealing all the cracks with well-plotted atmosphere and pleasant vibes. This is sit-back-and-relax music if ever there was such a thing. In fact I’m on my second run of this thing and I’m one pillow and a blanket away from the best nap of my life. See ya.



04/04/13 at 03:06pm via Bandcamp



Anna Hillburg // Anna Hillburg

Here’s a nice change of pace from the stuff I’ve been posting lately. Out of the vibrant San Francisco music scene comes the debut solo album from Anna Hillburg. The talented multi-instrumentalist is also a member of Dreamdate and has lent her talents to acts like The Dodos, The Fresh & Onlys, and Greg Ashley. Her self-titled album is a nice little amalgamation of various homespun music genres and is probably the warmest, most comfortable thing I’ve heard so far this year. You know that old sweater that’s covered in pills, snags and stains and yet it is your default choice on a chilly night? This album is that sweater.

I grew up on a steady diet of the music of Patsy Cline, Joni Mitchell, and Janis Joplin; and while Anna Hillburg doesn’t particularly sound like any of those ladies they are most assuredly her kindred spirits. There is a classic, laid-back vibe to this whole album as it moseys the grocery aisles of varying genres nonchalantly filling a shopping cart at will. A little folk here; some garage, pop, and country there; oh, don’t forget the doo-wop. It’s all touched on here in the most natural of manners and it blends really organically as well. In some ways it reminds of me of the music of one of my other favorite San Francisco bands: The Sandwitches. In other words, I’m in love.

Anna Hillburg is out now on California Clap Records.



03/27/13 at 07:44pm via Bandcamp



The Act of Estimating As Worthless // Circadian Tremors

SUNY Purchase folk outift The Act of Estimating As Worthless have themselves tagged as “quiet” on their Facebook page. While that might certainly have been true of the band’s last album Amongst These Splintered Minds​/​/​Leaden Thoughts Sing Softly (which saw its release through good time pals Double Double Whammy) they are doing their best to break out of that unassuming shell on their latest EP Circadian Tremors.

Like a soothing babbling brook, the tracks on the EP ebb and flow gently downstream for stretches before the occasional white caps bubble up and the band explodes into gorgeous, ornate instrumental interludes with horns, strings, electric guitars, and crashing percussion. It’s loud in the sense that the band is really putting their energy out there with all their might, but it’s still deft and tender in execution. This is a band that puts the utmost consideration into every square inch of their songwriting and it pays off big time on Circadian Tremors. Boosted by some expert production quality, The Act of Estimating As Worthless are proving themselves to be one of upstate New York’s more surprising powerhouses. 

Circadian Tremors will be available on 12” through Broken World Media &Mt. Home Arts, but you can grab a free download of it right now on the band’s Bandcamp.



02/26/13 at 03:57pm via Bandcamp




Cat Meat // CAT MEAT

I love good Americana. I specify “good” because one need look no further than the Grammy Awards last night to see that the genre has become a farce in recent years. Bands I won’t even bother naming have given the genre a bad name with generic, formulaic songwriting and a cheesy image. It seems like all you need these days is a banjo and some old-timey clothing for instant popularity; craft is secondary. It’s a joke. 

That being said, I still love Americana. I don’t think I’ve ever really covered it here, but make no mistake I adore Neko Case. I’m a long time Calexico and My Morning Jacket fan. I worship at the church of Ryan Adams. So I suppose it’s a good thing that I get those same vibes from London band Cat Meat. Strange name/art choice for a band that specializes in homespun alt-country, but really the only thing that matters here is the music. The twang abounds, harmonicas wail, and the vocalist sounds like he probably gargles with whiskey in the morning. And yet it is all delivered with the most honest of intentions. There is a warmth to the music that cannot be fabricated and a maturity that usually only comes with age. It’s rocking chair/coffee music if ever there was any and is perfectly suited to those listeners who maybe like to take things a bit slower.



02/11/13 at 03:31pm via SoundCloud / Cat Meat



Title: Will The Circle Be Unbroken Artist: The Miami 169 plays

The Miami // Ring Shouts

Daniel from Prison Art just shot this over to me earlier this week. The small tape label has really been proving their worth this year with strong releases by artists like Each Other, ALASKAS, and The Plums. Their latest release from experimental New York artist The Miami couples the mysterious project’s new EP Ring Shouts with their debut LP I’ll Be Who You Want Me to Be onto one cassette. 

