Gwenifer Raymond, Glenn Jones, Nathan Salsburg, Carla J. Easton & Static Shore

This past summer has seen the release of many a fine example of American Primitive Guitar music. Does anybody know what is supposed to be primitive about the nimble fingerpicking style? I do not. In today’s post I would like to warmly recommend to you three releases to be majorly impressed and touched at the heartstrings equally.

Furthermore I like to introduce a lovely small label to you, coinciding with a new release there. Then, to round it off and keep things balanced, some perfectly polished synth music will also be featured.

Gwenifer Raymond, Glenn Jones, Nathan Salsburg, Carla J. Easton & Static Shore
Gwenifer Raymond

Gwenifer Raymond

Gwenifer Raymond strives for perfection in seemingly everything she does and she succeeds. Not only is Cardiff-born Gwenifer an astrophysicist and very engaged in political and social affairs, she is a hugely accomplished musician who released her impressive debut “You were never much of a dancer” on Tompkins Square Records. At eight years she started to play the guitar, then played in punk bands later and ended joining the big players of American Primitive music. Listen to Gwenifer Raymond’s debut album and you know, she can hold her own out there. Her guitar (and banjo) playing and songwriting is in another dimension – the speed, the atmosphere, the warmth of her songs, between quiet and absolutely frenetic, aaaah.

Gwenifer Raymond, Glenn Jones, Nathan Salsburg, Carla J. Easton & Static Shore
Photo by Jesse Sheppard

Glenn Jones

Gwenifer Raymond’s first ever US performance took place at Thousand Incarnations festival where all guitar greats met and yet there was no hierarchy but great camaraderie. Glenn Jones was there too, of course, nowadays already a great influence on the younger players of the field as for instance John Fahey was in his generation. And more good news to come: Glenn has released another solo album on Thrill Jockey with the title (deep breath) “The Giant Who Ate Himself and Other New Works for 6 & 12 String Guitar”. We must do without his fantastic banjo playing (“Spokane River Falls” of his last album “Fleeting” being a favourite of mine) but get treated with the sounds of the 12 string instead. Magically assisted in some songs by Laura Baird, Glenn Jones released another batch of songs that will accompany you for life, out on the road and at home. And still you will detect something new, however cosy they will start feeling for you.

Glenn Jones “The Giant Who Ate Himself” Trailer from Thrill Jockey Records on Vimeo.

 

 

Gwenifer Raymond, Glenn Jones, Nathan Salsburg, Carla J. Easton & Static Shore
Photo by Joan Shelley

Nathan Salsburg

You must have seen the name Nathan Salsburg popping up lately all over the place and if not, you will be bound to have heard his masterful guitar playing. Funny anecdote on the side: On the day of Offbeat Music Blog’s interview with James Elkington, James recounted how he knew Nathan as his wife’s childhood friend from Louisville and that he of course was aware that Nathan Salsburg is the curator of the Alan Lomax Archive at the Association for Cultural Equity and thus his knowledge is mighty and he is well able to share it, also as a radio presenter. What James did not know, that Nathan is a guitar player and then some. It speaks volumes that a man who plays fingerpicking style and changes tuning mid-play, who invents whole storylines for guitar music and can add his playing with ease to many a musician’s work (The Weather Station, Joan Shelley, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Wooden Wand, Jake Fussell, Red River Dialect for example) does all this with such apparent ease. But easy it is not what Nathan Salsburg presents, if easy on the ear. His third solo album is called just that – “Third” (out on No Quarter) – and you are invited to immerse yourself in a bit over half an hour of purest guitar music and be transported – to wherever you want to be.

Gwenifer Raymond, Glenn Jones, Nathan Salsburg, Carla J. Easton & Static Shore
Carla J. Easton

Carla J. Easton

Through my friend and colleague Sandra Zettpunkt (and her absolute trailblazing trail (of music) finding golden nose), I came across Olive Grove Records from Glasgow and their wonderful Christmas compilation as well as their artist Jared Celosse. Thank you so much, Lloyd, from Olive Grove Records now to share with me the release of Carla J. Easton‘s album which I herewith highly recommend to you. “Impossible Stuff” will be out on October 5th. Carla was also the lead singer of TeenCanteen. More surprising facts: Howard Bilerman had a hand in the album – he is also the producer of Arcade Fire’s ‘Funeral’ and also Leonard Cohen and British Sea Power.  Carla can be found on Belle & Sebastian’s How To Solve Our Human Problems – Part 2 EP AND she is involved in the making of a documentary called “Since Yesterday: The Unsung Women Pioneers Of Scottish Pop” by film maker Blair Young. Maybe you will have seen Carla J. Easton around as she is avidly touring and performing. Now for her new album:

Carla reveals that this time round, she is not censoring herself lyrically, letting it all out but in a way that hopefully listeners can relate to the lyrics and find something of or for themselves in them. She aimed for a big sound musicwise and simultaneously for spontaneous recording. Not easy to pin down her sound to a genre which actually in these algorithm recommendations times is a good thing, no? This a clever album without wanting to be, an anthology of music through the ages really and yet light as pop songs (as if it were easy to write a pop song) and gelled together by a warmth and roughness and directness that is Carla’s own.

