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Blue Blood started out as a solo venture for musician Hunter Morris, who conceived the idea after his previous band, Gift Horse, parted ways. The Athens, Georgia-based Morris then spent a year working as a fly fishing guide on the trout streams of North Georgia, a creatively fruitful time that spawned the songs that now form This Is the Life, Morris’ debut as Blue Blood.

Morris ended up not going at it all by himself, though. Hank Sullivant, the guitarist for MGMT and the frontman of Kuroma, worked as producer/instrumentalist for the recording. Rounded out by J.J. Bower (Dead Confederate) on drums and Dave Spivey on keys, Blue Blood is a fine example of how an artist can create a new avenue through artistic exploration in the wake of a finished project. Morris’ vision was rich enough on its own; with the addition of players such as Sullivant, Spivey, and Bower, his initial idea has blossomed into a mind-enveloping collection of introspective gloom pop.

With their tune “Frayed”, the Oakland, CA group Waterstrider had a task. The tune, which is featured on a compilation LP by the new label OIM Records, was recorded in label co-owner Jeff Saltzman’s studio, where they only had three days to finish recording. You could hardly tell the time constraints from the sound of “Frayed”, however; with its hum along-able vocals and its catchy rhythm, the song becomes all the more impressive given its limited timeframe of creation.

With Begin the Begone, the Orange Peels embark from a new home base in the redwooded Santa Cruz Mountains with a new lease on life, after a brush with death in a near-tragic car crash. At the end of touring Sun Moon, the band’s 2013 LP, members Allen Clapp and Jil Pries were involved in a car accident that they were both lucky to survive, as they were hit by a drunk driver going 60 miles per hour. Out of such a close call with the grim reaper the Orange Peels crafted Begin the Begone, an album that finds these creative Californians taking pop song structures and amalgamating them with prog, post-rock, and psychedelic, among others.

Originally hailing from Yellowknife, the capital city of Canada’s chilly Northwest Territories, Dana Sipos has crafted an interesting musical path for herself, one that brings to mind phrases like “off the beaten path.” This is not merely a metaphorical observation; having lived nomadically for some years now, she’s traveled Canada through various non-motorized forms of transportation, including bicycle and tall ship.

The uniqueness of her life’s experience is borne out rather beautifully on Roll Up the Night Sky, her latest full-length record. Below you can stream the dreamy little nocturne “Portraits”, which shows Sipos’ knack for smart chord progressions—check the tonal shift that comes in when the D major chord shines a little light on the otherwise somber minor key of the song.

“Higher and Higher”, a bonus track on Jeen’s (Jeen O’Brien, also of Cookie Duster) forthcoming Tourist Deluxe Edition LP, starts out unassumingly. Its hushed opening immediately brings the word “lo-fi” to mind, but not long after this the chorus kicks in, with a drumbeat and a catchy vocal that makes this sound like the kind of tune ripe for singing and clapping along to in a live setting. Like the rest of Tourist, “Higher and Higher was recorded in a lo-fi setup in Jeen’s Toronto attic, but “lo-fi” here does not denote a lack of life or vivacity; far from it, in fact.

//Blogs

The Best and Worst Films of Spring 2015

// Short Ends and Leader

"January through April is a time typically made up of award season leftovers, pre-summer spectacle, and more than a few throwaways. Here are PopMatters' choices for the best and worst of the last four months.

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