A happy December to you! This is more than overdue, the only thing stronger than my procrastination is my will to talk about music apparently.
Thankfully some beautiful things have come in the past couple of months. Let’s have a look.
#1. Lankum. “The Livelong Day”
This may come as a surprise or no to some of you but ever since I first stumbled upon the magnificence that is Luke Kelly and the Dubliners I’ve had a love for traditional Irish music. To the point that I even have a selection of records that are purely Uilleann pipe reels for hours. So when a friend of mine said that there’s a band in Ireland who have taken the folk elements of trad’ music and have mixed it with dark as molasses sound themes I was already taken.
Whilst having a tumultuous history of formations and reformations Lankum have for some time been operating as a 4 piece with a varying collection of instruments. I understand that traditional Irish songs may not be for everybody, but you haven’t head them like this before. The band somehow maintains a reverential approach to the material while also bringing in a whole other world of influences to the table. Things like: post-punk, shoegaze, drone, and even some psychedelic folk. While there are some bright moments the record as a whole is dark, brooding, and primally atmospheric.
Some of the performances on this album will have you wondering if you’ve accidentally stumbled onto some form of ancient bardic ritual. I recommend listening to this near an ablaze fireplace with a bottle of something strong next to you.
“Ode to Lullaby“, “Katie Cruel” & “The Pride of Petravore”
#2. Bjéar “August (feat. Ella Ion)”
The most recent offering from the one man operation that is Bjéar is ever as tantalizing and satisfying. While sonically it continues from his other release this year the “All Roads” ep. The mood of this single is much more grounded. Foregoing synths, drums, and bombastic melodies, “August” offers layers of acoustic guitars, piano keys, atmospheric reverb, and some beautiful harmonies.
Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe that this music is made in Australia because it feels so much like what the darker months of the pacific northwest. This song is melancholy backdrop to cold nights or rainy days. Time after time I am impressed by the music produced by Bjéar and cannot wait for another full release one day.
Have a listen:
#3. Leif Vollebekk. “New Ways”
It’s relatively safe to say at this point in his career Leif Vollebekk is somewhat of an indie music darling in Canada, and it’s not hard to see why. After receiving numerous accolades and a Juno award this record is very much a welcome addition to the Canadian musical landscape.
There is a certain earnest quality within this album that is so familiar to Vollebekk’s songwriting, but it isn’t stale. Where his previous “Twin Solitude” had spacious melodies and a reclined attitude “New Ways” pushes his vocal performances and song structures a beat further. The accomplishment of exploring his own unique style of new-pop/soul piano infused ballads has made “New Ways” a standalone record, wreathed in intense emotionalism and canny musicality.
This is the kind of record that will both make your shoulders shimmy and maybe have you even a little misty eyed. Rest assured this album is very very good, and worth your time to listen to, and if you’re like me listen to it multiple times weekly.
“Blood Brother“, “Hot Tears” & “Transatlantic Flight”
#4. Angie McMahon “Salt”
Last and certainly not least is the debut release from Aussie singer songwriter Angie McMahon. After being brought on as the opening act for Bon Jovi’s Australian tour a number of years ago McMahon began making serious waves with her unique songwriting style.
While at first glance the album could present itself as a meagre offering of early 2000’s singer songwriter folk, that would be a wild misinterpretation. This album is raw, introspective, and often angry. Carrying the same swagger as Dylan going electric “Salt” is 50 minutes of guitar driven poetry fuelled by fractured relationships and husky vocal work.
This album is draped heavily in the uncomfortable restless apprehension that besets so many people in their 20’s these days. It’s perfect for anyone who is having trouble expressing or pushing past the malaise of the day possibly best shown in the chorus of “Pasta” “I’ve been lost I’ve been lost for a while And I’m feeling tired”. This record is something special and deserves your attention.
“Slow Mover“, “Soon” & “Pasta”
I hope that you enjoy these recommendations as I have been absolutely devouring these releases myself.
Thanks for stopping by