Agnes Obel is a Danish singer-songwriter who’s already commercially successful in Europe and has been for some years, yet is now just barely gracing my ears. I’ve always had a soft spot for female vocalists, especially the ones with the deep, ethereal touch. Similar to Joanna Newsom in that her voice alone powers her records over thin, plucky instrumentals – “The Curse” being held up by only the softest hint of strings and trickling piano keys. You’ll find yourself simultaneously put to ease and entranced by her delicately warm modulation.
A long time ago my uncle was giving me shit for listening to artists that had an electronic edge to them, that I needed to spend more time with real instruments. This was a person whose musical taste guided me growing up, and it always kind of stuck with me that somehow electronic music was “easier” than the alternative. While obviously I learned that is not the case, the conversation immediately came to mind as I heard this song from London-based producer and musician Cosmo Sheldrake.
Aside from having an infinitely badass name (it just has to be his real name, right?), he’s a multi-talented instrumentalist who played jazz and classical piano since the age of 4 and regularly performs with a host of other instruments. Just see the image above. Armed with those tools and very basic looping equipment he crafts organic, soulful beats that sound almost natural. Could this music have been created without any electronic assistance? Maybe. Would it have been inspired without it? Probably not.
Check out a live video of this incredibly talented musician below. Just.. wow. That’s an unacceptable way to close a blog post but what else can you say?
Who doesn’t love a good breakup song? Especially when it involves thrashing guitars and angry declarations peppered with moments of clarity that repeatedly descend back into the madness. Okay, so I just described a breakup song that mirrors an actual breakup. “Bird Balloons” is an absolute gem off Lady Lamb The Beekeeper‘s first proper album, Ripley Pine. While we adore the Kate Nash’s and Tegan & Sara’s of the heartbreak-filled indie music world, it’s a treat to see an up-and-coming female artist more in the vein of Martha Wainwright. 23-year old Aly Spaltro packs a lot of firepower into her unique brand of folk rock, with more than enough looks and intensity to stand out in the singer-songwriter crowd.
Somewhere, someone will read this and say to their friend,"But dude, they're like... SISTERS, man"
Many sad indie hearts were broken when Rilo Kiley called it quits. They were, of course, widely believed to be the second coming of Fleetwood Mac. While that’s still up to debate, what is not is the fact that they’re not around to prove the naysayers wrong. But all hope for another coming is not lost as Los Angeles based trio Haim dropped a bomb of an EP, much to the delight of music bloggers everywhere. They don’t have the interpersonal drama, but they do have something that sounds like Stevie Nicks collaborated with Dallas Austin.
It’s a storyline that many will eventually know. The Haim sisters (Danielle, Alana and Este) grew up playing in a classic rock covers band with their parents, developing deep roots in Americana. Four years ago, under the influence of 90s R&B and hip hop, began experimenting with their own original songwriting and Haim was born. They may not be the Mac revival you were imagining, but then again few people could have seen this fusion of sound coming along.
Despite their background, at the young ages of 19-22 it’s impressive to hear their richly textured instrumentals and mature songwriting. They released the Forever EP earlier this year (free download on their website) as what is likely a foreshadowing of great things to come. Time will tell, but for now we’ll have to be satisfied with three great songs on repeat for at least the next couple of weeks.
With The Shins officially declaring to the world that they’ve lost their touch, it’s time for a new indie darling to emerge from Portland. Enter Ramona Falls, an experimental indie rock band started by Brent Knopf, a former Menomena band member. They’re not experimental in the Ariel Pink sense, preferring to take the Yeasayer road of genre-melting.
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