Elkhorn, Envy The West, Happy Sadness, somesurprises

Music – what would we do without it? As always I am thankful for all those musicians out there who present us with their hard work, their innermost thoughts and the beautiful results. Today I would like to draw your attention to new releases by Elkhorn, Envy The West, Happy Sadness, somesurprises.

Elkhorn

Jesse Sheppard (12 string acoustic) and Drew Gardner (electric guitar) will release their first album “The Black River” on April 14th as lush 175g vinyl with UV spot gloss sleeve and in digital format on April 28th via Debacle Records.

Elkhorn, Envy The West, Happy Sadness, somesurprises

References and collaborations of Elkhorn may not only make my mouth water: “Black River” will straddle the whole story of american guitar music. It digs into folk, Americana, jazz and psychedelia. Somewhere between American primitive guitar and the likes of Ben Chasny and Tom Carter. Elkhorn however shine as a duo in contrary to the solo artists. The combination of the fingerpicked acoustic guitar creating a tender background with the electric adding a magnetic psych layer, bliss. Music that takes you in and lets you dream.

Now, why oh why, did Elkhorn sound so familiar to me? Aaah, there it is: Philadelphia-based filmmaker Jesse Sheppard has worked with artists such as Glenn Jones, Daniel Bachman and Nathan Bowles (any fan of the record labels Thrill Jockey, Paradise of Bachelors and Three Lobed Records will savour this).

His performance documentary featuring Jack Rose, The Things That We Used To Do, came out on Strange Attractors Audio House in 2010. Which of course then easily explains that the recording of “Black River” took place in Jason Meagher’s Black Dirt Studio (home ground of Jack Rose, Nathan Bowles, Steve Gunn et al).

Drew Gardner is a multi-instrumentalist who has led bands featuring avant-garde musicians such as John Tchicai and Sabir Mateen, and often conducts experimental collaborations on the fringes of the New York improv music scene.

Right, now, those are SOME credentials…but Elkhorn’s music absolutely tops the expectations arisen. Here you can see the video for “The Black River” of the new album by Elkhorn (thank you for the permission).

A big thank you to Prana Crafter for referring Elkhorn to me!

Envy The West

Envy The West do not have to do so. I mean, envy the west. Pim Derene (vocals, guitar), Marcus van Slingerland (guitar), Geriejan Rockx (bass) and Robert van Eck (synth) hail from the Netherlands but they play indie Americana at its best. (Alt-country sounds fine but alt-anything has become such a negative wording lately…).

“Cave, Cash, Cohen and Curtis dancing on prozac” someone wrote and that is a perfect description and yet you would have to listen to Envy The West’s music to really get as engulfed by it as I have done.

Elkhorn, Envy The West, Happy Sadness, somesurprises

Envy The West were founded in 2001, released their debut album “Folding Fangs” in 2004. It was later on, after much touring and their second album that they have reached their full potential.

On April 14th their new EP Prison will be released. I was allowed a sneak preview (thank you guys) and this is going to be lovely, I swear. Six songs of touching and hypnotic indie Americana with loads of little arrangement touches to discover and yet keeping it simple and to the point. A knack for songwriting Envy The West truly possess. Here comes the first official video for a song featured on “Prison”:

Happy Sadness

Isn’t sadness the driving force behind much of songwriting? Where we all want the artist to be happy but then again, alas, do not want to do without the cathartic music? So there is a kind of happy sadness and I find that the music of the band Happy Sadness encapsulates this feeling perfectly.

Elkhorn, Envy The West, Happy Sadness, somesurprises

Happy Sadness is the solo project of Leeds-born Jason Brown who is also a visual artist. You will not be able to listen to Happy Sadness’ music on the side as it will take you in completely. The new EP is called From The Window and again, if you go by the name you cannot go wrong – sitting and watching and dreaming. My colleague Sandra Zettpunkt had it down to a tee: Headphone music, soundtrack music. Very tender and a lot of layers to discover.

somesurprises

Out already on Eiderdown Records you will find the new album by somesurprises from Seattle. some surprises initially was a solo project of Natasha El-Sergany in Virginia. She composed, sang and played all the instruments. Emotions play a big part in the music, especially the heartbroken kind and it is beautifully rendered.
Elkhorn, Envy The West, Happy Sadness, somesurprises

After moving to Seattle, Natasha worked with friends from the underground experimental music community which had a deep impact on her songwriting.

In 2016 Natasha began performing with Josh Medina (Medina/Walsh), who adds warm atmospheric tones and effects on electric guitar. Later that year Nico Sophiea was added on drums and Andrew Scott Young on bass.

Natasha released a solo cassette called “Voice Memos” in 2016 via Happy Accident Records and teamed up with Josh to record the very new album called “Serious Dreams”.

And that’s what it is: Serious dreaming can be done with those songs in your ears.  As hard to describe as a dream, as hard to capture as a dream. But oh so beautiful. Listen for yourself:

And the beat goes on with Marie Danielle

Happy New Year everyone and I hope that it will be a joyous 2016 for all of you!

What’s in a date really – what changes? But there is a light that never goes out and for me as for most of you (else you would not be reading this) it is music.

