Wilting on a cold cave floor; paintings on walls. Glimmer of light in distant sound. Close to me ears, far from my years. Unknown memory inside me stirs; awakens. Caress my heart? Open my mind? In a way notes were and weren’t meant for. Disrupting my measure of sorrow. Curiosity in my betrayed hope. The soul of Southern blues rocking my gritty New York street. Moving me to country charms, youthful delight, and back through. Holding a glimpse of joy in hands worn and torn.
A new world for me. Shannon McNally – Now That I Know Shannon McNally – Leave Your Bags by the Door + Purchase / Visit
Barefoot in grass or dirt. Sunshine or candlelight. Worries whisked away on a breeze of insight and acceptance. Troubles are nothing more than lint caught in your pockets – so empty them. Be lighter. Refreshed and humbler. Brothers Larry and Tony Rice, friends Herb Pedersen and Chris Hillman, a founding member of The Byrds, collaborate on Out of the Woodwork.
Lighthearted harmonies. Rice, Rice, Hillman & Pedersen – Hard Times Rice, Rice, Hillman & Pedersen – So Begins The Task + Purchase/Visit
Melbourne-based Helen Croome, better known by her stage-name Gossling, sings tales of love and heartache. Harvest Of Gold (2014) is a blend of whimsical harps, playful leftfield pop and disco glamour that brings to mind Danish electro-pop sirens Oh Land and Hannah Schneider. Yet it is Helen’s hypnotic voice that sets her apart. Her dreamy, eerie child-like delivery is distinct and perfectly layered with heart-warming musical arrangements.
Gorgeous and ambitious debut. Gossling – Harvest of Gold Gossling – A Lover’s Spat + Purchase/Visit
French chanteuse Mina Tindle, a.k.a. Pauline de Lassus, delivers breezy cool songs. Following the line of bright and clever indie-pop from the likes of Feist, Mina crafts little pieces of pop perfection. Her style ranges from acoustic folk ballads to buoyant piano-driven pop, while she moves effortlessly between English and French lyrics. “To Carry Many Small Things” is driven by an upbeat, toy-piano arrangements that brings to mind French superstar Camille. “I Command”, from the new album Parades (2014), is a true pop gem.
Keston Cobblers Club delivers a joyous blend of traditional-feeling folk melodies, toe-tapping rhythms and a slightly quirky vibe. While comparisons to the early Noah and the Whale, Mumford & Sons and Beirut are inevitable, the British quintet’s take on English folk revival is unique and refreshing. The album opener, “The Children Who Wear Socks On Their Heads”, A Scene of Plenty (2013), leads with frenetic accordion and percussion is a high-energy foot-stomping musical extravaganza. “You-Go”, taken from the band’s debut album One, For Words (2012), is a delightful pop-folk gem. Don’t miss the band’s take on Vampire Weekend’s “Ya Hey!” with some vintage animation.
Infectiously joyful. Keston Cobblers Club – The Children Who Wear Socks On Their Heads Keston Cobblers Club – You-Go + Purchase/Visit
French pianist and composer Albin de la Simone is best known for his collaborations with Jeanne Cherhal, Vanessa Paradis and Keren Ann. Although Un Homme (2013) is his fourth solo album, de la Simone is still relatively anonymous among contemporary French chansonniers. His lyrics are clever and his melodies engaging, but what makes de la Simone stand out is his voice and remarkable subtle string and piano arrangements. “Moi Moi”, featured below, is a delightful duet with the lovely Emiliana Torrini.
Elegant songwriting with a dose of whimsy. Albin de la Simone & Emiliana Torrini – Moi Moi Albin de la Simone – Le Fuite + Purchase/Visit
Shawn James Seymour and Yoshimi Tomida make up the husband and wife duo, Lullatone, from Nagoya, Japan. Lullatone’s first album was comprised of lullabies written by Shawn for Yoshimi, and their freshly recorded album is a collection of new lullabies for their child, Niko. Their appropriately self-dubbed “pajama pop,” is a playful blend of whispered vocals, unique instrumentals and carefully spaced beats. For the album, The Bedtime Beat, they mixed the ambient sounds of bedtime rituals, such as splashing bathwater and gentle snoring. Notably, in the song “Goodnight Train” they used a xylophone played with a violin bow to imitate the chug-chug of a train. Conceptual but not distancing, their comforting and alluring sound is far from boring. Rather, Lullatone’s songs are delightful gems that capture the familiar essence of home.
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.
Yasmine Hamdan began her career in Beiruit in the late 90’s where she gained a reputation of a modern underground icon. Fast forward to past the naughts, Yasmine now resides in Paris where she teamed up with Nouvelle Vague’s mastermind Marc Collin for her album Ya Nass (2013). Throughout the album, Yasmine’s seductive and distinctly Middle Eastern vocals create an evocative blend of Oriental Soul, Dream Pop and acoustic folk. In “Samar”, Yasmine’s vocals seamlessly weave with swirling retro-synths and electronic vibes, while “Deny” is a mesmerizing dream-pop ballad.
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