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Posts Tagged ‘ep’

Kashmere Hakim – The Hillsinger EP
self-released 2010

[tags: acoustic, folk, ep, 2010]

Listen while reading:

Foreign Worker (from The Hillsinger EP) download it!

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Hi folks, it’s time for me to post about a great new EP that was in my inbox today. As I’ve said before, I’m surprised how much submissions are still coming in every day, but this one really stands out. I’m talking about the debut release from Dutch folk singer-songwriter Kashmere Hakim which goes by the name The Hillsinger EP and which was released only two days ago. What makes this EP special isn’t its creativity or its experiments – it’s the other way around: the pure and straight-forward character is what makes it special. It shows that you don’t need more than an acoustic guitar and your voice if you’re able to write good and honest songs. And this is exactly what Kashmere Hakim does: writing honest music that hooks you up and takes you on a little journey through the arts of expressing human emotions and telling everyday yet meaningful stories.

The EP comes loaded with six songs and a playtime of 16 minutes which is just right for this kind of release. Outstanding are the melodies of Kashmere’s songs, they are fragile, sometimes broken, but not over the top, rather dry but still compelling. The opener Free People is a good example for this kind of song-writing and it shows that this man surely got a feeling for writing music. This belief manifests itself even more if you take a listen to John Henry, the third track on the EP. The melodies here are different and much more melodic and simpler than they were in Free People – and still it seems that this (a little bit blusy) style just fits the story of the song and tops it off. The free downloadable track Foreign Worker really sums up the overall picture I got of the EP with its soft melodies and its calm atmosphere. If you like this track I’m most certainly sure you’ll like the other ones too. Among the straight acoustic guitar and voice arrangements, there are some strings here and there, especially in the brilliant Grandparents House. This addition really benefits the songs and I’m convinced that there will be much more great music from Kashmere Hakim in the future if he’s able to keep up with this high quality work. If you want one of the 500 copies of the EP, just write an e-mail to Kashmere (kashmerehakim@hotmail.com) or contatct him via his MySpace profile. A digital version of the EP will be available soon. Fine acoustic folk!

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Power Und Beauty – The Gnome EP
Peppermill Records 2010 (free download)

[tags: folk, strange, funny, FREE, EP, 2010]

Listen while reading:

Beggars And Felons (from The Gnome EP) download it!

The Author Of Spring (from The Gnome EP) download it!

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Hello dear CFM readers. I’m very sorry that I don’t update the blog on a daily basis anymore, but there’s much going on here and my studies (and other things) keep me very busy at the moment. I don’t know when this will be over, but I can assure you, that I have a very long list of great music to feature (with no end in sight) and so posts will come steadily but maybe not every day. I hope you’re fine with this.

For today I just want to point my fingers to the new Peppermill Records release. Offered for free, this fine netlabel just came up with the new Power Und Beauty EP called The Gnome. Sure, this is a strange title, but the music underlines the theme with fitting lyrics and instrumentation. Accordion, weird vocal lines and a somewhat funny atmosphere are the catchwords to describe the sound. The two embedded tracks show the extremes of the EP – and I definitely hear some Emilie Lund in the Beggars And Felons track. It’s highly recommended to check out both songs, for they are very different in nature. If you like the experimental yet down to earth style of Power Und Beauty, you shouldn’t wait and download the whole EP from here FOR FREE right now. And that’s it – stay tuned.

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Prattle On, Rick – Communion Bread EP
self-released 2010

[tags: folk, indie folk, (acoustic), EP, 2010]

Listen while reading:

Find Your Own Way (from Communion Bread EP)

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I hope you’re in the mood for a good Music Monday, because Patrick Rickelton, operating under the…eh…rather strange name Prattle On, Rick, from Nashville/Tennessee just recently released his debut EP Communion Bread. The chances are high that you never heard of him before – and this is just a big shame (well, not for you but in generally) since his music sounds fresh and the EP is a very nice (acoustic) indie folk release worth checking out.

Patrick contacted me after my review for the first three tracks from upcoming The Vespers album Tell Your Mama. Well, the reason seems very understandable for The Vespers are part of the EP, because they actively supported Patrick recording his material. And no, Prattle On, Rick doesn’t sound like just a version of The Vespers – he kept his own style and despite some shared genre characteristics there is not so much in common between both bands – ok, one fact is indeed just the same: the awesome music.

The music is mostly characterized by smooth strummed acoustic guitar melodies, very chilled vocals sung by Patrick himself (with female backing vocals by Callie and Phoebe Cryar). Decent drums and percussions as well as a nice played harmonica support the songs and especially the latter accents the singer-songwriter aspect of the record. The spectrum of the music reaches from classic acoustic indie folk songs (My Holiday or When Creation Speaks Too Low or Lately) over more upbeat but still dreamy songs (Lift Up) to a bit sadder tracks with nice cello (or is it a upright bass…tell me it is) and e-guitar melodies (Find Your Own Way). So the variation is mostly found within the borders of indie folk without breaking out of traditionally concepts like Leonard Mynx did with the recently reviewed Le Petit Mort.

So what you get is what you want without surprises and I mean this in a good way because, even if I contradict myself very oft-times, I like music that is plain and simple. Experiments too often ruin the credibility of the music and the musicians because they are often a sure sign of a missing feeling for song-writing. I know, many will disagree with me, but experimentation should serve the record and mustn’t work as a smoke screen for missing talent (bash me in the comments if you like). So, back to the EP and to Prattle On, Rick.

