I have thoroughly enjoyed my first year writing reviews for Independent Clauses and discovering new music. The following is a list of my top five releases from what I have reviewed this year, including both full length albums and EPs. It was difficult to choose a top five since I have loved every artist I wrote about, but here are a few of my favorites.
Paul Doffing – Songs from the (quaking) Heart(Review) Paul Doffing’s heartfelt release is, simply put, beautiful. As soon as I turn the album on, I feel so deeply that it almost brings me to tears every time. Not only the lyrics but the very instrumentation of Songs from the (quaking) heart exude raw emotion. Every time I listen, the album inspires me to go out to nature and write or paint.
Jeremy Bass – New York in Spring (Review) This EP is quite a unique cup of tea, and I love it. Bass’ New York in Spring oozes the kind of whimsy that can brighten any day. My favorite track from the EP, “Work,” showcases the album’s bossa nova flair while containing a string of brilliantly crafted lyrics that sardonically comment on our relationship with the inevitable: work.
The Lowest Pair- The Sacred Heart Sessions(Review) I remember the days when anything close to country music was something I did not listen to. Now, I find myself giddy over minimalist bluegrass album The Sacred Heart Sessions. Kendl Winter and Palmer T. Lee might be one of the best vocal pairings I have ever heard.
Tidelands- Old Mill Park(Review) This EP also effortlessly interweaves both male and female vocals throughout. Yet, the unique mix of classical and rock instrumentation is really what makes this collection stand out. Every song has a distinctly different sound from the next. I shared a few of these tracks with my picky husband, and he loved them all.
Thayer Sarrano- Shaky(Review) Hauntingly beautiful really is the best phrase to describe this album. This is yet another album that makes me feel deeply just from the instrumentation. Sarrano’s vocals and lyrics leave me truly awed. Shaky’s southern gothic sound makes me a little bit uncomfortable in the best way; in my opinion, the best art does.–Krisann Janowitz
Shoegaze, psychedelic folk and southern gothic rock are among the many labels given to Thayer Sarrano’s music. When I listen to Sarrano’s latest album Shaky, one phrase comes to mind: hauntingly beautiful. With an array of mystical sounds and an unshakable voice, Thayer Sarrano carves out her unique spot in the music world with her latest LP Shaky.
Born and raised in Georgia, Thayer Sarrano’s southern side subtly shows itself in Shaky. In the song “Crease,” a distinct southern gothic rock sound comes out through both her vocals and instrumentation. There’s a little twang in Sarrano’s voice not noticeable in most of the other tracks off the album. “Crease” opens with what sounds like a Southern-style steel guitar which continues throughout the song. The heavy drums and other ambient sounds also make this track not just an example of her southern influence, but specifically a southern gothic one.
Sarrano’s use of eerie sounds paired with noisy guitars and partially distorted vocals also makes much of her album Shaky a prime example of what is known as shoegazing or shoegaze. “Aim” begins with a heavy electric guitar creating the “wall of sound” characteristic of shoegaze artists. Sarrano then layers her voice on top of the guitar. The best part of the song is Sarrano’s lead into the chorus: with each repetition of “higher,” her voice goes higher as she takes her listeners up to a psychedelic dream land, where ethereal “ooh’s and ah’s” repeat. As the song progresses, drums and other random instruments fill out the sound and add a certain level of spookiness to the song, making you feel slightly uncomfortable in the best way possible.
Sarrano’s album may be titled Shaky, but her voice is utterly unshakable. Some songs like “Aim” downplay her voice, while others serve to highlight Sarrano’s ethereal vocals. “Glimpses” spotlights her voice by having less of a “wall of sound.” In some parts of the song, her voice stands alone with very soft synth in the background. Through hearing her voice loud and clear, I realize that her voice hits low notes in a very sultry manner, just like Lana Del Rey. The more the tracks linger at her voice, the more they ooze with sensuality. Sarrano’s voice is probably my favorite part of the album.
Thayer Sarrano’s sublime voice paired with her eclectic instrumentation move my soul in uncanny ways. Shaky has a mysteriously dark feel, making it not the best album for a party. Instead, if you desire an album to take you away to an entirely new world, then look no further. Thayer Sarrano’s Shaky whisks its listeners away to the land of honest, macabre dreamscapes. You will never want to leave. —Krisann Janowitz
Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.