Lonesome Shack may be from the Pacific Northwest, but they sound like a great swamp blues band from the Southern regions of the US. The grooves are relaxed as are the vocals, suggesting the soundtrack to a lazy, hot summer day with just a little angst in the air, lingering a little beyond reach. It’s a great sound that, in places, recalls some of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s more stripped down, rootsy recordings.
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On 10 June, Half-handed Cloud, aka Berkeley-based pop eccentric John Ringhofer, will be releasing its sixth album Flying Scroll Flight Control on Asthmatic Kitty. Premiering here on PopMatters, the compact ditty “Festus, I Am Not Out of My Mind” is a nice teaser of the Sufjan Stevens-aided album, a slice of idiosyncratic pop on which sun-kissed melodies and Ringhofer’s falsetto vocals stand out as much as the quirky instrumentation.
Rig 1 is the rap-minded project of Ian McElroy, which might seem incongruous if you know him as the keyboardist of Conor Oberst’s post-hardcore act Desaparecidos. But on “Duality”, which comes from Rig 1’s just released album North of Maple, McElroy not only shows off his vocal range as he runs from metaphysical spoken word-like tones to syncopated rhyming, but also his versatile production skills. The video for “Duality” premieres on PopMatters; North of Maple is out today via Team Love.
With the pensive tone of his acoustic strum and forlorn voice, Sad Brad Smith lives up to the modifier of his name. But there’s just a touch of ringing melody to sweeten his twangy folk sound on his new track, “On the Beach,” which premieres on PopMatters. “On the Beach” appears on Sad Brad Smith’s upcoming album Magic, which comes out 20 May.
“Everybody’s got a secret preference,” Wet Leather vocalist Matthew Bernstein repeats on the Brooklyn five-piece’s new single. His penchant for the wide open hallmarks of mid-‘80s synth-pop and disco are hardly so well concealed. “Secret Preference” is all big boom-clap drums, silky falsetto, and funk bass—clinically tested summer music, in other words, with a chorus that’s only obvious enough to work. Long live 1985.