A former guitarist in ‘00s alt-rock band Until June, Dan Ballard set off on his own, launching a project called My Dead Air, which yielded the self-titled debut album in 2011. Four years later he’s back with a new album The Thief Who Knows My Name ready to come out this summer, led by a sumptuous slice of ‘70s AM radio pop in the form of the single “Holding On”, which we’re pleased to premiere today.
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Written in Hawaii and recorded in Los Angeles, singer-songwriter Trevor Hall’s forthcoming album Kala marks the completion of a trilogy of albums that, according to Hall, chronicles the musical journey he’s taken over the past several years. As his new track “To Zion” shows, his fascination with meditative themes, gentle, surf-inspired folk, reggae, and Sanskrit chanting remains as strong as ever. It’s a graceful amalgam of styles by a musician who loves to embrace the music of the world. There are no genre boundaries for Hall, and that freedom permeates “To Zion”.
Billing themselves as “casino trash”, trio Marion Walker play fittingly gritty garage rock with serious psychedelic undertones. In other words, it’s riff rawk that never hesitates to wander away from aggression to meditative passages, be they early-‘70s doom jams, screaming guitar solos, or both. At a scant 11 minutes, the new Serious Picnic EP might seem short, but it’s actually a finely orchestrated stoner suite that echoes everything from Blue Cheer, to Cream, to the Velvet Underground. It’s a pleasantly hazy-sounding experience, and one we’re glad to premiere.
With only a banjo and voice at its forefront, “Oh Darlin’” doesn’t use many sonic ingredients to get its point across, but get its point across, it does. Written and performed by the Canadian musician Kaia Kater, the tune checks off all the requisite bluegrass and folk tropes. This song is one any singer should be proud to call her own, but it’s a particularly noticeable achievement on Kater’s part; at the quite young age of 21, she already displays a no-nonsense know-how about roots and folk music that should be the envy of any person of any age.
“Oh Darlin’” features on Kater’s new LP, the appropriately titled Sorrow Bound. (As the classic saying goes, “With bluegrass, if you want to be happy, listen to the music; if you want to be sad, listen to the words.”)
Los Angeles singer-songwriter Vinnie Ferra creates haunting, minimalist folk music that remains rooted in the past but also keeps its vision steadfastly ahead. Traditionalism and experimentation share equal space on his new album arc en ciel, which we’re proud to premiere here today. From the hushed tones of “Dreamer”, to the explosive, two-part “Ghost Town” suite, to the wistful title track, to the gorgeous ten-minute epic “House on the Hill”, the arc of this album is a tremendous strength.
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