Louisville, Kentucky's Nathan Salsburg is a folklorist, producer, and presenter of vernacular music for East Village Radio, the Drag City imprint Twos & Fews, and the Alan Lomax Archive, among other outlets. With his first solo record as a performer — entitled Affirmed, after the 1978 winner of horse racing's Triple Crown — he enters a wholly new interaction with the corpus of American (and British) musical folklore. The album, seven original instrumentals and one trad arrangement, is a startlingly diverse synthesis of guitar traditions — from Gary Davis to Sam McGee; Peter Lang to Nic Jones — refracted through a compositional sensibility long on melodic adventurousness and short on repetition and drone, those shibboleths of the American Primitives. Affirmed is a remarkably confident, emotional debut by one of the most original and gifted young guitarists playing today.
The annals of music history are overowing with gifted guitar players whose egos prevented themfrom reaching their full potential: rather than being content to be exceptional members of a band,they instead create unexceptional records as leaders in vain attempts to prove their worth as soloartists.Guitarist-songwriter-bandleader Chris Forsyth is the rare exception that proves the rule. Rightfullybut somewhat reductively known as a guitar player par excellence, one listen to Forsyth's latestdouble album, All Time Present, reveals that while his dazzling musicianship can always be takenfor granted, it's hardly the whole story. Forsyth's albums-presented with his Solar Motel Band ornominally solo, as here-have always been evidence of a musical mind brimming with ideas.Forsyth is joined on All Time Present by bassist Peter Kerlin and multi-instrumentalist Shawn EdwardHansen, both longtime foils; new to the group is Ryan Jewell, a sublimely talented drummer whosemusicality is seemingly bottomless. With this group, Forsyth is at the peak of his powers.All Time Present is the rare double album that goes by in a ash. Indeed, one of Forsyth's greateststrengths as a composer and bandleader is his consistent ability to sustain interest even when athis most brazenly improvisational: he drifts, but he never meanders. On All Time Present, Forsyth'sparticular drift is like that of a proverbial wallflower with a sudden surge of unselfconscious courage:toward the dance floor.
Cian Nugent is a guitar player from Dublin, Ireland whose music combines personal passions, such as suburban/coastal blues, traditional music, 1960s & ’70s singer-songwriters, psychedelic rock,critically jazz ambitions and 20th century composition. Born With The Caul is his first full length with 4 piece-band The Cosmos and follows his acclaimed 2011 solo effort Doubles. Like that album, Caul is comprised of a few expansive, developed pieces (three, to be exact). Led by Nugent’s guitar playing â€“ always inviting, subdued and unpredictable â€“ the band takes these songs into darker, richer territories opening a whole new galaxy for this young guitar player to explore.
Old Calf formed as a duo in the small, but musically vibrant town of Charlottesville, VA by Ned Oldham (The Anomoanon, Palace Music) and accordionist Marty Metcalfe, slowly accruing members on route to recording their debut album. Deeply influenced by traditional American music, and touching on ground most groups do not know exist, Borrow A Horse is rich with melody and instrumentation, it’s simple songs rooted in folk and bluegrass, and presented in a swirl of psychedelia. It’s an album forged in history, and despite existing in the present, its sound is timeless.
Sam Coomes is probably best known as one half of the long running underground pop duo Quasi, who've managed to release 9 or 10 albums on labels such as Up, Domino and Touch & Go. Coomes has also toured and/or recorded with numerous other artists such as: Elliott Smith, Built To Spill, Jandek and many other less recognizable names. Bugger Me is his first solo album, and it was recently described as "Suicide meets Plastic Ono era John Lennon." "I'll take that!" says Coomes, "but actually it's probably a little more accurate to call it Suicide meets the Beach Boys. Not the sophisticated Pet Sounds Beach Boys, but more like "Surfer Girl" type stuff."
