After a few weeks off Release Day is back! Just needed to wait for that snow to thaw before really focusing on new stuff around here. It’s Smarch (Sprinter?) now, so let’s get it goin’!
Sufjan Stevens | Carrie & Lowell
Sufjan Stevens is nothing if he is not a bit of a conundrum. Known widely as someone who is insanely talented at pushing barriers of popular and folk music with his work with the Polyphonic Spree and solo albums like Enjoy Your Rabbit, he is equally adept at capturing the mood of a certain time or place with an almost symphonic sensibility – hence records like Come On and Feel the Illinoise or Greetings From… Michigan!. This is even evident, to a lesser extent, in his Christmas albums and other tracks and albums based on his religion. This time around, as he pulls on heartstrings while he writes and croons about his dear departed step-father and label co-founder, his newest offering Carrie & Lowell is as close as we’re probably going to get this year to a ‘perfect record’ this year, if such a thing exists.
Lower Dens | Escape From Evil
Sometimes, while listening to music that is slightly inaccessible, I find myself thinking, “Man, if they could only find a way to harness this in a way that was a little more friendly to the mainstream ear they’d really have something”. I then promptly throw up in my mouth a little. It kinda feels like the day I finally cut my shoulder length hair and got a “real job”. I found myself thinking this (and getting a little ill because of it) with some of the Maryland natives’, Lower Dens, earlier work. Although being well received by music critics, their unique blend of krautrock and electronica didn’t really resonate. However, with the new LP Escape From Evil, I think they may have figured out to be creatively themselves without alienating a larger audience.
Ryley Walker | Primrose Green
There’s a weird way that some artists can capture a certain time in a bottle and open it up for you in a song. Tobias Jesso Jr. has a great ability of doing this with late-Bealtes/early-Wings era Paul McCartney and pulls it off with not much more than a piano. Ryley Walker, is a contemporary of this but in a different style. Sounding at times like a hybrid of mid-60’s Donovan, Chick Corea, and traditional Irish folk, Ryley Walker has put together a LP that defies even my expectations of a “retro artist”.