With a résumé including membership in two bands (Uncle Earl and Sometymes Why), a stint on A Prarie Home Companion, and recording with Sufjan Stevens, Kristin Andreassen has already well proven her musical chops. She also displays them quite well on her 2006 solo debut Kiss Me Hello. Now, Andreassen is preparing for the release of her sophomore studio LP, Gondolier, in early 2015. Below you can stream the tender folk of “The New Ground”, a warm introduction to the music that is to come on the album.
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There’s a certain artificiality that comes with much Christmas music, due in large part to the over-commercialization of the holiday. After hearing the umpteenth muzak rendition of “Jingle Bells” while shopping for rum to spike your eggnog with, the supposed joviality of the holiday is bound to fade into background noise. For that reason, songs like “Ho Ho, Ho Hum” by the Seattle-based singer/songwriter James Apollo are all the more refreshing. The song’s lounge mood and barroom piano evoke the cigarette smoke and loneliness of a film noir, a feeling that Apollo no doubt intended, given the song’s music video is shot in a melancholy black and white. “Ho Ho, Ho Hum” isn’t the song to play when trying to liven up a holiday party, but it does genuinely capture a feeling that many people experience during the holiday season.
Try as one may, lumping in the North Carolinian musician Jake Xerxes Fussell in with the contemporary folk revival just won’t do. While bands like Mumford and Sons use folk as a veneer over what is undeniably a rockist songwriting mentality, Fussell is a deeply read student of the blues and American roots music, having studied at the Southern Studies department at the University of Mississippi. That experience is in addition to his years playing music and touring, as well as an appearance on A Prairie Home Companion. His philosophy and praxis is best summed up by this quotation, taken from the press release to his forthcoming self-titled LP: “Fussell recognizes that folk revivalist preciousness about spurious genre boundaries often feels absurdly at odds with the unruliness and restlessly inventive practices of tradition bearers-no revival or reenactment gear is necessary when the music lives and breathes and throws around hips and knees like these.”
Below you can stream “Raggy Levy”, the first track from Jake Xerxes Fussell to be released.
In early November, PopMatters premiered the self-titled EP of Milán, the latest project by the Brooklyn-based musician Maria Neckham. With these tunes still fresh out of the recording studio, Milán’s music has already attracted artists looking to remix her work. Below you can hear Stafford’s remix of the Milán EP cut “DK6”, here given a sprightly rendition driven by bouncy synth notes.
In his review of the 2009 tribute album Loving Takes This Course: A Tribute to the Songs of Kath Bloom, Matthew Fiander wrote, “Kath Bloom has been around writing beautiful songs for a long time—long enough that she should be known by more people, and should already be remembered for more than just her appearance on the Before Sunset soundtrack.” Bloom continues to prove that sentence right by sticking to the craft she’s been honing since the late ‘70s. If her ninth studio effort Pass Through Here is any indication, none of the passion has faded from her career. Below you can stream the Pass Through Here tune “Criminal Side”, which finds Bloom’s sharp lyrics met by some tastefully played seventh chords on acoustic guitar.