The Welcome Wagon: Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices
Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, The Welcome Wagon's second full-length, is an apt sequel to their critically acclaimed 2008 debut, Welcome to the Welcome Wagon. Here, Vito and Monique simply throw those welcoming arms open wider, inviting the listener to join them for 51 minutes of church.
Those who enjoyed the Welcome Wagon's debut album will notice their distinct sound again here ? loose, jangly, comfortable, a gathering of friends making music together. It's at times jaunty and toe-tapping, at others quietly contemplative, an alt-folk gem that sounds very much like it comes out of the Asthmatic Kitty camp. But while the first album was recorded over the course of eight years in various venues, this one was done in five days at the library of an old rectory in Brooklyn. And while recording artist and AK co-owner Sufjan Stevens produced WW's first album, he's less noticeable on this collection, produced by Alexander Foote, who also plays guitars, organ, autoharp, percussion, and some piano. (Stevens does play banjo and piano and sings in the choir on several songs here.)
Vito says his songwriting is informed by his work as senior pastor at Resurrection Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood. "A pastor is supposed to care for people, to help them to love God, to engage with their lives and their joys and their sorrows," he says. "I'm only interested in writing music that will speak to that. I'm writing as a pastor, wanting these songs to speak God's truth into those situations."
Shannon Stephens: Pull It Together
Pull It Together is Shannon Stephens' third album. Vulnerability has been replaced with a fierce confidence born of experience. Stephens sings out now with a voice free of youthful self-consciousness, filled instead with conviction ? and no small amount of anger at the state of the world. She has always distilled powerful emotions into her music but this time the emotional dial is cranked. From the sweetly swaggering "What Love Looks Like" to the searing "Your Fabulous Friends," she balances cynicism with generous quantities of warmth, humour and empathy. Never is this fine balance more apparent than on "Faces Like Ours" where Bonnie Prince Billy (Will Oldham) weaves his voice with hers in a duet that wryly dissects the injustice of racial and economic privilege. The result of this new approach is an album that is gritty, fluid, and more accessible than her previous work. Call it pragmatic pop: optimism balanced with the sharp-edged reality of life in 2012.
Denison Witmer: The Ones Who Wait
Denison Witmer's newest album, The Ones Who Wait, is a reflection of this understanding of self and the growth that comes through life experience. It is an intimate reflection on the meandering path of life, on family and friendships, on death balanced with new life, on endings and beginnings. This ninth album marks a new maturity in Denison's musical career, new layers of openness and subtlety revealed with each listen. Denison's guitar and voice sit front and center, evoking a melodic warmth reminiscent of 70s-era singer-songwriters like Paul Simon and Jackson Browne.
Alfred Brown: Library Catalog Music Series: Music for Moving in Slow Motion
Music for Moving in Slow Motion is about the slowing, halting, and reversing of the directional flow of linear time. It is about the significance of the possibly infinite space that exists between any two instants. It is about experiencing symmetrical time. At some moments the proverbial arrow for a single event is subtly (or not so subtly) manipulated, while at others, multiple events are frozen and superimposed onto each other, creating a hyper-simultaneity out of what was once sequence, thereby eliminating it. Time is treated as space, as an elastic solid that can be twisted and moved in any direction, and there is an attempt to find the smallest temporal unit, if it exists at all.
Effacer: Library Catalog Music Series: Music for Noise Reduction
This album was inspired by the commercial work Effacer does in audio mastering. Effacer figured that different noise reduction processes and audio restoration tools that are usually used to remove clicks/noises from tracks could be used to exaggerate different effects in my music. He started taking a sound with reverb, then use the dry version of that same sound, minus the reverb, and use that as the noise print for the noise reduction algorithm. Thus by removing the source sound, a ghostly sound (reverb) would be left behind. Effacer came up with a formula for this to create further sounds and textures: (source sound + effect) - (source sound) = artifact of effect. By putting these sounds together into tracks, add several years, and these experiments resulted in an album.
Ero Gray: Library Catalog Music Series: Music for Your Mouth
Ero Gray was raised in a tent in the Sierra Nevada foothills, lived most of his adult life in San Diego, CA, and Brooklyn, NY, and now resides in Portland, OR. He is a founding member of the bands The Nylon-Coated Cats and Rad Unicorn & the Ecstatic Virgins; has released electronic music under the aliases Professor Kermit and Golden Poultry Error, has recorded and remixed Soul-Junk, Therefore, Bogs Visionary Orchestra, and the Castanets, and plays the ongoing role of producer Papa Alabaster in the Land of a Thousand Rappers project. He adores his wife Suzanne and prefers to always be surrounded by music that he doesn't really understand.
My Brightest Diamond: All Things Will Unwind
All Things Will Unwind is the third, stunning offer from Detroit based experimental pop chanteuse-My Brightest Diamond, aka Shara Worden. Known for her many collaborations with indie rock royalty (Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver, David Bryne, The Decemberists, and The National) as well as her extraordinary original material, Worden is coming into her own as an artist and human on this 11 song recording. At once accessible and intelligent, the songs were written exclusively for celebrated chamber ensemble yMusic (Bon Iver, Antony & the Johnsons, The New York Philharmonic & Rufus Wainwright) and they are featured on each track.
The range of influences on All Things Will Unwind are as eclectic as its' author, but listeners will recognize hints of Roberta Flack, Regina Specktor, Edith Piaf and Antony & The Johnsons throughout the album. Inspired by becoming a mother, chats with legendary performance artist Laurie Anderson, presidential addresses, and class warfare, Worden is metabolizing her influences as only she can- with playful, profound originality. All Things Will Unwind is a picture of an artist maturing; considering joy and pain, beauty and horror, yet bravely standing in the tension between the two- and singing about it.
My Brightest Diamond: Be Brave - Single
Roberts & Lord: Eponymous
A supercombo team-up between Simon Lord (ex Simian) and Rafter Roberts, the Roberts and Lord duo present their Asthmatic Kitty debut,Eponymous! Roberts' rough and grimy (yet complexly arranged) analog backing tracks paired with Lord's clean, digitally-recorded vocals, gives these songs a tricky kind of depth that is immediately engaging. This effortless juxtaposition reigns throughout these 35 some-odd minutes. The album begins with "Mosquito," a perfect example and touchstone of Roberts' loud, garage rocky, blown-outness paired with structure well-thought-out (but never lingered upon). Simon's lyrics tell the story of a man's love for a mosquito, his vocals backed by a crunchy oil-drum thunk of beats (a theme of this record.) Simon's lyric writing on "Mosquito" sets the tone for what's to come--and the tone is FUN. Influenced by nonsense verse poets like Ivor Cutler and Edward Lear, Lord gives us a simple, light-hearted return to innocence, a goodly love for good love, the capital F feel-goodness compressed into a chorus, the sweaty exuberance of a solid dance party with all your friends around you. And thus we present Roberts and Lord's Eponymous!
Scott Ogden and Malcolm Hearn: MAKE
The documentary, MAKE, is an intimate journey into the lives of four American self-taught artists: Prophet Royal Robertson, Hawkins Bolden, Judith Scott and Ike Morgan. Isolated and struggling with the disabilities life has dealt them, these artists all find their most powerful voice through art. Using the simplest of materials, they each produce work that is both sublime and at the same time completely their own. Primarily driven by scenes of the artists creating, their interwoven stories are told by the artists themselves as well as through family and friends whose lives they have touched. Vintage footage, quiet moments to reflect upon their work, and commentary by scholars and art historians help to round out the film.