Zachary Cale has been self-releasing music under his own name for just shy of a decade. Duskland, his latest album and first for a label, is a work of craftsmanship full of mysticism and elegance; a collection of songs that look directly into the face of darkness yet drive beyond it. Taking cues from Oh Mercy/Time Out of Mind era Dylan and Nick Cave's work with the Bad Seeds, the record evokes a restless spirit, one that is informed by American myths and tall tales. Aquarium Drunkard have said of Cale's music "[it] casts a captivating spell" while the Village Voice recently named him "the best songwriter in New York City".
No News From Home is the 2nd LP from Portland, Oregon quartet Houndstooth and the follow-up to Ride Out The Dark. That record was labeled "one of 2013's all too overlooked delights" by SPIN while their hometown Portland Mercury called it "an extraordinarily good album, a perfect representation of the band's trademark balancing of ease and passion." News is an altogether more mature record that widens the bands sound: from Velvets-style churners to shimmering, breezy, love songs, all penned by songwriting duo John Gnorski and Katie Bernstein.
Intensity Ghost is a follow-up to last years critically acclaimed Solar Motel album, which made year end lists at The New Yorker, Uncut Magazine and Popmatters and provoked ecstatic comparisons; from Television and Neil Young & Crazy Horse to Richard Thompson and The Grateful Dead. Solar Motel came together as a solo album but the band Forsyth assembled to tour the record - bassist Peter Kerlin, guitarist Paul Sukeena (Spacin'), and drummer Steve Urgo (ex-War on Drugs) - took things to another level and quickly became a powerhouse. Forsyth brought the group into the studio in late 2013 to capture what became Intensity Ghost, a 5-track masterwork of grace and power.
With the kind of understatement that’s typical of the man, Doug Paisley describes his wondrous third album Strong Feelings as “just 10 new songs. It’s a lot less simple and unadorned than other recordings I've made, but it’s just as earnest and straightforward.” Not that Paisley has forsaken any of the delicacy and quiet rapture of his previous work. Recorded in a new analog studio in Toronto, Strong Feelings bears his usual trademark signature, but it’s altogether more assured, full of rich texture and fine detail.
Two new songs from Doug Paisley. The A-side is a haunting duet with Bonnie "Prince" Billy. B-side is the more spiritual and uplifting "Everything Is Made". Limited to 700 copies.
Electric Ursa is the second solo album by Joan Shelley. Recorded in her hometown of Lousiville, KY with producer Kevin Ratterman (My Morning Jacket, Andrew Bird, Houndmouth), it's comprised of eight songs, startling in their quietness and closeness. The Chicago Reader wrote that "she sings with striking intimacy, as though addressing someone sitting just a few feet away". Shelley has toured the US and Europe both solo and with her band (The June Brides). Her latest release Farthest Field (2012) was a duo album with Daniel Martin Moore, of which Jim James said was "destined to become a classic. It already is for those who know."
From Toronto, Jennifer Castle writes folk songs about friendship, love and heartbreak. Pink City is a stirringly beautiful album every bit a step forward from 2011's Castlemusic. It's barer arrangements - often just piano, guitar and voice with string arrangements from Owen Pallet - highlight just how good of a songwriter Castle is. Her singing has an intuitive style, not always following the expected melody, but soaring along on it's own current. Greil Marcus wrote in The Believer that Castle "reaches a pitch of mystical transport so gorgeously ethereal she seems to drift off into lands that don't appear on any map."
Bob Carpenter came close to being a major star. He received a glowing mention in Rolling Stone in 1970, recorded an album for Warner Brothers and had his songs recorded by Emmylou Harris, Billy Joe Shaver and others. But Silent Passage, his lone solo album recorded in 1974, was pressed and ready to ship when contract negotiations shelved the record indefinitely. By the time things were resolved it was the end of the 70's singer-songwriter boom and Warner had moved on. The album saw release by the Canadian label Stony Plain in 1984 but has been out of print until now.
Two new songs and just the second solo release from NED OLDHAM whose been recording music for more than two decades now: first with Palace, then as The Anomoanon, later as Old Calf. Limited to just 600 copies. We know 7"s aren't the most popular format these days but Ned sent us these songs and they were too good to pass up.
Cian Nugent is a guitar player from Dublin, Ireland whose music combines personal passions, such as suburban/coastal blues, traditional music, 1960s & ’70s singer-songwriters, psychedelic rock,critically jazz ambitions and 20th century composition. Born With The Caul is his first full length with 4 piece-band The Cosmos and follows his acclaimed 2011 solo effort Doubles. Like that album, Caul is comprised of a few expansive, developed pieces (three, to be exact). Led by Nugent’s guitar playing – always inviting, subdued and unpredictable – the band takes these songs into darker, richer territories opening a whole new galaxy for this young guitar player to explore.
Nathan Salsburg’s 2011 debut was a beautiful ode to racehorses (a point of pride for any resident of Kentucky). Comprised of seven acoustic guitar instrumentals and one vocal track, Affirmed caused Popmatters to declare the record “one that others like it will soon be measured against.” His second go-round is a grander effort. Although still primarily composed of acoustic guitar, the songs sound bigger. They bounce along, weaving through unexpected twists and turns, with the occasional piano melody or fiddle line.
Houndstooth is a 5 piece rock and roll band from Portland, OR informed, decidedly, by the grand history of rock acts, but it may be more helpful to think about a William Eggleston photo or an Alice Munro short story to get the feel of the band; two Southerners (Katie Bernstein and John Gnorski), two Detroiters (Courtney Sheedy and Mike Yun), and a Canadian (Graeme Gibson). Their debut LP, “Ride Out The Dark,” is a collection of songs that came out of that universally tumultuous year of 2012, and speak to the light at the end of that tunnel we all made it through. Sit with it for a while; it’s the kind of record that makes you homesick for an un-nameable place and puts you in its own sort of darkness on the edge of town, where things are raw and alive and unchained.
Third studio album from New York's kings of choogle Endless Boogie. The 8 tracks are still rooted in informal jams but this one finds them expanding their sound dynamically: more guitar, more atmosphere, deeper grooves. Frontman Paul Major finds new ways to grunt, holler and groan, sounding more crazed tongue-speaker than vocalist in a rock band. The addition of Matt Sweeney on third guitar takes the intensity up while providing a willing partner for Major to play off. Mojo Magazine say: "It's a roller-coaster of amplified sound... Long Island is alive and involving, creating a world of it's own".
Family Band is a collaboration between visual artist turned singer Kim Krans and heavy-metal guitarist Jonny Ollsin. The couple met in the Catskill mountains in 2005 and still write many of their songs there in a two-room, hand-built cabin. Grace and Lies is the group's second album, and as the title suggests, it is equal parts light and shadow, evoking the mystery and terror of early Cat Power, the ghostly aura of Warpaint, with whom Family Band toured in 2011, and the hushed longing of prime-era Cowboy Junkies. Though they explored similar territory – both sonically and lyrically – on their self-released debut, Miller Path, on Grace their canvas is wider -- the greys lusher, the blacks deeper.
Five new songs recorded in Toronto and intended to hold fans over until September, when Doug Paisley will release the follow-up to 2010's critically acclaimed Constant Companion. If you slept on that album, then we're sorry, but use this affodably priced EP as an excuse to acquaint yourself with one of the finest working songwriters, who Time Out NY called "the purest voice to come down the pike in ages."