Written, produced, and performed inside of a garden shed studio, Brad Peterson‘s upcoming Ellipsis Album is perhaps the purest definition of “indie record” imaginable. On the psychedelic, ebullient folk-rock of his latest single, “What the Open Heart Allows”, Peterson develops a dreamy landscape by deftly fusing synthetic instruments with organic ones. As a synth orchestra pervades the track, banjo and drums are included to create a compelling world all the singer-songwriter’s own.
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Paul Carr: This is a big, bold statement of intent from Arcade Fire. There is a clear and admirable desire for the band not to spend too long in the same space and to mine their DNA to reinvigorate themselves. The big synths and angular new wave of early ‘80s the Cure sound fresh and like nothing the band has done before. Despite the retro stylings, the subject matter is refreshingly current as the group deal with the quest for personal validation from family, friends, and strangers, the anxieties of negative body image and the relentless pursuit of fame at the expense of everything else. The band cleverly offer a metaphorical panacea for all of these ills in the form of Creature comfort. Something to numb the pain. This is a song that leaves you anything but anesthetized. [9/10]
Paul Carr: Mogwai provide a perfectly measured lesson in song pacing. The song slowly dawns as a meditative crawl of chiming guitar notes echo and glide before gradually being joined by restrained drumming and a rumbling bass line. It’s an evocative opening as the music gradually lets the breaks off and gathers pace. As the song threatens to become something transcendental, the graceful whisper becomes a howl as the turbulence of instrumentation cracks to ensure it climaxes with maximum effect. [8/10]
Nashville’s Jillette Johnson possesses a deft songwriting touch that lends her music a deep sophistication. Her songs are confident enough to allow room for the aural equivalent of white space, which permits her music to breathe and build in intensity. Meanwhile, Johnson’s voice is a sheer honey-toned delight with gorgeous phrasing and attention to detail. Americana super-producer Dave Cobb sure liked what he heard as he has produced her sophomore album, All I Ever See in You Is Me, releasing July 28th via Rounder Records.
Johnson started playing piano at age five, was composing her first songs at eight, and began playing the East Village’s famed SideWalk Cafe at 12, so you know she’s a bonafide prodigy. Her latest song “Flip a Coin” highlights all of her musical gifts as it’s brilliantly written tune about fear. At only 27 years old, we are looking forward to many greats years of music from this talent.
Tristan Kneschke: Last year’s Post Pop Depression was a revelation, with tracks like “Break Into Your Heart” and “Gardenia” reminding us that Iggy could actually sing. Though Iggy has lent his gruff voice to productions since White Zombie’s “Black Sunshine”, Post Pop still seemed like a gamble to see how far he could stretch himself vocally. He clearly likes the direction, digging into the feeling again on “The Pure and the Damned”, an unlikely but exciting joint effort with Oneohtrix Point Never. The track is essentially a duet between Ig and a spare, somber piano recalling later Johnny Cash until tasteful string and synth elements bleed through the edges. The result is majestic and awe-inspiring. Why can’t more collaborations turn out like this? [9/10]