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Why Haven’t You Heard This Band?


Jus Post Bellum

The Brooklyn band Jus Post Bellum loves the Civil War more than most. They write sincere songs about John Wilkes Booth, cotton gins, sons of sharecroppers, Stonewall Jackson, and Confederate clarions, all with a passionate immediacy that conjures Colin Meloy at his best.

Timeless songs for these fast, forgetful times.

Jus Post Bellum

They compose their dusty folk songs in multiple movements in the fashion of your favorite Fleet Foxes tunes, and I would put them in league with any of your favorite singer/songwriter, indie folk troupes without hesitation.

If you don’t believe me, you can ask my six year old daughter. She knows several of their songs by heart and enjoys them heartily. Wait, actually you can’t ask her,  that would be inappropriate.

Their sophomore album, Oh July, will be out soon, but their fantastic debut LP, Devil’s Winter, has been out for some time now.

So check them out already, will ya?

Jus Post Bellum

Jason Molina Dies at 39

“Being in love means you are completely broken, then put back together. The one piece that was yours is beating in your lover’s breast. She says the same thing about hers.”

– Jason Molina (1973-2013)

Dear Jason,

It is hard to put into words what your music has meant to me over the years. I discovered you in 2000, and shortly after listening to Ghost Tropic, I knew I had found a kindred, damaged soul from the cold shores of the Great Lakes. I have watched you play tiny venues in Chicago, exchanged head nods with you near the side exit, and listened in awe to your words on stage, in my car, in my bedroom, on my computer, in the shower, and in my head. Over and again.

“You’ll never hear me talk about one day getting out. Why put a new address on the same old loneliness?”

All I can say is that your final act on this Earth was a sad one. Your tragic end is only made more tragic by how few people have been exposed to your work. In a world where we objectify and make a mockery of artists like Amy Winehouse, it is easy to forget the dangers of substance abuse in our fast times.

But there is pain, and then there is pain. I do not pretend to know the struggles you had suffered in life, but in many ways, you channeled that grief directly through your music, and it resonates in that black pit which lives inside each of us. That electric blanket of misery so tempting to cozy up with and get lost beneath.

“I lived low enough that the moon wouldn’t waste its light on me. What’s left in this life that would do the same for me?”

You are this generation’s Neil Young, our Leonard Cohen; with the pen, with your voice, and through your achingly honest tenor guitar. For those who have not heard your music, I urge them to begin now. Your catalog is staggering. There is not a more prolific musician of quality writing who has performed over the past fifteen years.

Selfishly, I wish you were still here to bless us with more material, to break our hearts and put them back together again. Selflessly, I thank you for your contributions not only to music, but in offering a therapeutic ‘thing’ which can be listened to, taken to heart, learned from, and made better by.

“Arrow find my chestnut heart, a shadow for conjuring. Big black eyes to hide my secrets in, and the map of the old horizon.”

You will be missed, Jason Molina.


A Fan


Top 5 Female Vocalists


5. Victoria Legrand

Victoria Legrand

Words like haunting, husky, and ethereal are fine ways of describing Beach House’s Victoria Legrand’s vocals. But her raspy range can soar, especially when accompanied by the seductive arrangements of her backing band. Legrand continues to put out albums and songs that showcase her beautiful, hoarse, angelic voice, and we continue to enjoy them.

4. Kate Bush

Kate Bush

While it’s true that Kate Bush may be most well-known today for her single “This Woman’s Work,” (courtesy John Hughes and American Idol), Kate Bush has put out nearly ten LP’s featuring that strange, glassy voice, and has been recording music since 1975 (two years before I was born). After a life break, she is back with a new album and proof that the greatest gifts age well with time.

3. Mimi Parker

Mimi Parker

It’s chilly in Duluth, MN. But upon the icy shores of Lake Superior was borne the chilling falsetto of Mimi Parker, one half of the two-headed mastermind that is known as Low. Check out this clip if you would like to hear what it sounds like to actually freeze the sun.

2. Lisa Gerrard

Lisa Gerrard

Lisa Gerrard, Australian by way of Ireland, conceived of her band Dead Can Dance with English songwriter Brendan Perry back in 1981. She has amassed an outstanding catalog of solo and collaborative work as well, and chances are that you’ve heard her music in some of your favorite films (Heat, Black Hawk Down, The Insider, The Passion of the Christ, Man on Fire, to name a few). Her voice is an elegant, other-worldly contralto that is hard to describe with words. Better to just listen, and enjoy.

1. Elizabeth Fraser

Elizabeth Fraser

Without question one of the most special vocalists of this or any era. Her falsetto is unique unto itself and brimming with a magical trill that sends shivers up your spine. Her work with Cocteau Twins has produced some of the most mesmerizing and distinctive music ever made. In a sense, her band epitomized the 4AD sound throughout the bulk of the 1990’s.