If I had an indie folk label and I would be interested in finding new acts that sound very promising, I certainly would like to check out the Communion Bread EP. This being said I declare, that I really enjoyed these 20+ minutes of very good music. In comparison to The Vespers, the music is more indie folk orientated, without those introverted, very soft moments. Prattle On, Rick is a bit more straight forward and this could be the reason that his music may is a bit more open to wider audiences. But this is just my feeling about the two bands if I listen to them switching from one to the other. But who needs those comparisons, both bands are just amazing and that’s it.

If you’re interested in buying your copy of the Communion Bread EP (which constantly reminds me of the great Iron And Wine song Communion Bread And Someone’s Coat from the Passing Afternoon Single) I highly recommend to buy a physical copy of the record, because in this case you will also get a totally free bonus album (The Decade Begins) containing twelve instrumental tracks whereby every tracks represents one month. Isn’t this totally awesome? And because it is, you will click this link, listen to the free January sample and buy your copy right now. Soooo…you just don’t like CDs and free bonus albums…well, then buy your digital version at DigStation (100% of the purchase goes to the artist) or at iTunes (honestly, DigStation sounds way better, so just buy it there…) p.s. you can listen to the whole EP over at Prattle On, Rick’s MySpace.

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Galapaghost – Neptunes EP
self-released 2010

[tags: acoustic, indie, folk, EP, 2010]

Listen while reading:

Human Unkind (from Neptunes EP)

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Do you remember Galapaghost? We wrote about his debut EP Our Lost Generation earlier (click here to read it) and a few days ago he contacted me again and submitted his new EP called Neptunes. I think it save to say that he improved his sound by 100 percent and created flawless 15 (out of 19*) minutes of (indie) folk. This is progress I really like to see, because I can feel that Casey Chandler works on his music to become better and more honestly. And this is exactly what music is all about, trying to sound real – much more easier said than done though. (* I said out of 19 minutes because one track is not quite my taste, but I come to this later).

Casey’s voice was one of the features I liked about the first EP and I still think that it is pretty nice to listen to. It sounds somehow different than other voices but still got this characteristic indie feeling to it. The best example of how good it works with acoustic guitar is the opener Aloner. Build around minimal percussions, some electric guitar and of course acoustic guitar it is the first highlight of the EP to prove that this one man band got plenty of potential. Beauty of Birds (and the following Solemn that seems to work as an instrumental outro for Beauty Of Birds and a bridge to Human Unkind) is more traditional acoustic indie folk with strummed acoustic guitar and country influences, but again Casey’s voice is really an ear catcher and gives a special touch to the song.

This brings me to Human Unkind, for me the best track of Neptunes, the combination of ukulele, acoustic guitar and electronic sounds here and there is just the sound that I connect with Galapaghost (don’t worry, no folk-tronic here) There is something to the music that is different than other music, but at the same time you always have the feeling to listen to indigenous (indie) folk. Just the refreshment the EP needs to stay in mind. And because we done it song by song, I will come to the next one immediately.  Don’t Go & Break My Heart is the title and it seems to be the most down to earth track of the six. Strummed guitar, classical indie folk style, Casey’s vocals and very nice female backing vocals that give positive vibes to this love song – I like it for it is just honestly sung and a good tune (maybe not as creative as others, but therefore plain and simple).

And now? BAM!

Neptune, the last track of the EP. “What’s that,” I thought, as I first listened to it. “Has he included the wrong track,” – I don’t think so. Why I was surprised? – just because the sound of the title track had absolutely nothing in common with the previous tracks. Its synthesizer drenched electro (folk?) pop, very loud and with heavy support from the drum machine. I really don’t know how to place this track in the context of the others and therefore I simply don’t do so.  I try to see this as a separate track, but these e-guitar riffs seem a bit uncreative to me and so do the drums. It’s definitely not my music and I honestly can’t judge this. I don’t see any of the above mentioned good features of Galapaghost in it. But one thing seems obvious: this track inspired the cover artwork – or the other way around.

In the end I really don’t know if Neptune should influence my overall opinion. But for me being a very kind human being, it won’t. And so I just tell you, that the Neptunes EP is a really nice (indie) folk release and that Casey Chandler improved his sound and his songwriting very much in comparison to his first EP. His voice is distinct, his guitar play charming and well working and his folk can be recommended if you’re interested in singer-songwriters that stand at the beginning of their careers. So, if you like the music, don’t hesitate to give Neptunes a chance and buy it directly from iTunes or AmazonMp3 to support the artist. Be sure to visit him on his MySpace too, where you can listen to more tracks from the EP.

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Faelwa – Farewell Sun EP
self-released 2009

[tags: ambient folk, soundscapes, acoustic, EP, metal??, 2009]

Listen while reading:

Orphan Lullaby (from Farewell Sun EP)

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Another facet of folk music for today – we take the trip to metal influenced “acoustic landscapes” from the Netherlands. But metal influenced doesn’t mean hard guitar riffing, heavy drums or deep growls here – it’s more a small reminder that both band members (Jasper Strik and Mark Kwint) have their roots in this genre of music. The song structure, so they write, is one indicator for this and I think the drum play, especially the work on the cymbals, is another one. You’re maybe thinking now, that this is some sort of folk metal in the vein of well known bands like Fintroll, Korpiklaani or Moonsorrow, but, as I wrote above, Faelwa’s music creates acoustic landscapes and is not the folk used in the genre term folk metal (if you want a reference to metal at all, I think the sound draws from early black metal music which often features elements of ambient songwriting).

