Rhian Sheehan – Stories From Elsewhere [Review]

Rhian Sheehan Stories From Elsewhere Artwork

Sweeping, cinematic, vibrant, beautiful, epic, delicate, bold, calm, majestic. It’s pretty easy to roll off a list of adjectives for this absolutely wonderful record as Rhian Sheehan returns with the impossibly beautiful and uncompromisingly compelling Stories from Elsewhere. Continue reading

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Emancipator – Minor Cause [News/Listen]

Here’s a nice midweek surprise, Emancipator will be releasing his new album Dusk to Dawn on the 29th January. Yes it really is that close!

Emancipator Dusk to Dawn announcement

The record drops on Doug Appling’s new imprint Loci Records (which had it’s debut release last month with the rather superb TorDrum Therapy).  It’s been a while now since 2010’s Safe in the Steep Cliffs and after the extensive touring that followed the album it’ll be nice to hear some brand new tracks starting with the first single Minor Cause. The track is a free download over on the Loci Records bandcamp page and it’s a gorgeous slice of lush downtempo with beautiful instrumentation including the trademark strings, trip hop elements and electronics bubbling around in the background. It’s beautiful and if this is anything to go by January 29th will be an exciting release for Loci Records.

Check out Minor Cause below and head over to bandcamp to grab yourself a copy.

Tor – Glass & Stone [Listen]

First of all it’s probably apt to introduce Loci Records, the new label of Douglas Appling (Emancipator). In a statement from the Emancipator website;

“Fellow Music Lovers,

For years, I’ve found great purpose and pleasure in producing music as Emancipator. To have reached so many people along the way who resonate with my sound is incredibly inspiring. I’d like to build upon this response and cultivate a community of shared musical taste by introducing my own record label. As its name suggests, Loci Records is a meeting place, a point of convergence for myself and others who share a similar musical vision. Its focus is on the crossroads of melodic downtempo, instrumental hip hop, and electronica.”
– Douglas Appling

This is exciting news of course, Douglas Appling is considered the king in many respects of the more thoughtful, organic instrumental hip-hop/downtempo crossover, mentioned in his statement, which has been cropping up more prominently in recent years. In the last eighteen months it’s been a consistent occurrence to see Emancipator cited as a main influence in many of his peers album descriptions so by all accounts a label from the man himself should bring some more high quality music of a similar nature. What’s most exciting however is what is coming from Loci Records.

After his collaboration on the Emancipator Remixes album from last year, Tor is first out the door with the superb single Glass & Stone, a considered and beautiful slice of exactly the combination of genres Doug is setting out to represent with Loci Records. It’s a wonderfully atmospheric affair with layered beats and some nice use of female vocals. It sounds fresh and is of excellent quality with subtle production and a level of sheen which is what I was hoping from Loci Records. It’s also a FREE download, so head on over to the label bandcamp page to grab yourself a copy.

Glass & Stone is the first single from Drum Therapy which is due on the 11th of December.

“Ten years in the making, this record promises to bring a soulful, cerebral blend of instrumentation that I believe to be a great representation of what Loci aims to curate. Drawing influence from across the globe, Drum Therapy is slated to entrance listeners with thought provoking harmonies and dusty samples that resonate long after the tracks end.”
– Douglas Appling

If this taster is anything to go by, we are in for a rich and detailed treat in time for Christmas and the promise of great things from Loci Records in the future.

Jasper Byrne – Hotline Miami EP [Listen]

I’ve been dabbling in the seedy 80’s neon criminal underworld of Dennaton Games’ superb top down, 2D, PC killathon Hotline Miami for the last couple of weeks and along with being essentially the playable version of the motel/lift scene from Drive, it also has a killer soundtrack that’s more than a nod to Nicolas Winding Refns slick thriller. There are more than a few artists involved with the soundtrack including a wide range of styles and genres, however the title track from Jasper Byrne is one of the best. The Hotline Miami EP is, although sadly a little on the short side, a fantastic slice of electro with deep bass and 80’s style synths that moves between sounding upbeat and almost positive to menacing and grimy. Check it out! Definitely for fans of the 80’s revival we’ve been hearing the last couple of years.

The Hotline Miami EP can be grabbed for $4 over on bandcamp

Tom’s ‘recently found & loved’ playlist

I started compiling this playlist for a friend, but then realized I hadn’t posted for some time and so I thought I’d share it here too. What I’ve got here, (besides a couple of tracks) is a mix of new music I’ve found while sifting through blogs and music sites.

TV Girl:

A band from LA, they’re slowly on the rise, give them a year and they’ll touring the states, and hopefully Europe. It’s feel good electronic, indie shoe-gaze goodness. I’ve been enjoying pretty much all their releases.

Tyler Lyle:

This is my favourite track from his album, it’s got a good pace that seems to get more enjoyable as the song progresses. The other songs on his album are worth checking out too.

J:

I dug and found gold with this guy, he’s from Czech Republic even though he sounds very American. I love this track, it’s part of a series from his EP that all seem to be about childhood. His album is free, and it’s very good.

surely i come quickly:

I don’t even know how I found this guy, but his music is really enjoyable. It comes from an album called, you never wanted me. I believe the artist is from Saskatoon, Ca. The low-fi recordings really do add to the atmosphere of his music.

Soko:

This girl is pretty well-known around the blogs, and I believe made an appearance in the charts. She’s got some nice music vids, one directed by Spike Jonze. I love her voice, and even though this is a pretty sad song, It takes you on an ‘enjoyable’ journey I think.

