Category Archives: Indie folk

Sir Weston’s EP “Over” touches on the mellow side of indie folk

Sir Weston (Matt Martin and Weston Taylor) is an indie/folk/pop group that creates well-crafted hooks that are extremely pleasing to the ear, begging to be memorized.

According to Sir Weston’s Bandcamp page, Weston Taylor, of Atlanta, has been writing for more than 10 years. Sir Weston’s slightly skewed, heartfelt style recalls the sound of Soul Asylum or early Coldplay vocals from the “Yellow” era. The moody guitar notes drives “Waking Up,” and a more rock and roll indie sound dominates “Pretty Pictures.” Hold a torch for the soothing acoustic title track, which gives a shoutout to classic ’60s pop of the Beatles and the Byrds; “Cure For Cancer” is a standout.

Check out their Over EP, which was released in October 2015:

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Filed under bandcamp, Indie, Indie folk, Indie pop, Indie Rock, Uncategorized

York High violinist tours with Ballroom Thieves and Maine Youth Rock Orchestra

A teen violinist from York will soon hit the road with a youth orchestra as part of a tour with the folk band The Ballroom Thieves.The Ballroom Thieves and Maine Youth Rock Orchestra, a group of about 25 students ages 12-18, are joining forces on a national tour, the first of its kind.“No national touring band has ever taken a youth orchestra out on tour, so this is a first for everyone. They have joined us for a couple songs, but we’ve never done a full set and a full tour, so it

Source: York High violinist tours with Ballroom Thieves and MYRO

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Filed under Classical, Folk, Folk Rock, Indie folk, Local music, My work with Edge Magazine, News

Your Friend’s full-length debut Jan. 29; hear first single “Heathering”

Your Friend, guitarist, singer and songwriter Taryn Blake Miller, has finally announced a full-length debut.

After her self-recorded debut EP Jekyll/Hyde in 2014, Miller toured for the first time (with Courtney Barnett) and performed at her first SXSW.

Her first full-length album, “Gumption,” will be out in January.

Miller started writing “Gumption” in her Kansas apartment in 2014. She used a field recorder while around her family’s farm in Dexter, Kansas, hoping to reclaim childhood memories and senses. Some of the sounds, like running water and engine noise, can be heard on the new album.

According to Miller:

“I paid attention to textures. I was trying to remove myself from an approach that I had followed before, but to be able to bring in that melodic element that is most inherent to me, and marry it with a more sonically meditative landscape.”

“I was sitting with myself so much, I got to know myself in ways I liked and ways I didn’t like,” Miller continued.

The first single off the album, “Heathering,” is a softly played and meandering indie dreampop that features gentle guitar hooks and Miller’s evenly parsed lyrics, as if there’s no better place to be than right now.

Your-Friend-Taryn-Credit-Crystal-Lee-Farris

Your Friend; Credit Crystal Lee Farris

Listen to “Heathering” below:

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Filed under Dreampop, Indie folk, Indie pop, New Music, Uncategorized

Florist’s “Holdly” leads to anticipation for “The Birds Outside Sang”

Brooklyn band Florist has quietly inched onto the watch list of several music sites.

Their October-released five-song EP “Holdly” stops you in your tracks with its sincere, open-book message and exposed vocals. Lo-fi vocals from sole songwriter Emily Sprague pull you in, such as this line from “Unholy Faces”: “We eat our souls and don’t bother to replace them,” and may speak to the anti-folk slant the indie-pop group espouses. The song “Vacation” uncorks a dreamy folk-pop haze of youth, its summertime infinities and uncertainties.

Sprague’s direct, plainspoken approach to the songwriting craft is dramatic all on its own. She knows how to say a lot more than she actually intones, which makes the rest of us able to bridge that human connection with Florist’s music.
It’s only a few months after “Holdly” and already the band is set to release their full-length album, “The Birds Outside Sang,” on Jan. 29.

 

The title track, the first single off the album, shows a clear maturity from “Holdly.” Sprague’s innocent vocals still show and now they’re set against a backdrop of ominous layers of synth and a steady beat sprinkled with lo-fi noise.

