I often wonder what the record label of the future looks like. Artists now can now create, record, promote and distribute their music for little or no cost. Thank you, Internet. Though I’ll admit, record labels have done a phenomenal job at curating similar talent; when you find an artist on Warp, Ninja Tune, or Stones Throw that you like, you can find other nuggets amongst their roster. Merck Records has been the same way, and it sadly closing its doors after years of delivering some amazing IDM and future beats.
I know how it went. You watched The Two Towers and enjoyed it thoroughly. The credits started rolling and a curious voice crept inside your ear. Initially, you were like, “Hmm! They have Bjork on the soundtrack!” Then, a few seconds later, you realize that the voices didn’t completely match up, although eerily similar. You dive online and find out its yet another Icelandic songstress: Emiliana Torrini. That was then, this is now: off her newest album, Fisherman’s Woman, “Sunny Road” is an unassuming sweet lullabye where her unique voice mixes perfectly with the soft subtleties of instrumentation. The satisfying sound of an accomplished songwriter.
Daughter, the trio of London-based vocalist and guitarist Elena Tonra, electric guitarist Igor Haefeli and drummer Remi Aguilella, brings to the world painfully beautiful songs. Their sound is a refreshing mix of folk, tender acoustic and ambient soundscapes. However, it’s the wistful lyrics and Elena’s haunting vocals that create the magic, which will send shivers down your spine.
Word has it this duo met from a Craigslist ad. Now I bet you’ll be surprised of that fact when you listen. An indie rock group looking for a drummer—Craigslist, I’d expect; but this tasty concoction of classic spy film score, 50’s cha-cha, 60’s pop and modern electronica surprises. It’s the type of music you swear you’ve heard before; the production well-crafted by beatmaker Kiran Shahani, formerly of the Supreme Beings of Leisure. I’ll warn you in advance: this album will draw the passion-poised lover out of you.
Cute playful bounce. For all the people I’ve shared Mathieu with, “cute” is the most used descriptor upon first listen. It was definitely his fragrant and clean sound that first attracted me to him. His American fans affectionately call him “Booger” and he’s collaborated with Yann Tiersen (composer of Amelie). That’s reason enough. Boogaerts wields a unique pallete of sounds to create these simple and likable tunes. Listen in.
When Martin Denny passed away a fortnight ago, I had to admit that my knowledge of him and his work was scant. I had familiarized myself well with Les Baxter, but really didn’t know much about the true founder of exotica music. Denny was the first to bring together his own trademark tropical jazz music with sounds from nature: bullfrogs croaking, songbirds calling, and palm trees swaying; thus creating a new musical innovation that he termed “exotica”. Now, on his EP Percussions, New York-based End now has taken this sound and interjected a healthy dose of electronic sample-magic to take exotica into the decade of the aughts. A frenetic lounge soundtrack delivering the South Sea by way of the sampler.
I don’t know how it happened, but I swear my music taste is far more European than American. Music from Reykjavik, Copenhagen, and Brighton excites me much more than another band from the US – and I fear it’s not the innate exoticism of foreign entertainment. I suppose there may be different goals – music that aims to be beautiful, music meant to express thought, music to shake your ass to. Each culture exudes music that reflects it. I was introduced to Mig by my favorite Frenchman, Garrincha from Orchestrated Rise To Fall. The french group creates a warm sound that blends eastern elements and western sophistication, highlighted nicely in these tracks. They mix together wistful Nelly Furtado-like vocals and a soulful body of sound: naked acoustic guitar, synthesized electronic accoutrements, and a round bassline. Morcheeba in the Middle East.
I’m nearly sure this hasn’t made its rounds as the next internet meme, but it surely deserves it. Gay performer Jonny McGovern crafted this catchy, sexy, and hilarious tune about doing manly things. The music video for this deliciously dirty song is even wilder; after Molly shared it around, she came back to me with, “a bunch of lmao are being sent to me.” Oh yeah. ‘I like to do manly things, but I like to do them with you. I was thinking we could go do… something dirtyyyy yeah.’ It’s so gaytasticly dirty, it’ll make you feel like you need a shower.
Eric Hillman and Brian Holl author Foreign Fields simulating an escape within the grace of enthralling novels. Delicate trembles near calm rolling thunder are sung while immersed in ambient wonder on paths lit from acoustic guitar before being swept off feet by flourishing strings confessing secrets to a hopelessly romantic piano. Anywhere But Where I Am and the striking live set Tuscaloosa turn pages of intimate harmonies lending me free.
I first heard Lhasa’s name spoken among the crumbling foundations of an old building in Lithuania. That was a year ago. But now, having finally heard her sing, heard those torpid words crawl from her throat, I’m right back there in that blown-out courtyard. And like last year, it’s filled with sunken faces disguised by smiles and with quiet, deferent chatter, as a woman sings atmosphere from a plastic chair on a rickety stage. The album’s called The Living Road, and it evokes just that; a series of beautifully alive places, linked by a single, winding thread. Beth Gibbons with an accent; intense and breathy.