Bill Callahan

Label: Drag City
Genre: Folk

I’ve been captivated by Bill Callahan ever since I discovered him at my favorite record store. Callahan has been recording music for sometime now, since 1992 as Smog, a moniker he shed with his first self-titled album in 2007. His new album, Apocalypse, is his fifteenth. His voice is dark and smooth like a tub of margarine with bits of toast residue in it. It reminds me a bit of Chris Goss from Masters of Reality. Some musical parts in his newest album remind me of a few Mike Watt songs.

With only seven songs, the album appears to be short, but there are 40 minutes of tremendous song structures mixed with one of more original voices I have heard in a long time. This track, "Baby's Breath", starts out slowly, builds to a nice pace, then settles down into its original tempo. It repeats this pattern throughout. The emotional crux of the song hits as he exclaims, "Oh I'm a helpless man, so help me", while his guitar cries out in pain. As of right now Apocalypse is the best album I have heard this year. I highly recommended it.

- By Todd S

Baby's Breath [MP3, 10.1MB, 255kbps]

Posted by guest on 04.07.11 | Buy from Amazon, Insound
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Label: Two Syllable
Genre: Folk, Pop

Inlets' first full-length album has been over three years in the making, and now fans can finally hear why it took so long. Sebastian Krueger is back with a lush slice of pastoral pop called "Bright Orange Air", a teaser from the forthcoming Inter Arbiter LP. Equally gorgeous is the accompanying video, directed by Benjamin and Stefan Ramirez Perez. For those who geek out on this sort of thing: it was filmed, rotoscoped, separated into layers, and then run through AfterEffects to create seven different color textures from which they created a rich range of color. Yummy.

Lisa's original post from 01/31/07:
Sebastian Krueger is the man behind what he calls "the bedroom fidelity project" Inlets. This perhaps makes him both faithful and musical? Ladies? He is also a generous man, and we here at the 'hive appreciate good music even more when the artists who make said music decide to make their EP's available for NO dollars to music lovers of the world. Krueger gets "sharing the sharing." He just gets it. Back when I was a 3hive fan and not a participant, I used to be totally charmed by all this "this is totally a Clay band", "oh such and such is Shan music for sure" business. Since I'm still pretty new, I'll just say that Inlets is Lisa music--moody, instrumental, a touch earnest, but musical in a way that avoids sappy sweet sentimentality. And who doesn't like a man who cut his teeth with My Brightest Diamond? So snatch up the Vestibules EP at luvsound while the gettin' is still good.

from Inter Arbiter (2010):
Bright Orange Air [MP3, 6.3MB, 192kbps]

from Vestibule EP (2006):
Pictures of Trees [MP3, 6.5MB, 182kbps]
You Are an Effigy [MP3, 4.0MB, 178kbps]
Sunfed Shapes [MP3, 5.1MB, 200kbps]

Posted by lisa on 03.15.10 | Comments (2) | Buy from Amazon, Insound
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Let's Say We Did

Label: Nesna
Genre: Folk, Rock

Sebastian Fors, Sweden's answer to Jeff Tweedy, used to roll with a revolving cast of characters called The Ones That Got Away. He now leads a group called Let's Say We Did. Fors' groggy vocals and lovelorn lyrics cast a nice shadow against the band's bright Americana pop. Frayed edges in the production make it feel old and familiar, like flannel on a cold day. Cozy up.

Buy the EP here.

from Follow Me Down EP (2010):
Galaxies [MP3, 8.5MB, 320kbps]
from self-titled EP (2008):
Straight Back to You [MP3, 3.9MB, 192kbps]
Let's Say We Did on Facebook

Posted by sam on 03.03.10 | Buy from Amazon, Insound
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David Bazan

Label: Barsuk
Genre: Folk, Rock

I don't listen to David Bazan as much as I should. The reason why is pathetic. And definitely one a musician never wants to hear—that you love one album, or maybe just one song, so much that anything else from that artist pales in comparison, according to that person's narrow, small-minded, myopic point of view. Guilty. My two favorite song's from Bazan come from his Pedro the Lion album It's Hard to Find a Friend: "Big Trucks" and "When They Really Get to Know You They Will Run." I'm enamored by the way those songs sound like snippets from short stories, more narratives than lyrics. And their tempos, their simplicity, and Bazan's young, quiet earnestness on that first record. I realize this is no excuse and I need to dig deeper into his catalog—especially if I plan on attending one of his upcoming West Coast living room shows (Tickets go on sale today. Only 30 are available for each show). I don't want to be that chump in the corner only singing along to or requesting older material. I hate those people.

From Curse Your Branches (2009):
Bless This Mess [MP3]

From Fewer Moving Parts (2007):
Cold Beer and Cigarettes [MP3]

Posted by sean on 12.30.09 | Buy from Amazon, Insound
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Total Babe

Label: SO tm
Genre: Folk, Pop

Compared to the bands I'm about to use to describe them, Total Babe could be named Just Babes. Still in their teens, this Minnesota quartet just performed their EP release party in their hometown and one of their mother's baked brownies for the event. But their songwriting skills belie their ages. Oh the hooks! I was just listening to The Wishing Chair by 10,000 Maniacs and there's a similarity in the two bands' vocal deliveries, the languid enunciation, the stringing together of syllables from adjacent words, the way the vocals sound as if they're sung in some other Germanic language. Or imagine Lush unplugging and dropping their tempo a notch. That's it sort of— Total Babe strips away the feedback, the distortion, and the droning from the shoegaze aesthetic, leaving room for their heavenly vocals to breathe. Surprisingly, mature musical decisions for a young, fresh band.

Bearbones [MP3, 8.3MB, 320kbps]

SO tm Records

Posted by sean on 12.21.09 | Buy from Amazon, Insound
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Label: Semprini
Genre: Experimental, Folk, Slowcore

With muffled vocals in minor keys, purposeful feedback, and dominating drums Valleys eerie folk sound resembles a bizarre nightmare.

The duo’s album, Sometimes Water Kills People, can almost be considered as one extensive song, rather than nine separate tracks, thanks to its consistently moderate tempo and transitions that melt the endings into the beginnings of subsequent songs. Lyrics and vocals take a back seat to their mystifying guitar preludes, or thundering drum patterns. The six minutes of “CR68C” is composed solely of stifled screeching guitar riffs with simultaneous plucking, and brief interludes of drumming.

If it’s intricate music patterns or inspirational lyrics you’re after, you’re headed in the wrong direction. I admit it was difficult to digest Valleys' synthesized additives and unorthodox style. But by track two, “Santiago,” I was hooked to their repetitive lyrics and mellow mood. Tie for first goes to “Le Sujet Est Delicat” and “Tan Lines”; the addicting oriental instrumentals coming in halfway through the former and the simple yet poetic lyrics of the latter skyrocketed their play count.

-By Brie Roche-Lilliott

Tan Lines [MP3, 3.6MB, 160kbps]

Posted by guest on 11.21.09 | Buy from Amazon, Insound
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