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!

Into the new year

Wishing you all happy holidays here from the Offbeat hub, hope you are having a great time! Not happy with your presents? Needing some light in those dark winter days? Some incentive for the new year to come? I might just have the cure for you! At the very end of the old and well-worn year, some fine new releases for you that you might have overlooked in all the hullabaloo. So there we go, some quick recommendations this evening…into the new year.

Austin & Elliott

Into the new year

Lisa Austin and Chris Elliott came across this wee blog via the wonderful Molly Pinto Madigan who they supported many times. Lisa and Chris are based in Western Massachusetts, and provide you with all the acoustic dark and original  folk you might ever ask for. Not only fine on the ear with brilliant harmonies, Austin & Elliott deliver food for thought in their poetic, sometimes satirical lyrics as well.

“Cradle And Crow” is their third album and sports their creators’ manyfold musical influences and creative talent in one well of listening pleasure.

 

1921

Into the new year
1921

The wondrous music of 1921 is made by David Åhlen and Andreas Eklöf from Gothenburg, Sweden, to be found on the label Compuntio. Here we have an exceptional voice singing captivating melodies over an electronic-organic soundscape – it might fit into the genre chamber music if you so wish. As 1921, David and Andreas have just released “In My Veins” of which you can hear and see an appetiser below.

Rosemary & Garlic

Into the new year
Photo by Melissa Scharroo, Capribee

January 12th will see the release of the long-awaited self-titled debut album by Rosemary & Garlic on Nettwerk, following their EP “The Kingfisher”. Rosemary & Garlic are Anne van den Hoogen and Dolf Smolenaers from the Netherlands whose music is rooted in the folk and singer-songwriting tradition. However, the music transcends the genre and includes electronica, electric guitars and vintage embellishments. Above all hovers Anne‘s voice singing about emotions in methaphors from the natural world as practised in romanticism. If you need any more encouragement to lend Rosemary & Garlic an ear – Laura Marling included them in their favourites!

 

Brigid Mae Power

Into the new year
Tompkins Square

Keep your eyes open for Brigid Mae Power’s new album “The Two Worlds” to be released on February 9th, 2018 on Tompkins Square. The first single off it can already be savoured now: “Don’t shut me up politely”. Brigid says about her new album that it contains songs about her grandmother, songs about lost friendships, songs about balancing being settled and also being up in the clouds, songs about cutting out the crap and letting go of things that don’t serve you.

She recalls not being able to write about the past in a free environment and could only do so once she was back in Ireland, an environment she often experiences as repressive. Brigid Mae Power recorded the album in an analogue studio for a direct, live sound. “The Two Worlds” was produced by Peter Broderick, a collaboration that has already brought us Brigid’s riveting debut album.

New Apostles

Into the new year
New Apostles new album

After a 17 year hiatus, Nottingham’s New Apostles have started releasing their delicious mix of post-punk, krautrock and electronica again in 2015. Since then we have been enjoying the albums “West Bank”, “Apparatchiks” plus several EPs and “Recurring Dream” via Sunshine Beheaded. Their creativity flows unabated: Early December saw the release of New Apostles latest: “Antiquarian Medical Texts” with cover art to embellish the beautiful title perfectly. The sheer quantity and variety and musical and lyrical depth of songs on the album, makes for a lasting journey of discovery which I am still on. Join me!

Christopher Pellnat

Into the new year
Christopher Pellnat

Christopher Pellnat is a singer-songwriter from Hudson, New York. He also works as guitarist for The Warp/The Weft. Christopher’s solo album “Honey Venom Wings” is a tender, surprising, quirky journey into life at its fullest, covering the big questions of life, love and sometimes just a good old silly laugh. Adding to some of the songs of the album are Pete Toigo on upright bass and Molly Dechenne on violin. Enjoy!

Laucan and more

Summertime = no releases time? Ha, not really. Of course I will let you participate generously in the wealth of music to pick from and hope you will find something you will like or even love. First up:

Laucan

It was only in March that London musician Laucan (Laurence Alpin) released his first EP “Up Tomorrow”. Hey presto, here is his first album via Sunday Best: “Frames Per Second”. A dreamy, magical album with loads to discover (the strings sections are just beautiful). A debut album that will certainly in my collection last me a lifetime. Musically, Laucan is supported by Andrew Phillips – lyrically it is partly about the control of our own thoughts, releasing our outlooks from the prison we created for them.

Kerosene Stars

From there to something a bit more upbeat: Kerosene Stars from Chicago are Scott Schaafsma, Andy Seagram, Todd Honeyville, Jim Adair and Tom Sorich.  They are not afraid to play a catchy melody and they do it oh so well! Their latest releases are the EPs “Burn The Evidence” and “a million little trees” and out just now “The Lost EP”. Timeless, well-made gems!