So, I hope there are no prejudices against the music anymore. Farewell Sun is the name of the EP and it was released back in September of 2009. The songs are piano driven with present but not intrusive drums, modest bass play and, of course, acoustic guitar. The opener, The Heron, features additional whispered vocals and shows the combination of metal and folk the best because the genres melt together. But still I like the majestic melodies of the title track even better – nearly eight minutes of acoustic music with lots of variations and breaks (not in the real sense of the word because the whole song is very relaxed) and lots of moody feelings in them – a very nice attempt to create “a portal to introvert landscapes” (in their own words).

But most of all I really dig Orphan Lullaby because it covers my newly discovered interest in neo-classical music the best. The piano melodies are just heavenly and the acoustic guitar adds up such a folksy feeling to the tune that you can close your eyes and you will easily see wonderful picture of nature in front of you – so let’s pretend we’re all nature’s orphans for a few minutes and dream away. What a great track full of emotions and colors.

If you’re still awake and don’t fell asleep over those fine melodies, I will come to an end for now. Faelwa’s EP Farewell Sun leaves me with a very good feeling and I really can see lots of talent in writing melodies and transcendent nature into music. Not long ago I wrote about Richard Skelton’s LP Landings which combined folk and neo-classical music to reach the same goal – but he did it his way and Faelwa do it their way. And both ways work even though they have different directions (not opposite ones!). Where Richard Skelton tries to show us nature reflected in music in its deserted beauty, I think Faelwa tries to combine the reflection of nature in sound with sad human emotions to create a web of melancholic reciprocity between nature and man.
Visit the bands MySpace and personal homepage and order Farewell Sun directly by clicking here (for a physical copy) or via cdbaby.com or iTunes (for the mp3s).

'Whispering Brook' by Faelwa

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Sundries!

Today’s post contains much music for your listening pleasure. In the first place I thought, I write some short posts about all this stuff I stumbled upon today, but I think it is better do one big post that got it all.

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Fatea Showcase Session – Openings – Spring 10
free sampler (download) Fatea Showcase Session 2010

[tags: acoustic, folk, sampler, free, 2010]

Woodpecker Wooliams – Threads (from Openings)

Grant Peeples – My People Come From The Dirt (from Openings)

Erin K Hill – Long Sleep (from Openings)

Ewan McLennan – As I Roved Out (from Openings)

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Let’s start with a great free sampler featuring mostly acoustic music. The good people from Fatea Showcase Sessions provided it and the whole thing (called Openings) will be downloadable for three months from now on. This sampler is a great possibilitie to find some new bands which are not widely known yet or even still unsigned. Most of the songs are really good, ranging from an a cappella track over folk pop to americana, even though two or three of them are really not my taste. Make sure you don’t miss those 80 minutes and head directly to the download page or click here for instant download.

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Sun Hotel – Team Spirit EP
free EP (download) self-released 2010

[tags: indie rock, folk?, EP, 2010]

Honey (from Team Spirit EP)

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Speaking of free stuff, I found a mail in my inbox today concerning Sun Hotel’s new and free Team Spirit EP. They play indie rock so to say, with slighty folk influences. I don’t know if I like this music or not. But you can certainly feel the fun they had recording it for it is powerful and honest. Deceide for yourself and download the EP for free from Sun Hotel’s bandcamp page.

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Saharan Gazelle Boy – Airplanes Can’t
The Record Machine 2010

[tags: bedroom pop, dream pop, 2010, only $2!!!]

Aiming A Wave (from Airplanes Can’t)

Something I Wanna Know About You (from Airplanes Can’t)

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What’s next…I think I will tell you, that you should take your chance to download Saharan Gazelle Boy’s album Airplanes Can’t for just two dollars from The Record Machine…remember?…the good guys who gave away The Parade Shedule’s fantastic folk album for two dollars few weeks ago. But be warned, it’s no folk what Saharan Gazelle Boy plays, it’s bedroom pop with some dream pop flavor to it…sometimes calm, sometimes the opposite. In the end a really nice album one should own – at least for this killer price. ONLY $2, AHHHHH! BUY IT HERE!

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Chatham County Line – IV
Yep Roc 2008

[tags: (alt) country, bluegrass, folk, 2008]

The Carolina (from IV)

Sweet Eviction (from IV)

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And last thing for today: I found a band I never heard of before and because they are so amazing, I must mention them here. The band is called Chatham County Line and for me they are the better Mumford & Sons (and I really like Mumford & Sons). Country and bluegrass sound at its best combined with great folk attitude, that’s what I call their last album IV from 2008. In comparison to Mumford & Sons these guys know, where the break is and they are willing to hit it sometimes – this makes an really good album from start to finish. If you like the music, you can be happy from now on, because the band will release a new record at the end of spring. You will read about here. Until then, check out there other albums and buy them from here.

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Matthew Solberg – I Am A Fool EP
free album (download), self-released 2009

[tags: acoustic, folk, indie flavor, free ep, 2009]

Listen while reading:

Brand New Yesterday (from I Am A Fool EP) download it!

Desirae & Dolores (from I Am A Fool EP) download it!

