On Grown Unknown’s opening track “Love Is Won,” rarely have drums, piano, and guitar sounded so spacious. Elsewhere on the album, Lia Ices explores the darker sonic textures of Peter Gabriel’s first few solo records, as evidenced by the foreboding horns on “New Myth.” On “Daphne,” the Brooklyn songwriter undertakes a paraphrase of Ovid’s classical story of a transformed nymph with Ezra Pound precision: “A heavy numbness seizes her into bark/ Feet so swift to root.” A rare album executed in the highest order.
Luke Winslow King
You Hear Me Talkin’ To Ya
(Fox On A Hill)
Luke Winslow-King’s music lies somewhere in between New Orleans piano rags and the folk-influenced work of 19th century Czech composers like Antonín Dvořák. Winslow-King, a Michigan native who did stints in New York City and Europe before settling into the cobblestone maze of the French Quarter, got help from legendary Italian slide guitarist (and Nola local) Roberto Luti for his last record, Old/New Baby. But on Hear Me Talkin’ To Ya, King plays the scraggly ‘50s pawnshop electric himself, and recorded parts of the album within the ghostly cloister of the storied Preservation Hall jazz club.
Silje Nes started her musical career by recording bits and pieces on foreign instruments and gradually a singer-songwriter emerged from her found-object aesthetic. A wash of electronic hiss often takes over in the middle of the Norwegian singer’s acoustic reverie, creating an affront to traditionalism. “Rewind” starts out like a meandering piece of electronica, something you might find on a Four Tet album, before shifting into an outsider sketch of Belle and Sebastian, with Nes singing almost imperceptibly. Don’t worry, we’re listening.
Kuroma’s second full-length album pulls between acoustic guitars and folky songwriting and the sound of experimental and industrial bands like Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV. On “Magick Deed,” there’s magic indeed, brought to life by a swirling Hammond B3 organ and Sullivant’s mannered vocals, which have a slight English tilt. If Pyschopomp feels like it goes in a million different directions, that’s because it interprets life in all its random beauty.
Hearts On Hold
There’s a hint of old-timey jazz in the trumpet calls of this Portland, Oregon band’s debut, but don’t get too comfortable in 1920s New Orleans. Tu Fawning uses a huge range of dynamics and instrumentation to bring their labyrinthine songs to life. Pounding rhythms, baroque violins and drone-y vocals are all stirred together in multi-instrumentalist Joe Haege, (who can often be seen playing guitar on tour with fellow Portlanders Menomena), and vocalist Corinna Repp’s woozy stew.
Cheyenne Marie Mize
On Mize’s solo debut she channels Jenny Lewis with a stranger, more intricate arrangement that hints at the Louisville native’s past collabs with Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy (for an EP of 19th century parlor music!) But Before Lately also finds Mize stepping out confidently on her own. She prays for stormy weather in the eerie sea shanty “Friend,” and contemplates the “law of one” alongside a plaintive grand piano and plucky tenor banjo on “Lull.” Before Lately is like a daguerreotype of an empty city street.