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by Brice Ezell

9 Apr 2015


With a Brian Setzer-esque inflection in the guitar tone and jazzy minor chords that bring the world of film noir to mind, the tune “My Hometown” is an intriguing homage by singer/songwriter Eilen Jewell. On the one hand, there’s a lovingness here as Jewell pays her respects to her hometown: “If sweetness had a sound / It’d sound like my hometown,” she sings. On the other hand, the desert noir mood evoked by the patient, legato strums of clean-toned electric guitar gives the titular town a strong sense of mystery. These two elements—tenderness and mystique—serve as a reminder that no matter how much we love the places we call home, there’s always a magic ambiance to them that prevents us from being able to fully put into words what makes them so special. A phrase like “If sweetness had a sound” is both evocative and vague; in this way, Jewell invites the listener in to experience her understanding of her hometown whilst simultaneously conveying its ineffability. That paradox, when combined with “My Hometown”‘s lovelily lonely sound, makes this tune a gem.

by Brice Ezell

8 Apr 2015


This summer, the Denver indie rock sextet Instant Empire will release its debut full-length, Lamplight Lost. The LP was recorded and produced by John Vanderslice, who has also worked with Spoon, Death Cab for Cutie, and the Mountain Goats. The influence of the former two of those groups can be heard in the music of Instant Empire, along with a smattering of others such as The Hold Steady, Bright Eyes, and Phantom Planet. Quite wisely, Instant Empire avoids the navel-gazing lo-fi stylistics that are still en vogue in the indie world, and instead does well in emphasizing the rock in “indie rock”.

by Christian John Wikane

8 Apr 2015


Questions (2015), the new album by New York-based singer-songwriter David Bronson, is shaped by 11 songs. Midway through Bronson’s collection of superbly crafted tunes, however, is the album’s glistening cynosure, “Song of Life”. From the opening line, Bronson creates a setting that evokes the tranquility of nighttime and becomes more vivid through each layer of instrumentation. His voice quietly climbs the scale during the chorus, gripping the listener and guiding them into the “night dream” of the song lyrics. The atmosphere is enhanced through guest appearances by vocal legend Robin Clark (Simple Minds, David Bowie, CHIC) and her daughter Lea Lorien, a familial pairing that underscores the sentiment behind “Song of Life”.

by Brice Ezell

7 Apr 2015


This May, the husband and wife duo called the Grahams (Alyssa and Doug Graham) will release two brand new works of art: an album, Glory Bound, and a musical documentary film, Rattle the Hocks. The latter is a visual document of the relationship between the railroad system and American roots music. The former is a joyous musical celebration of roots music, a genre that the Grahams have a strong grasp over. Need proof? Give the wry and charming “Biscuits” a spin, which, as the Grahams explain it, is an exercise in euphemism.

by Brice Ezell

7 Apr 2015


A resonator and a toy piano don’t sound like instruments that would be used in making rap music, but then again, the Minneapolis rapper and producer Ecid isn’t your garden-variety musician. For the video to the acoustic version of “Number One on a Hit List”, Ecid and his guitarist Phingaz pick up the aforementioned instruments and craft a whimsical landscape that’s punctuated by the rapper’s fast delivery.

“Number One on a Hit List” comes from Ecid’s recently released Pheromone Heavy LP.

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