Kacy & Clayton caught our attention a couple years back with their first New*West release, Strange Country. We were drawn in by their sincere approach to folk music, showing a clear understanding of the form and origin, while also taking some chances with their choices, breaking from traditions to create something new and fresh without wandering off into “indie folk” territory. The Siren’s Song shows a slightly edgier side of the group, with a lot less acoustic numbers, favoring more of that 60s/70s psych country rock sound, bringing to mind the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers or the Grateful Dead. But, all the elements that drew us in are still there, such as Kacy’s vocals, clear and strong, yet world weary beyond her years, and Clayton’s virtuosic guitar playing, drawing clear comparisons to old greats, like John Fahey or Doc Watson.
A common discussion at the shop is about the progression of a band and their music. Is there some formula that one can follow to preserve an energy or even sound that might have served to inspire a musicians earlier music. It’s clear that the “spotlight” can have a huge influence over any groups music. But, just as much, so can time or all the life that happens in between tours and recordings. What we’ve discovered is, there really is no clear answer as to what keeps a band from growing stale or keeps all the spark and energy from the first album to the last. Rainer Maria hasn’t put out an album since 2006. Each member seems to have gone on their own personal journeys, in very different directions. But, whatever happened in between then and now seems to have served them well. Their new album is as alive and angsty as any of their earlier releases. They are not simply imitating what they’ve done in the past. They are simply being the band they had always been.
Like some weird psychedelic nightmare soundtrack factory, Thee Oh Sees have put out over a dozen albums since 2006. And, not a single one of them falls short of anything less than a mindfucking, clowncar of trance inducing grooves, glammed out vocals, a mobius strip of doubled up drum beats, chasing each other’s tails, buzzed and fuzzed guitar riffs and spaced out soundscapes. ORC manages to stand even furthur out than previous albums, introducing more twists and perhaps a more clear homage to earlier influences. They have, by no doubt cultivated their own sound. But, this newest album maybe clears up where the direct influences lie.
This is the only artist on this list that had not yet releases something to catch our attention. I guess that it could mean that it had to work that much harder. But, of the new and upcoming releases to cross our paths, this album had a very strong presence and intriguing subtlety, forcing us to lean in a little closer to hear exactly what’s going on. It could be argued that Stinkweeds has a “thing” that it’s into. Yes, we all make an effort to get out of our comfort zones and not lose sight of all the amazing work being put out, across genres and generations. But, we do tend to gravitate towards a particular sound. If you’re curious what that sound is, give this a listen…or even better, come into the shop and let’s talk music. Perhaps we’ll find the bridge between your thing and ours.
Ishmael Butler has established himself as a game changer. He was at the forefront of musical movement, in the early 90s, as a core member of the jazz infused hip hop group, Digable Planets. There are clear lines that can be drawn directly to this group as a major influence on hip hop, as a whole. Now, he’s wearing a number of hats, all of which put him right at the center of yet another change for Hip Hop music. Signing on with Sub Pop as their first hip hop act, only to shortly after be brought on as an A&R rep for the label, signing on other groundbreaking hip hop acts, such as THEEsatisfaction and more recently, Porter Ray, both of whom he had a hand in producing, Butler has shown no signs of aging out of the music game. Shabazz Palaces is the clear and definitive proof of this. Their music is like nothing I’ve ever heard. It’s as much hip hop as it is ambient electronic, psychedelic dream pop and stream of conscience poetry…but, you know, the good kind.