Houses – A Quiet Darkness [News]

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Houses have been very quiet since their debut album All Night (2010). They’re one of my favourite ambient / electronic artist, and I had the pleasure of seeing them live last year in London. Finally there’s some movement from within their den; a video preview of their new album A Quiet Darkness has creeped out, and is due to be released on the 16th of April via Downtown Records. Continue reading

The Lumineers – Boots Of Spanish Leather (Bob Dylan) [Listen]

Being a Dylan fan I couldn’t resist from sharing this very nice cover of Boots of Spanish Leather by The Lumineers. One of the wonderful things about Dylan’s ballads is how approachable they are to cover by other artists – providing they can step up to the mark.

Similar to Dylan’s version from the landmark album The Times They Are a-Changin (1964), The Lumineers opted to record their version solo with an acoustic guitar. The Lumineers had a fairytale of a year in 2012 with chart topping singles and sell out tours. Hopefully we’ll be hearing more from them soon.

Until then, enjoy Wesley Schultz dusty vocals in this live recording. It’s good, but still doesn’t beat my all time favourite cover of Moonshiner by Bob Forest which featured in the film I’m Not There (2007).

Bonus track:

Nick Urata – Ruby Sparks [Listen]

It’s safe to say Little Miss Sunshine was a huge and well earned success, but who would have thought it would take the directing duo, Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris six years to make another film?  I wasn’t aware they had a new film out, It was only when I was flicking through movies on an in-flight entertainment system that I saw that Ruby Sparks was the product of these filmmakers. The storyline goes: Continue reading

The Universal Wax Top 12 of ’12 – Part Three

So here we are with the final four albums of our twelve that make up the Universal Wax top 12 of ’12.  This time it’s Toms selection which is as broad as ever and features some really fantastic records. I couldn’t agree more with the inclusion of the Journey OST which has been one of the most beautiful scores I’ve heard for a long time and as any long time readers may recall we’re already big Andrew Bird fans here at Universal Wax. This will be our final post of 2012, however we’ll be following this one up in the new year with our notable mentions (those that didn’t quite make our top twelve) and some upcoming artists to look out for in 2013. In the meantime, from all at Universal Wax, we hope you have had a wonderful Christmas and are about to have a fantastic New Year, enjoy our now complete Universal Wax Top 12 of ’12 and let us know what you think in the comments below!  – Sam

Top 12 of 12 Covers-Part Three11

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Bandcamp Find of the Week – Santah

Having just released their new album, Santah have a knack for producing music you want to listen to. Feel-good harmonic progressions accompanied by charming vocals produce a somewhat nostalgic classic rock sound, similar to that of Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Since the success of their first album, White Noise Bed (2011), they’ve just released a new album titled, You’re Still A Lover. The 5 track album is a melody of dreamy love songs each with their own heart. The band are from Chicago and have so far only been touring in the states, but I’ve got a good feeling they’ll be making their way over the pond next year.

Andrew Bird – Hands of Glory [Review]

Andrew Bird’s distinct sound is the reason why I remember first listening to his track A Nervous Tic back when I was 18. Earlier this year his much anticipated album Break it Yourself valiantly galloped its way through music stores and blogs leaving dust clouds of positive reviews. Click here to check out Sam’s review of it.

Andrew Bird has been touring through the summer, and due to the highly positive response to his performances, he decided to record a mixture of reprises from Break it Yourself, along with a few classic Americana folk songs that he had performed. The result is Hands of Glory, another satisfying hit of Andrew Bird goodness.

From the age of 4, he’s been plucking and playing the violin, and so without making obvious comment to the beauty of it in his previous work; getting to hear him cover classic folks songs – especially, If I Needed You makes this compilation extra special. The rendition of Orpheo is another favorite, it’s completely stripped and played so slow that every word and creak of the bow lends itself to producing a more delicate and soothing song.

You can listen to the whole album on the Guardian website here. It’s a great collection of songs that make the perfect soundtrack to your Autumn walks. My only criticism is that I wish at least one track had him whistling!

Tracklist: 

  1. Three White Horses
  2. When That Helicopter Comes
  3. Spirograph
  4. Railroad Bill
  5. Something Biblical
  6. If I Needed You
  7. Orpheo
  8. Beyond the Valley of the Three White Horses

Tom’s mixtape: Volume 2 [Listen]

Midnight SunIsaac Delusion

“Isaac Delusion is about two multidisciplinary artists continually exploring new musical landscapes”. This is where techno and folk meet and produce super cool riffs complimented by smooth non obtrusive vocals. It’s going to take a while before I get bored of this track. Their EP Midnight Sun was released this year, and will be closely followed by their second, Early Morning which is soon to be released.


