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:

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: