Luke Roberts Nails Alt-Country

lrobertsA few weeks back, you may have heard this track from Luke Roberts from his upcoming record,Sunlit Cross, which is due out in just about a month, and I’m delighted to share that Roberts has released another track from that album that’s a perfect sample of alt-country. “Untitled Blues,” has got this mellow acoustic guitar partthat rolls through the track and Roberts’ vocals have got just enough twang on them to be considered some sort of country. Not to mention, the intermittent slide guitar part that joins the instrumentation adds that extra depth to the track that will set it apart from the rest of the songs that you hear today. Take a listen and don’t forget aboutSunlit Cross, which is out October 14th viaThrill Jockey.


Watch This Luke Roberts Video

Looks like I’m taking on some mellow tones today, and I’ll do that happily as long as it sounds like this delightful Luke Roberts tune. For me, the close work of the guitar picking creates a great feeling, and when accompanied with the video it leans towards a sensation of longing, looking to just get lost out there in the world. There’s some beautiful nature shots too, if you enjoy admiring the outdoors. This track will be featured on his new record, Sunlit Cross, which will see a release on October 14th via Thrill Jockey.

Catherine Irwin – Little Heater

Rating: ★★★ · ·

It’s not often that I delve into the country-side of the music world, but when I do, it has to be for something pretty special. So when I first began to listen to this second solo record from Catherine Irwin, it was hard to really take notice of the deep songwriting, simple, yet suiting instrumentation. However, what was instantly evident was the copious amount of soul in this woman’s work.            

Such soul is evident on the first track, and runs strong from start to finish on Little Heater; the blood that courses through this album’s veins. “Mockingbird” enters with some gentle guitar and Irwin’s twang-y, classical country vocals. The lack of percussion is made up with the rhythmic strumming and the vocal help that Irwin gets from the backup singers. The result is a fuller sound, with a central focus on the songwriting and lyricism that Irwin brings to the table. The first few songs are pretty mild: “Dusty Groove,” and ”Hoopskirt” pander around shortly after the opener with similarly simple arrangements. There are still other musical elements to spice up the classic guitar/vocal acoustic sound such as some steel guitar and string work.

The heavier, and in my opinion, more interesting numbers come towards the end of Little Heater. “Save Our Ship,” employs Irwin’s deeper range, although her voice never loses that unmistakable country twang. This song stands out after things get a little one-dimensional in the progression of tracks and picks the energy up a little after a long series of songs. A big part of this song is the elegant and somber strings in the background that makes its way to the front of the mix by the end of the song. This plays for a darker, resigned sound that continues on “Pale Horse/Pale Rider.” However, on this number there, the dark aspects come from the bluesy guitar rather than the strings in the background. It’s subtle changes like this that provides for variation within the Irwin’s country style.

At the close of this rather long album, it’s clear that a whole lot of effort and time went into crafting all of these tracks. Despite not being the biggest country music fan, I still found songs that related to my musical palate in their soulful nature, but there is no doubt in my mind that those who are big country fans will love this album.  Such is a testament to the talent of a musician.

Chilled Tune from The Sea and Cake

I believe my first introduction to The Sea and Cake came from my friend Ryan Jewell back in 2000–somehow he turned me onto Oui, the band’s current release (at that time).  I love how they combined really mellow indie rock elements with bits of jazz fusion, and it always fascinated me that more people didn’t understand, or care I guess, about the band.  Still, Sam Prekop and his posse have been going strong for some time, and they’re about to release Runner, their latest for Thrill Jockey, on September 18th.  This new track really has me excited for the release with its underlying brightness, yet ageless sound. I’m always going to dig this band; do you?


Download:The Sea and Cake – Harps [MP3]

More New Music from Future Islands

The more I listen to this band, the more excited I get about their upcoming release for Thrill Jockey. On the Water will hit the street on October 4th, and it’s shaping up to be an album for everyone.  There’s little hints of atmospheric ambiance thrown in here and there; you’ll find pop goodness all over the place.  Even those with love for the electronica have to feel that this could really go their way.  It’s hard to find a band that can wrap it up in a nice little package and win everyone over.  Pretty sure that one listen to Future Islands, and we’ve all got to get on board.


Download: Future Islands – Balance [MP3]

New Tunes from Fiery Furnaces

furnacesIt’s always  been really hard to classify the Fiery Furnaces; just as you have them all figured out they go and record an album with their grandmother. Still, the prolific duo is always pushing themselves, and in doing so, they tend to create a lot of really interesting tunes. This new tune represents the more piano driven side, though somewhat reminiscent of a 70s television theme song. This song, as well as others, will appear on the band’s new album I’m Going Away, which comes out July 21st via Thrill Jockey.


Download: The Fiery Furnaces – The End is Near [MP3]

High Places – s/t

Rating: ★ · · · ·

Brooklyn duo High Places recently released their newest LP, a self titled affair, to much critical claim. Those kids over at PFork gave it an 8! Having come across it ourselves, we opted to look deeper into the album in attempt to uncover the mystery.

Upon first listen, most will find that the music, well, there really doesn’t seem to be much music. Sure, there are some electronic beats dancing here and there with a little mixture of the kitchen sink thrown in for good measure, but there really isn’t anything along the lines of what the majority of the world would define as music. A close examination might reveal that the skeleton for almost every single song on the album stems from too much indulgence into someone’s collection of Animal Collective B-Sides.

Some refer to such music as IDM, or Intelligent Dance Music. Listening, you might find it difficult that the word intelligent has been mentioned at all because clearly it takes very little intelligence to create this music. It’s reminiscent of the stuff all your nerdy friends were making on their own computers back when things like Garage Band were just coming into play. Simpletons.

However, despite obvious lack of creativity, or melody for that matter, there is a highlight all over this album, almost blanketing the sheer horridness. That savior is Mary Pearson, the vocalist for the band. Her range is not all that grand, but she is precisely what most listeners seem to be enjoying these days. She is your girl next door indie songstress, albeit one who has chosen to make this album. One would love to find here step outside the confines of this one-dimensional genre in search of deeper melodies or more creativity.

Those of you who consider yourself intelligent should not listen to those in love with this band, well, you are intelligent, so you should be informed. Listen, listen, then check back with us at ATH so we know that we weren’t too far off on this one.