In Toronto, Jennifer Castle possesses a sought after voice, singing on albums by Fucked Up, The Constantines and Doug Paisley. Castlemusic is her debut under her own name (she previously performed as Castlemusic). It’s full of rambles, waltzes and ballads. It wanders with equal parts feedback and quiet, through dark melodies, wistful, and straight out of a hazed dream or some offbeat 70’s AM station. The songs have that type of familiarity, as if they were always there. Castle is backed by an assortment of musicians: pedal steel, percussion, vibraphone. She handles guitar and piano herself, but it’s her voice which is ultimately the guide. Like “cold smoke”, as one writer puts it: it’s enveloping and unmistakably present.
Words that come to mind while listening to Coconuts debut album: ugliness, despair, un-marketability. Theirs is a sound rooted in inherent darkness, influenced by early-80’s post-punk, no wave (fellow Australians The Birthday Party come to mind) and the bleakest of world-views. It’s an almost disorienting experience, created by homemade guitars that seem to leak feedback, built by founding members Tim Evans and Jordan Redaelli (the aforementioned Australians). The duo met up with pacific-northwesterner Daniel Mitha in New York City, whose primitive drumming completed the group. We should also mention: the record has killer harmonies.
“the purest voice to come down the pike in ages.” â€“ Time Out NY“Songs of poetry, harmony and sweetness and the honeyed, craggy voice of the classic American country singer... Paisley's perspective is that of the Canadian outsider, seeing America anew whilst being fully immersed in its history and myths. Like The Band he re-presents American music history without the trappings of fashion and, like the Young of After The Goldrush uses his outsider status to ruminate on America's fate" - Mojo
Joan Shelley follows up her massively successful LP Over and Even with 2 new songs recorded in Chicago. Shelley will enter the studio in late 2016 to record a new LP, but until then she'll be on tour with Wilco and Patty Griffin with headlining dates in between.
It's hard to imagine who Forsyth's contemporaries might be, but it's always been that way: the greats tend to feel a little out-of-plumb with their moment (only hindsight lets us see it otherwise), and Forsyth's music has been sparring with some large forces from the beginning. He's always united the homely with the astral, the abstract with the visceral in his Solar Motels and Intensity Ghosts. There's something different about Dreaming In The Non-Dream, though. There's a fresh economy involved here, a sense, strange as this is to say about a record with two songs longer than eleven minutes, of not a note wasted. Despite psychedelic leanings, Forsyth's records have always trained toward concision -- plenty of space, yet never slack -- but these tunes erupt with startling swiftness, then spend the rest of their quick-burning lives teasing multiple moods and patterns out of relatively simple materials.
Zachary Cale has been self-releasing music under his own name for just shy of a decade. Duskland, his latest album and first for a label, is a work of craftsmanship full of mysticism and elegance; a collection of songs that look directly into the face of darkness yet drive beyond it. Taking cues from Oh Mercy/Time Out of Mind era Dylan and Nick Cave's work with the Bad Seeds, the record evokes a restless spirit, one that is informed by American myths and tall tales. Aquarium Drunkard have said of Cale's music "[it] casts a captivating spell" while the Village Voice recently named him "the best songwriter in New York City".
Electric Ursa is the second solo album by Joan Shelley. Recorded in her hometown of Lousiville, KY with producer Kevin Ratterman (My Morning Jacket, Andrew Bird, Houndmouth), it's comprised of eight songs, startling in their quietness and closeness. The Chicago Reader wrote that "she sings with striking intimacy, as though addressing someone sitting just a few feet away". Shelley has toured the US and Europe both solo and with her band (The June Brides). Her latest release Farthest Field (2012) was a duo album with Daniel Martin Moore, of which Jim James said was "destined to become a classic. It already is for those who know."
Deep, heady grooves anchor the second album by New York’s Endless Boogie. Once a hobby, now becoming the powerhouse they were meant to be. Is the world ready? Led by Top Dollar, the egoless frontman and master of his instrument, the Boogie cut seven glorious tracks at Rare Book Room studios in Brooklyn, tacked on a goddamn epic rehearsal jam and called it Full House Head. We’re not one to speak hyperboles, but it could be the first masterpiece of the new decade.