julie odell

I’m a straight sucker for piano punching songstresses–like Fiona Apple, Nicole Miglis (of Hundred Waters), requisite Regina Spektor, occasional Joanna Newsom–so this gorgeously sparse cut from New Orleans tinkerer Julie Odell sets my soul aflutter:

The piano is lovely, Odell’s vocal layers tend to brush gorgeously against each other, like a polished Joanna Newsom against her earlier work, but it’s the lyrics that really grab me. I even transcribed them because I couldn’t find them anywhere.

Odell’s narrator reaches out to an unknown friend or mentor who’s looking sapped of joy and bereft of hope: “Your eyes are sunken like old buried treasure / Lost deep in the ocean, no sweet hidden pleasure.” Empath that she is, perhaps fellow sufferer of his anomie, she begs for his tales to be told, his stories shared, praising the sometimes-comfort found in the darkest depths of human connection:

‘Cause all that we have to build up our spirits
Are mysteries and stories; please tell us, we’ll listen!
There will be no judgments no shameful discretions,
Just self-soothing phrases and tongues that touch heaven

I won’t ruin the rest with commentary, but we’ve all been there, and Odell captures both sides perfectly.

Check out the full lyrics after the jump if you’re interested »

YOOFS

Knock the last of the fuzzy Mondays from your overworked, underpaid, wayunderslept mind with this idyllic little psych-jam from across the pond. YOOFS is a pair of space cadets from Bournemouth who use some kind of dark magic and wormhole spirits to channel psych-pop straight out of John Lennon acid-trickled vocal chords. They’ve usually got some proggy elements and maybe those will feature at a later date… but today is a fucking Monday, and today calls for a pulling-the-sun-kist-blanket-over-your-face-for-a-few-more-uninterrupted-moments-of-baby-good-sleep sort of bliss:

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FILED: Listen, YOOFS

Pepa Knight

While each member of Jinja Safari seems to have taken the band’s post-album hiatus to pursue their own solo/side projects, the one that most captures the exuberance of their mother band continues to be that of co-frontman Pepa Knight. Unveiling his debut single “Rahh!” earlier this year, Knight seems content to lean into the vibrant sun-dappled melodies Jinja Safari are most known for while pressing his own distinctive stamp. On “Clams”, one of the most recent cuts from his upcoming EP Hypnotized Vol. 1, Knight grows quite comfortably into the role of featured vocalist. Digging into his stash of exotic world instruments, “Clams” essentially functions as a showpiece for Pepa Knight’s various talents – his vocals the most showy they’ve ever been while not quite reaching the heights of pop star gymnastics; Knight manages to balance his evident world music influence into something more. “Clams” radiates with the resplendent grandeur of a Lion King cut; Pepa Knight is able to infuse just the right blend of pop zeal to fashion into more than a soundtrack sound-alike.

Hypnotized Vol. 1, Pepa Knight’s debut solo EP ahead of his 2015 slated full length LP, is out November 28th in Australia. Whether or not they’ll be an expanded release remains to be seen but there’s hoping.

HANAH

When HANAH’s debut single “Out of Touch” arrived with its clear vision and fully formed ideas just a few short months ago, it spoke volumes about the New York based Denver transplant’s patience while confirming her sound judgement. Despite no doubt having the chops to pursue a music project perhaps years earlier, instead she waited until the stars aligned and she was reunited with former Berklee classmate Luca Buccellati (Tei Shi, Yellerkin) and the results are a dynamic synthesis of both of their talents.

While “Out of Touch” was a strong debut–focusing immensely (and rightfully so) on HANAH’s mostly unadorned vocals until the song’s dramatic climax–“Hideaway” goes a different route, blending Taxman’s vocals and piano with Buccellati’s deft hand and subtle touch much earlier. Make no mistake, “Hideaway” is still a showcase for Taxman’s vocals as well it should be but it’s a far better introduction to the electronic-soul genre that HANAH seeks to fully inhabit. Taxman and Buccellati show far greater growth and balance as a pair while Taxman’s own songwriting is more articulately displayed. “Hideaway” solidifies the potential of “Out of Touch” while also offering an excitingly different take on just what HANAH can do.  The common thread is still there but ultimately it shows HANAH will be no stranger to innovation – a fact that will no doubt bode well for HANAH’s future output.

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FILED: HANAH, Listen

number-1-dads

One of the hidden gems of the year comes, perhaps unsurprisingly, from down under: Melbourne’s Tom Lansek, one half of Big Scary and now of solo project #1 Dads, hasn’t quite broken onto the American radar as yet but his debut album About Face has been a staple for me these past few weeks. The nine-song album is mostly a sparsely choreographed, intimate listen, and Lansek’s delicate guitar strumming, deft piano and minimal percussion often gently begs for help from fellow vocalists to flesh things out. One such example is album highlight “Return To” on which fellow Aussie Tom Snowon (of Lowlakes) bellows in a way that would make Antony Hegarty proud.

What misleads as a piano-led R&B track quickly shifts gears towards more ethereal balladry, the song’s few elements building around Snowdon’s elegant (and perhaps minimally processed) vocals. Grungy synths, spine-shaking bass and plucky guitar remain tethered to the cloudlike crooning like marionettes: a highly controlled environment presented as spontaneity, with Lansek’s string-pulling only vaguely noticeable. It probably helps that we’re likely familiar with neither Lansek nor Snowdon, but I’m sure I’m not alone in hoping this isn’t a one time coming-together.

Listen to the full album and pick up the vinyl via Pieater here »

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FILED: Listen