A lonely, isolated closet.  Cables and wires.  The pulse of a drum machine.  “I’ve wanted to make heavy, loud music for a long time…” says John King.  The artist, like many artists, adapting to a new way of doing things; forced by the shutdown to improvise alone.  His frame hung over an electric guitar, his long hair casting shadows on the strings.  DIIV on one shoulder.  Chastity on the other.  Kurt Vile is in there somewhere as well.  “I didn’t have a concept…” he continues.  “…just sort of a gut feeling”.  It’s been a long, strange musical journey for King, taking him from Canton, Ohio to Mexico to the backwater town of Killbuck to a solitary bedroom closet where his newest project was born.  “I just murmured weird sounds into the microphone for hours on loop”.  He made an EP of music, one layer at a time, rocking out against the impeding chaos of a pandemic.  “Dealing with the brink of desperation,” is how King puts it.  The murmurs, the improvisation, the songs slowly took shape, while never sacrificing their looseness.  They move about, like sounds bottled in a lava lamp, fluid, wild and beautiful, straight from the bedroom closet.  His own private Shame Chamber.     

You can stream and purchase the EP here.

horizon

A week or two ago, I attended a pre-release listening party for one of my favorite artists. Under the dim lights of Canton’s Deli Ohio restaurant, after hours, I scribbled a few thoughts down as Damien Jurado’s new record spun.  I added a few more later, the sound still lingering…

 

Gray skies over Canton. A whirling April snow. Red lights turn to green.

A voice is carried along on the reverb; a winding stream. It sinks into the wood grain.

Thomas Wolfe. Bruce Springsteen.

Otis Redding. Percy Faith.

Lost in America; stuck in the 70s.

Bob Dylan. Bill Fay.

The red of the exit sign. The hum of the cooler.

Leonard Cohen tells a crude joke.

Lazarus and resurrection. Jonah bouncing around Nineveh.

Old Testament fire. New Testament glory.

A life detached.  A glass darkly.

Charlie Brown on the streets of Laredo.

 

The horizon just laughed.

 

“The Horizon Just Laughed” will be released on May 4th.

TLW_MyBonesAreSinging_Cover

Those Lavender Whales’ first album, Tomahawk of Praise, was an album of pure joy. Sure, there were moments of questions; times when singer/songwriter Aaron Graves put a stumbling faith at the forefront of his wild folk melodies. But everything was viewed, sung, strummed through a haze of unfiltered, contagious joy. Five years and several lifetimes later, the band is poised to release its second full length, My Bones are Singing, and yes, there is joy on the record, but it’s a new kind of joy. A bittersweet joy. A joy that comes from being tossed about on the harsh waves, to and fro, until finally being spit upon the shore. The new album finds Graves working through the complexities of life and death, having struggled through a life threatening brain tumor and the long treatment that followed. His praise and outlook isn’t as self-assured as it was the first time around. A deeper darkness has seeped into the songs. The guitars are louder. The weight is heavier. But this is not a somber album. This is music as medicine. This is a power-of-positivity record, full of friendship, seeking, searching, faith, doubt, resurrection…and it most assuredly rocks.

My Bones are Singing releases April 7 on Fork and Spoon Records.  You can listen to and purchase the album here.

caitlin

Strip mined hills, full of snow, stand tall in the distance like the Andes. “You are born alone”, Caitlin Pasko sings through my car stereo. The river drifts by, choppy, chunks of snagged driftwood pulled up and under the surface. Plastic trash is caught in the roadside fence. “Then you’ll die alone”. The cold is brutal. The county, the highway, the flocks of skittering birds—they are all carried along on the grief-stricken poetry and piano melodies of her new EP, Glass Period. It’s a hard journey, this highway of life that we travel. We suffer and laugh and love and hate, and some are able to put words to such abstract things. Some are able to allow their grief to be resurrected into something that heals. “But what about the time in between?” sings Pasko, and it’s a question for us all.

You can listen to and purchase the EP here.

jonah

I have a difficult time pinning down the music of Portland’s Jonah Sissoyev. I started listening to his songs back in 2012. It was the first time that I truly lived alone, outside of a college dorm room—a quiet, light-filled apartment all to myself, on the top floor of an old house. I didn’t know what Sissoyev was singing about, whether it was God or girls, but I knew that it hit me—that it spoke to something far down, in that part of you that knows only a profound, Biblical groaning. Sissoyev is now releasing his third EP, Shadow of the Sun, and his sound has expanded somewhat over the years. There are more players. There is a greater scope to the recordings. But the songs are still rooted in those far down places. They still feel like an artist’s abstract search for love or peace or salvation of some kind. At the heart of it, Sissoyev’s songs remain strange, enigmatic and utterly beautiful.

You can stream and purchase his music here. Beginning March 1, you’ll be able to hear and buy the new EP, Shadow of the Sun.