On Ring ShoutsThe Miami takes and completely re-imagines four classic American folk songs to haunting effect (notice the artwork). The result is an unsettling journey through the mind of what sounds like a tortured artist. Wringing as much raw emotion from the human voice as is humanly possible, these songs almost feel too personal to listen to. His voice quivers and quakes and sounds almost close to tears at some point, but he keeps on pushing it. Now that might sound off-putting to some but never once does the EP compel you to look away or cringe. It’s mostly just fascinating to hear what sort of unspoken imagery the human voice and skeletal instrumentation can drum up on this short conceptual release. 



11/15/12 at 07:13pm



Adam Torres // Adam Torres

I have learned to trust DZ Tapes. With each successive cassette that the small tape label has released they have proven themselves to be dealers of quality content. And their most recent release from folky troubadour Adam Torres is no exception.

I don’t find myself dabbling in the singer/songwriter genre very often for my own reasons, but when I began listening to Adam’s self-titled album, I pushed all of those things to the back of my mind. The tracks here force the listener to simply revel in their simple beauty. Adam has a very old soul and it’s pretty evident that it is working it’s way down into his music. The pastoral imagery combined with Adam’s gentle guitar plucking and tender falsetto create a comforting atmosphere akin to the feeling I get when I listen to John Denver. It’s a great release that really needs to be checked out.

Grab a tape from the DZ Tapes store and then scoop the album for free on the label’s bandcamp page while you’re at it.


07/27/12 at 03:31pm via SoundCloud / dayvanzombear




And my unhealthy obsession with the SUNY Purchase music scene continues! WHATEVER, DAD is actually a bit of a change of pace from the rest of the stuff I’ve been posting lately, but I think it’s a rather pleasant way to end the week. It is the solo project of one Elaiza Santos and it’s a rather curious little monster.

Elaiza’s approach to songwriting is so minimalist that it feels like it hangs in the air for mere moments before dissipating. Like the scent of a pretty girl who passes you in public, these tracks exist just enough to warrant a double-take. Recorded directly onto tape (I’m assuming) these tracks consist almost exclusively of Elaiza’s sweetly whispered vocals and gentle guitar plucking. They’re sweet yet not saccharine, cute without being cloying, and most importantly they leave me wanting more. Hopefully that blossoming SUNY Purchase scene will inspire just that.

Have a good weekend, everyone!



05/18/12 at 06:32pm via SoundCloud / Thoseforgottensecrets



Title: Walk Two Moons Artist: Lantern 150 plays

Lantern // Burned Youth

Existing easily as one of Philadelphia’s best kept secrets, Lantern has recently prepped Burned Youth, their second release for Night People. The cassette is a collection of bits and pieces that the band recorded between 2009 and 2011. Originally sold as a tour-only release, the cassette is being repackaged and rereleased. And even though the tracks were homeless prior to this release they sill manage to play together really well. 

If you ever got a chance to listen to the band’s prior releases then you’ll know that they revel in that sort of straight-to-tape production quality. And while the fidelity is certainly better than that of their first Night People release, the band still finds opportunity to shred the speakers here or there (i.e. “Bop-A-Bop-A-Bop [I’m Yr Porkchop]” present so much feedback and reverb that it basically becomes an onslaught of ceaseless noise.) But the thing that will keep me coming back to this release is the effortless mashing up of bluesy garage rock with hazed-out psych folk. It’s the kind of stuff that’s perfectly suited to a night of impromptu music in a  humid backyard. BBQ optional.



03/23/12 at 01:33pm



Day Joy // Animal Noise

Sometimes you know when something is just not your thing. I often feel this way with folk music. No matter how much I might want to like it, I just can’t get into it. Every so often however there comes along an artist that forces me to keep at least one toe dipped into the genre. Most recently that responsibility has lain at the feet of Day Joy. After coming out of the shadow of Saskatchewan, the band has really stepped into their own and should be acknowledged as so.

A few months ago the duo released their New Ordinary 7” and really caught my attention. The songs seemed light and upbeat at first but the more I listened the more I realized what exactly they were doing. I was so impressed at the lush arrangements conjured up by just these two guys. Moving their sound along into a four-track EP, the guys have maintained that level of artistry but they’ve tweaked it a bit. They pretty much shed the distant pop melodies on the 7” and have opted for a deeper, more spacious sound. They dredge up these haunting atmospheres and then lavishly decorate them from the inside out. 

It’s a great offering from a young band that I am anticipating great things from. It used to be a free download on their bandcamp but people have sorta gone nuts over it and the downloads ran out. So either cough up some cash for the guys or nab it from this link that they provided.



03/15/12 at 06:15pm via SoundCloud / DayJoyMusic



Title: Sparked Fire (Fall Trees Are Spires) Artist: Four Visions 269 plays

Four Visions // “Spark Fire (Fall Trees Are Spires)”

I wasn’t sure if Dan Abary would pick up his folk side project Four Visions again or not. Helming the immensely promising shoegaze outfit Sight Seeing, I assumed that all engines were go as far as getting their debut ready. While it’s true that the band is hard at work on their album for Bleach Blonde Records, Dan also found time to restring his old guitar and pen some new Four Visions tracks.

In the past Dan tagged these intensely personal tracks as “doom folk” due to how dark they were tonally. But I think that once you listen to one of his newer tracks called “Spark Fire (Fall Trees Are Spires)” you’ll find that that description no longer suits. In keeping with his usual lightheartedness, “Spark Fire” is a decided shift in tone for Four Visions. Handclaps, the slight buzz of the acoustic guitar, pleasant harmonies and a decent helping of “oohs” and “ah” make the song an absolute joy to listen to. Make no mistake, I’m eagerly anticipating the Sight Seeing full length, but this new track puts Four Visions right up there with them.


11/09/11 at 05:48pm



Title: Last Days In Exile Artist: Share-a-Tories 279 plays

Share-a-tories // Dissolved In the Dark

I receive a lot of music submissions. It’s something that is still very bizarre to me and I try my best to make it through all that I can, but it gets to the point where if I neglect to check my email for a day or two the inbox numbers are staggering! And while I appreciate anyone who thinks enough of my blog to send me their music, there are some that just immediately catch my eye. These are folks who semi-frequently recommend music to me that they genuinely think I’ll like. It’s not their music but they just think that I’d dig it. John of Solar Bears is one, My pal Riley over at The Leaving Scene is another, there is always my partner in crime Unholy Rhythms, and now I’m happy to say that Jordan of Mutual Benefit is another (although he might have been a bit biased).

Straight from his cassette label Kassette Klub comes the newest release from Share-a-tories. The mind behind the music is a dude named Andrew Morehart who, according to Jordan, is a near-constant member of Mutual Benefit by playing live and recording with them. Listening to his solo project it’s easy to see why the two are such a good fit. It’s mostly very stripped-down and has a feeling of spontaneity about it, much like Mutual Benefit; but on Dissolved In the Dark Andrew passes up sparseness for youthful energy. To personify Share-a-tories would be easy. It’s as if it walks straight up to you, introduces itself, and reaches out for a friendly handshake. I dig.



10/06/11 at 07:25pm



Title: Your Weakness Artist: Poppy Red 180 plays

Poppy Red // “Your Weakness”

My bro Jimmy Spice of Liquid Skulls sent me an email last week with some tracks by Poppy Red. The project is that of a friend of his named Molly Long and she creates some truly stunning music that feels simultaneously intimate and welcoming if that makes any sense. After she finishes the songs she then hands them over to Jimmy who adds some light production work, and together these two have struck gold.

Building her tracks around just a guitar and her beautiful voice, these songs have a lonesome, wandering quality to them. And where alot of the music I’ve been featuring lately has had an unabashedly sunny vibe about them, Poppy Red opts for a slightly darker atmosphere. Like taking walks with only the moonlight as your guide, let Poppy Red take you by the hand and show you some beautiful sights.

Over the last few days the number of tracks on her bandcamp has slowly gone up, so hopefully these two keep on motoring on this stuff, because it truly is something.



08/26/11 at 05:24pm