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Brought to my attention by the non-stop bloggin’ folk blogger Tunesmith over at Call It Folk, I found Matthew Solberg and his debut EP from 2009 I Am A Fool that’s given away for free on his website. After the melancholic and wintery piano sounds of Nils Frahm it’s high time for some down to earth folk music and the lovely pairing of just acoustic guitar and voice. Matthew hails from Nashville/Tennessee and is currently recording his first full length release that is due to 2010 as it says on his website.

The EP contains 7 songs of finger picked guitar folk and also features two instrumentals (Desirae & Dolores and Liquid Blanket) resulting in a great combination if you like solo acoustic guitar but love some good vocals too. Okay, that’s nothing too special, but there are not many releases out there that have some good instrumentals along with the regular tracks – and if Matthew retains the concept for his upcoming album, I think this will add some extra awesomeness to it. But we’ll see. For now we stay with the EP.

If you like categorizing things (and it seems that I like that a lot) you could call I Am A Fool a country influenced singer-songwriter outlet with some portions of indie flavor. And I think this is also the right place to explain what I mean with the term indie flavor. Okay, it’s not literally an explanation but I think an easy example should do for that. Imagine listening to early J. Tillman recordings, say Long May You Run, J. Tillman. I would not call this indie flavored folk although I would call it down to earth, maybe more down to earth than anything else. And now listen to Benjamin Gibbard & Andrew Kenny’s Home EP. Again, I would call the whole thing down to earth, but now with a great indie flavor to it. Reasons could be the strumming guitar play or the singing style with the melodic and upbeat intonation. Or something like that. And this brings me back to Matthew Solberg who doesn’t play a strumming guitar style but who got the menioned indie like characteristics in his voice which are responsible for me calling the EP indie flavored. Short story long…

What’s conspicuous about the release is its conformity – and I don’t mean the absence of other instruments, I’m talking about the mood of the single songs. Sure, they all got different melodies and they are no rip offs of each other, but even the instrumentals express the same mood: a somehow friendly, “sun is shining after the rain” mood but without the uber intensive “look at this little cute bug, isn’t it cuuuuute” attitude. And there is nothing bad with this, but for I’m more the type that likes the darker, deeper side of emotions in music, it is a bit too shimmering for me at some points. But I don’t want to hold that against the release, maybe it’s not quite the right season of the year right now. Another feature of the tracks, that I really like, are the different tempos of the guitar play. Rainy Nights is one of the slower candidates, whereas the above mentioned Desirae & Dolores or Nothing To Say races from note to note without taking a breath. Me likes that.

To spend an ear on this record, you are in the comfortable situation to download the entire EP for free from Matthew Solberg’s personal homepage (wooohooo!). Physical copies are out of print and not available right know. To gather further impressions, don’t hesitate and visit his MySpace page too. (And remember:  you’ll read about Matthew’s debut here on CFM as soon as it hits the road.)

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Christopher Smith – Keepsake EP
Boompa 2009

[tags: folk, indie, ep, 2009]

Listen while reading:

White Knuckle (from Keepsake EP)

You’ve Lost That Lovin Feeling (original by The Righteous Brothers) (Bonus track from Keepsake EP) download it!
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It seems that Christopher Smith’s EP Keepsake was overlooked by most blogs – CFM included. The man from Vancouver/Canada, so it seems to me, has released one EP before (Christmas Day) but nothing else. Das Klienicum wrote about him earlier and featured Piece By Piece from the unpublished Garage Sessions, also it said there, that Christopher is going to release an EP with the name 2 Strawberries In A Jam and a full length album in February 2010 called The Beckon Call. As far as I can see, the 2 Strawberries In A Jam EP was never released or was released but now under the name Keepsake EP. However the track 2 Strawberries In A Jam will be featured on the upcoming full length. The situation is kind of weird, but ok.

What is fact is, that Smith’s second EP exists and features 5 tracks of him. The music was recorded in a bedroom and the vocals in a bathroom. This adds a nice homemade bedroom (bathroom?) atmosphere to the songs. They themselves come as folksy indie tracks; hushed and quiet sometimes with just vocals and acoustic guitar, but then they are also irascible with heavy arrangements of drums, percussions, synthesizer, vocals and electric guitar. The track White Knuckel combines all those elements in a very nice manner and I think it is a good representative for the EP.

What really knocks my socks of is the voice and its recording. I don’t know why exactly, but it gives me an airy feeling listening to the cautious but present vocals especially in the EP’s title track. It’s just wonderful in combination with the acoustic guitar melodies and so is the rest of Keepsake.

To buy the EP, head over to Boompa or get your Mp3s over at iTunes. Also visit Christopher’s MySpace and personal homepage.

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Out Like Lambs – Out Like Lambs EP
self-released 2009

[tags: acoustic, folk, jazzy, ep, 2009]

Listen while reading:

Downstream (from Out Like Lambs EP)

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First thing that came into my mind as I listened to Out Like Lambs was the comparison to South China (the band we wrote about here). And not because both bands make the same kind of music, but because the overall complexity of the tracks and the record. Hailing from Ocean Grove/New Jersey the still young band released their first self-titled 4-track EP way back in 2009 – so it mightn’t be the newest release I’m talking about, but I know there will be some great material from this fine collective in the future.

