Flat Country - Pepper Johnson
Great blend of country stompers and plaintive folk from New York City’s David Moore, a veritable one man band who performed the majority of the album. Tracks like 1983 One and One and One
are rail-riding-ale-house-rocking good time tunes, recorded with the resonance of a visceral live performance. Laura
the prettiest track, showcasing Moore’s superb voice and poignant songwriting ability. Aches with a lovely sense of nostalgia. Poussière
the most minimal of the eight tracks and oh so tender, the most gentle of heart tearers. Terrific songwriting throughout that covers all bases. Joy and hardship. Loss and revelation. The little things and the big things.
Gathering for the Feast - Waywardbreed
Released on vinyl through fine Melbourne label Hawkmoth Records
, songwriter Justin Avery assembled an album of immaculate songs Gathering for the Feast
. Carefully crafted lyrics and Avery’s commanding voice have a captivating effect, creating a gentle undertow that draws you into their wake. The soft sound is deceptive, heavy themes of pained yearning linger beneath. Imagery paints vivid pictures of quiet violence - men torn limb from limb; burning trees; broken masts - and the frequent appearance of animals - dogs, horses, wolves, lambs, birds - is central to the character of the Waywardbreed sound. The lean lust of For the Birds
followed by the restrained passion of the title track my favourite moments, the latter jarring in its contrast of pristine music and suggestion of cannibalism. Maybe it’s a metaphor. Maybe not. Much to ponder on this album, and so much to savour.
Small Hours - Old Earth
Todd Umhoefer brews a bubbling concoction of country, folk, noise and drone on striking release through Mini 50 Records
. Songs take on a free flowing, adventurous quality in their unusual structuring and skilful melding of styles. Like Bill Callahan going through a psychedelic phase, perhaps. Though unconventional, songs retain an accessibility through their vital energy and Umhoefer’s voice, which is sometimes distorted though always central to the soul of the song. Great depth in these three songs (merely titled “1”, “2” and “3”) with the ten minute second track being especially enjoyable, a spellbinding sonic journey filled with cosmic guitars, ghostly choirs and gently crushing drone. Country music transmitted from the astral plane.
Like drapes either side - Soda Eaves
Melbourne poet Jake Core produces understated album of touching folk, released on the faultless Why Don’t You Believe Me
. Core gives these songs an introspective tone without becoming self absorbed; quiet reflections on inner and outer experiences. Recordings of conversations and urban activity give the album a more personal feel while also adding to the charmingly rough lo-fi sound. Not all minimal folk, extra band members are bought in for more raucous songs with Doll
being a great garage pop tune. The songs of affected wondering are what make this album memorable however, with on the beach
and halfway up the stairs
making the deep, lasting impressions. Oh, and - flowers of evil
- a Spraklehorse reference? That would make sense.
Every Night Draws the Same Crowd - Squanto
Squanto (Ben Lovell) wrote these songs between 2011-2013 “inspired and informed by long aimless walks through familiar neighborhoods in the dark, trying to pretend that eventually there would be something different behind the houses.” It’s a feeling that I can relate to, and one that’s captured beautifully in these songs. The music has been given space to breathe and grow - it’s subtle folk music for patient souls. Clever use of field recordings - such as in Heave
- adds interesting textures and distinct natural feel to songs. Explores the space between ambient soundscapes and minimal folk in a most arresting manner. Opening track Parts 3 & 4
is finely crafted, breaking free of its restrained, quivering beginnings to reach stirring heights. Title track is also moving with it’s cathartic crescendo, while the closing brace is a good example of how Squanto cleverly pairs minimal folk with more experimental, spacious sounds. Comforting, engaging and made to last.
You should also check out…
Spagyric - Mountainhood
Ribbon Vine - Ora Cogan
Wolf Willow b/w Buffalo Beans - Cold Water