Take A Moment To Share An Artist You Love

This is something that I did last year and it seemed to go down fairly well.  So I will try again and see if it goes down at all.  Basically, the premise was to share an artist that you love, that others may not know about or be all that into.  It can be anyone really.  Jesus, it could be Beyonce if you like Beyonce.  So long as you explain who the artist is and why you love them I am not bothered.  One thing I’ve learned in the last few years is that I don’t really care about what I’m supposed to like and not like.  Take X Factor for example.  I’m hooked.  It’s awesome television and I genuinely like seeing talented singers get a chance that they’d probably never get otherwise.  Anyways, I’m a fan and I don’t care if that is frowned upon or considered sad.  It’s how it is.   Let’s use this post as an X Factor type opportunity for those artists you love, that you think deserve to be heard and that you want to write about.

My offering this year would be Grouper.  Whilst there has been and will be a lot of good albums from a lot of good artists in 2011, not many will be able to say they produced 2 stunning records and a 7″.  Grouper will.

I fell for her music through the brilliant album ‘Dragging a Dead Horse Up a Hill’.  However, this years release of ‘Alien Observer’ and ‘Dream Loss’ represented a massive step forward in the quality of songwriting on offer.  The layers of spacey drone that are so familiar in her work and the breathy, sumptious vocals create a dream like, under water feel.   With each listen new layers are unveiled and the songs slowly reveal the rich tapestry that she weaves.  Listening to her work is hypnotic.  It is completely captivating and sucks you in from the word go.   This is intimate, cinematic music and is completely breath taking.  Her new 7″ ‘Water People’ is heart breakingly beautiful and not to be missed.  So yeah, if you want to check out one new artist this year, I would recommend you check out Grouper.  One of the USA’s finest underground treasures without a doubt.  You can find all her music here.  Enjoy.

Now it’s over to you.  Any suggestions.  Let us know.  It really doesn’t take long to share a name, a link and some reasons why we should check out the music you love.

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AA Bondy – Believers

Wow.  I discovered AA Bondy a while ago through his record ‘When the Devil’s Loose’, released back in 2009.  It’s a good record but that’s probably as much as I’d have to say about it.  It was never ground breaking.  It was never anything new or fresh.  It was just good, solid Americana.  (Although, that said, ‘Mightiest of Guns’ is a stunning way to open a record – gorgeous song).  So I guess that I have just never felt compelled to keep tabs on his career based on what I’d heard previously.

I stumbled upon his new record ‘Believers’ after discovering that he is to support The Felice Brothers on their forthcoming UK tour.  Since I will be at a show I figured I would see if he had a new record out to coincide with the tour.  (I did not realise he was tied to The Felice Brothers by virtue of being a brother in law.  I just assumed they’d chosen a good tour support).   As it turns out, not only have they chosen a good tour support, they have chosen a man whose new record is nothing short of brilliant.  I am now even more excited about the gig than I was before.

This record evokes everything that I love about American music.  I fell in love with Wilco because of Summerteeth.  I fell in love with Ryan Adams because of Heartbreaker.  I fell in love with The Felice Brothers because of ‘Tonight at the Arizona’.  I fell in love with Richmond Fontaine because of ‘The Fitzgerald’.  However, more often than not American, and specificallyAmericana, artists come along and don’t really produce anything that makes me fall head over heels in love with them.  I can run through a list of names – Dylan Leblanc, Doug Paisley, Matthew Ryan, Justin Townes Earle plus more.  All good artists.  All with good albums.  None of whom I have fallen for in the manner I have the likes of Wilco, Adams etc.   The most recent to buck this trend was Josh Ritter with his new record ‘So Runs The World Away’, a truly excellent record.  But my god, AA Bondy has gone and done it.  I feel like I did when I first heard Heartbreaker.  I feel like I do whenever I hear an amazing piece of music, actually.  I feel completely captivated and stuck, listening to it over and over on my headphones at work.   I keep waiting for it to not be as good as it was the first time, or second time or tenth time.  Yet it just keeps getting better and better.

‘Believers’ is quite simply breath taking.  It really is.  From the first notes of ‘The Heart is Willing’to the last of ‘Scenes from a Circus’ it is simply inspired.  I’d go as far as saying that this is some of the finest song writing I have heard in quite some time.  Along with The Antlers and Bon Iver, AA Bondy has created something of a 2011 classic.

The balance of the record is perfect.   Sure, there may not be anything ground breaking or fresh about what is on offer here.  The big difference is that the quality that is on offer eclipses much of what is being produced by his contemporaries at this moment in time.   Whilst Ryan Adams falls further and further in to the song writing abyss, following his turgid last offering, AA Bondy seems to be taking on his mantle.  Yes, much of this record is reminiscent of Adams at his best.  Indeed, this record will appeal greatly to Ryan Adams fans.  But it is the kind of quality that, for too long, Ryan Adams has failed to produce.  Yes, ‘Believers’ eludes to the Adams of old but signifies a change in the guard of Americana music and retains AA Bondy’s identity as a songwriter in the process.

For too long now there have been too many Wilco wannabes.  Ryan Adams wannabes.  Richmond Fontaine wannabes.  Felice Borthers wannabes.  Well, AA Bondy is far from a wannabe.  With this offering he has propelled himself above his contemporaries to the forefront of the genre.  Support slots with The Felice Brothers for now but surely sell out headline tours in no time at all?  Based on this record that really cannot be an unrealistic target.

You can check out ‘Believers’ here.  And AA Bondy here.  Enjoy.

Talvihorros – Descent Into Delta

Talvihorros is a Londonbased experimental guitarist more commonly known to friends and family as Ben Chatwin.  ‘Descent into Delta’ is his third record following debut ‘Some Ambulance’ and last years ‘Music in Four Movements’.

I was introduced to Chatwin’s music by mutual friend and collaborator Matthew Collings and was immediately captivated by his skill at manipulation and production of dense, atmospheric music.  He creates pieces that border on drone using a variety of instruments to compliment the heavily drenched guitar compositions.

This, his third record, ‘Descent into Delta’ represents the move from a fully alert state to one of sleep and rest.  This is achieved through 5 distinct pieces of music ‘Gamma’, ‘Beta’, ‘Alpha’, ‘Theta’ and ‘Delta’, which flow so beautifully into one another that it is almost impossible to identify where one piece ends and another begins.  This in itself adds to the wonderful feeling of sleep descending that is so perfectly portrayed by this wonderful record.  Starting life as improvisations these pieces have gone through some serious editing and processing to create a record that achieves exactly what its creator intended.  As the distortions swell and flow, instrumentation punctuates the spaces creating a world of dream and sleep that seeps ever so slowly into your brain leaving you in a heavenly state of relaxation.  It’s kind of like the feeling that you get when you’re tired but awake and you start to read a book.  It’s that feeling of alertness, then the sudden onset of sleep, the battle to remain awake followed by the inevitable book falling from your hands on to the floor.  It’s simply brilliant.

I cannot get enough of this record to be perfectly honest and I am very much looking forward to seeing both Talvihorros and Matthew Collings perform live this weekend.   Should be an awesome experience.

For those of you who don’t know anything about Talvihorros please check out his work here.  For those of you who do know about his work then you will hopefully be in agreement that this record places him firmly at the top of his game alongside his contemporaries and, probably, his idols too.  Another fantastic release by Hibernate Recordings.  Another big step forward in the career of Ben Chatwin.  Enjoy.