The four tracks are folksy in nature and one could call them some sort of lo-fi – but this isn’t the term I would use for I think lo-fi records don’t sound as clean as this EP. But it is true that a certain do it yourself charm adheres to the tracks. For a clearer picture of what I try to tell, I refer to great photography that was used as the cover artwork. Some walking-in-the-lonely-streets-under-a-grey-sky-with-all-the-dreariness-aware-but-still-everything-seems-kind-of-nice-atmosphere.

Musically you can find this particular atmosphere in every song. Accents are set by jazzy improvisations that are very suitable for coloring the ambience around the held back vocals. But I am honest with you, if you are looking for a straight forward folk record you may be a bit challenged by the combination of folk and jazz elements. But then it isn’t what you might think it is, because they avoided to push the sound to the jazz pop folk genre. This is great because this way they sound sincere all the time and the record is one you can listen to if you want a break soley with yourself and your thoughts and some rain-colored music.

Personal highlight of the four tracks is Downstream with the beautiful acoustic guitar work supported by violin (and many other instruments), decent percussions, and the jazz improvisation just before the whole track switches into some country-driven sing-along accompanied with improvised trumpet. This shows enormous creativity and the sense for musical possibilities even though it doesn’t make the record become one you can easily digest. Your stomach will hurt a bit as you listen to it the first time (maybe), but after some further servings, you will love it more and more – but, as said before, be careful, you could be allergic.

I think, if you liked South China, you will like the Out Like Lambs – and the other way ‘round. If you look for something more experimental without synthesizer melodies, you will like it too. And if you are on the scout for some melancholy feelings without resignation, Out Like Lambs deliver a very good soundtrack with lots of different moods expressed in black and white (with a hint of sepia). To get a copy of the EP, contact the band through their official website or their MySpace.

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Mount Eerie – Black Wooden EP
Southern Records 2009

[tags: folk, dark, ep, great!, happy new year]

Listen while reading:

Appetite (from Black Wooden EP)

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Last post for 2009 and well, I think if features some very nice music that was released just before 2010. The man I’m talking about is not an unknown one and so there is not much to say about him or his music even though I wouldn’t consider me as the biggest adept of his oeuvre. So, you may have guessed it (or you did read the headline of this post), I’m talking about Phil Elverum aka Mount Eerie (former The Microphones) and his new EP release Black Wooden (though he calls it a LP in his shop) (thanks to Hlynur Gudjonsson for reminding me of it and providing important information).

Black Wooden is the follow up of the great Lost Wisdom record from 2008 (that featured Julie Doiron – yap, that’s right, the Julie form Daniel, Fred & Julie who just recently released their self-titled collaboration debut on You Have Changed Records) and two other releases (namely the CD, that was included in a book with journal entries called Dawn and a 12’’ LP called Wind’s Poem – but sadly I don’t know neither the first nor the second one).

But let’s switch over to the music of Black Wooden. The EP features 6 tracks which were recorded at the Southern Studios in London back in 2007. They are dark and got some ambient moments in them, but not electronic ambient moments, more the ambient mood created by minimalistic guitar play and longer instrumental parts in the tracks (best example for that is the title track). Both acoustic and electric guitar create an interesting duo – the first soft and fragile, the latter hard and compelling. In the middle of  this there is Mister Elverums unique and characteristic voice that’s loaded with depression and that sounds like it travelled a very long way just to realize that the whole journey was useless – exhausted might be the right word to describe it.

Along with the mentioned ambient sound it is plain and simple a folk record through and through. It got the typical reflective lyrics, lots of emotion in the voice, relatively simple instrumentation (just the guitars and voice) and a somber overall atmosphere. The tracks are heavy and you have to chew on them a bit to get really into them. But if this point is reached, you will see the sheer unbelievable deepness of every single note and second of it. Maybe it is a bit too early to say so, but I think this EP will certainly make it in my EP Top List of 2010.

And, as I said before, I’m certainly not the one who knows the most about Mount Eerie’s music, but I think that this EP is a great way to get started with. I for myself needed Black Wooden to spend some more time on Mount Eerie in the future to get rid of the status of “Surley, I know him, but what does he sound like?” to establish something more fundamental.

You can buy the EP in Mount Eerie’s shop on his website or you order the CD or LP version directly via Southern Records. Also visit him on his MySpace page for further impressions. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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The Shants – Russian River Songs EP
self-released 2009

[tags: alt. country, folk, ep]

Listen while reading:

 So Strange, These Days (from Russian River Songs EP)

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It’s only two days before 2010 and I’m very happy that I found yet found another great band in the outgoing year. Ok, I did not really find them, because the good guys over at Hyperbolium posted about The Shants just recently. But you may forgive me if I repost on them for they clearly deserve some more blog love. They hail from Oakland/California and finished their first EP, called Russian River Songs, short time ago.

The title is explained by the fact that they recorded their demo near the Russian River “holed up in a cabin in the redwoods” as they say. The complete EP was mainly recorded live and in only two sessions what adds a nice campfire atmosphere to the tracks. And saying campfire atmosphere, it is just the right word to express all the other aspects of Russian River Songs. That is: the overall dark character of the music with the haunting but very mellow lap steel melodies, the cozy acoustic guitar play accompanied with chilled e-guitar vibes and cradling bass lines together with decent sounds from the rhythm section on drums – I don’t need to say that this is pushed to the limit every time the harmonica kicks in. The lyrics are perfect to forget about your surroundings and to hum or sing along with them with closed eyes thinking of a nice night with your friends hanging out around some crackling campfire with some tasty beers or beverages of your choise.

