The good guys at Soundsupp.ly do monthly “drops” that include 10 really good albums for 15 bucks. This month they’re doing weekly Mini Drops of 5 albums for $10! This week’s is “Two X Chromosomes and a Microphone,” which features bands led by women. IC faves Venna and Secret Mountains are both included! Seriously, check it out. These guys are working hard to get good music out to the public at an affordable rate.
Fiery Crash, whose recent album CarbondaleI really enjoyed, has dropped a compilation album of b-sides and covers called Gable Woods. I highly recommend that fans of Elliott Smith check it out.
And, because I’m getting back into running shape for a half-marathon in November, it’s time for the RunHundred update.
The Top 10 Workout Songs For April
Collaborations reign in this month’s workout playlist. Justin Bieber lent Will.I.Am a hand on the latter’s latest. Italian super producer Alex Gaudino turned the mic over to Jordin Sparks. Lastly, Pitbull and Christina Aguilera urged folks to seize the day–while seizing, for themselves, the hook from ’80s classic “Take On Me.”
Here’s the full list, according to votes placed at Run Hundred–the web’s most popular workout music blog.
I love reading and writing poetry. (I am likely one of the few people in the world who was so moved as to do a happy dance when Natasha Trethewey was named United States Poet Laureate.) So I was thrilled to hear that folk/country outfit Red Sammy had teamed up with poet Steve Matanle for these poems with kerosene. The gritty, gravelly-voiced country fits perfectly with Matanle’s detailed scenes, making for a fascinating album. The two only team up for “Nightriff,” instead preferring to trade spread the four spoken-word tracks among the eight songs. This creates an intriguing flow for the album, making both the songs and the poems memorable.
The tunes are low-slung, largely eschewing treble, cymbals, and screaming guitar solos. This melodic breathing room allows for more nuance in the tunes, giving “Rank & File” a solemn beauty. “Monstertruck” throws in an acoustic slide-guitar solo from the low end of the frets, something I love to hear in this pop-friendly era. The low-end riffing continues on the collaborative track “Nightriff,” foregrounding Matanle’s dry but still evocative voice over the guitar. The descriptive, abstract poem itself is eclipsed in quality by the much more concrete “Hobbies of the Damned,” “Man with a Suitcase,” and “Bar,” all of which tether their small revelations to finely explained events. Matanle gets a lot done in a few words, as none of his spoken word pieces go over 1:30; this is the perfect length to serve as powerful interludes between the longer Red Sammy songs (roughly 4 minutes each).
these poems with kerosene isn’t near as volatile as its title would suggest: it’s more of a slow-burner, working its way into your consciousness bit by bit. Both Steve Matanle and Red Sammy have contributed pieces that give you space to think: they don’t hit you over the head anything. That’s a welcome blessing. kerosene is a must-hear for alt-country fans.
(p.s.: I would love to hear more pairings like this, songwriters. And I’d love to be a part of one, too.)
Fiery Crash is a prolific songwriting project by Josh Jackson (not the Paste editor-in-chief) that specializes in hazy, acoustic-led dream-pop. There are occasional moments of noisy clutter, but Carbondale is largely a chill affair that finds its stride on ambling, easy-going tunes which allow Jackson’s mid-range voice to meander in an M. Ward-esque way (“Forward,” “Caroline”).
The best tracks show off Jackson’s ability to create and sustain moods through subtle, appealing instrumental arrangements: “Drought Finale” pairs a quirky lead guitar line with an ethereal arrangement while Jackson casually tosses off a speak/sung vocal melody. These moves result in an engaging idiom that could be mined for a long time.
There are still some youthful missteps, as in the vocally overbearing “Headrone” and the grating “Half Life,” but they are balanced out by sublime instrumental moments like “Fever Song No. 2” and “The First Moment.” If you’re interested in hazy/dreamy pop, Fiery Crash is a name to watch for in the coming years.
Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.