It’s the hallmark of the creatively foolhardy or the artistically brave to release an album hot on the heels of the one that proceeded it. Luckily, Brooklyn based pop darling Alexandra Stewart happens to be the latter and her upcoming I Grow EP, the follow up to last year’s WÀBÀ, might prove to be just as enchanting as the last. On “I Grow”, Stewart shines like never before. More stripped back than “Pow Wow”, Stewart remains the primary focus but rather than acting as the figurehead while the band swoops and whirls around her it’s far more enjoyable with Stewart former a larger part of the equation. A notably more somber affair than really any of the last EP’s tracks, “I Grow” isn’t without its fair share of action. As Stewart flexes her vocal chops, her band rise up to meet her in wonderfully arresting flourishes before Stewart and her band join forces for the inevitable sprint towards the finish line. But it’s a well earned trek, a carefully maintained ebb and flow that makes every second worth it while also defying all expectations. On “I Grow” Stewart’s stellar musicianship is displayed more impressively than ever before. Her vocals are stunning while dazzling with its simplicity.
It’s the mark of an exceptionally talented musician, much less an electronic based one, to be able to instantly transport you to far off places. San Fransciso’s Yalls happens to be such a musician as his latest single “DC” from the upcoming debut full length United demonstrates. “DC” is all fair weather chill, smooth and lush but not without a telltale gaze into its production – a breath of forward motion not only shakes “DC” free from its carefree luxuriation but through sending it barreling forward from it sun-soaked reverie exposes, for the better, the various nuts and bolts of Dan Casey’s operation. It’s not a jarring glance but one that clearly establishes Casey’s full control of what happens here – the illusion of an infinite lounge pop gem broken opens “DC” is a whole plethora of options as Casey isn’t afraid to tinker with the track’s building blocks, warping and bending his vocals as well as other previously occuring bits while also managing to maintain the track’s clean-cut cool.
Yalls’ first full length United is out May 6th on Gold Robot Records on clear vinyl and is available for pre-order here.
There’s a certain honor that comes from being a hand-selected show opener – while clearly demonstrating the headliner’s sense of taste, it also should serve to illustrate that the openers are serious business. Enter Palm. Opening for Buke & Gase‘s most recent show at BSP Kingston with Celestial Shore, the foursome were exactly the sort of band you’d expect the genre-dodging innovative duo to champion while still remaining very much a complete and absolute surprise.
Palm, for lack of a more apt description of what they do, play the sort of mathematical experimental rock that downright enchants. Their live set is the musical equivalent of watching a high wire act; never quite sure what to expect or when/if the foursome’s synchronized complexity will lead them to stagger and fall at any moment. That’s not to say you’re waiting for the quartet to fail – rather watching them weave intricate patterns in real time was downright mesmerizing and yet, the band never quite loses sight that there’s an audience to cater to. “No Tribute” from their three song Into the Bulk EP released late last year is perhaps the best example of what you can/should expect from Palm. There’s an accessibility deeply ingrained in it despite the band’s various spinning plates form of music making. It’s not always at the forefront but it does keep the band’s obvious musicianship from developing into an exclusionary geek out. Palm might not make music for everyone but at the very least they do provide a necessary window into their complexly layered tumult.
Delivering on their promise of the good music to come, Brooklyn experimental pop quintet Landlady are back with their latest single “The Globe”. The second single from their upcoming Hometapes debut Upright Behavior, “The Globe” is noticeably much less straightforward than “Above My Ground”. Adam Schatz’s voice is just as soulful as ever but “The Globe” starts off at a brisk sprint, the talents of Schatz and his collaborators fully on display as the track swings between its distinct parts while in no way blunting Schatz’s stellar songwriting. Rather they work in tandem highlighting the lyrics with just the right coloring, whether they be in bright whites or subtler colors. Landlady are in rare form here able to fluctuate between its two main ideas cleanly and effortlessly. While not the ready made anthem of “Above My Ground”, “The Globe” doesn’t suffer from any lack of its soul-stirring fervor.
Landlady’s sophomore effort Upright Behavior is out July 15th on Hometapes.
I was introduced to Portland experimental crooner Dragging an Ox Through Water through the inclusion of his track “Snowbank Treatment” on a playlist Danish art rock outfit Efterklang made to promote the release of their latest full length Piramida. I was immediately taken by how unlike anything I was possibly expecting it was – the track occupied this strange limbo of stuttering electronic-based pop with a noticeable country swagger. I was intrigued and instantly wanted more.
One of the exciting things about Dragging an Ox Through Water is how completely unpredictable his releases are. The Tropics of Phenomenon (which features the aforementioned “Snowbank Treatment) is a far more electronic-laden affair than his newest album Panic Sentry. And yet though it’s featuring a much more straight-forward folk presentation, there’s a blurring of genre lines, the subverting of expectation but still the spotlighting of a sincere product that keeps everything fascinating. While Panic Sentry is an album worthy of complete play-throughs “Sparrow Command” stuck out as a shining example of just what made Dragging an Ox Through Water so damn appealing. The use of electronics is sparse – an effect on the periphery, as Brian Mumform angles his vocals with supple languor. Mumform’s vocals a natural extension of his twangy guitar lines; bent, cooed, and whispered to jostle the lyrics into impressive shapes while electronics hum contentedly from the sidelines to give the whole tale an ethereal pallor.
Dragging an Ox Through Water’s latest full length Panic Sentry is out now. Available on digital/12″ vinyl via Bandcamp.