Synthesist and composer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith has announced the release of The Kid, a sprawling new album that follow’s last year’s breakthrough album EARS. The album is a sonic representation of four distinct stages of the human lifespan, from birth to self-awareness to the forging of one’s individual identity to old age and death. Working with a wide array of synthesizers, Smith has made an album that is at once personal and universal, sonically engrossing and lush. Smith has shared “An Intention,” taken from the album’s first act representing a wide-eyed, playful, and exploratory period of life.
Balmorhea’s Rob Lowe and Michael Muller have developed a wordless language with a seemingly limitless potential to stir the listener's soul. Over the course of 5 full-length albums and a 7” EP, the duo pushed their work to its outer bounds, concluding the first chapter of their career with their maximalist, genre-leaping full-length Stranger (2012). Now five years later they return with their most fully realized album to-date, Clear Language. A relaxed, clear-eyed sense of reflection flows gracefully through the album as these two old friends transmit unfettered meaning through simple sonic gestures that resonate with the cosmos as much as they echo the pulse of a human heart. In a culture dominated by the loudest, ostentatious voices, Lowe and Muller continue to prove the power and importance of restraint and minimalism.
50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't be Wrong is the debut by Alabama-raised, Austin-based Caroline Sallee, aka Caroline Says. After college Sallee took a job as a waitress in Yellowstone as an exercise in solitude and independence. With the money she saved there, she took a transformative journey via Greyhound to explore the West Coast before returning to Alabama where she would record her debut album in her parents’ basement. 50 Million puts us in the seat right next to Sallee where we can feel the warm West Coast light through the window, the bus route charting the lines between our youth, and our delayed future. These kinds of debuts can sometimes feel like an over-promise of what is to come, but in the case of Caroline Says there's clearly plenty more thread to be unraveled. It'll be a pleasure to see where the next bus ride takes us.
“Winter Is Cold”
Joseph Shabason’ debut Aytche is a document of exploration both inward and outward. Every step taken in sound-design mirrors a stride in emotionality, as Shabason employs a variety of effect pedals to coax rich moody textures from his instrument. He explains, "I feel like robbing the sax of the ability to shred by effecting it and turning it into a dense chordal instrument really helps the instrument become something that it’s not usually known for." Aytche deals with themes of degenerative illness and assisted suicide with eloquence that instrumental music rarely achieves regarding any subject, much less such difficult ones.
“Feeling Good About Feeling Good”
There’s a calm, disciplined pocket to be felt in everything Art Feynman does; krautrock slink, staccato bounce, and pentatonic bursts of Nigerian Highlife fuzz pour on the temporal canvas with unquestionable ease, never falling in the wrong place. Even more admirable is, that his “canvas” is a four-track tape recorder, and that Blast Off features no loops or drum machines despite its aesthetically faithful motorik and afrobeat underpinnings. There are gentler sides to Blast Off that conjure the spacey tenderness of Arthur Russell inventively and respectfully, without adopting their muse’s palette wholesale. In this regard Blast Off is an endearing collection of songs that capture the ear with warm-yet-clear cassette aesthetics and spot-on musicianship, both of which form an angle that points lovingly to Feynman’s deep and varied influences. +
“Spring The Lock”
After ten years in the instrumental ensemble Balmorhea, Rob Lowe is releasing his first R&B-inflected solo LP, Slow Time, under the moniker RG Lowe. The record, while incorporating elements from pop and choral music, largely looks back on the warmth and spiritual ecstasy of early R&B through the disjunctive lens of contemporary life. Lowe, who plays keys, guitar, and provides the vocals on Slow Time, wrote and arranged about forty songs from 2014 to 2015 at his studio in Austin, TX, where he resides. He then headed to Philadelphia to record most of the album with producer Jeff Ziegler, whose raw and energetic production work on albums by Kurt Vile and The War on Drugs had inspired him. Though his wordless vocals appeared occasionally on Balmorhea’s albums, on Slow Time we hear the impressive range and malleability of his voice as he glides from hymnal backing harmonies, to melismatic bridges, to punchy choruses and pained screeches that stretch his voice to its unbelievable limits.; +
Austin-based musician Abram Shook is a remarkable wellspring of ideas when it comes to songwriting. When he sat down to write his third album, he produced two distinct batches of songs, one very personal collection titled Love at Low Speed, and a darker, more detached collection titled Love in the Age of Excess. Due to time and money constraints, he opted to only record the more personal album, which explores themes of love, loss, and connecting with others, all themes he’s been careful to avoid on previous albums. Love at Low Speed proves that Shook has plenty to offer on these topics, and that he's at his best when he digs deep, mining his years of experience for confessional tales peppered with hard-wrought wisdom. Mixed by Noah Georgeson (known for his work with Joanna Newsom, Devendra Banhart, Andy Shauf, et al) the album has a clarity and warmth that focuses your ear on Shook's emotional delivery. +
Nightlands, the project of Philadelphia-based Dave Hartley (best known as a core member and longtime bassist of The War On Drugs), will release his third album, I Can Feel the Night Around Me, on May 5th. Immediately following, he and his band will head out on a North American tour. Continuing the tradition of previous Nightlands releases Forget the Mantra (2010) and Oak Island (2013), I Can Feel the Night Around Me showcases Hartley's ability to layer his voice and conjure some of the most beautiful virtual choirs in modern music. Check out lead single “Lost Moon” below. +
On the heels of his much lauded 2016 release Deepak Verbera, we're excited to announced the release of a surprise new Botany album Raw Light II which will coincide with the reissue of Botany's 2015 album Dimming Awe, The Light is Raw on limited-edition falmingo-pink vinyl. Conceived as a separate album forming a parallel to Dimming Awe, Raw Light II confidently stands toe-to-toe with its forerunner in breadth and execution. Where the previous iteration made plenty of room for guests (Milo, Ryat, Matthewdavid) the sequel is a solitary showcase of inebriating instrumentals that connect to the Austin composer's aesthetic main artery despite their stylistic diversity. Consistent with Spencer Stephenson's previous output, there is a playfully adept balance of abstraction and structure on Raw Light II that elevates mere beat-tape sequentiality into something holistic and cinematic. +
Violinist, software engineer, and composer Christopher Tignor has announced his newest album Along a Vanishing Plane, which is set for release on September 16th. Stereogum premiered a video for the song “Shapeshifting,” directed by Sara Kinney, which shows Tignor creating the version of the song that appears on the album live in a former psychiatric ward in Hudson, NY with no overdubs or backing tracks. You can watch it here. Tignor uses tuning forks and software to augment his violin and spare percussion, creating vast sonic landscapes. As he explains, “I developed a performance technique using tuning forks as musical instruments while playing the violin using the custom software I designed. The software allows me to take the sound of the tuning fork, resonating through my bridge, and transform its single tone into various singing melodies. Each gesture begins by striking various percussion with the fork. Once it’s resonating, I place the fork to my bridge where its sound is transformed by my software into these melodies.” +