Mailbag: Small Sur – Bare Black EP

The fine folks over at Aural States pointed me towards the warm, folk-tinged music of Small Sur, and I’ve been happily listening to it all evening.  In fact, it’s fair to say that it has become my evening – pushing aside the English Summer to make room for visions of vast, American forests and skies.  All I’m missing, really, is a campfire and the gentle hum of crickets… Here’s how the folks at Aural States describe the band:

Small Sur stands opposed to today’s quantity-over-quality stampede, in which the pursuit of fleeting Internet notoriety threatens creative continuity, growth, and a sustained sonic relationship that honors the listener as well as the creator. The band’s patient, near-obsessive exploration of warmth, depth, and space makes each offering an experience rich in sensory detail—quietly compelling listeners to turn their iPods off shuffle and allow the entire release to envelop them from start to finish. […]

Small Sur is the primary musical alias of Baltimore-based songwriter Bob Keal and current collaborators Austin Stahl and Andy Abelow. The project was born during the spring of 2005 in a friend’s Southern California bedroom, where Keal recorded the self-titled Small Sur EP shortly before relocating to the East Coast…

Of their debut LP – We Live In Houses Made Of Wood – NPR wrote:

The one serious drawback to Small Sur’s first full-length effort is that it’ll have nature lovers bemoaning the long months until prime camping season approaches once again. But at the very least, a listen to We Live in Houses Made of Wood is sure to inject a healthy dose of West Coast sunshine into any gloomy autumn day.

And it’s true.  For the most part, I’ve been having a downright miserable day (the sort of day that makes any PhD student say “Come, come, nuclear bomb…”)…but there’s something in the gentle, unhurried textures of Small Sur’s music that makes me stop and take a deep breath.  In the e-mail that accompanied the press release, Greg from Aural States wrote: “This is the kind of music that fortifies you in times of need.”  Now, I’m not saying that he’s a prophet, but this is the absolute best, most truthful way I can think of to describe the effect of listening to this lovely music.  And honestly, I’ll have to thank him for sending it at just the right moment.

The band are releasing the EP – Bare Black – July 12th on Aural Slate Recordings with a limited run of 200 physical copies, as well as digital formats.  You can snag that here.  In the meantime, here’s the opener – “Weeds” – from Small Sur’s Bare Black EP:

[audio:|titles=01-Weeds]  Download

You can visit the band on their myspace page, where you can find lots more music, or on their tumblr blog.

And last of all, here’s a video of the band performing “Yosemite:”

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