The voice of Skip Allums is flying through the tracks mostly with great calmness and always with a sad side note that really fits the whole release very well. Although I wouldn’t say that it sounds much like an americana voice it surely is a great alt. country voice with lots of character and range.

The best thing about the EP is, that it combines alt country and folk in a very ingenious manner with the always present acoustic guitars, the country driven lap steel and harmonica and Skip’s voice, which also subjoins a little bit of indie character (like in Lift Up Your Eyes). This combination works just fine for me and I’m glad as a lad (come on, it’s just one stupid rhyme…hehe) that I discovered this nice little 8-track EP which you can order directly via mail. To stream some more of The Shants’ music, don’t wait and visit their MySpace site or head over to their Tumblr page.

Additional note: Skip told me, that they will head to Sacramento this winter to record their debut full length in Tape Op’s The Hangar studio together with Bryce Gonzales (who engineered Davendra Banhards latest album What Will We Be). Those are great news and I’m really looking forward for this recording in 2010. You should too.

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Low – Christmas EP
Kranky 1999

[tags: merry christmas!]

Listen while reading:

Little Drummer Boy (from Christmas EP)

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Just wanted to wish you all a merry Christmas and I hope you have a great time right now. Santa Clause and the Weihnachtsmann are ruling!

CFM will be back with new posts on 12-28-09 (maybe earlier). So stay tuned and have fun with all your families and your new music you hopefully found beneath the christmas tree.

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The Wolf Explosion – Send Your Rope EP
free ep (download) self-released 2009

[tags: acoustic, folk, ep, 2009, free download]

Listen while reading:

Powerwhore (from Send Your Rope EP)
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I’m very happy everytime a young band contacts me aksing for a review – and if they make good music you can be sure you will read about them here. And so today’s feature is about The Wolf Explosion from Houghton/New York who made a very nice first step with releasing their debut EP called Send Your Rope short time ago.

The music features mostly two acoustic guitars and vocals and can be considered very stripped down and minimalistic. The strumming style gives an indie feeling to the songs and overall the 5 tracks on the EP are great sing-alongs. Powerwhore is the outstanding track I think, because it combines all the strengths of the band: great vocal melodies, nice acoustic guitar play accompanied by ukulele(?) and a great hovering atmosphere. Sadly the EP gets a little bit weaker to the end because Is Not War is a bit uniform and cannot keep pace with such great songs like the bluesy Swallow, the catchy Isahia 60 with its nice folk pop appeal or the thoughtful Creation Song.

If you are looking for a nice little acoustic EP to have a good portion of fun with, I highly advice you to download the EP for free and if you like the music make a little (or big) donation. I’m looking forward to hear the band in full setting, because they recently found a drummer and a sax player. For further details visit The Wolf Explosion’s MySpace site.

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Galapaghost – Our Lost Generation EP
self-released 2009

[tags: folk, indie folk, indie rock, ukulele, ep, 2009]

Listen while reading:

Goodnight Moon (from Our Lost Generation EP)

Lost Generation (from Our Lost Generation EP)

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Ever heard of ukel-indie rock? Me neither. But Casey Chandler from New York, recording under the moniker Galapaghost, just describes his own music as being ukel-indie rock. You guess it, the main reason for this is the inclusion of the ukulele. But I don’t want to discuss if the term is very usefull, because I will still refer to the music as indie folk with indie pop/rock influences.

Casey just finished recording his first EP, Our Lost Generation, and the result is nothing to sneeze at. The title track is  a blend of typically folk characteristics, indie folk like vocals and indie rock like electric guitar play. The whole song is straight forward even though the vocals are more reserved and calm. You can call this specific sound one half of the EP including the mentioned title track and Smile. On the other hand you got tunes like Goodnight Moon and Virginia that are more contemporary folk/indie folk tracks with spare instrumentation and less indie flavor. The remaining two songs You’re All I Need and Summer Daze are somewhere in the middle of this but maybe a bit more attracted to the calm side of the release.

What I really like about Casey’s music is his voice that really sounds unique and has a great range of expressing different feelings and timbres. In combination with the ukulele, the sound of Galapaghost is indeed special and not the same as everything else. And even I, who don’t like changes or experiments, think the addition of the ukulele to indie folk/indie pop/rock is something profitable that adds a nice new quality to this kind of music. But what I think is not the best addition to music, are the noise parts as well as the drum rhythms in Smile, because the strength of Galapaghost clearly lies in the calm ukulele driven indie folk genre and not so much in the Smile like indie rock/pop tracks.

If you like the music of Galapaghost and you want the mp3s or a physical copy, you have to e-mail Casey personally, because the release is not available anywhere else at the moment. To contact him just use Galapaghost’s MySpace site.

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Avital Raz – Skin And Feathers EP
self-released 2009

[tags: acoustic, folk, ep, 2009]

Listen while reading:

Sweeter Than Candy (from Skin And Feathers EP)

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Yesterday CNC took us on a trip through outer space and today we alight in Tel Aviv/Israel to meet Avital Raz, a singer-songwriter combining “Indian, Middle Eastern, Celtic, and even Country“ influences to a nice EP called Skin And Feathers. You may be afright that the result would sound like a big jumble but this is not quite the truth because the sad and mostly quiet tracks sound really great and don’t overstate the exotic elements.