Bon Iver at AIR Studios

An arresting set of music. Enjoy.

Halloween by Liftingfaces

Halloween by Liftingfaces

Nineteen songs; varying shades of Haloweenness. You will find a range of styles here (yes, including Salem), but you will not find “Monster Mash”, sorry. Nor will there will be any Kanye West (sorry “Monster” fans), but there is one rap verse.

Enjoy, if you dare.

01. This Mortal Coil “Fire Brothers” (1986)
02. Glass Candy “Halloween” (2011)
03. The Black Angels “Young Dead Men” (2006)
04. Patsy Cline “Sweet Dreams” (1963)
05. Timber Timbre “Lay Down in the Tall Grass” (2009)
06. Buck 65 “Blood Pt. 2” (2009)
07. This Mortal Coil “Meniscus” (1986)
08. Lana Del Rey “Kinda Outta Luck” (2011)
09. Chrysta Bell “Real Love” (2011)
10. Ween “Mutilated Lips” (1997)
11. CocoRosie “Hopscotch” (2010)
12. Salem “King Night” (2010)
13. Beach House “The Arrangement” (2010)
14. Charlie Feathers “Can’t Hardly Stand It” (1948)
15. Dead Can Dance “The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove” (1993)
16. Dead Man’s Bones “My Body’s a Zombie for You” (2009)
17. David Lynch “Pinky’s Dream” (2011)
18. Brenda Lee “I’m Sorry” (1960)
19. Angelo Badalamenti “Twin Peaks Theme” (2000)

Download Mixtape.

Olafur Arnalds “Living Room Songs”

Living Room Songs

Similar to his Found Songs LP from 2009, Ólafur Arnalds has released Living Room Songs, a project recorded over the course of one week from the bedroom of his Reykjavík apartment, and released for free as each song was finished.

This time, however, he included videos of each recording to accompany the music. The album will be packaged and released in high-quality form later this year. You can pre-order it here, and receive a free postcard.

Enjoy the album on his website, and have a look at the genesis of these beautiful compositions below…

Day 1 “Fyrsta”

Day 2 “Near Light”

Day 3 “Film Credits”

Day 4 “Tomorrow’s Song”

Day 5 “Ágúst”

Day 6 “Lag Fyrir Ömmu”

Day 7 “This Place is a Shelter”

Matthew Herbert “One Pig”

One Pig

On October 10, 2011, Matthew Herbert will release his latest LP entitled “One Pig.” According to his label’s website, it is an album “made entirely from recordings of a modern pig’s life cycle from birth to plate.”

I was intrigued with the concept on a number of levels, so decided to give a listen to the meaning behind the project.

I left the video not wholly convinced of his motives. I think Matthew is purposefully standing in the gray area of the matter, and it’s a win/win for him in this case.

One one hand, he has an easy out as an artist to say he is simply observing and presenting his emotional reaction to a realism he has no control over. Editorially he gets to present the life cycle of a food product typically very distant from its consumers.

On the other hand, however, he is also sensationalizing the process to a degree. Even if his money is going to charity (not sure whether it is), having an EP of Micachu remixes crop up as a PR strategy suddenly turns an austere, introspective set of field recordings into a flavor of the month musical romp through the inevitable pipeline of hipsterdom.

Here is an iTunes link where you can preview the album and preorder if you can unearth the beauty beneath its grating tone:

Preview Album.

One Pig

Cass McCombs’ “County Line”

Cass McCombs’ album “Wit’s End,” came out back in April, and it’s been a slow burn for me. My apathy had nothing to do with how laid back, quiet, reserved and melancholic it was, because I rather like all of those qualities in an album. I think it may have been the general coating of malaise spread over top of everything, a suffocating feeling like sleeping with a garbage bag for a blanket.

However, in returning to the album a couple of months later—and a couple of months wiser—I now find beauty in the despondence, comfort in its distance. And the above video for lead track and single, “County Line,” expresses that tone perfectly. What I first construed as depressed alienation I now embrace as the echo of a comforting voice across a windless field.

I intend to wrap myself up in this album for a little while, and see how it fits. The good news is that it’s not a garbage bag for a blanket after all, more like a coarse but cozy wool. Hard to sell that to you as Summer breathes down our neck, but the nights can get chilly.

Creep On Creepin’ On

Timber Timbre are back on April 5, 2011. I was a big fan of their self-titled debut, and hope the trend of macabre folk creations continues.

It also look like they’re coming to a town near you, so if you haven’t heard them live, or at all for that matter, get out from under your dusty blankets and go!