Kokoro – Ships EP

Fossil Collective have already delivered one of my favourite tracks of the year. It’s ‘Disarm’  from their EP, Flux. Now, Dave Fendick from Fossil Collective has released another EP under the name Kokoro. We’re told that he recorded it a while ago, but has only been able to put it out since the band parted ways with their label. Anyway, Kokoro’s Ships EP has now hit the shops and it’s great. The title track is achingly gorgeous and there’s a video to go with it too. Kokoro. Ships. EP. Try it out.

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Dope Lemon – Honey Bones

Dope Lemon – Honey Bones

Dope

Dope Lemon is the new project of Angus Stone, of Angus and Julia Stone fame. It’s a trippy, psychy, 1960s-nuggety album, and it’s a real grower. There are the usual Angus Stone hooks. ‘Uptown Folks’ being a great example. But there’s a grittier, earthier feel to this collection, particularly when compared with the Stone siblings’ recent Rick Rubin-produced self-titled collection. This time, there are fewer Neil Young-style guitar-led peregrinations. ‘Stonecutters’ is about as far down by the river as we get. Yet Dope Lemon still know how to get into a real groove. ‘Coyote’ has a certain trance-inducing quality. ‘How Many Times’ is a slow and bluesy journey on the dope train. And the title track takes us on a trip to the outskirts of Rishikesh. Some side projects can be excruciatingly self-indulgent. But not this one. It feels like it’s given Angus Stone the space in which to explore some of the ideas that wouldn’t quite suit his other musical incarnation. For sure, Angus and Julia Stone remain the best Australian brother-and-sister Fleetwood Mac-soundalike band around, but Dope Lemon have just become our very favourite Angus Stone side project. Highly recommended.

Kalispell – Printer’s Son

Kalispell – Printer’s Son

kalispell

Printer’s Son is the great new album by Kalispell, which is the brainchild of Shane Leonard, who is a member of Field Report, which is headed by Chris Porterfield, who used to be in DeYarmond Edison, which included Bon Iver, who often has track titles such as ‘Bracket, WI’, which is the same sort of title as ‘Gary, IN’, which can be found on Printer’s Son, which is the great new album by Kalispell, which is the brainchild of Shane Leonard, and so it goes on. There is indeed a lovely circularity to Shane Leonard’s wonderful new album. The instruments breathe life gently into the songs, which reveal their secrets slowly and organically, before coming to a gentle, but satisfying end. And then the instruments start up again. In the liner notes we’re told that Printer’s Son “eschews the stomp-clap boom-chuck trends of indie-folk”. Sure enough, at times percussion is almost verboten. Instead, over gentle banjos, woody acoustic guitars, and earthy bass, the melodies weave their way into your sub-consciousness. Highlights include ‘Beautiful Doll’ with its female vocal accompaniment, and the aforementioned ‘Gary, IN’, where the musical palette is just a little bit broader. There are similarities between Printer’s Son and Field Report’s most recent release, Marigolden. Both comprise songs with a wide-open sense of space that’s filled with beautiful melodies and personal lyrics. Marigolden was a highlight of 2014. Printer’s Son will surely figure likewise in 2016.

Marissa Nadler – Strangers

Marissa Nadler – Strangers

marissa art

The pace is never more than stately. The cathedral never less than sonic. Marissa Nadler’s new album is utterly captivating. The simple conceit at the heart of Strangers is that Marissa Nadler is some form of fey indie folk artist. Someone whose existential angst is at its greatest when deciding what type of eggs to have for breakfast. Someone who has to lie down in a darkened room at the very thought of a bug being squashed on a windshield. The songs start with gentle acoustic arpeggios. The little melodies are always clearly present. The vocals are under control. This is a very polite-sounding album. Yet behind the calm exterior there lies a mass of sound. A seething, writhing squall of guitar. A wall of drone. A mountain of reverb. This is nothing less than a David Lynch movie. The trick is to put the two sides of the music together in a harmonious way and, with the help of producer Randall Dunn, it’s one that’s perfectly executed. ‘Katie I Know’ starts off as a simple song, but ends with cutting strings. ‘Skyscraper’ towers down ominously throughout. And watch out because ‘Janie[‘s] In Love’. On Strangers, Marissa Nadler has taken her music to another level. A deeper, darker level, but one that fits with a certain imagined persona. And one that’s completely compelling.