Slow and Euphonious #5

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.

Lankum “The Livelong Day”

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.

Personal Highlights:
Ode to Lullaby“, “Katie Cruel” & “The Pride of Petravore


#2. Bjéar “August (feat. Ella Ion)”

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Bjéar “August”

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.

Leif Vollebekk “New Ways”

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.

Personal Highlights:

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.

Angie McMahon “Salt”

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.

Personal Highlights:

Slow Mover“,  “Soon” & “Pasta

I hope that you enjoy these recommendations as I have been absolutely devouring these releases myself.


Thanks for stopping by

The best things I listened to in 2017

With the tidy finish of December behind us, we’ve now surged into a new year… and with that, the ever popular lists of things that happened over the previous year (2017) are out in full force.  I felt like writing something again and this seemed like a natural opportunity. So here is my list of best albums I listened to in 2017. These are not necessarily 2k17 releases, but rather things I discovered, enjoyed immensely, and managed to keep up with my rigorous listening schedule.

#1.  Bjéar: Bjéar (self titled) 


This Adelaide indie band was brought to my attention by a good friend. The early 2017 release of their self titled L.P. has been a consistent favourite of mine ever since. Highlights are Firefall and Hymn, but the album as a whole is fantastic.  Drawing musical influences from the fjords and the dark forests of Scandinavia, the album paints warm tones through a cold land, giving the listener a feeling of comforting nostalgia. Like holding a cup of warm tea near a fireplace after a long day exploring a snow bank, this record will give you warmth as you huddle up next to it.


#2 Violent Soho: Waco 


I honestly considered not adding this, mostly because it was released in mid-2016 and I have been listening to it since then. But this album… man, this album captured something in me I thought I’d lost a long time ago: the teenage joy of listening to a good punk album. I got this cd hand-smuggled in luggage into Canada just so I could have it in my car’s CD player forever. There were days when I was done with my job and would take a longer route home just so I could listen to more of this album.  After finding this Brisbane-based punk-grunge operation I have become a die hard fan, and this follow up to their scene-defining release “Hungry Ghost” exceeded the expectations of the Australian music scene — they won album of the year last year at the ARIAs (the Australian Recording Industry Association Music Awards; yes it’s a terrible acronym).  If you enjoy the good parts of the Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana mixed with a little turn of the early 00’s alternative punk, then Violent Soho are for you, and this album is an amazing place to start. These live versions of them playing also work: No Shade, or Lazy Eye (Silversun Pickups Cover).

Now that I think about it a bit more, this has been a really good year for music.


#3 Conor Oberst: Salutations


It’s rare that something like a musical sequel comes along, and even rarer that I find myself enjoying it over its predecessor. In late 2016 Bright Eyes front man and America’s disgruntled poetic lyricist Conor Oberst released “Ruminations”, an exceedingly sparse and bare record. Listening to it felt like you were sitting with him in an old wooden church hall with a slightly out of tune piano. “Salutations”, on the other hand, feels very different. Oberst went back to the drawing board with his own songs, and brought in the influence of one of my favourite Americana bands, the Felice Brothers, putting out this jaunty but no less serious album. Particular favourites of mine are Overdue, and Barbary Coast. Instead of being in an empty wooden monolith, this album feels like you, Conor, and the five members of the Felice Brothers are in a big top tent together drinking just a little bit of moonshine and watching the summer sun slowly go down over the Appalachian mountains.


#4 Cage the Elephant: Unpeeled


Cage the Elephant have always been somewhat of a musical enigma to me. This album is no exception. Surging onto the musical scene with their potentially-one-hit-wonder “No Rest for the Wicked”, Cage the Elephant did something very impressive. They managed to take that success and turn it into a musical endeavour worth looking into, and I’m very glad they did. The release of Unpeeled marks an interesting time for this band, as it is an assembly of their past albums, their big hits, and some of their favourite covers, stripped down and performed on mostly acoustic instruments with some strings along with it. It’s like a greatest hits album, but better; it’s like a live album, but better. I’m not sure how to classify it, really.  It’s more like the band decided to have some fun with their own material and happened to invite us along for the ride (and the ride happened to be professionally recorded and mastered).
This band seems to be hitting a great musical stride. Songs like Cold Cold Cold and their cover of Daft Punk’s Instant Crush are both brilliant takes, and give me the increasing suspicion that they are channeling some of that early The Rolling Stones mojo.

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The new Mick Jagger?


#5 Leif Vollebekk: Twin Solitude


This third album from Leif Vollebekk is both haunting and beautiful. Comprised mostly of piano, drums, and strings, Leif meditates on Canadian life. If you are a individual who likes to feel emotional things, this album is for you. Elegy and Twin Solitude give this album enough star power on their own to make this record good, but I strongly suggest investing into this Canadian singer songwriter. He’s quickly scaling up my list of favourite Canadian artists alongside Dan Mangan and Aidan Knight.


#6 Father John Misty: Pure Comedy


This third offering from Ex-Fleet Foxes drummer/singer songwriter Josh Tillman, aka Father John Misty, aka Farmer Jah Misery, is fascinating to me. His previous album, I Love you Honeybear, was one of my top albums of 2015.

The character and writing of Father John Misty’s albums is bleak. It’s poetry from someone who’s stared at themselves in the mirror just a little bit too long. Often times I find myself thinking that if we had a cultural poet laureate, Father John Misty would be it. This is the man who banned video cameras and phones at his shows, and gave us this weird, WEIRD self interview punctuated with scat singing, whiskey drinking, and just a little bit of tearful self analysis. Father John Misty cuts a cultural canyon in his album, wrapped in a swathe of loathing, joy, derision, and confident self-doubt. It’s hard to not be enticed by his own brand of Lennon-esque mockery of how the world works. Total Entertainment Forever is a prime example of this. Be warned: this album isn’t for the faint of heart or for those who want something to listen to without thinking about it. I’m not claiming to be either of those things myself, but when confronted by the words of these songs I can’t help but try and see if he’s right about things or not. His cover of I Believe I can Fly is also pretty dang good.

Don’t you just feel super cultural right about now?


Drum roll please!
#7 Slaughter Beach, Dog: Birdie


Last but not least is the second album from Philadelphia-based singer songwriter/ punk band Modern Baseball member Jake Ewald. Since the aforementioned band’s hiatus, Slaughter Beach, Dog has become the outlet for Ewald’s creative force. This album was just what I needed in autumn when it was released. I don’t know him personally, but this album seems to be heavily inspired by the writer’s childhood; through that seemingly simplistic goal comes musical depth and quality.  This record, along with it’s pre release E.P. brother “Motorcycle.jpg”, are both musical offerings that make me excited for the future of Slaughter Beach, Dog.

So ends my list. I am eager to see what 2018 brings on the high seas of the ocean of music that already exists.
Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read this.