Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

June/July Singles: Quiet

July 21, 2013

A continuation of yesterday’s post, here are the June/July singles that are quiet.

June/July: Quiet

1. “Simplify” – Brendan James. It’s as if Josh Ritter sat down at a piano and started casting off lyrics like he does over a guitar. Beautiful, powerful, engaging stuff.
2. “Crush” – Roy Dahan. Dahan’s Israeli vocal tone and cadence fit gloriously over snappy, precise alt-country, creating a unique, beautiful mix.
3. “I Will Let You Fall” – Walking with Elephants. Clear, crisp Americana, like Mumford but without the howling vocals.
4. “Everything is Yours” – Jonny Rodgers. I posted a Rodgers video of this song yesterday, but this version is different and worth listening to in its own right. Rodgers is a massive talent that I eagerly look forward to hearing more from.
5. “Follow You” – Sam Buckingham. YouTube suggests that I should watch videos by Junip and Noah & The Whale next; Buckingham’s delicate folk-pop kinda fits in there, but it’s way more charming and lilting than those bands.
6. “Strike the Gold” – Kodachrome. Think more of the picture type than the Paul Simon song, and you’ll have a good idea of what this impressionistic synth-pop tune sounds like.
7. “O Love, Let’s Renew Our Vows” – Jonny Rodgers. So, I’m really, really stoked about Rodgers. Really.
8. “One Half” – Julianna Barwick. A female Sigur Ros? A more concrete take on New Age? A transcendent composition? Absolutely stunning? All of the above?

Quick Hit: Lac La Belle

August 20, 2012

Lac La Belle is a folk/bluegrass duo from Michigan that sounds like they’re from Appalachia. Banjo, chop-strumming mandolin and guitar all feature in Bring on the Light, which mixes traditional instruments, sounds and rhythms with a vocal directness that comes from pop songs and modern folk bands like the Avett Brothers and Noah and the Whale.

But Lac La Belle is not so easily pinned down. Their female vocalist has an amazing set of pipes that got her crowned 2000 Hollerin’ Champion of Wise Co., Virginia and Letcher Co., Kentucky. You can hear her go for it in “A Fine Line” and “Autumn Song,” the latter of which may actually be too much of a good thing.

But that’s about the only element of the album for which that can be said, as Lac La Belle mixes up moods consistently. Cheery? Go for “Around the World.” Calm? Call up “New Memories of Oklahoma.” Feeling sinister? “Novocaine” has your back. Pensive? “A Fine Line.” Want more evidence? Those are the first four songs.

The album does have a few missteps (“I am a Hammer” is way repetitive), but on the whole, this is a really enjoyable album of bluegrass/folk. It isn’t a heavy album by any means (you can put it on and read just fine, as I have done!), but it does have subtle beauty (“To the Sun”: accordion!!!) to be uncovered if you give it attention. Bring on the Light, indeed.

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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