Charlottesville, Virginia indie folk duo Lowland Hum practice a sort of minimalism in their music. Focusing on soft and light tones, their songs possess an organic and fragile sensibility with spare instrumentation, right-on-the-money harmonies, and evocative lyrics. It’s a potent combination that has helped their fanbase grow quickly and passionately. On their latest video for the lovely “Folded Flowers”, the married Daniel and Lauren Goans, take a pastoral day in the woods where music fits the scenery as naturally as birdsong.
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Andrew Paschal: ANOHNI’s inimitable vocals are like a fixed quantity in her music, ensuring that most anything she sings retains an element of pained, graceful beauty no matter how harrowing or grisly the topic. “Paradise”, another collaboration with Hudson Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never following last year’s HOPELESSNESS, pushes this principle to its limit. The track is a tortured dirge barely disguised as bass-heavy synthpop, a veil disintegrating at the seams. ANOHNI sings as one caught between global concerns and her own personal, particular pain, lamenting the solipsistic confines of being but a single “point of consciousness”. Perhaps the paradise she evokes, a “world without end”, is one where the boundaries of the self are dissolved altogether, opening the way for empathy. And yet any clear vision of that utopia is clouded amid the wailing electronics, making it clear that we’ll have to contend with our own kaleidoscopes of pain for some time to come. [8/10]
Paul Carr: Even after nine albums, Spoon manage the remarkable feat of releasing a song that sounds nothing like anything in their remarkable canon. Whilst every album has seen them experiment with their sound in some way, “Can I Sit Next to You” sees the band move in a funky dance pop direction. It sounds supremely confident with the strut and the swagger of a band who have full faith in what they are doing. A welcome return that shows that Spoon are still capable of pulling off a few surprises. [7/10]
Experimental Brazilian composer Sentidor wasn’t always a fan of countryman Tom Jobim, the legend behind such bossa nova classics as “The Girl from Ipanema” and “Waters of March”. It was only after listening to 1987 album Passarim that he found a point of convergence between Jobim’s ideologies and his own. Focusing on both the personal and the environmental, Passarim has a dark edge to it—one that resonates with Sentidor’s political viewpoints and talent for musical deconstruction. On Am_Par_Sis, Sentidor takes Passarim apart and stitches it back together in wild and wondrous ways, laying out a vast, futuristic vision of Brazil built out of samples of Jobim’s work.
Andrew Paschal: The Durham, NC duo has a way of crafting sparse electropop gems with an easy, natural openness to them. “Die Young” is no exception, and places among their strongest efforts to date. Amelia Meath delivers memorable, almost folksy hooks without veering too far into the saccharine or hokey, as Sylvan Esso has at times done in the past. Not that the song doesn’t also have its own glaring darkness: I can’t decide whether I think it’s about actual suicide deferred by sudden love, or if Meath merely sings about faking her death to make a getaway and then having to scrap that plan too. I hope the latter; the airy “Die Young” would not quite do justice to a topic as weighty as suicide, and would come across in that case as a little emotionally manipulative. If nothing else, though, you can always choose simply to bask in the warm, synthy sunshine and ignore the irony. [7/10]
// Notes from the Road
"Philip Glass, the artistic director of the Tibet House benefits, celebrated his 80th birthday at this year's annual benefit with performances from Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Brittany Howard, Sufjan Stevens and more.READ the article