Skin And Feathers is characterized by the strong and clear voice of Avital Raz and the nice acoustic guitar play you find on almost every track and that’s also the reason why the EP sounds more like folk than eveything else because these main elements are very present. And so I don’t feel bothered by the additional bongos and choir in Beautiful – (Kali’s Garland) or the flute melodies in Unknown Angry Female Rock Star. Infact songs like My Next Lover or Songs Of Waiting remind me of one of the favourites here on Common Folk Meadow: David Åhlén. Especially the a cappella track My Next Lover is practically the female musical equivalent. (If you would ask me what is a weakness of this release, I would only name the last track (#3972) which is a bit over the edge with all it’s instruments and world music influences; plus the really aweful cover artwork (but that doesn’t affect my judgement)).

So, without too many words, I recommend to give a listen to Skin And Feathers and maybe buy your mp3s or your physical copy over at cdbaby.com. For more information on the artist head over to Avital Raz’ MySpace page.

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CNC – No Mood EP
DRAW Records 2009

[tags: shoegaze, dream pop, 2009]

Listen while reading:

Magenta Ants (from No Mood EP)

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No folk today because we leave our traditional route and head for some shoegaze with a hint of dream pop from Warsaw/Poland made by Borys Dejnarowicz and Piotr Maciejewski operating under the moniker CNC. They just released their debut EP called No Mood and they did a very good job with it.

If you want to speak in metaphors I would say you can imagine listening to the EP as flying around in a spaceship that visits four different planets on its journey. It starts at home (No Mood) where you can see it slowly blast off and flying away to outer space. The track itself sounds a good bit drony and slowly grows over the time to a seven minute opener with hushed vocals and lots of shoegazing atmosphere (you may hear some Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? by Of Montreal) until it reaches universe. After a short while of hovering through space with light speed we reach the first destination: Magenta Ants. The chewy atmosphere from No Mood went away and made room for a more cheerful track with dream pop character, reminding a litttle (ok, really just a little) bit of Galaxie 500 and Spacemen 3. But we don’t have time to rest and so we leave to visit Vegas. Maybe I’m mistaken but I feel a slighty indication of Massive Attack in there. The deep bass line and the female vocals create a very spacy mood and the synthesizes support it at their best with sparkling melodies. Vegas is completely different than the other two tracks but fits in very well.

After the next “Plot Device” (between the four “real” tracks you find tracks called Plot Device 1, 2 and 3 and they take over the part of intro and outro) there is the hardest song on the EP called Xenility with hard shoegaze like guitar passages, but also with calm moments between the hard parts. I don’t like the industrial touch in the track but I think it is a good addition to the other three tracks because it shows the bandwidth of the band.  After five minutes the track ends with a nice synth melodie that is consumed by some evil noise – and our journey is over (and I don’t know if we are lost or still on our way).

In the end CNC made a nice little EP with strong moments and with a multitude of different styles that circle around the shoegaze and dream pop center. If they ever make a full lenght, I would say they should focus a bit more on one specific style without those hard noise moments and without those industrial influences as I can hear them in Xenility. But this is just my point of view because I’m more attracted to the calm side of music, you know.

To get the EP you probably head over to rockserwis.pl because they are in English. (If you speak Polish you maybe want to visist mystic.pl or some other shops, look here.) I can’t find them on iTunes but maybe they will appear there soon. In the meantime you can check out CNC’s MySpace site for further details.

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Coo & Howl – Water Came & Cooled Us All EP
self-released 2009

[tags: folk, indie rock, pop, noise folk?, great music!]

Listen while reading:

Halo, Wings & All (from Water Came & Cooled Us All EP)

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What happens when you take five guys who played in different bands over the time of one decade and then let them make music together? Despite the genre they will sound diversified and (at least a bit) experimental I think. Coo & Howl from Boston/MA is just one of these bands whose members played in lots of different bands before, like Joy, The Jack McCoys, The Gondoliers, The Vital Might or Godboy. They go by the real names of Christian Cundari, Ben Didsbury, Matt Dodge, Daniel Madri and Matt Savage and they play a weird mix of folk, indie rock and maybe pop – I don’t think we should call this noise folk, should we? (no…) Their debut EP is called Water Came & Cooled Us All.

Halo, Wings & All is the perfect track to illustrate what I said before because it got a folksy guitar playing, indie rock like feeling, an experimental structure, some noise effects but still the character of a good indie pop song (well, not always, but there are indie pop moments). I think this track represents the whole EP even though not all tracks are this crazy (in a good way). Look at the follow up track Sea Dragon-Shaped – this is a calm song, much different to Halo, Wings & All but it fits perfectly.

Me is a lover of the pure acoustic folk, you all know that, and you also know, that experimental sound and folk music is nothing I’m attracted to because I love my folk music pure and intimate. But in case of Coo & Howl I’m willing to let all those prejudices fall and admit that this EP is one of the freshest and most creative music I heard in a good while. I really like, that they don’t focus on one genre in particular but just let the music go its way – and doing so they created a very interesting and colorful piece of art led by the fun of making music itself.

