“It’s the last three songs that push an already arresting album to the next level. The title track finds their voices lilting, tumbling with a graceful rise and fall toward the gorgeous chorus, with the lyrics deftly exploring human nature and our constant urge to try and keep things from slipping through our fingers.”
~ Paste Magazine
“The album’s production is majestic, aiming squarely for the cosmos depicted on its striking cover artwork. Like the cosmic soul it emulates, the atmosphere is lush, full of period ambiance worthy of a high-end television set.”
THAO & The Get Down Stay Down – Man Alive
“We grieve so deep in disguise / The private lives of private eyes,” Thao sings in “Hand To God.” It’s a simple yet striking line that illuminates the emotional backbone of her brilliant, jarring new album, A Man Alive. Throughout the record, Thao ruminates on how little we know of the turmoil people carry around inside — and opens up about her own lingering wounds. Read More and listen at NPR
Lily & Madeleine – Keep It Together
It’s a 9 out of 10 record primarily because every time I’ve ever given a 10 (which I would on this occasion) it has been edited down.
Yes, it is that good.
Keep It Together is the third album from Lily & Madeleine, released on the always-spectacular New West Records. Despite lyrical claims to the contrary (“I’m scared as hell”, ‘For the Weak’ claims) it is a confident and composed statement of incredible depth and poise. Read the full review on Drowned In Sound
All The Witches – Dying Surfer Meets His Maker
Every once in a great while, you discover a band not easily classifiable-one that takes time to absorb-but rewards your patience in doing so.
Nashville, Tennessee’s All Them Witches are one such band, forging a sound that’s a hybrid of classic rock, psychedelia, southern metal, space rock, and something intangibly “other.”
And their New West Records début Dying Surfer Meets His Maker, expands upon the mysterious sound they’ve been crafting ever since 2012’s Mother Electricity and 2014’s Lightning At The Door.
Read the full review on Smells Like Infinite Sadness
Ashes & Dust reveals a far more rustic musical slant. That along with the give and take synergy from veteran roots outfit Railroad Earth makes this a unique entry into Haynes’ prolific catalog. The singer/songwriter appropriately allows the sextet a “featuring” cover credit since it’s impossible to imagine these songs resonating so fully without them to flesh out the sound. The music leans towards bluegrass and folk with tunes primarily about salt-of-the-earth, proudly blue-collar Americans struggling to make it through the next week or paycheck. From the miner in “Coal Tattoo” to the honest hard worker screwed by the corporation in “Company Man” and the dogged bounty hunter of “Glory Road,” Haynes sings these lyrics with the compassion and understanding of someone who knows these folks well. His flinty voice seems less gruff here, which melds well with the lighter instrumental touch of the music.
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“[…]a blend of 21st-century pop science and 1970s intuition and experiment. There’s a lot of Stevie Nicks in Ms. Weaver: a promising commercial strategy, particularly since “The Fool” arrives between albums by Haim, which has flourished with its own Fleetwood Mac update. Ms. Weaver’s voice takes on some of Ms. Nicks’s particular smoky quaver as her fervor rises toward her choruses. She also has Ms. Nicks’s fondness for myth and extended (and sometimes mixed) metaphors, flaunting them in songs like “The Fool”: “So I curse my stars for a fair game/While you nurse my scars and the old flame.” – Read More on The New York Times
The title refers to Stevens’ mother and stepfather, though the lyrics address the former more directly. She left Stevens and his siblings when he was a baby, and his memories of her stem mostly from summer visits to Oregon when he was a toddler and grade-schooler. He was with her when she died a few years ago, and his attempts to reconcile his feelings—of abandonment, love, resentment, confusion, self-loathing, nostalgia—are the sensitive tendons that resist and then go slack throughout these songs. Most feel like attempts to heal by way of quiet confrontation—call it primal whisper therapy. It’s tricky territory to navigate in these cynical times, and hardened hearts and ears might find it off-putting. But meet Carrie & Lowell on its terms and it’s revelatory. Read the full review on AV Club
As an aesthetic reservoir, the ’80s continue to feed an abundance of nostalgia, from the American highway fantasies of the War on Drugs to Twin Shadow’s boy-meets-girl melodramas. Inhabiting characters from the past can lend a singer a certain gravitas; unburdened by modern irony, big emotions play bigger on a decades-old frame. But few artists have seized that retrospection as an opportunity to flip the power dynamics that governed pop culture 30 years ago. For Lower Dens, a neon palette serves as fertile ground for subversion. Hunter absorbs the range of gendered feeling from Billy Idol to Bonnie Tyler, emerging as a bandleader capable of flipping effortlessly between extremes of masculine aggression and feminine yearning. Read the full review on Pitchfork
When last interviewed for this newspaper in 2013, Laura Marling talked about retiring from the music industry. She was 23 and her feet hadn’t touched the ground since her astonishingly self-possessed debut album, Alas I Cannot Swim, was released in 2008. Three albums later she was being hailed as the greatest songwriter of her generation. But she was exhausted and took off for America, where she did indeed give up music for a while. For two years she wandered and applied for jobs in coffee shops. She hung out with “mysterious, fleeting people”: cult members, addicts, hippies and professional vagrants.
When Marling picked up her guitar again, the queen of the nu-folk scene channelled that strange and desperate energy by going electric. It’s a powerful evolution. It takes a rare rock guitarist to remind us that electricity is a potentially dangerous natural force but Marling’s new sound evokes the strange dark thrill of low skies before a storm. At times it sounds more like she’s plugged her guitar into a brooding thunder cloud than a man-made socket. Read the full review on The Telegraph