Pretty Good Year: Kelly's Best of 2015 picks...

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, January 9, 2016 04:49pm | Post a Comment
It seems like 2015 came to a close less than a little more than a week ago...wait, didn't it? Where does the time go? It came and went in another trip around the sun, with the seasons fully cycled and another twelve-month accumulation of art, music, and enjoyment to show for the passage. Listed below are the leaders of the pack where the year in my ears is, er, was concerned. These the repeat-listen flat plastic friends stuck with me thru thick and thin. Oh, and there's a book thrown in the mix as well! Did you dig any of these selections?

on you r own love again jessica pratt best music records vinyl of 2015 list
Jessica Pratt
- On your Own Love Again
(Drag City)

There's always one or three endlessly flip-able records that never quite stay filed away, maintaining rather an easy reach in the rotation pile nearby the home hi-fi. Jessica Pratt's sophomore offering On Your Own Love Again is one such record. Built in part of nearly inaudible ambient street sounds indicating a subtle genesis rooted in home-recordings, the layered, spacial delivery of Pratt's soft-plucked folk edged in opaque psychedelia eddies and billows in a cosmos of mellow zones, at times reaching near-exotic levels of effect, but ever retaining a familiar quality. Here and there accompanying lyrics seem to reveal something of the singer-songwriter's personal inspirations, but these revelations are islands in a stream of vocal stylings, lilting like tendrils through a tapestry of rhythmic strums, droning, hums, and filigree. A muted monument of home-spun, dyed-in-the-wool California by way of the Milky Way sound, Jessica Pratt may be compared to many a laudable singer-songwriter forebear, but she is most definitely in a league of her own.

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Album Picks: Joanna Newsom, Fuzz, Pure Bathing Culture

Posted by Billy Gil, October 23, 2015 12:07pm | Post a Comment

Joanna NewsomDivers

joanna newsom divers lpJoanna Newsom’s first album in five years finds the musician lending her ornate songcraft and magical imagery to an album that at its plainest, examines relationships and the effects of the passage of time. “Anecdotes” begins the album with woodland noise and shortly reintroduces Newsom’s piano, harp and uncommon croon, her lyrics painting slices of life of a soldier laying land mines and returning home, summing up the sentiment it portrays with the line, “Anecdotes cannot say what Time may do.” Newsom’s lyrics are as inscrutable as ever—“Sapokanikan” refers to a Native American village that once stood where Greenwich Village now lies and references Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem about a fallen Egyptian pharaoh, “Ozymandias”—but they’re in service of her central theme, as she sings, “the records they left are cryptic at best, lost in obsolescence.” The arrangements by Newsom, Nico Muhly, Ryan Francesconi and Dave Longstreth (Dirty Projectors) tickle the songs with orchestral brushes and lend rock pulse to songs like “Leaving the City.” Shorter songs appear, like “The Things I Say,” a downtrodden, countrified piano ditty with lyrics both direct (“I’m ashamed of half the things I say”) and fanciful (“When the sky goes thinkin’ Paris, France, do you think of the girl who used to dance when you’d frame the movement within your hands”) that ends in a rain of beaming guitars. These serve to as breathers before sinking into epics like “Divers,” which gives Newsom’s harp and malleable voice room to roam as she intones, “How do you choose your life? How do you choose the time you must exhale and kick and writhe?” Like Newsom’s previous work, Divers demands close attention. Her albums are the antithesis of instant gratification, which is perversely likely why she’s become so popular as an out-of-time balladeer despite sounding more medieval than millennial—her songs beg that you drop what you’re doing, lest you miss one of her witticisms or whimsies. It’s a strangely soothing effect, harkening back to the time of following lyric sheets and sitting to listen to music as a solitary activity. Despite being seeped in melancholia, Divers ends on the somewhat positive note of “Time As a Symptom.” Newsom cries about the “joy of life” as owls hoot and birds chirp in the background, declaring, “the moment of your greatest joys sustains.” Divers may be concerned with the fleeting nature of time, but it’s a convincing bid at artistic permanence.

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20 Albums to Look for This Fall

Posted by Billy Gil, September 16, 2015 04:35pm | Post a Comment

20 albums to look for this fall


ChvrchesEvery Open Eye

chvrches every open eye lp

Out Sept. 25

The Scottish trio made electro-pop gems splattered with emotion on their beguiling debut. For album No. 2, they’re just getting craftier on songs like the anthemic “Never Ending Circles.”


The Dead Weather Dodge & Burn

the dead weather dodge & burn lpOut Sept. 25

Alison Mosshart’s vocals tear down the heavens on the Zeppelin-esque new single “I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)” by The Dead Weather, the supergroup featuring Jack White on drums.

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Joanna Newsom and the Magical Tour of 2004

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, March 21, 2014 04:20pm | Post a Comment
Joanna Newsom with Kevin Barker, Old Ironsides, Sacramento CA, July 10, 2004. Photo by Alissa Anderson. The Family Jams 2004 tour documentary devandra banhart vetiver new album 2014 harp freak folk nevada city california
Joanna Newsom with Kevin Barker at Old Ironsides, Sacramento CA, July 10, 2004. Photo by Alissa Anderson.

Once upon a time, or nearly ten years ago, a couple of bands combined their like-minded pursuit of music, travel, and kindred jamming and took to the road for what would later be known as the "Magical Tour of Two Thousand and Four" or The Family Jams, as revealed in Kevin Barker's tour documentary of the same name. Perhaps a more accurate description of the happening would be to say that it was an extended jaunt comprised of artists caught in Devendra Banhart's orbit at the time -- an Earthbound constellation of celestial talents that, for better or for worse, birthed the term Freak Folk. Though the documentary captures intimate performances and would-be private moments of many hearts and artists, the camera focuses mainly on Banhart, Vetiver, and Joanna Newsom.

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2014 Forecast: Music I'm fantasizing about / looking forward to this year

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, January 6, 2014 07:11pm | Post a Comment
Now that 2013 is over and done with it's time look forward to a new year and new music. Here are some future releases and dream pieces I'm particularly stoked for:

killed by deathrock vol volume 1 one sacred bones records
Various Artists - Killed by Deathrock, Vol. 1
(Sacred Bones) 

I. Love. Compilations! Especially when they are lovingly assembled over long periods of time by obsessive crate diggers. This is one such collection, compiled by the Sacred Bones Records founder Caleb Braaten, born of a love for exhuming rare tracks from barely-heard and in some cases "un-Googleable" Post-Punk, Deathrock, and Dark Punk ensembles. Began in 2007, this passionate piece of dedicated Deathrock devotion is finalized and finally seeing the light. Note: the LP is limited to 150 pressed on pink vinyl so, like, be ready to snatch yours up. Out January 21st.

cibo matto hotel valentine limited edition clear cream vinyl
Cibo Matto - Hotel Valentine

It'll be impossible for single party people to suffer a sad and lonely Valentine's Day in 2014 because Cibo Matto's first new album in fifteen years, Hotel Valentine, drops on February 14th! And they're making it an extra sexy release what with the limited first press made on clear/cream vinyl. The album itself is kind of of a concept centered around a of love hotel or something, but the usual zany grooves, random raps, funky breaks, Sci-Fi wasabi, jazzy interludes, island flava and extended dance jams make this album feel like their excellent last album, Stereo Type A, wasn't released as long ago as 1999. I mean, are the 90s back or does the Cibo Matto sound possess an infallible timelessness? Yes, and it's about time. 

Check out the vid for MFN:

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