Then, over a steady high-pitched drone as Sprague begins to sing with her own words, the song divides in two.

“Do you and your friends want to come into the field and watch the fireworks shoot up into the air?” she asks drowsily. “Does the night sky terrify you and does the day sky mesmerize you and make you dream things better than the day?”

 

“The Birds Outside Sang,” is out Jan. 29 on Double Double Whammy.

 

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Filed under Anti-folk, Folk, Indie, Indie folk, New Music, Uncategorized

Joanna Newsom’s “Divers” a breathtaking journey through time

Harpist, singer and composer Joanna Newsom is not everyone’s cup of tea. On much of her catalog, you may have to pause and look up a word just to glimpse her plane of thought.

But that’s just part of what Newsom is so good at: She transports you to another time, puts you in a breathless reverie and sweeps you up into her stories of lost love and vast, desolate landscapes.

There are layers of meaning packed tightly within each song on her new album, “Divers,” and when you think you’ve figured it out, further research will only unravel more secrets.

But deciphering the whole of “Divers” is an endeavor far greater than can be squeezed into a review; suffice to say, “Divers” is an emotional celebration of the sanctity of life and death and all of its regrets, described through shockingly vibrant imagery Newsom’s created amid often-delicate pastoral scenes. It’s an incredible album.

newsom landscape

Those who are already fans of Newsom’s complex work are familiar with her use of polyrhythms and classical instruments – she knew she wanted to learn the harp when she was 4 and hasn’t looked back.

Newsom often changes tempo and time signatures within lengthy songs, and her use of traditional instruments — pedal harp, harpsichord and flute — all lend to her classical style. She never sticks with that genre though, and is most well known as an indie/folk artist.

“Divers,” her fourth album, sees Newsom adding physical drums to her repertoire, along with violins, fiddles, electric guitar and flute. She also blends soulful blues notes, psychedelic pop, Appalachian and country, classical, ephemeral, and period-piece music into “Divers,” sometimes all in one song, but she’s just as comfortable letting her solitary voice and a bare piano or pedal harp do the work.

Although her songs are deeply woven, it’s still easy to fall into the album’s natural pace and its trance.

Songs like “Goose Eggs” and “Waltz of the 101st Lightborne” have a country bent to them, whether it’s slide guitar, or a slow rolling melody, or hints of fiddle.

joanna newsom_leaving_city pic

On “Goose Eggs” in particular, Newsom delves into more conventional pop/country/ chamber-pop music, even mixing in ‘60s psychedelic organ, displaying her broad musical agility.

Throughout “Divers,” Newsom weeps for the loss of time, and of mortality, then in the next measure will sing joyfully of transient life and its delicate beauty.

On “The Things I Say,” she laments how people keep their life “like a deck of cards,” keeping it safely packed away to use for a day that never actually comes.

On “Time, As a Symptom,” Newsom continues to speak of those “bleeding out their days in the river of time,” but through the chorus, reinforces the “nullifying, defeating, negating, repeating joy of life.”

Joanna Newsom harp

“Why is the pain of birth lighter borne than the pain of death?” Newsom asks on the title track, a heartbreaking ancient sea tale of a woman waiting for true love and knowing she might die without fulfilling that need. “I’ll hunt the pearl of death to the bottom of my life,” she sings resignedly.

On “A Pin-Light Bent,” Newsom romanticizes the story of a flight attendant’s fall from the sky, and the beauty she would have seen as she fell to earth. With the song composing only her voice and the tense, repeating notes of her harp, deeply personal lyrics of the briefness and fragility of life are revealed.

“My life came and went/My life came and went /Short flight, free descent,” she sings sadly. Comparing tiny, lit homes seen from high above to a mass of honeycomb is somehow gorgeous to imagine.

There are so many things about “Divers” that’s open to personal interpretation. Much of the time, it’s well enough to just let Newsom’s elegant language, the slow pace of each song, and her wondering voice wash over you.

