Five Must-listen Albums of This Week (03.06)
From icy-cold Jesse Weiss vocals to the warmth of William Tyler’s soundscapes
Paul Simon “Stranger to Stranger”
The most fascinating thing about Paul Simon is not his ability to stay a prolific songwriter after decades of a career highs and lows. It’s Simon’s visionary and relevancy regardless of times.
His 13th record “Stranger to Stranger” is this very piece of work to prove Simon’s stature. Inventive, at some point — surprising (starting with the opening track “The Werewolf”). Surely, a massive credit goes to Andy Smith (ex-Portishead) and celebrated engineer Roy Halee. Yet, without the original approach of Simon, without his song craft and lyricism that none of that would work.
Jazz-funk intertwined with trip-hop beats “Whristband” showcases how Paul Simon was transitioned into the 2016. Only to deepened the effect on minimalistic “Street Angel”.
Simon’s voice sounds just as smooth as in the best of his days, although lacks some air on some tracks. However, by the end of “Insomniac’s Lullaby” you hardly notice this, because you are irreversibly charmed.
Steve Gunn “Eyes on the Lines”
Steve Gunn revives early 70s guitar sound with such a vigor that it’s not the 2010s to come into 1970s but the other way around. Beautifully structured and textured songs, pierced with Gunn’s guitar that has a unique and solid voice throughout the whole LP.
“Eye on the Lines” is a medium-paced record. Laid back in some way (“The Drop”), and high beat in it’s climax (“Ancient Jules”). A journey along the highway, with a scenery changing from town to town, yet the viewer remains in the cabin, a gazer of the world moving by. The most vivid example of this paradigm is “Nature Driver”. A day through ride continues to “Heavy Sails” where Gunn’s guitar layers become even more complex, where his sonic patterns reach their peak.
“Ark” end a rather short (9 tacks) visit into the valleys of Steve Gunn’s 1970s and leaves us craving for more of the musician’s dust roads.
William Tyler “Modern Country”
A lot alike Steve Gunn, William Tyler explores the 1970s sound with his mesmerizing guitar work on his LP “Modern Country”. With a closer focus on country music, Tyler delivers what might be one of the best folk-rock instrumental album this year.
His fingerpicked style leaves no chance for listener to stay neutral. Every single track has its own gambits. Like rootsy “Kingdom of Jones” with the background pad that follows you through the track and grasps the attention while the main guitar riff uncompromisingly earworms. This picture is relevant for “Albion Moonlight”. Only this time, the mellow organ closer to the end of the song to underline the stylistic maneuvers supports this time slide guitar.
A tender trap of guitar perfectionism and picturesque sonic sceneries.
Whitney “Light Upon the Lake”
While Smith Western’s Cullen Omori pursues a solo career, his ex-bandmates Max Kakacek and Julien Ehrlich along with other five musicians formed Whitney and release their debut album “Light Upon the Lake”. A keen fusion of 00s indie sound Smith Westerns were cruising within and 70s soft rock patterns. Julien Ehrlichs voice suits the stylistical frames perfectly. Reminiscent of Foxygen, which is unsurprising as Jonathan Rado produced “Light Upon the Lake”.
Sweet, radio-friendly summer melodies with sometimes too gentle touch (like “No Woman”) are everything you might need in a season’s swelter. Quite seasonal they might appear to be in the end, however.
Fear of Men “Fall Forever”
British indie-pop/dream-pop trio Fear of Men’s second LP may not reach the heights of their debut “Loom”. But the band again and again astonishes with the tension they are able to create without breaking down into an overemotional passages. Walking on the edge with a somewhat menacing rhythms and mostly cold vocals of Jess Weiss, Fear of Men is like a more mature version of CHVRCHES: where Lauren Mayberry swings on a wide emotional range, Jess remains constrained. Where CHVRCHES pump up synth and pop elements of synth-pop genre, Fear of Men rely on a more mellow approach.