If we concentrate on just the musical side of life, we may say that in retrospect, 2015 has been a good year in music and I would like to thank all artists for giving us the gift of their art and will try to continue to support them as much as I can.

With two radio jobs on the side in my leisure time (what leisure time?), this wee blog is sometimes hard to keep up but I will do my very best. My good intentions for the new year are made surprisingly easy with the upcoming releases of some truly great musicians, one of which is Marie Danielle.

Have a look at her great website. I will give you a short recap here:

Marie Danielle hails from LA and her music encompasses all that is great in American music. Ballads, folk pop, some rockers. Marie has a beautiful voice. Just like for instance Sharon van Etten she employed songwriting and singing as a cathartic method to overcome an abusive relationship. Thankfully for us, Marie contacted Simone Felice of Felice Brothers and sent him demos.

To cut a long story short: We are now looking at the result – a collaboration between Marie, Simone, Christian Wargo of Fleet Foxes and David Baron (Simone Felice’s production partner) and an album called “Hustler”.

On “Hustler” we find the first single “Soldier” (with The Felice Brothers), a cover version of a Bright Eyes song and many more goodies.

I was kindly given the opportunity to listen to the songs before their official release by Marie. Still working my way through (which is a very good sign, meaning that there is a lot to discover on this album and the songs are growing on you, getting addicted to a different one each phase of time and mood and then starting all over again), I am getting struck at present at the beautifully sparse, elegiac “White Shoes”.

“Hustler” will be released in February on Mighty Hudson Records in the US and on Tonetoaster Records in Europe. And then, Marie Danielle will come to tour in Germany and the UK!!! Keep your eyes peeled for the gigs!

Here are some soundbites:

Thank you Marie and you made the start into 2016 a lovely one!

Brigid Power-Ryce

Sorry to have been so quiet lately…been on hols which were fabulous but induced a lot of knee pain which is finally being looked into this week. But enough of that – music was there as usual to lend an ear, to console and to uplift. Of course I will share the music with you.

You know this idea that some people breach to you, that you should actually buy books online. Apart from wanting to support my local book shop however, an online book thingie does not really lend itself to browsing. I know, they try and give you recommendations but honestly, did this ever work for you?

If, on the other hand, an artist recommends other artists and I happen to like that artist’s work a lot, that recommendation is worth gold. (Thank you eternally, Jazzbutcher, for recommending Flann O’Brien and P.G. Wodehouse in my youth to me).

So, not only has Heather Woods Broderick a fine album out herself (“Glider” – ah, go on, you know you want it!), she also made her love of Brigid Power-Ryce‘s work public (Brigid Power-Ryce worked together with Heather’s brother Peter Broderick amongst many others – if you search online you can also find a great little blog of Brigid’s on that tour). And here goes:

Brigid Power-Ryce paints and draws (note her funny and cute cartoon like drawings of animals and her dreamy, intricate paintings that also come with her albums). Brigid Power-Ryce sings and plays guitar and piano. With a name like that, yes, she hails from Ireland (Galway, to be precise) but feels at home all over the world.

If you generally take the amazing musical heritage of Galway on the Irish West Coast which always has the feel of the wide and wild  and eternal Atlantic to it and add a beautiful voice that is not ashamed to just be that voice and to let that voice sing high and confidently and optimistically but lyrically probing and questioning and searching herself and others and relationships. Actually she puts her whole self into her voice, unblinking, letting it rip and it totally captivates. Don’t get me wrong, this is not traditional music, neither is it pure singing-songwriting, Brigid’s music has matured to something truly her own over various releases which you can find on Bandcamp and Soundcloud. Her latest offering is the album “I Told You The Truth” recorded in a church for total immersion in her music.

Come in:

Here is another one for your delectation (and mine: Brigid, thank you so much!)

More music from Glasgow: Yaya Club

Darren Vincent moved from his native High Lands to Glasgow, venue city, media hotpot, centre of creativity in Scotland. There the singer-songwriter, so he says, can often be found baking banana bread (yummy) and stealing the neighbour’s cat – I hope the two are not connected in any way. He performs under the moniker of Yaya Club.

His first release was the EP “Poor Sheesht”, pure American tradition, beautifully rendered. Then followed “Born In The Eighties” featuring a lush band sound. The man takes folk, country, pop and blues and makes it all his own. Does he ever write a huge big profile about himself? Er, nope. But he can blather, preferably on stage. And I imagine a YaYa Club gig to be musically intense, professionally executed with loads and loads of funny natter in between!

If you cannot make it to one of his gigs, either solo, or supporting or playing with others, you can listen to loads of Yaya Club’s tracks on his soundcloud page.

Why am I telling you all this? BECAUSE Darren Vincent is working on new stuff, a new album is coming in a few weeks, during holiday time, so for crying out loud: Don’t miss it,  watch this space!

Here are a few tracks for your delectation:

(Sorry, have to compose myself here, hanging off the chair laughing, listening to “Fluffy Sheep”…I would also like to introduce you to “Geez A Swatch” merely for the title which translates as “Let me have a look”. But now, guys, seriously…)

From the forthcoming album, this is “Wandering Girl”:

And old favourite “Sometimes”