If you are in the mood for some indie rock, pop, folk mixture that sounds way better than you may think after reading the separate genres, you have to give your ear to the wonderful and refreshing Water Came & Cooled Us All EP. You can do so by listening to some songs over at Coo & Howl’s MySpace page or by buying the EP for unbelievable 0,84$. This will be one of the best deals you can do in the remaining year 2009…0,84$! By all means, the music is worth much more (and I bet (and hope) this band will soon be found by a label). But the price won’t stay as low because the system works as following:

If you do want to download, do so quickly. Although initially free, our “success” has the price per track jacked up to 9¢ at the moment; price increases happen with higher viewing/listening numbers. Tomorrow, it could be as high as 11¢, you never know.

And if you are near Somerville/MA on December 5th you should use your chance to see them live, playing a CD release show. Check out the flyer below for more details (click to enlarge):

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Paul Masson – Paul Masson EP
self-released 2009

Paul Masson - Paul Masson EP

[tags: country, folk, ep, 2009]

Listen while reading:

My Girl Baltimore (from Paul Masson EP)
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Paul Masson from Baltimore/Maryland recently got some praise for his debut EP from the guys over at The Gobblers Knob and now it’s my part to join in with some words about the release. And if you like good old country folk played in a smooth and chilled manner you do well to read further.

On his self titled EP Paul presents us a hand full of songs featuring acoustic guitar, good ol’ pedal steel played by Tom Hnatow (These United States), bass and a drum kit. What more does it need to make great music? Well, I think it takes a lot more: for example the ability to write strong and memorable songs and a feeling for great melodies too. Not to forget the plessing of a wonderful and multifarious voice. And all those requirements are easily complied by this young singer-songwriter.

Paul MassonAll tracks on the EP will convince you that Paul Masson makes music with his whole heart and soul, listen for example to the magnificent My Girl Baltimore, that was rightly chosen by fellow blogger Smansmith from Slowcoustic to be his track of the day not so long ago. But to reduce the EP to this one ballad would do harm to the complete release. I think every track has a story to tell and you should listen to it with both your ears and your heart. Great lyrics walk hand in hand with sometimes sparse, sometimes rich instrumentation evoking a strong feeling of safety on the one hand and delightful melancholy on the other.

The Paul Masson EP is clearly something you want to own if you have pleasure collecting great music and you are in the mood for some fine country folk with beautiful melodies and charismatic vocals. Again it was proven that the duet of acoustic guitar and pedal steel could be an everlasting spring of highly emotional music knocking on the hearts of man. To get the EP, buy your copy over at iTunes and visit Paul Masson’s MySpace for further information.

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Family Of The Year – Where’s The Sun EP
free EP (download) self released 2009

Family Of The Year - Where's The Sun EP

[tags: indie folk, free ep, 2009]

Listen while reading:

Summer Girl (from Where’s The Sun EP)

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I just read something about Family Of The Year on twitter and I checked out their free EP Where’s The Sun. Although I’m not completely happy with it because I don’t like the electronic vibes in Psyche Or Like Scope, it is a nice little indie folk EP you may like. Summer Girl is a great track and the EP is worth a listen. Their first full length, Songbook, will hit the road 11/17…and in the meantime you can donate some bucks to them or buy a physical copy of the EP. Visit Family Of The Year’s MySpace and their personal homepage.

Family Of The Year

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Ronnie Fauss – I Can’t Make You Happy EP
self-released 2009

Ronnie Fauss - I Can't Make You Happy

[tags: folk, country, singer-songwriter, 2009]

Listen while reading:

 I Can’t Make You Happy (from I Can’t Make You Happy EP)

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Ronnie Fauss, critically acclaimed for his New Songs For The Old Frontier Volume 1 release this year, has put a new digital only EP out that features 3 older tracks in remastered versions. It’s called I Can’t Make You Happy and I’m going to do a short track by track review on this one.

The EP starts with the title track I Can’t Make You Happy, a first class country ballad. Ronnie’s voice got a decent reverb on it and sounds a bit out of this world. He sings about putting on old Bob Dylan records and the feelings and problems of relationship. Doing so his voice alters between calm passages and more emotional parts creating a inimate and powerful atmosphere at the same time. The main and only instrument is the acoustic guitar played in a very soft and empatethic way.

Next in line is One Eye Open and, yeeeehaaaa, this track is a country rambler at its best. Drums and percussions, banjo, bass and acoustic guitar – the full sortiment strikes on you. But don’t be fooled by the relatively restraint beginning because the refrain will drive you crazy and the solo at the end will catch your every move. Pure folk and country energy with a dry and self-assured voice again telling a story about relationship…but this time with a nice twist…haha. Great track.

Ronnie FaussAnother song at the end…and yes, it’s actually called Another Song. I think this one got a bit of the first two songs because it’s more in the vein of I Can’t Make You Happy but with more instrumentation (acoustic guitar and banjo) as in One Eye Open. Overall I like the other two tracks a bit more because they got more feeling (in my opinion). But at all times Another Song is also a very good country and folk tune and it deserves the right to be on the EP. Fauss’ voice is a bit more melodic and the the instruments play clever melodies as well.

What’s to say in summary? Ronnie Fauss released a great piece of music with this little EP you should get your hands on if you like country and folk music. You will have ten minutes you want to have again and again. You can buy the mp3s at your iTunes store by clicking here.

Ronnie Fauss - New Songs For The Old Frontier Volume 1And if you have not already checked out his previous release New Songs For The Old Frontier Volume 1, you can listen to it in full length (!) by visiting his personal homepage. I think this is what you want, right? So don’t wait and have a listen. If you want to buy directly via iTunes, click here. And don’t forget to visit Ronnie Fauss’ MySpace.

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