Check this out, a charming little gem of a video with commented by no less than Aidan Moffat:

 

 

Gwenifer Raymond, Glenn Jones, Nathan Salsburg, Carla J. Easton & Static Shore
Shannon and Eric of Static Shore

Static Shore

Shannon Alexander and Eric Smith hail from Seattle and together, as Static Shore, they release finest tunes combining Electronica, SynthPop, FuturePop and Indie Electronica, so far the genres. But moreover, relish in magic headphone moments when Static Shore let loose crystal clear, lush harmonies, layering, spiralling and danceable songs.
Their third EP ‘Embody’ has been released on August 24th 2018 and you can avail of it here.

‘Sun In My Wake’ is the first single that was taken from the album. Check it out here.

Coming soon…Reeperbahnfestival

While Offbeat finds that the summer slump in the music industry does not really exist anymore, it has to be said that individual gigs are giving way to festivals during the summer and releases take place in September – we are getting fed album teasers until then.

Coming soon...Reeperbahnfestival

And yes, Offbeat was having a wee summer slumber as well…time flew by. But soon the posts will be flying out the window again. Before that I would like to draw your attention, if you would be so kind, to one the finest festivals ever: Reeperbahnfestival on Hamburg’s St. Pauli is coming up again, from the 19th till the 22nd of September. It is Germany’s answer to SXSW and just like its counterpart has a two-sided nature: It is a meeting point for the music industry with all that entails – label introductions, new artists being introduced, conferences, workshops and seminars. On the other hand we have the festival side with performances from the arts, movies, theatre and music of course.

Forget about trying to see everything, you can not. Especially since you will not be dragging yourself through a muddy, separate festival ground but will be visiting endless individual venues, differing in size and character. But that of course, is also the beauty of the Reeperbahnfestival. Hope to see you there! Keep your eyes peeled for news on the blog…coming soon.

Perpacity’s new album “The order of Now” – exclusive review

The order of Now - new album by Perpacity

In the blistering heat today, I enjoyed two things that cooled me down and chilled me out even and no, I did not laze about in a pool and no-one was serving me exotic, tongue-tingling cocktails or fanning me air. But close – I went for a great hike along a river and was given an exclusive first listen to The order of Now – new album by Perpacity. At least on the latter journey I can now take you with me.

But let us start at the beginning, way back in time. When I was very young, synth pop came along and found a dedicated follower in me. The extreme angles you could take on the music fascinated me: You could argue that there was true punk spirit to synth pop in as far as anyone could do it because no mastery of a traditional instrument was needed. Or you could marvel at the new sounds and indeed musical worlds opened up by machines that no human or no other instrument could produce. That, in fact, synthesisers, keyboards etc. were machines was what was bugging a lot of people. No heart, no soul, could come out of this music. Oh so wrong. Back to argument one that anyone could use it to express their inner feelings and their ideas perfectly without sheer desperation of not mastering an instrument well enough to do so. Also I found a lot of warmth and feeling, ranging from deep despair to jubilating joy in synth pop.

When I listen to synth pop nowadays, I find myself wondering, if I have gotten to old or maybe the music has not changed with me. In some cases it has. In some cases, artists have managed to retain the contagious spirit and the limitless possibilities, the DIY feeling and at the same time utter musical perfection and also fast-forward their music to the present and beyond.

Enter Perpacity. The British-Danish duo of Ian Harling and Martin Nyrup can rely on impressive musical experience and quite a back catalogue (saying that, it would probably be even bigger, that back catalogue if it was not for their perfectionism!) Long and hard they have been working on their new album and finally Perpacity have revealed the release date of their new œuvre “The order of Now”. September 7th 2018, right after the summer lull for instance via their Bandcamp site:  Thank you very much indeed to Ian and Martin for entrusting Offbeat Music Blog and of course my radio shows with an exclusive early bird listen to the album.

As always, I’d like to say, it can take months to get to know an album properly. Times might have changed. We consume faster and more superficial but it still stands for me: To get to know and love an album, you have to listen often, intensively and in all kind of situations. But I will try my very best to give you an initial impression.

The order of Now - new album by Perpacity

The wait for Perpacity’s new album might have been long but you will now be spoiled with a whopping 13 tracks on “The order of Now”.

With short “Alpha Exordium” the journey begins. Musically the intro already indicates what to expect: A polished production, wide landscapes, headphone moments galore. According to “Alpha Exordium” the album is going to be about the future and indeed new beginnings. Looking forward to silver linings here and no doom and gloom then.

