elkhorn - s/t

elkhorn is an instrumental guitar duo from new york. they blend american primitive style finger picking with psychedelic wailing and riffing. the interplay between acoustic and electric tones allows them to explore the psychedelic edges of traditional folk styles and melodies.

the music is genre-spanning, improvisational and exploratory. the jams are minimal but they have a huge rock'n'roll edge. 'conference of the birds' is a true mind-bender. their new self-titled album will be out soon in a limited run of cassettes. you can preview a couple of tracks right here:

pre-order the cassette here.

henry black - mine

henry black is a folk singer from new york city. his songs are in a classic troubadour style, sung in a clear voice with some very nice guitar picking for accompaniment.

it's a sound reminiscent of the new york folk scene of the early 60's. check out this album he has made available for streaming on soundcloud:

henry's website is here.

the best of the modern folk music of america - netlabel day compilation

the modern folk music of america and practice records are proud to present 'the best of the modern folk music of america', a compilation of songs by favorite contributors to the site. this name-your-own-price compilation was put together in honor of netlabel day, which is like record store day for free/nearly free digital music. it's a cool thing.

the artists on this comp have all been featured here on MFOA at least once. i have formed friendships with some of them, collaborated on their recordings, released their albums, had my albums released by them, or just shot the shit on twitter. they are all folks making music here in our modern world. i'm proud to be able to bring this collection to you.

get the comp here. check out all the netlabel day special releases and participating labels/artists here.

catalan coast - s/t

catalan coast is an experimental synth project from southern germany. their new self titled cassette is out now on german 'xerox-label' midnight circles in a hand-dubbed, hand-xeroxed, hand-stamped made-to-order edition.

the compositions on this tape are made of synth tones on tape loops of different lengths overdubbed on a tascam 4 track. the varying loop lengths and sounds melt together to create rhythmic and microtonal events. side A has two songs, 'felt 1' and 'felt 2', each of which combines a spectrum of pitches across several loops to create wide, active drones. 'felt 2' especially has an organic pulse and shimmer. side B's longform title track is minimal in contrast to the songs on side A, building it's atmosphere with only two synth loops that work together at a calmer pace. the inconsistencies of the analog process can be heard as this glacial piece of music flows, analogous to the way this release as a physical object is produced. the same thing is copied over and over, but each copy is different than all of the others. a celebration of analog processes.

get the tape here. it can also be purchased as part of a bundle with all of midnight circle's july releases.

the sound of shellac - wayfaring strangers

norwegian folk musician and 78 rpm record archivist c. strom has released another collection of tape recorded 78's on his 'sound of shellac' bandcamp page. i love this eclectic collection of recordings of recordings...it's old fashioned and post-modern at the same time.

this installment, called 'wayfaring strangers', has music from all over the world, from the turn of the century to the 1950's. there are few names americans might find familiar, such as paul robeson and burl ives, and plenty of surprises too. it's a musical trip through time and space. i really enjoy 'the freight wreck at altoona' and 'the gambler's dying words', both from the 1920's.

name your price for it here.

bishops - dream easy

'dream easy' is the latest full length album from harrisonburg, VA rock band bishops. between bishops and azores, another harrisonburg band i wrote about last week which shares members with bishops, that town seems to have a lock on urgent, emotional punk-inflected power-pop with heavy songwriting skills.

bishops are masters of big choruses, sometimes employing the classic move of stomping on some type of rat or muff pedal to really make it hit home; think weezer's first record. the vocals on 'dream easy' are distorted in such a way as to re-enforce the hungover-before-the-night-ends vibes. listen closely for some sweet and subtle guitar melodies that pop up every once in awhile, and some shreddy solos. the album is out on cassette on valley cat records 7/12. you can preview the single 'think' for now. the title track is my favorite jam, but you'll have to wait.

pre-order the cassette here.

david ivan neil - single black toenail

i've featured a lot of music from prolific canadian outsider/folk artist david ivan neil, and here's some more. 'single black toenail' is the latest entry in his expediently recorded catalog of personal folk testaments. it's classic MFOA stuff, recorded at home on an iphone.

listening to david's music you immediately think of daniel johnston, and this release includes a cover of the daniel johnston tune 'brain wash'. i like the somewhat heartbreaking social commentary of the second track, 'a family in a walmart parking lot'. gotta say i don't like looking at the cover art though.

