The Belle Jar- Union Station
Mar 5, 2014
Singer-songwriter Will Oldham, recording under the stage name Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, adds to his catalog of understated alternative folk with his Wolfroy Goes to Town, 11th release since adopting the moniker in 1999.
Despite the incredible rate of recording, Oldham – who has recorded under the name “Palace” – stays fresh with some of his spookiest stuff to date.
Depending on your mindset going into the album, Wolfroy could either lull you to sleep or haunt your dreams, perhaps both. Oldham delivers on storytelling on Black Captain, a seven-minute ode you’d expect to hear from songwriting legends like Townes Van Zandt or Bob Dylan. From start to finish, Oldham pounds you with hauntingly soft vocals and sparse arrangements, making for a personal sound, yet still accessable to the attentive listener.
Listen to "Black Captain" -
Two worlds collide, as Dirty Projectors and Bjork come together to create a single album.
Back in 2009 th e two were asked to play a benefit concert at a bookstore in New York. The two hit it off, and agreed they wanted to collaborate together. While in San Francisco at Mount Wittenberg, Amber, from the Dirty Projectors, saw a family of whales swimming in the ocean together.
Amber wrote some songs on the experience and asked Bjork to sing the part as the mother whale, while Amber and Angel sing the role of the children whales. The two acts agreed to that the proceeds from the album would go to the Nation Geographic Society to help protect the oceans, which currently only 1% is protected.
Listen to "On and Ever Onward" -
If you’re looking for an international band with great sound and wonderful lyrics, then The Jefferson is the band for you. Based in Sydney, Australia, this band packs a punch when it comes to entertainment and putting an album together. “Days are Falling” is the new addition to their musical collection, with songs that have appeared in big name shows like “Degrassi” and “The Real World.”
The smooth voice of lead singer Geoff Rana sets the tone for the rest of the song. One great example would be on the song “Tell Me Your Name,” which is the turning point for the album’s tone, where Rana starts off with an upbeat start along with the guitar and drums following him short after. The rest of the album is mellow and relaxed, with some faster qualities to them, but not often.
I recommend this band to anyone looking for something fresh to kick back and relax to.
Listen to "Tell Me Your Name" -
Raleigh Moncrief has hung around some important indie acts in his time. He co-produced and engineered Dirty Projector’s excellent 2009 Bitte Orca and he’s produced for Youth Lagoon and Ganglians, too. So, the dude knows how to organize sounds into intricate layered compositions.
Watered Lawn, his first release as a songwriter and solo artist, features all the careful ornamentation of James Blake and the carefully placed background twists and shakes of Animal Collective to string together evocative electronic sonatas.
Listeners beware; you gotta have some patience to get through some of these frustratingly inconstant tracks. This isn’t standard verse-chorus-verse stuff. In fact, it’s not even slow-build electronica, either. Moncrief is a mischievous bastard, changing tempos and rhythms two or three times per track, like on the frisky “A Day to Die.” The swirling “Lament for Morning” sounds like an assault of Andrew Bird and ‘80s arcade games, but it all fits together nicely like a pixilated jigsaw puzzle. Album closer “Waiting for My Brothers Here” features the sprightly acoustic plucks of Dirty Projectors’ more playful stuff on top of a bouncing backbeat, equaling quite the groove.
Moncrief’s got it going on, though it might take a few cups of coffee for him to reach out and finally grab hold.
Listen to "Lament for Morning" -
Rapsody, the North Carolina-bred female emcee off of producer 9th Wonder's Jamla Records, is a gem amidst the rubble of the hip hop genre. Coming off of her highly successful Thank H.E.R. Now mixtape (Featuring talent such as Big K.R.I.T. and Mac Miller) she has recently released her much anticipated follow-up, For Everything.
The album shows a maturing stage for the young artist, With a variety of tracks touching on quite a few areas of discussion. Relationships, the struggles of being a young artist, and the always-present desire of becoming the greatest.
From the start of the first track "Pace Myself", Rapsody proves her cold flow and lyrical supremacy to be something worthy of your ears attention. lines such as "I want respect, checks, and brillo. a clean pad out somewhere in South Euro, know it's closer than it seems, side mirro'" display her ability to bend words into her own flow, and allow them to take new shape under her needs.
Another track to absolutely be on the look out for would be the thirteenth of the album, "Rock The Bells" featuring the dominant presence of Kendrick Lamar, the up and coming powerhouse rapper from the west coast. Together they attack an instrumental strung together by a heavy bass and what sounds like a succession of chimes. Kendrick takes the final verse, not stopping for breath as he seemingly rhymes every other word in the process of proving why these young artists are very real and very, very talented.
With other notable features from Freeway and fellow 9th Wonder artist GQ, the emcee out of Oakland, CA, this album is sure to be one worthy of multiple spins on whatever method of music playing you prefer.
Check out Rapsody - Imagination.
While not a full-length release on its own, Friends’ EP designed for college radio stations shows immense promise for these Bushwick, Brooklyn natives.
Filled with infectious grooves, fresh melodies and percussion that recalls girl groups of the ‘60s, Friends creates a sound with these four songs that sticks out in the best way imaginable.
“I’m His Girl” starts off the EP with an irresistible bass line and a groove that will summon you to surrender to dance. “Friend Crush” is another catchy, dance-y number that has an undeniable emotion lying beneath its polished surface.
Friends is surely a band to keep an eye on. The band’s full-length album may be one of next year’s most anticipated.
If you've never heard the name Stalley before this post, I'm not surprised. The most recent addition to Maybach Music Group's laid back demeanor is one easily overlooked in comparison to the flash of his fellow emcees. However you would be greatly missing out on one of the most slept on talents in hip hop today if you did not pay close attention to the Ohio-bred rappers debut album, Lincoln Way Nights.
Over a variety of impressively produced instrumentals, the young artist displays a sense of maturity both in flow and content, rare to see in todays current rap scene. Touching on his roots coming out of the Midwest, Stalley speaks about his reality- the importance of cars, his history with women, and the ever-present wariness towards those around him.
The fourth track on the album, "330" is an excellent representation of Stalley's skillful form of lyricism, as he wraps the anthem for his home town around a heavily-bass influenced instrumental. He does not attempt to attack the track, rather, allows his flow and the beat to seemingly fuse, creating incredible harmony and displaying a sense of obvious care towards the music.
"She Hates the Bass", a dreamy track on which Stalley talks about the sound system within his car, and the disgust his girl has for it makes the ninth of the album. The vibe that he is sharing an important part of himself is evident, verbally placing a heavily detailed description of his ride, and the abuse its speakers shed on the world.
Stalley is a talent to watch in the year 2012. After joining the powerhouse which is MMG, there is no doubt he will be gaining recognition fast within the hip hop world. One can only hope his later projects live up to Lincoln Way Nights.
Listen to "330" from Stalley -