Alone Trampled By Turtles

Trampled By Turtles are set to release their 6th album in November called Stars and Satellites. With their highly successful track record in the Bluegrass scene there’s no doubt it’ll be a hit. Following the formulas of traditional folk and fiddle songs, and using a wide range of instruments their sound is timeless and full of soul.


TomorrowFuture Islands

This artist has quickly become one of my favorites; I could imagine them being a product of David Lynch. I like to think Sam Herring’s voice is a mixture of Tom Waits and Cat Stevens. The band have very recently released a 7″ single, after their successful album, On The Water (2012). The deep repetitive beats and synthy swirls – not to mention Sam’s scream-like roar half way through makes this song as wonderfully weird as the rest of their stuff.


Old FriendSea Wolf

Alex Church has been recording under the name Sea Wolf since 2003, and has been successfully pioneering the solo project since. He has a new album that’s yet to be released called Old World Romance and is currently on tour in the states. This track, Our Friend, is a sneak peak of what’s to come from the new album – and it’s very exciting.


Black & White MountainsSnowblink

Daniela Gesundheit AKA Snowblink has an extremely listenable voice. It’s the simplicity of this track that had me hooked. Delicate layers of beats and synths overlaid with vocals which sound a bit like Amiee Mann make it so enjoyable.


Can’t Get Enough The Sweet Serenades

I love the voice at the beginning of this song, it sounds like a burp. A band that’s descibed as, “Hip swaying, knee twisting, & finger snapping goodness”, this is a good wake up and walk to work track. The Swedish band’s manifesto of creating ‘unpretentious pop songs that make you feel cool’, doesn’t let you down here.


These Days (Jackson Browne)Pandit

Pop tunes infused with ambient and experimental texture, Pandit is the work of Lance Smith. I haven’t heard a bad song from this guy, and considering These Days is one of my favorite songs, Pandit’s cover is spot on. He has a new EP coming out at the end of the month, so keep an eye out for that.


Hang on to Me (Daytrotter) The Wooden Sky

I’m a huge fan of the Daytrotter Sessions, they often bring out better, more heartfelt sounding recordings than the originals. This is definitely the case with this Wooden Sky track. Taken from their latest album, Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun (2012), Hang on to Me is just one of the many great tracks from the album.


JitterDakotafish

Their synth-pop beats have a similar sound to Pheonix. This track is taken from the 2011 album, Many Moons. It’s a good track to stick on as a party winds down and the sun rises.


Miracle (Ghost Beach Cover) – TRAILS AND WAYS

Here’s something different; Brazilian shoegaze. I actually prefer this version of the track to the original Ghost Beach track. Covers can often come off as sounding like the original with less instruments and slightly awkward vocals, but when a band gets it right – it can transform a song into their own which is exactly what they’ve done.


New TheoryWashed Out

Since 2009, Ernest Greene’s project has received a constant stream of positive reviews. This track, New Theory comes from his first EP, Life of Leisure which launched him. 2011 saw the release of Within and Without, his first full length album which received startling reviews all round. 


Utah All Human

This is a random Bandcamp find, with similar vibes to Imaginary Johnny, this is an easy song to get into. He’s currently touring the states with his new album, Catholic Guilt or the Queerest of Thoughts.


Wally Wilder Delicate Steve

Steve Marion has flooded blogs recently with Positive Force. His music sounds as though he wrote lyrics and then decided the guitar should sing them. It’s cocktail of Ratatat and Animal Collective.



Golden PalmsHORSES / Bronson

Short and sweet, this track encompasses all that’s great about low-fi songwriting. Although it seems Patrick Ebermann’s project HORSES has evaporated. Now appearing under the name Bronson, the album Paper Tusk was released in 2011 and Golden Palms on this is different to the original – a bit overworked in my opinion. Here’s the original.


Little Dreamer (Future Islands Cover) – Doe Paoro

This one’s a grower, resist yourself from skipping it before the first minute. The sparse piano and seldom drums slowly intwine themselves into a beautiful melody which Doe Paoro sings through. The original song naturally has unusual vocals from Sam Herring, and so this Kate Bush sounding twist fits perfectly.