Without spoiling all the surprises awaiting you: “Gone” is a perfectly polished melancholic pop song with hope rendered from a normal failing human lyrically. Followed by the dance floor sexy wonder of “More”.

Keeping up the speed but turning more story-telling and soundscapey now (more than a hint of Depeche Mode here, not a bad thing at all), song “Rule The Day” is a call to break the routing and dedicated to a certain Finn Narp

Calling for true love and honesty and support in the quest are melodious introspective “Love Is The Lie” and “Out Of Nothing” (where we even hear a bit of Danish).

“Telethon” is the second single of the album and already available and presents for me in a nutshell what musically the new album by Perpacity is all about: harmonious and dreamy, danceable at times, a good knack for melodies and loads of little musical gimmicks to discover that do not overload but are each in the right place.

Both “Telethon” and “Creeps Beneath Your Skin” are slightly bitter post-relationship analyses, I would presume, the latter riding along on a lighter poppier note though.

“Dance To Disco” might be misleading…she does not want to dance to disco…another look at the past and moving on with a song that I instantly liked as it sounds as if your slowing down a record ever so slightly, pulling the brakes on.

Perpacity are brimming over with melancholic but hopeful love songs and hooky melodies. The voice never comes too much into foreground but melts perfectly with the rest of the music, yet the lyrics are finding their way.

The final track “Omega Cacumen” is a short almost spiritual instrumental that has an open ending.

So that’s where Perpacity leaves us and I leave you for now. I do recommend warmly to give Perpacity’s abundance of new songs a listen and guarantee they will accompany a long time to come.

 

Recommended: New albums by Elkhorn, Mary Lattimore and Prana Crafter

“Lionfish” by Elkhorn (Eiderdown Records)

Recommended: New albums by Elkhorn, Mary Lattimore and Prana Crafter

Fervent readers of this blog will already be familiar with Elkhorn, the duo of Drew Gardner on electric guitar and Jesse Sheppard and their beautiful release “The Black River” gelling all forms of American guitar music into something wondrously excitingly new and yet heartwarmingly familiar. They are back with a new release called “Lionfish” on Eiderdown Records, an EP that features two very long tracks, not surprisingly named “Lion” and “Fish”. By all means, read the full story of the making of the record. In short: Drew was diving, met a gorgeous lionfish, touched it, got stung, enjoyed the venom. Jesse manufactured the venom into powder with which the duo experimented as an inspiration for the record. Is it true? I honestly don’t know. I do know, that both tracks on the EP hijack you into a long journey that will not bore you, too many exciting things are at the wayside and welcome rests and getaways included.

Prana Crafter: “Enter The Stream” (Sunrise Ocean Bender / Cardinal Fuzz)

Recommended: New albums by Elkhorn, Mary Lattimore and Prana Crafter

Which brings us to the very man who recommended Elkhorn to me in the first place. He goes by the name of Will Sol or musically: Prana Crafter. In the past few years I have been enjoying Prana Crafter’s cathartic mildly psychedelic music from the heart of the Washington woods immensely and am always looking forward to new releases. But this new one is very special indeed. Prana Crafter for the first time made an album that is not just a collection of tracks but is a story in itself, a mystical, unwinding, eye-opening, totally enjoyable one called “Enter The Stream”. I swear you hear that stream and the clear waters. I picture Prana Crafter in the house (for a change, as like me, he draws a lot of energy and life from nature around him), the walls being translucent and nature and music can just float in and these inspirations flow out of him again in the shape of music…for want of a better description: -)

Just like a stream the moods and instrumentation, the whole songs flow and float and take you with Prana Crafter. Something else is new, too, Prana Crafter sings! And that is a wonderful addition to the music which you can check out here:

Mary Lattimore: “Hundreds Of Days” (Ghostly International)

Recommended: New albums by Elkhorn, Mary Lattimore and Prana Crafter

You would assume that owning a harp as an instrument makes your music pretty specific, stuck to a certain genre and yourself pretty isolated (never mind dragging that instrument about). Not so for Mary Lattimore, she has of course played with so many artists now and on her own, that most of you will be well-acquainted with the singular rejuvenating style, with her openness to other music and with the appreciation of both fellow musicians and the listeners. She dared though, so she won! A restless traveller, a lovely person to meet and a musician who crafted a new album called “Hundreds Of Days”. And just like Prana Crafter, there is something very new about Mary Lattimore’s new album: She sings! And she plays other instruments! Both goes very well with trusted and beautiful “Harpie” and Harpie’s sidekick, the loop gadget. This is an intoxicating, floating, feather-light album, warm-hearted album that already gave me days of listening delight and hopefully will be a source for your enjoyment this summer too.

Enjoy your summer with these very special musical moments!