Birds of America:

An American artist from Oakland, described as Dub/Folk. This track is super chilled and builds nicely, it sounds like it was recorded in a barn after a good party. It’s been on repeat for a while on my iPod.

Tom Eddy:

A folk band from Seattle. This track comes from their album called, The Bread Maker’s Blues. I think it’s the plucking and soft vocals that makes this track fun to listen to. Reminds me a bit of Herman Dune’s stuff.

Cass McCombs:

This is a pretty well-known artist in folk scene. He’s from Baltimore and has toured with a bunch of folky/rock artists. This track comes from his 2009 album, Catacombs.

Cotton Jones:

I love duets, XX are a good example, and these guys execute this song so nicely. This is an alternate version of their song, Gone The Bells, which they released on Soundcloud, I actually prefer it to the original. The dreamy guitar and bells sound beaut.

The Oh Hello’s:

These guys have an EP on Bandcamp which you can ‘name your price for’. They’re working on a full length album which looks promising as this song demonstrates a lot of talent. They say they’ve taken a lot inspiration from Mumford and Sons, personally i think they sound better.

Grand Salvo:

He’s known as ‘Australia’s Iron & Wine’, Grand Salvo has a knack of writing original songs about everyday observations. This is a song that triumphs on its simplicity. You might find you won’t take in the lyrics until the 3rd or 4th time since the acoustic instruments glide through your ears so gracefully.

Of Monsters And Men:

Time to pick up the tempo, this is another boy/girl duet. For me this is Edward Sharpe and XX mixed together. Of Monsters and Men is a 6 piece band from Iceland. This track is from their EP that was released in 2011, they’re currently working on bringing out a full album. They’re one to keep an eye on I feel.

Angus Stone:

I first heard of this artist back in 2007 when he released a single called Mango Tree with his half-sister, Julia. Definitely check out the song if you don’t know it. This track comes from his new album, Broken Brights, I hadn’t really been following his solo venture, so this album came to be a nice surprise.

Helios:

One of my all time favourite instrumental/ambient artists. He’s usually playing in my car during long drives through the countryside. literally love everything he produces, and somehow i missed this track from his last album, which resulted in a nice surprise.

Tallest Man on Earth:

Tallest Man on Earth hit the ground running with his 2008 debut album Shallow Grave and has been impressing fans and critiques since. This track comes from his newest album There’s no Leaving Now. It’s my favourite on the album – and no, he’s not putting on a Bob Dylan voice….

To Just Grow Away by Tallest Man on Earth

Alt-j:

I’ve started to spot adverts around London for Alt-J’s debut album An Awesome Wave. They’re a British band and have been gathering a lot of hype with their indie/electronic sound. I’m not gonna say I heard them before they got big because I don’t think I did. They’re playing at End of Road Festival this year which should be a treat.

Blackbird Blackbird:

Another of my favourite artists. I got to see Blackbird Blackbird play this year in the UK which was amazing. This guy constantly puts out great sounding music. This is one of his newest tracks, and it sounds like he’s far from losing his touch – nice one Mikey.

Fortune Howl:

I found this on some blog, it’s a remix of one of the songs from Wes Anderson’s new film Moonrise Kingdom. It’s a really enjoyable track to listen through.

The Flashbulb – Opus At The End Of Everything [Listen]

Sorry for the hiatus the last 10 days, we’re back, and so is Benn Jordan with his new release Opus At The End Of Everything under The Flashbulb pseudonym. It’s really more of the same sound heard on the previous Flashbulb albums and that of course is no bad thing. If anything it has a little more of a mellow vibe and as ever Jordan’s production is superb throughout, warm yet crisp and full of depth. I wasn’t expecting this one so it’s been a nice surprise for a snowy Friday morning. Listen to some highlights below and check out the album teaser, which I totally missed last October!

Grab the album over at The Flashbulb bandcamp page.

theflashbulb.net

Room E – Penguin Child [Review]

2012 is off to a good start already with some solid music discoveries and a release schedule that’s gaining momentum every day. Amongst the discoveries has been San Diego based Room E who has just this Monday released his new LP Penguin Child, a colourful blend of instrumental hip-hop, electronica and ambient. The album’s a heady mix of samples and live instrumentation with lush, warm production and a laid back vibe. There are some real moments of brilliance here where Room E creates some seriously catchy melodies and hooks that will stick with you for a while.

It may not be too far removed from his peers and is instantly reminiscent of Four Tet and Gold Panda although where Room E forges his own path is with the aforementioned vibe that’s consistent throughout. It may lean toward the safe side a little, but none of it sounds rushed and as a whole piece it comes across delicately compiled and considered which is a great strength as the album becomes instantly effortless to listen to. It also varies in style enough to hold the attention bringing in many offshoots of the electronic music genre and what you’re left with is an incredibly solid record. There’s also a fantastic range of sounds and instruments there with xylophone, melodica, accordion all making an appearance along with live drums which bring a looser, more organic feel to the tracks they’re used on.

It’s also benefitting from some seriously cool artwork courtesy of Cami Robinson, which is what grabbed my attention before I’d even hit play. I can’t emphasise enough how much decent artwork influences what I will choose to check out and this one (although subjective of course) is a great example of what works for me.

Through repeated listens of Penguin Child those little details within the production become apparent and even sitting down with my headphones and writing this review I can feel my appreciation of this record grow. It’s an album I can strongly recommend for fans of beat music who want something a little downtempo and unhurried. It’s a strong start for the year for both musicians and music fans alike. You could do a lot worse than to check this album out.

You can have a listen and purchase the album over on Room E’s Bandcamp page. Grab him on facebook or find more info on the Brilliant Something blog.