There’s no contesting the enduring nature of folk music. Even in between “revivals” and “waves” of folk entering and exiting the zeitgeist, you can always find a wealth of artists carrying the torch for the roots of most modern songs. While it’s usually split between more traditional styles and it’s more modern cousin, “indie folk,” you’ll occasionally find a group that falls somewhere in between, borrowing the heart and technicality of old traditional sounds and adding the youthful energy of more contemporary music. Kacy & Clayton are that perfect blend. Their abilities on their instruments pick up right where the greats of past generations left off. With enough ability to hold a candle to Mississippi John Hurt, or even Nick Drake, they walk their own path, picking up bits from here and there, but ultimately creating music that is new and exciting, all the while sounding like it could have existed 50 or even 80 years ago. Their music is pure and without pretension, with a maturity that isn’t often found in players this young.
This is the craftiest album I’ve heard in a long while. Morby seems to have a real appreciation for sonic tones and a masterful grasp on space and breath. It’s obvious that this sense of craft comes from hours and hours of listening, one would assume, to the great classics. The structure of the songs are reminiscent of Leonard Cohen or the orchestral pop rock of the 60s, like early Scott Walker or Harry Nilsson, but he is able to capture the large waves of sound and dynamic shifts with little more than a 4 or 5 piece band and the occasional back up singers or small horn and string sections. It’s his use of subtlety and space that make everything seem a thousand feet tall. Over all of this, Morby sings with his lazy Dylan/Cohenesque talky vocals, about dreamy, abstract visions of laughing coyotes, gardens of black flowers and singing saws. The lyrics are, at the same time, escapist and a painting of harsh realities, and the music ties it all together with beautiful melodies and a lose, wispy rhythm section. Depending on my mood, I am sometimes very analytical of albums, or I just let them crash over me like a wave. This is one of those rare albums that can serve both purposes.
Some bands can only be described as Rock n Roll. They are loud for the sake of loud, fast for the sake of fast and angsty for the sake of angst. And, what is Summer Cannibals angsty about? What have you got? Signed to Kill Rock Stars, they harken back to the earlier days of the label, pioneering the underground punk and riot girl sounds popular in the early 90s. Summer Cannibals has all the sugary sweet song writing of bands like Sleater-Kinney or Bratmobile, but their sound weighs a 1000 pounds more. Where lo-fi recordings and jangly guitars articulated the rebellious nature of the earlier bands, Summer Cannibals replaces that with low, grinding instrumentation that is a big ol’ punch in the gut. Shouldn’t rebellious music also rebel against it’s predecessors? I can’t speak for Summer Cannibals or the axes they’re choosing to grind, but isn’t that sort of up to the listener to apply purpose to the music they choose to listen to? This isn’t your parents riot girl band. This is Summer Cannibals and damn right they’re too damn loud.
We have the pleasure of hosting a Summer Cannibals in-store performance on the afternoon of June 17th! More details coming soon!
Chris Cohen has certainly earned his place in the book of indie rock, contributing his talents to bands like Deerhoof, White Magic and Crypticize. But, all his previous efforts and accomplishments seem inconsequential when considering his newest solo album As If Apart. While there are stark contrasts between a band like Deerhoof and Crypticize, the canyon is ever wider when considering the music on As If Apart. Much of it is reminiscent of early 2000s Yo La Tengo or even Stereolab. The general tone is jazzy and wide open, but it’s powered by strong hooks and deliberate chord changes. Cohen’s voice has the haziness of Astrud Gilberto and the lyrics are tender and sometimes written like a stream of consciousness. The songs are about as exciting and engaging as something this delicate could be. It’s refreshing to hear these stylistic ideas being given a fresh coat of paint. I’m hoping this is a precursor to similar artists exploring and rediscovering this sort of tonality.
It seems the world has caught up with Marissa Nadler. While her particular brand of melancholy folk has and will always be relevant, perhaps the depth of it all was more than what most were accustomed to. Now that we’re seeing so many others baring their dark souls, like Sharon Van Etten, Damien Jurado, Chelsea Wolfe or Jessica Pratt, perhaps Marissa Nadler will see the sort of recognition her music deserves. This isn’t to say that she hasn’t been appreciated by many, but with being recently signed to Sacred Bones, a somewhat newer and incredibly relevant record label, maybe her voice and songs will reach the wider range of all the beautiful dark souls just waiting for the songs that speak to them. Over the 15+ years that Marissa Nadler has been creating music, it seems to continue to grow, all the while maintaining that “something” that belongs to her alone. It’s lovely to know we can count on that kind of consistency in artists that have been around this long. I think we need a little more of that early 2000s being brought into the mix of the music that is being created today.