name your price for it here.

grant earl lavalley - let the light shine in (records)

grant earl lavalley is a desert-dwelling singer/songwriter. 'let the light shine in' is the b-side from his 'dark love' 7" out now on exit stencil records. it's an ominous slab of sun-baked americana, existing in a psychedelic-desert-noir territory that is weird and familiar at once.

the dark atmosphere of the song is made of a lightly pulsing organ, plucked guitar, some washes of distortion, and gloomy singing. the  music video, filmed in grant's hometown of joshua tree, california, has similar vibes.

get the 7" here.

buck gooter - stainless steel mirrors (video)

MFOA is back after a little bit of a break. i had too much to do, but now it's done. what better way to bring it back than a new video from industrial blues road dawgs buck gooter? this one is for the title track from their latest LP on feeding tube tube records, 'stainless steel mirrors'. there isn't much i can write about buck gooter that i haven't already written, but the more i listen, the more similarities i notice to the mystical exhortations and spacey, rhythm-heavy music of dub reggae...

get the LP here.

holy monitor - golden light/aeolus

'golden light/aelous' is the debut tape from greek kraut/psych band holy monitor. this release, out soon on ongakubaka records, represents a compilation of two digital self releases.

the jams within are reasonably concise but they go to spacey places on the wings of motorik-style rhythms, reverby vocals and cosmic, effects-driven guitar interplay.

pre-order the cassette here.

azores - copper beach

harrisonburg, VA rock'n'roll band azores is back with 'copper beach' the full length follow up to their excellent self-titled EP (available on cassette here). heavy, late-nite, remorseful pop/punk vibes run through the album like mixed liquors in a bar mat. the music is wound tight with a desperate tension and emotional energy.

the songwriting is very strong, you end up knowing everything and nothing about the people in the songs, and the choruses are huge and bitter. dark, sad rock at it's best, all tones on point. the LP is out soon but for now you can preview a few songs. 'under pressure man' is a true power-pop jammer.

pre-order the LP from funny/not funny records.

the big drum in the sky religion - more songs about religion and politics

prolific, shamanic noise/folk/punk/world/mystical band the big drum in the sky religion has a new release called 'more songs about politics and religion'.

the big drum in the sky religion produces their brand of ecstatic protest noise in two modes: long drones and short bursts. this happens to be a short burst kind of album, but it's 40 tracks long. excellent song titles, even better noise.

get it for free here.

kirill shirokov - self land's stain's II

'self-land's stains II' is a minimalist piece for one guitar by young russian contemporary composer kirill shirokov. this music is minimalist in every sense. this recording is the only time it has ever been performed, and it consists of a series of widely spaced, round, ringing single notes from an electric guitar.

the effect is unsettling, like the slow, nervous pace of horror movie scores can be, but the tone of the guitar is smooth. the listener is left to contemplate the silence left behind as one note dies away and wonder when the next will toll out.

get it for free from pan y rosas discos netlabel.

the james badfellows - principia romantices

virginia based rock band the james badfellows recently released a full length album, available on cassette, but i think you have to email them to ask for a copy. not the most efficient way to sell a tape but whatever.

the album is great, the sleazy vibes channel influences from chuck berry and the ronettes all the way to joy division and back across the dark soul of rock'n'roll, all while not taking it too seriously, or maybe taking it WAAAaaaAAAaaAAY too seriously, i'm not sure. these guys are some of my best friends and a great band so if you can figure out how, you should buy their tape. check out the single from it, 'principia romantices', below.

email the badfellows at thejamesbadfellows at gmail dot com to request a tape.

freddie nunez - heaven's in your head

'heaven's in your head' is the new full length album from brooklyn, new york singer/songwriter freddie nunez. i was excited to hear it because freddie is a friend and his previous release 'demos from the future' was so good.

'heaven's in your head' does not disappoint. all the melodic, sad-guy songwriting chops of the demos are there, but with lush alt-rock production that moves and shakes. freddie handles all the instrumentation except for the drums and his skills as a guitarist are on display. highly recommended.

get it here.

shamar - home and hearth

i am excited today to feature 'home and hearth', the latest album from florida artist shamar, whose debut, 'the samsara blues', i thought was excellent. 'home and hearth' is a departure from the cosmic/acoustic/blues style of the first album. it features deeper production, with lofi synths and drum machines brought to bear at times to craft spacey outsider pop vibes. minimalist acoustic songs remain, however, as well as a reverb soaked a capella opening track.

shamar has kept the dense imagery and lyricism that characterized 'the samsara blues', but with 'home and hearth' he seems to have been able to spend more time focusing on home-studio trickery, to great effect. i can't emphasize enough how great the lyrics are, as well. recommended.

get it here.

north country primitive - new dimensions in fingerstyle volume one

'new dimensions in fingerstyle volume one' is a compilation of american primitive guitar from some of the newest up and coming practitioners put together by manchester, UK based music blog north country primitive.

it features many artists i've covered, and many i had not yet heard. it's good stuff and i recommend it highly.

get it here.

lookout rock recording company - collected: winter waiting

i've written about alaskan outsider folk artist lookout rock recording company before, though he went by different names.

i wonder if his current name is a nod to corwood industries, the company name under which jandek sells his records. LRRC has similar vibes to jandek, although this extensive set, 'collected: winter waiting', features some better produced (still lofi!) and more structured numbers. a returning MFOA champion. recommended.

get it here.

mcgarnagle - phantom vibrations

mcgarnagle (named, i'm guessing, for this dirty harry parody from the simpsons) is a weirdo folk duo from bethlehem, pennsylvania. their music is hard to categorize. they employ a number of twinkly and twangy instruments that are rarely heard, such as tenor banjo, toy piano and glockenspiel, to create a mystical and organic psychedelic atmosphere around their unique melodies, which fluctuate from average folk to eastern swirl to heavy metal influence. the latest album is called 'phantom vibrations'

this is one of those contributions you'll have to check out for yourself if you really want to get it. recommended. great song titles too, such as 'i'd tongue fiona apple's butthole'.

get it here.

baby bear lo-fi - 5300'

baby bear lo-fi is a folk musician from miami, florida. his songs are, as his stage name suggests, lofi, but they are also in a bare-bones traditional appalachian style. his latest album '5300' consists of high lonesome claw-hammer banjo reels and ballads and some great sounding jaw harp solos that give the album a true vibe of the holler. sounds like some alternative tunings were in play as well.

looks about right

baby bear lo-fi must live in the only holler in the greater miami area (i am kidding, i don't like to be narrow minded about the geography of folk music). great album, highly recommended. 'old joe clark' is a great variation on one of my favorite traditional melodies.

get it here.

amit buium - void

amit buium is a singer/songwriter and composer from israel. her new album is called 'void'. it opens with quiet synths and wind sounds that evoke the title. the wind sounds die out as a four-on-the-floor bass drum sound kicks in, followed by the melody, then the wind sounds blow back in. 'void' is an atmospheric album that blends traditional song craft with electronic soundscapes and post-rock explorations.

long-form songs drift through movements like a time-lapse video of clouds. walls of synths build and drop away, drum machine beats ramp up to nothingness, guitar chords echo off into outer space. not like anything i've heard. recommended.

get it here.

farseek - march

'march' is the latest album from one man, ohio based bedroom folk/pop/punk act farseek. farseek has a handle on making lofi songs with big hooks and emotional appeal. there are some excellent guitar riffs along the way.

this guy doesn't like the grateful dead, but i'll forgive him.

i'm into it, but i can't endorse talking shit on the grateful dead. recommended either way. i especially dig the closing jam 'too weird'.

get it here.

c. reider and jeph jerman - pop variations

'pop variations' by c. reider and jeph jerman is a meditation on the physicality of records. it's a manipulated recording of a lathe cut record playing back recordings of cracks and pops that you tend to hear on worn vinyl records...about as meta-musical as you could get.

there are some very interesting sounds that come out of this convoluted conceptual framework.

get it for free here from pan y rosas discos.

wood lake - easy love

'easy love' is the single from 'hell', the upcoming album from ontario based rock band wood lake.

it's a slow burning song with lush production featuring mountains of synths over a central electric piano riff and a chill back beat. the vocals are warm and close and deliver a big melodic hook.

get it here.

ian francis - murky water

ian francis is a musician from baltimore, maryland. his newest song, 'murky water', is sort of an anti-gospel song. it has a big, slow building, charismatic/religious atmosphere, but it doesn't feel holy.

the menacing organ drone and atmospheric guitar line along with the percussion and back up singers give the song serious nick cave vibes.

get it here.


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