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Filed under Classical, Indie folk, Indie pop, Psychedelic folk, Psychedelic rock, Review

Nap Eyes’ indie-folk gem, “Whine Of the Mystic,” is streaming

Nap Eyes Whine of the MysticNap Eyes’ indie-folk debut “Whine Of the Mystic,” now streaming on Soundcloud, was originally released in March 2014 on Bandcamp, and is thankfully getting a proper sendoff. Only 200 LPs were released then, via Plastic Factory Records.

Their ’60s pop sensibilities mix with indie-rock coolness on “Whine Of the Mystic,” backed by singer/guitarist Nigel Chapman’s pensive and bare vocals. Proof comes in the recording of the album, which was set down live to tape without overdubs.

The band, from Halifax, Nova Scotia, has been on tour with Ex Hex and Jacco Gardner at Northside Festival, and their popularity is slowing gaining strength. They hit Portland, Oregon tonight.

“Whine Of the Mystic” is out July 10 on Paradise of Bachelors in the U.S. and You’ve Changed Records in Canada.

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Filed under Alternative folk, alternative pop, Indie folk, New Music

Portsmouth’s Lady Lamb finishes tour | New Hampshire

Lady Lamb shows off embroidered fan art in Portsmouth, N.H.

I recently saw indie folk-rock artist Lady Lamb in concert in Portsmouth, N.H., but not before I spoke with her on the phone for N.H. Union Leader. From what I remember, Lady Lamb (Aly Spaltro) was big into her Maine roots, loves her time alone, and has a deep affinity for the universe. Good thing I asked where she was born: The one and only Portsmouth. Read my story in the link:

Portsmouth’s Lady Lamb finishes tour Wednesday | New Hampshire.

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Filed under Indie folk, Indie Rock, My work at Union Leader

Lady Lamb visits all dimensions in existential “After”

LadyLamb_AfterCover

Lady Lamb: “After”

With “After,” indie-folk singer-songwriter Lady Lamb has crossed that perilous chasm of the sophomore album in beautiful fashion.

“After” is more polished than “Ripely Pine,” Aly Spaltro’s 2013 debut shorn from a cache of hundreds of recordings she spilled out into the night while working at a movie-rental store in Maine in 2007.

The album explores human mortality, its before and after and all the mess in between, citing the Big Bang, the age of the dinosaurs and alien sitings as bizarre precursors to humankind’s evolving identity. She uses laser-focused lyrics and dark visuals to hook the listener.

“Dear Arkansas Daughter,” with beating drums, spews angry indie-rock. Spaltro sings of a “dying” love “as sharp and serious as a pistol in the eye,” displays softened emotions mid-song, and then reignites into hardened bitterness.

Spaltro also reminds us that mundane things can still hold the answer to ancient secrets. In “Spat Out Spit, ” the mention of a peeled orange becomes her springboard to another dimension.

“We’re just made of flecks of the heavens, spat-out spit/We are filled with the gore, from long before” she quietly reasons.

“After” is full of lighter moments as well.

In the bright pop of “Billions of Eyes,” Spaltro expresses her ambivalence with traveling and touring.

“Some days I can only see into my suitcase/I just want to fall into a pile of warm laundry/ I just wanna keep very, very quiet,” she sings.

ladylamb

Lady Lamb: “After”

“Batter” creates another of Spaltro’s apocalyptic scenes, breaking the sparse song wide open right over a plane crash.

“Don’t let your demons take you to the cleaners,” she warns in the punk/folk rant, calling up the heavy subjects of Catholicism and virginity.

But after each honest, existential wondering on “After,” Spaltro returns the listener safely home, while she continues on her personal journey to hell and back.

“After” is out on the Mom+Pop label.

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Filed under Indie folk, Indie Rock, Punk, Review

Chelou covers Nirvana’s “Aneurysm,” and it’s awesome

Chelou: "The Quiet EP"

Chelou: “The Quiet EP”

If you haven’t yet picked up singer-songwriter Chelou’s The Quiet EP, his reworking of Nirvana’s “Aneurysm” should be reason enough to listen to this emerging artist’s dreamy indie pop.

