Happy New Year. Surely, 2017 can only be better than 2016. But who knows at the moment? What’s for sure is that music will always be a comfort. In that spirit, highly anticipated 2017 releases include confirmed albums from Elbow, Fleet Foxes, Foxygen, Grandaddy, Grizzly Bear, Horse Thief, Nadia Reid, Nikki Lane, Real Estate, Ryan Adams, The Shins, Son Volt, Strand of Oaks, and Sun Kil Moon. And then there’s always the H-LM wish list. This year, it includes Adrian Crowley, Alela Diane, Anaïs Mitchell, Bill Callahan, David Vandervelde, Feist, Field Report, Fionn Regan, First Aid Kit, Israel Nash, Jason Isbell, Jim White, Laura Veirs, Lewis & Clarke, Noah Gunderson, and Phosphorescent. Mind you, some of these artists were on my wish list this time last year. So, fingers are tightly crossed. Whatever happens, let’s start the new year with some good news. Word is in that Kramies is recording new demos. I can’t wait to hear the end result. In the meantime, here’s Kramies (feat. Jason Lytle) with ‘Clocks Were All Broken’.
When war is a thing of the past, when hunger and poverty have been banished from the land, when the Cubs finally win the World Series, then the world will be a better and fairer place and these artists will sell millions of albums. In the meantime, we have to be content with the thought that they all delivered a great record this year, even if some of them had to ship the units themselves. Here’s my Best of the Year, Pt. 3.
Noah Gundersen – Carry The Ghost
Carry The Ghost managed to bring a winter chill to warm summer days. It had its share of slow, sad songs, but there were some feisty guitar licks too. And it all came to a head on ‘Heartbreaker’. There’s a clue in the title.
As part of Old Crow Medicine Show, Gill Landry used to sell millions of albums (well maybe). As a solo artist, he has found his voice. And what a good one it is. His s/t release was chock full of gorgeous, slightly melancholy songs. Oh, and a duet with Laura Marling. Now that was something.
John Statz – Tulsa
Honest albums from hard-working artists. That’s always a good start and John Statz took it from there. Tulsa was full of small-town stories with very big themes. And all of them backed by some fine playing and great production.
Jacob Golden – Invisible Record
After a long absence Jacob Golden returned with a triumph of an album. It was worth the wait. Catchy hooks, bittersweet lyrics, and a certain integrity that transcended the music alone. Will we have to wait so long for the next instalment?
Grand Lake Islands – Song From Far
Rumours of a merger with Great Lake Swimmers turned out to be false. So, we were left with Song From Far. And very happy it made us. This January release was the harbinger of a really great musical year.
Noah Gundersen – Carry The Ghost
The great thing about summer albums is that they’re often recorded in autumn or winter. Reflecting the season in which they were created, they can bring a damp slice of miserableness to the sunniest of days. Noah Gundersen’s new album, his second, sounds like it might have been recorded in deepest December. Slow, dark, and super-serious, it’s totally unseasonal and, of course, utterly wonderful. We’re in early Damien Jurado territory. High praise. The core is folky acoustic guitar. And the sadness on songs like ‘Silver Bracelet’ is palpable and unutterably beautiful. Yet, more so than on his first release, there’s an electric element to this album. ‘Jealous Love’, ‘Slow Dancer’, ‘Halo (Disappear/Reappear)’, ‘Show Me The Light’. These are the slow burners. They’re somehow frustrating and yet all the more rewarding for it. In an alternate universe they could easily take off and reach a bro-country sort of chorus, but, thankfully, we’re in this universe and they never do. Instead, they sit and simmer, reflecting, regretting, and remaining resolutely and reassuringly indie. There are some lovely turns of self-deprecating phrase. “I watch you watching Dylan like you’re watching a saint, And I could not help but notice everything he is I ain’t”. And things come to a head on the penultimate track, ‘Heartbreaker’. Seven minutes long, it builds to a moment of pure catharsis. “Heartbreaker, Name taker, Ladies’ man”, he cries, followed by a searing guitar break. Summer is pretty much over at this point. Heading into autumn, Carry The Ghost is the perfect companion.
Glide magazine review