Says ElliottSibylle Baier

Sibylle Baier is a German folk singer, she sounds like a sad Nico – and I mean that in the nicest possible way. I love this song, its intimate sound makes you hang on every word. She’s quite a mysterious person, the homepage of her website reads:

I (her son Robby) set this site up for my mother…Sibylle will most likely never see this site. She is really quite perplexed by all the attention that her album “Colour Green” has gotten. My father keeps telling her about all the pages and articles that are out there, but she, though smitten, prefers to hear about her accolades through the eyes and ears of her family. The web makes her dizzy, I think.


Woods – Bend Beyond [Review]

Sometime in June, before summer had sunk its teeth in, Woods announced their new album, Bend Beyond. Much excitement instantly circulated the alternative-folk scene; their track record has been consistently strong. Sun and Shade which was released last year was a personal favorite, and reassured the fans they were still on the right track.

Firstly, let me begin by saying Bend Beyond will not let you down. It’s a highly enjoyable, and extremely well executed album which demonstrates a maturity in both the songwriting and the production – which fits perfectly. The lo-fi indie-folk band from Brooklyn have a distinct sound, predominantly down to Jeremy Earl’s vocals, which this time round acquire a clarity like never before. It’s this factor for me that makes Bend Beyond different. Not only can you appreciate the layers of instruments that create their psychedelic sound, but the vocals are refined to the point where you can listen and enjoy the lyrics on a level which you couldn’t do before.

The first track, Bend Beyond sends you back to the woods, with their familiar riffs and guitar solos. It’s the longest track on the album, and paces itself nicely. It sets the tone that Woods is a band, not just Jeremy Earl. The second track, Cali in a Cup was in fact an early release, and has a nostalgic Super 8 music video to accompany it. This song is a prime example of the high quality production value they’ve got going.

One of my all time favorite songs by Woods was the final track on their last album, Say Goodbye. The gently strummed, stripped down style is apparent in a couple of tracks in Bend Beyond, most notably in It Ain’t Easy. It’s a moment of calm that engages you with the simpler harmonies and lyrics that Woods are so good at writing. It’s as essential as the much expected instrumental jams which remind you these guys are having fun making this music.

My top picks from the album would be, Back to the Stone and Is it Honest?, both encompass all that there is to love about Woods. The album is released as of today, and is available on iTunes.

Tracklist below.

  1. Bend Beyond
  2. Cali in a Cup
  3. Is it Honest?
  4. It Ain’t Easy
  5. Cascade
  6. Back to the Stone
  7. Find Them Empty
  8. Wind Was the Wine
  9. Lily
  10. Size Meets the Sound
  11. Impossible Sky
  12. Something Surreal

Here is Cali in a Cup and a few others to get you back in the zone.



Yuno [News/Listen]

A new artist named Yuno is making his first record and is in need of some help. He’s recording it all in his bedroom, and although he’s reached his $2000 goal, every other dime goes into new equipment and ultimately supporting his career as an artist.

Click here to go to his Kickstarter page where you can donate however much you wish, and in return have some goodies sent your way. Why donate? I admit, I don’t often support these projects, however I heard Yuno’s track Sunlight randomly on a blog and was instantly drawn to his sound. Formally known as, Unouomedude, Yuno’s dream pop song Sunlight will surely have you tapping your foot and singing along….and hopefully handing over your card details. Best of luck to him.

 

Arrange – New Memory [Listen]

The end of summer melancholy has started to descend upon my music library, and my current favourite is called Arrange. His slow synthy beats overlayed with shoegazy vocals summons a sound that’s best enjoyed loud and alone.

New Memory is Malcom Lacey’s latest album, after a handful of releases in the past two years. His songwriting carries an ongoing theme of loss and heartache which stem from an unfortunate abusive childhood. Despite this, the album consist of wonderful moments of uplifting instrumentals that keep your head turned in a positive direction . The ambient hum that compliments his tracks throughout will no doubt hinder understanding the spoken words during the first listen, but this results in you wanting to hit repeat and take it in again.

His music resembles artists such as Perfume Genius and Youth Lagoon, with electronic harmonies that echo the work of composers like Eluvium. The album is an enjoyable melancholic experience, but as Paul Lester from the Guardian puts it; “Not for the faint-hearted, but perfect for the heartbroken”.

Here’s the track Caves from New Memory which was released this year in July.