I’m all about seasonal music, so I’m getting especially fond of summery music right now. Aaron Cooper‘s self-titled singer/songwriter record is hitting the spot today. Cooper plays light, airy acoustic tunes that draw inspiration from classic songsmiths of yore (Paul Simon and the Kinks, particularly) without owing too much debt to anyone. Tunes like “Clown” and “Rat” could have been written then or now or in the future (I’m guessing, unless EDM wins and we all oomkchh oomkchh forever) and they’d fit right in: chipper acoustic strum, gentle melody, fun arrangements. It’s classic guitar popcraft.
None of the songs go longer than 2:38, which I admire. When you’ve got good ideas, you can string them out for a long time and make people sick of it, or you can leave ’em wanting more. Cooper does the latter. “Round Three” and “Songs about Birds #2: Dead Baby Bird” have memorable melodies that seem to deserve much more than the 1:30 that they are both allotted, but that sends you back to hit repeat. (And although that last title is sad and the song is a bit morbid, it still manages to be chipper and even a little touching.) Cooper likes tunes that deal with odd subject matter [“Come and Scrape My Brain (Off the Sidewalk)”], but the chill, smile-inducing mood rarely lets up. If you want to hear some light, fun, melodically classic tunes, Aaron Cooper should be on your to-hear list.
For Tomorrow Will Worry About Itself EP is the fifth release from the immensely productive Fiery Crash in 2013. Instead of being a glut of same-y material, each release has seen Josh Jackson (not the Paste editor) grow as a songwriter. Jackson splits his time between hazy dream pop (heavy on the guitar pedals) and no-frills singer/songwriter fare (early Iron & Wine-style), and he executes both quite well.
Due to my genre loyalties, I’m a bigger fan of the guitar-and-voice ruminations that populate the back half of the album: “Cada Ano (Version Two)” upgrades the standout from June’s Practice Shots by sweetening the vocal performance and tweaking the arrangement to a gentler end. Stealing the show on two different releases, it reminds me of bands like Mojave 3 and Peter Bradley Adams. “Headed Our Way” is the only brand-new song on the back half, and it pairs Jackson in a duet with himself: his baritone low range and his tenor high range. It’s a really effective move that I hope Jackson continues to explore. A relaxed, back-porch rendition of The Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunset” adds a nice variety to the set.
The instrumental title track opens the album with intricate guitarwork that shows off Jackson’s composing chops. “Make Sure” and “Close to Big Star” are chill indie-pop tunes which scale back the garage-y vibes that Jackson has explored on previous releases but still keep the dreamy feel.
But it’s “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” that grabbed my attention most. His version of the traditional hymn splits the difference between singer/songwriter and dream-pop, building from humble beginnings to a fully-arranged wonder at the end of the tune. It’s a beautiful rendition of a song that I didn’t think had a lot of creative room left in it after Sufjan Stevens’ masterful version, but Fiery Crash wrings the potential out of it with ragged drums, pedal steel, guitar pedals, and voice. Just beautiful.
Fiery Crash has had quite a 2013, transforming from a untempered outfit awash in reverb to a fine-tuned singer/songwriter project with a clear vision. To say that I expect great things from Fiery Crash is to undersell the great things he’s already accomplishing; I expect that many, many more people will discover Fiery Crash’s greatness soon. For Tomorrow Will Worry About Itself EP is a release you need to hear.
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.