Laucan and more

James Elkington

Staying in Chicago, for years now the home of James Elkington. You could not have missed James Elkington playing somewhere, surely? And you could not have missed his solo release? Just in case. Let me keep it short (a difficult feat in the case of information about Jim Elk). Steve Gunn calls him the best guitar player around and an incredibly humble person. Who would argue with Steve? Anyhow, that combination of skill and humbleness might just explain why James Elkington has only now released his first solo album after years of supporting other artists and bands (the list is endless: Jeff Tweedy, Richard Thompson, Steve Gunn, Brokeback, Eleventh Dream Day, Joan Shelley, Tara Jane O’Neil, Michael Chapman…). Initially he was frontman of a band called The Zincs but felt no need to be at the front or on the songwriting side for a long time. Thankfully he changed his mind and here we have his technically (he also plays drums, bass, piano…) wonderful and atmospherically wondrous album “Wintres Woma” (Paradise Of Bachelors)

 

 

Laucan and more
James Elkington by Timothy Harris

Moon Goose

Cherryshoes from Hay on Wye have us enthralled with their music. Wonderful news so that Cherryshoes now have a sister project: Moon Goose. Wait for it, I cannot keep their own description from you: “Moon goose has crawled out of the primal swamp and taken a good look around. The resulting bird has flapped madly around a barn with a load of guitars strapped to one wing and a synthesizer on the other, while it flies repeatedly into some drums. Made out of bits of comet and whalebone, the music that people are already calling ‘epic’ and ‘unlistenable’ throws a jagged beam of light in the growing darkness, to reveal some people using a barn as a giant amplifier. Duchamp put a toilet in an art gallery. Moon goose put music in a bag and shook it around until it was in bits, poured the bits out, and set fire to them. It’s the sound of a dragon colliding with an asteroid. If you enjoy things like gneiss, rare cheese, and strange ideas followed through to an illogical conclusion, you’ll love Moon goose.”

Laucan and more

There you have it – and you know what? That description fits and the music is absolutely hypnotising! Their debut EP Space Probe Shut Down is on its way. Here’s the first single: The mysterious coffins of Arthur’s Seat.

Prana Crafter

I leave you today with intriguing music from the Washington woods: Prana Crafter. His latest album “MindStreamBlessing” is the musical impersonation of the title. For my favourite track from it – Agatha’s gate – there is now a video available. Indulge here:

Red Eye, XAD, Twilight Fields

On this dreary Sunday (let’s not complain – we had an outrageously hot September here so far), it is time to dig into the blog again. I have some fine new three releases for you, covering a wide spectrum of the often unfairly put-into-one-box indie music genre. Red Eye, XAD, Twilight Fields.

Let’s get going:

Red Eye

Red Eye, XAD, Twilight Fields
Jose Parazon

Just out is a new sigle by Red Eye called “Moroccan fruit”. Red Eye are of the nowadays rare breed of musicians implying that every song should carry a message. What greater compliment could you receive than Billy Bragg himself commenting that Red Eye are a “powerful response to the “Is Protest Music Dead?” question?

Red Eye consists mainly of Trevor Perfect who writes the music and the lyrics and features guest vocalists.

“Moroccan Fruit” could not be any more up-to-date, dealing with the plight of refugees escaping from horrendous situations to Europe. The song does not scream, it does not accuses…it raises questions and asks for understanding and empathy in a tender way, sparsely arranged.

 

Trevor Perfect was inspired by thinking about what Nina Simone would sing about in the present. Then he saw the photo of Jose Palazon of the migrants’ rights group Pro De In. The photo shows Moroccan immigrants in Melilla, Spain, hanging onto a fence overlooking a golf course at a European border. Seeing the stark similarity with “Strange Fruit” lyrics, “Black bodies swinging from poplar trees”, and the Moroccans hanging from the border fence, the song was born.

“Moroccan Fruit” by Red Eye is available here.

Thanks to Aled from Beast PR UK.

XAD

Red Eye, XAD, Twilight Fields

XAD are a grunge rock band based in Haarlem, Netherlands. They have existed in three reincarnations since 2009. The present line-up of Alessandro – Bass, Amar – Druns, Ted – Guitar, Vocals and Kimmo, Production, have just released their third EP, A Distorted World History, which has a dark, raw, rocky, live performance feel to it.

The song titles and lyrics however reveal a deeper meaning than the simple rocking it out behind the band. The tracklist of the EP reads as follows:

You Believe (A Distorted World History), Enoch, Firedragon, Spaceship, Spanish Fly

The idea behind the EP is nicely portrayed on the back cover of the EP:

Red Eye, XAD, Twilight Fields

Of course there are some sounds for you to sample as well – you can find the new XAD songs on Spotify or via the band’s webpage. If you want to see something, there is live performance here of the song “Enoch”.

Twilight Fields

Red Eye, XAD, Twilight Fields

Twilight Fields hail from North Bay, Canada. They have just released “Further Up, Further In!”, their debut full-length album. So, who’s behind it? Allister Thompson, heading the band, has been a folk singer, but also a member of 70s-style glam band Crash Kelly. Under the name The Gateless Gate Allister has done Krautrock and as Khan Tengri a psych album. So you see, there are numerous influences or a huge bandwidth of musical taste as well as many years of experience as a musician of all kind of styles. Mind you, the different styles do touch at the edges and they certainly do for Twilight Fields.

In 2009, Allister did a progressive rock album called Shadowlands. Then we also have Teri-Lynn Janveau who is a classically trained pianist, who also composed and played with The Gateless Gate. Last but not least, veteran Canadian drummer Tim Timleck joined Twilight Fields.

Sound and atmosphere of this records would span a lot of influences, accordingly and lovers of psych and folk, of progressive rock and shoegaze will find something appealing in the album “Further Up, Further In!”

Thematically the record deals with serious issues. To quote Twilight Fields: This music asks big questions about life and loss; it’s serious music for serious-minded people.

You can find Twilight Fields’ releases on Bandcamp as well as older songs as well. Here are some soundbites for you: