mike todd's 'euphrates' is the kind of song i really enjoy featuring on MFOA. mike, unlike the average MFOA contributor, has not used digital/social media to craft an online artistic identity through which to promote his work. but i let him know how to get a track to me to feature, and it was worth it. if you read my updated 'about' section, you'd know this is fine with me, just some of your music, streaming, and little real message is all i need. anyway...
'euphrates' is a topical song, beautifully written and performed, that tells to story of humanity's gradual forsaking of our mother (the earth) from the time we started farming and building cities in the fertile crescent to the horrible warfare and rapacious resource extraction practices that happen there today. it's a poetic, moving song, and mike has a good voice and solid fingerstyle folk guitar skills. i'm glad this one made it through.
there are a few more songs on his youtube channel. this contribution is refreshing to me, and represents another facet of what this site is truly about.
rocheleau/bussière/couture is an improvisational noise trio from quebec. their new album 'rbc' seems to be a set of variations on the theme of their collaboration itself, some of which is conducted from a distance.
each song title is a variation on 'rbc' ('run! bleed! create!', 'roof burning catastrophe'), which adds to the thematic cohesion of the album. the music is a combination of harsh electronic noise, found sounds, radio samples and other signals, all recorded in a free improvised manner.
anielle reid is a singer/songwriter and banjoist who uses her considerable banjo skills to craft a folk/pop sound that incorporates more world music flavors, as opposed to oft heard stomps, strums and shuffling snares that have become so familiar in that genre. this builds on the sound of her former duo red winter, which had some great tunes with a similar approach. i featured a song from her solo debut 'ain't like 'em' here before. today, i've got the video for the jam 'morality' from that same record.
'ghost' is the debut long player from folk duo native harrow. the album contains spectral folk pop atmospherics created by dreamy lead guitar melodies, stretched rhythms, and reverby vocals.
there is quality songwriting to be found in the warm, soft-focus landscape of this album's production. one of the best examples is the moving, biography-like story-song 'kirah', which i was feeling pretty hard, right down to the back-up vocals on it's chorus. childhood memories of the power-women songwriters of the late 80's early 90's sufficiently brought back.
finnish guitarist elmo karjalainen shreds the guitar, and on his new album 'the free guitar album', he offers you a heap of thunderingly heavy, lightning fast instrumental prog-metal jams.
definitely for fans of yngwie malmsteen or steve vai type action, elmo could give any of those wizards a run for their money in some sort of supernatural guitar competition judged by demons. all types of guitar theatrics are present...sweep picking, tap solos, crazy effects. check out a preview track below.
'easy chair' is the lead single from the upcoming EP 'medicine show' by the john mancini band. it's a moody americana track about hard times and hard traveling, with that possibly unreachable place of rest as a light at the end of the tunnel.
sinuous acoustic guitar licks and ominous mandolin trickles fill out the minimal, snare driven americana production.
seattle, washington duo diamond wolf make contemporary folk/pop with sense of drama and harmony. their new album 'your time will come' was recorded among a 'forest of mics' (i like that description) and has a strummy, stompy vitality and reverby warmth to it.
while the instrumentation is generally acoustic, a lot of these songs have a rock-type swagger about them.
andrea schiavelli is a musician and bedroom recording artist based in new york city. his latest release 'souls on fire' is a collection of demos, but as i find so often listening to music for MFOA, the demo is the record. 'souls on fire' is a varied collection, featuring a kaleidoscope of approaches to bedroom music making...there are moments of wry folk, psychedelicisms, 80's synths, and goth-pop nuances.
andrea has a feel for weird but deeply listenable home-made pop. this is the kind of lofi work that combines a stately neatness and attention to detail with the tape fuzz. i recommend this one highly. check out some preview tracks below. i am glad that one of them is 'falling off ship', a dark synth-pop jam that demanded me to hit rewind.
you can get this and a lot of other great releases on cassette from OSR tapes, but you have to do it the old fashioned way. get a catalog here.
hilrant is the tape-name of british mutlitracker paul tilley. like many of us home recording obsessives, he has been at it for years, producing a massive back catalog documenting his journeys down every kind of musical path. 'retrospectre' is a sampler of all this action, available now on CD from the olympia, washington DIY label tongue & groove (on which some of my music will soon be appearing).
hilrant's music has a wide breadth, including homespun brit-pop, atmospheric synth soundscapes, placid folky psychedelia, and lots of other zones. 'retrospectre' is the life of a DIY home recordist flashing before your ears, in all it's experimental glory. kind of what this site was made for.
i've featured bedroom (in this case, chicken shack) recordist david ivan neilbefore, and i was excited to hear more. he also recently sent me a very interesting lathe-cut plastic record with a some tunes from his last album, which my cheap turntable had a few issues playing due to it's small size.
the lathe-cut plastic record
his new work, 'the bradner numbers EP' retains the oustider aesthetic of his previous release 'new country home', but the songs, while recorded starkly with a guitar and voices, a touch of toy piano (very daniel johnston) and some cold sounding reverb, are more upbeat and rocking. the lyrics are strange and disorienting and are combined with some wild lalas and ohohs at times, adding to the outsider effect. i believe this EP was literally recorded outside. i recommend downloading this and also trying to track down one of those lathe-cut records.
sleeping orchard is guitar/drums two-piece band from london. i generally love guitar/drums duos, but it is a challenging arrangement to pull off. on their self titled album, sleeping orchard does it pretty well with minimal additional production, just a little bit of synth and bass here and there.
there are moments of tight, rhythmic jamming and moments of laid-back country lope in the rootsy rock of this album.
maria torenson is a singer/songwriter from norway. her lushly produced, heartfelt ballad 'the mountain' is accompanied by by upbeat modern folk rock production that supports her rich voice well. it's also accompanied by a video that has polar bears in it, i love bears!
the guitar playing goes from jazzy/prog rock figures to psychedelic drones. you would be wrong to pigeonhole this under the folk genre (sonically that is), due to the dark, progressive style of the melodies and leads.
adam hill is a musician and composer from squamish, british columbia. though he works in many different genres, he sent me his shot at traditional styled folk music, 'old paint'. it's an album that slaps and thrums with old-time energy. adam has added a few unique touches as well, such using a cello for the lines that might usually be played on a fiddle in this type of music, giving some the songs a very ominous tone that to my ear is fitting for these haunting mountain tunes. there is a deft hand put to some old reels as well, such as the lovingly worn standard 'soldier's joy', which is done here in a great version with a slight nod to the classical.
i have to note that on the bandcamp page, credit was given to the canadian government for providing some funds to help make the album. see, in civilized countries, the government subsidizes artists, breaking off a little slice of the money they use to develop new ways to kill and subjugate people and pay themselves large salaries and give large conglomerates all their taxes back to help promote the arts. australia does it too. i noticed the same type of acknowledgement on the back cover of the badass new courtney barnett LP.
i guess i'm done ranting about that...check out 'old paint'.
there is a tune on here called 'bentonville blues' that takes wal-mart to task over its labor relations policies. get the album here.
whim is the stage name of portland, oregon singer/songwriter sarah dimuzio. on her new EP 'songs for the funeral guest', she displays her talents of confessional balladry in a stylish folk-pop setting, backing up her picking and strumming with light drums, piano, some strings, tambourine, bass, and i believe the unique banjo-lele type thing pictured on the album cover.
'the big bad wolf' is the debut single from spanish synth-pop band fizzy soup. it's a moody, dark tune with absolutely huge choruses underpinned by grinding synthbass and wailing organs and guitars. the vocal is carried by a male-female harmony that adds to the tension in the song's softer lulls. check out the well made and spooky video below.
joey pizza slice (AKA son of salami AKA citizen slice, and so on) is a lofi recording artist solidly on top of that game. this tune, 'you're right on time', demonstrates his touch with pop/rock songwriting and a tascam 4-track and is available on the excellent album 'OSR#33' from OSR tapes, which you can figure out how to order through analog methods here.
the recording style and artistic ambition of JPS runs a lot deeper than that. his latest recordings are done on modified portable tape recorders, old dictaphones basically, from which he has removed the erase head to allow for a type of primitive multitracking, that due to the fact that the existing signals can not be heard when recording new audio, requires adding a rhythmic discipline to the act of recording itself.
when i watched the following video detailing the method, my mind was blown when i thought about the ways in which this technique eliminates the boundary between what we think of as different actions...playing and recording music. JPS turns those into a singular process, and the results are weird, intimate, fragile, catchy and rare.
eli winter is a young adept in the school of american primitive solo acoustic guitar performance. he shared with me a video of a live set of his which includes a number of solid original tunes as well as covers from the old and new of the american primitive pantheon (fahey, basho, rose, bachman) that more than demonstrate his skills.
that's all the internet presence i've got for eli, but i wouldn't be surprised if there was more in the future.
laura joy is a singer/songwriter from chicago, and she is a veteran of the small venue scene there. her latest EP, 'between our worlds', is a heartfelt selection of upbeat, handcrafted folk/pop tunes, backed up by a minimal but very tight band.
the EP provides a showcase for laura's singing, guitar playing, and poetic lyricism.
the song is a hazed out jammer, with a distant, disaffected but pretty vocal melody buried under a mountain of guitars moving forward on a plodding, unstoppable groove. the song burns out but does not fade away in an explosion of heavy wah pedal action. i'm looking forward to hearing the rest of the album, which, like the other releases from OR, i pre-ordered.
get it on limited cassette or digital right here. pre-ordered cassettes ship out around june 11th. if you need more right now, you can check out their EP here.
'turning trickster' by italian band hysm? consists of two songs: the title track, an hour and twenty minutes long, a distorted recording of a native america trickster legend (i think) with droning free-noise rock over, under and around it, and 'i don't love nobody', a minute and twenty seconds long, a fuzzy sample of a bluesy, unaccompanied vocal and bird songs panned to a strange effect.
it's pretty good. i'm not completely sure if hysm? is a band, a label, or both (probably both). there is a release by noise/folk experimentalists big drum in the sky religion on their bandcamp, among other artists.
union specific is a down home band of roots-rockers from austin, texas. throughout the playing time of their newest album 'howlin room', they stomp, chug and croon in harmony on booze-drenched americana ballads.
shredding takes place on the usual alt-country arsenal, pedal steel, mandolin, banjo and twangy tele all get their playing time. i like the message and melody of 'oops ma (we taught the boy)'
i have to give cagey house some credit for describing their (his? i think this a one man band) album 'sometimes always never' in the most cryptic way i have seen lately:
'mellow free. this, while at summer playground. pattern cycle, grasping voices. waver, ascension, bell, string.'
to be fair, after hitting play i think that is as good a description as any. 'sometimes always never' seems to me to be at its heart a jazz album, but it has minimalist inspiration and contains elements of musique concrete. some of the tracks seem to be built on a foundation of jazz drumming, coupled with loose, fractured bits of electric piano melody, organ drones, and sometimes chanting. repeated sounds create a trance like atmosphere at times.
field recordings, conversations and street sounds can be heard in the background. some elements are subject to electronic manipulation. some tracks don't have the drums, all droning organs and chiming bells. maybe after reading the nonsense i just wrote, you understand why i think the artist's description is probably better.
i was pleasantly surprised recently to receive an email indicating that arachnidisc records was planning to re-release an archive of two out of print albums by canadian solo guitarist m. mucci on one long-playing cassette called 'secret midnights'. i have covered m. muccibefore and i am sold on his exceptionally mellow, patiently performed, atmospheric take on the amorphous genre that falls under the umbrella of 'american primitive'.
tape comes in a velveteen bag
the songs on each side of 'secret midnights' are performed on electric guitar, the notes are soft and round and drenched in reverb...the songs, melodies and musical ideas fade in and out of one another. this one is recommended for both active and passive listening.
get it here on cassette...it comes in a velveteen bag!
'borderland' is the debut extended player from chicago singer/songwriter and pianist sarah eide. she has a classical background, and it shows in the intricacy of her piano riffs, which also possess a rock'n'roll hustle. this release is standing out for me among the pack of singer/songwriter type things in that sarah's ability to lead her band through vibrant musical passages from behind the keyboard is obvious.
her lyrics are intricate too, they get wordy to the point of breathlessness in some faster paced moments, and are deeply personal, speaking to the struggle of existence on the...borderland between youth and adulthood. these songs remind me of the classic piano driven pop/rock/AOR of the 70's.
UK based folk duo cath and phil tyler play old time style folk songs that blend the english and american rustic ballad traditions. they accompany their clear, mountain-high harmonies with banjo, guitar and fiddle.
the songs on their newest release 'the song-crowned king' are sparse and airy and have an ancient mystery hanging about them.
i think the title of spanish band vidaguerilla'snew album translates to 'blues for anarchist goats'. the music is great...raw, lofi punk/blues, with what i'm guessing is a political edge to the lyrics.
elements of pure pop, world music, psych, techno, and electronica blend to create something that is good to listen to but defies your attempts to categorize it...which is something i love. this video is very psychedelic as well.
suburban birds of salt lake city deal in a laid back, spaced out brand of psychedelic indie rock that makes me wonder how easy it is to get weed in the capital of the mormon empire...
on their self titled debut EP, the suburban birds also add a little bit of funk to this trippy mix, with a very tight rhythm section anchoring the swirl of guitars and keyboards, and vocals that can range from high urgency to lysergic wonder.
i have feature MC and producer jep roadie (formerly stylized as JproD) a few times here, and here he is again with the most upbeat so far far of his soulful hip-hop jams, 'here i am'.
an ode to friendship (or love, or family bonds) strong enough to pull you out of the fire, the song slams along to a catchy piano loop, good for playing out of your car at a high volume, feeling it. a reminder that it's love that makes the horrible things in life bearable.
rosie tucker is an indie folk singer/songwriter based in los angeles. her debut album, 'lowlight', is collection of personal, confessional style folk songs that can go from whimsical to bitter.
the recording style is stark, highlighting rosie's raw, emotional voice, poetic lyrics, and thoughtful chord progressions. these parts add up to solid songwriting. the minimalism is only punctuated by occasional self harmonies and hand percussion, which are nice touches. i particularly like 'fix'er upper', which has a pleasant early simon and garfunkel vibe.
ethan james hagen is an american expatriot musician and recording artist in mexico. his music is an interesting blend of electronic elements, singer/songwriter type tunes, and a dose of new age finger picking.
the mood is mellow throughout. check out a few songs below.