This lis spreads itself a bit strangely, across local acts, musicians from far away, and people with something of a substantial following. Whatever the case, it’s music you should listen to. Much of it, especially the smaller scale stuff, needs and deserves your support. As usual, the list is presented in alphabetical order by title.
Faded Dream – Goldmyth
Ethereal pop with a deep synthy kick, Goldmyth crafts love songs about being in-between the end and the beginning, failure and success. It reflects the music itself, caught as it is between opposites. A harp is an unusual center for pop music, so the music gains a sober quality that grounds its melodies, while lending them an etherial lightness. A smart, beautiful, and diverse record.
You can buy Faded Dream here.
God of Death – Officer Jenny
Officer Jenny’s songs have a mythical nature that is both dark and glorious. With warm acoustics and strings, produced with an eery spaciness, they grapple with the disturbing divine. “A Virgin Did Come,” their excellent winter/Christmas EP, asks not so much why evil exists, but more “if God is real and has an influence on my life, why am I such a piece of shit?” Despite my crude phrasing, it’s a compelling question and one that gets to the heart of the problem of the divine. God of Death cuts similarly deep, but is differently focused. It centers itself on the uneasy balance between life and death, and the contradiction of longing for peace, but fearing the end. Its complex beauty gives us few answers, but lends us a contemplative power.
You can buy God of Death here.
LP Zero – Ella Guro
Many of the songs on this album, a collection of tracks written from 2013 to 2016, have video game inspired titles: lost woods, village theme, and night city all conjure pixelated or polygonal images. But this album is not interested in mere homage or emulation. It creates worlds that feel at once disturbing and familiar. Despite its clear inspirations, it actively pushes against them, even as it embraces them. Out of the swamp, into the night almost sounds like a heroic theme, but it still runs through a dark, hostile world. Even village theme pulses with a ominous foreboding. It is all restless music, pushing forward trying to find a place for itself in a world that often doesn’t accept it.
You can buy LP Zero here.
Liz Ryerson’s (Ella Guro) Patreon is found here.
The Way Is Read – The Staves and yMusic
After refining their sound on If I Was, The Staves could have easily pumped out another dreamy folk record. Lucky for us, they didn’t. The Way is Read uses a lot of the same elements as their previous work: strong, folkish storytelling, transcendent harmonies, but the instrumentation is all strings and it frequently focused on dissonance and intense rhythm. The result is a record that is equal parts comforting and disturbing. Nevertheless it is remarkably cohesive. Diverse tracks flow into each other, peaceful harmonies clashing and combining with overpowering rhythms and instrumental grandeur. An ambitious, forward looking continuation of The Staves’s work.
You can buy The Way is Read here.
What Now – Sylvan Esso
What Now exists in a world, where people deprived of meaning must make their way through. Songs like Radio and Just Dancing point to people seeking new starts and meanings in systems that cannot give them. The question of the album is implied in its title. How do we make our way through a cruel world? When we know the world’s problems, what now? The album’s answer is just to make. Signal and The Glow are about discovering meaning in creation. Despite the systems that dominate, those songs find a way. Another whimsical track, Slackjaw, gently suggests, “there are so many rhythms and harmonies.” What Now is a beautiful way of finding them. Also, anything that spawned this music video (https://youtu.be/8JMnidcDZLQ) has to be good.
You can buy What Now here.