Chelou’s “Aneurysm” version cuts out Nirvana’s badass grunge guitar intro but you really don’t miss it here. His breathy, drawn-out vocals are mellow for the acoustic melody Chelou has crafted.

As of last week, Chelou’s “Quietus” Bandcamp page was active, but no longer. You can still listen to “The Quiet” on Soundcloud, though, and Chelou’s “Aneurysm” is a free download on Bandcamp.

Chelou will be heading out on a European tour with All We Are, as well as supporting ex-Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore on April 30 in Paris. Check out the video for “The Quiet,” which involves some notebook scribbles of strange little beings that come alive.

Chelou will be out supporting All We Are and Thurston Moore.

Chelou will be out supporting All We Are and Thurston Moore.

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Filed under Dreampop, Indie folk, VIdeos

Lady Lamb’s video for “Spat Out Spit” is a journey through time and space

lambhorse

Lady Lamb’s latest video, for her mystical indie-rock song “Spat Out Spit,” contains vintage footage of hand-drawn landscapes dreamed up by children, of long-ago places where dinosaurs roamed the land and UFOs floated through space and then the ocean, where they were eventually spit back out by a whale.

“Was I born wild? Have I been asleep?” she asks in the song.

ladylamb

Lady Lamb, also known as Aly Spaltro, touches on redemption and rebirth, and uses the hand-drawn pictures to illustrate that children still know more than adults, that we’re all the same thing at our core, just flying through the universe– and that we all just become dirt and building blocks for the next big thing.

ladylamb wild

Spaltro makes sure to thank those who made her video possible. Spaltro unearthed the 1970s animated films for the video at a place called the Yellow Ball Workshop. The Workshop also put together a 1971 documentary “Let’s Make a Film.” Other footage was made by an animated art class taught by Willis Simms at Hughes Jr. High in Woodland Hills, Calif., between 1959 and 1977– a vast, cultural time span that Spaltro compiled and made whole in a new way.

Watch the video here, and check out the stream for the first single, “Billions of Eyes”.

Spaltro has also announced her headlining tour, which she wraps up in Portsmouth, N.H., at the Press Room on May 13. Spaltro, originally from Portland, Maine, now lives in Brooklyn. Lady Lamb’s next album, “After,” is due March 3 on Mom+Pop.

LADY LAMB TOUR DATES:
Tue. Mar. 3 – Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade *
Sat. Mar. 7 – Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair *#
Fri. Mar. 13 – Portland, ME @ Port City Music Hall *#
Fri. April 3 – Providence, RI @ Columbus Theatre
Sat. April 4 – Northampton, MA @ Iron Horse
Mon. April 6 – Burlington, VT @ Signal Kitchen
Wed. April 8 – Philadelphia, PA @ World Cafe
Thu. April 9 – Washington, DC @ DC9
Fri. April 10 – Durham, NC @ The Pinhook
Sat. April 11 – Nashville, TN @ The High Watt
Mon. April 13 – Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
Wed. April 15 – New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa
Fri. April 17 – Austin, TX @ Lamberts
Sat. April 18 – Dallas, TX @ Sons of Hermann Hall
Tue. April 21 – Phoenix, AZ @ Rhythm Room
Wed. April 22 – San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar
Thu. April 23 – Los Angeles, CA @ Echo
Sat. April 25 – San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop
Mon. April 27 – Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios
Tue. April 28 – Vancouver, BC @ Electric Owl
Wed. April 29 – Seattle, WA @ Barboza
Thu. April 30 – Boise, ID @ Neurolux
Fri. May 1 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
Sat. May 2 – Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge
Mon. May 4 – Omaha, NE @ The Slowdown
Tue. May 5 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St Entry
Wed. May 6 – Chicago, IL @ Schubas
Fri. May 8 – Ferndale, MI @ The Loving Touch
Sat. May 9 – Toronto, ON @ The Garrison
Mon. May 11 – Montreal, QC @ Le Divan Orange
Tue. May 12 – Hamden, CT @ The Space
Wed. May 13 – Portsmouth, NH @ The Press Room

* = Cuddle Magic
# = Henry Jamison

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Filed under Indie folk, Indie Rock, Rock