New Sun Kil Moon: “Sunshine in Chicago”

Thanks to Pitchfork, we’ve got our first taste of Sun Kil Moon’s Among the Leaves (out 5/29 on Caldo Verde).  The track – “Sunshine in Chicago” is a wistful look back on time spent touring in the ’90s.  At first listen, the track feels more personal and direct than some of the recent work on Admiral Fell Promises and April, and seems to deliver on the claim that we’d get to hear Kozelek “singing playfully.”  But that’s me… what do you think?


(Via Stereogum)

New M. Ward Single: “Primitive Girl”

Earlier this week, M. Ward posted the first single – “Primitive Girl” – off of his forthcoming album A Wasteland Companion.  The album, which is out April 10th on Merge and marks M. Ward’s first album since 2009’s Hold Time, entered the public sphere earlier this year with the release of the beautiful video for “The First Time I Ran Away” (seen below).

In contrast to that song, “Primitive Girl” seems to carry forward the fuller sound of Hold Time, eschewing the sparseness that characterized so many of Ward’s earlier records.  Just the same, at only 2:20 the track is classic, compact M. Ward, and arrives like a cheery, energetic bolt from the blue.

Taken together, “The First Time I Ran Away” and “Primitive Girl” suggest an album that will run a range of styles – each of which are beautiful.  For A Wasteland Companion, Ward worked with eighteen different musicians in studios from Omaha to Portland, and Los Angeles to Bristol (U.K.).  All of this movement and collaboration produces songs that feel very much “of the moment,” and the result is something that feels truer to M. Ward’s experience.

You can read a bit more about the album here, and see some upcoming tour dates hereA Wasteland Companion is available for pre-order on Merge, and “Primitive Girl” is available on iTunes.


Here’s “Primitive Girl:”

And here’s “The First Time I Ran Away:”

Bon Iver Live at AIR Studios

Late last week, Bon Iver released a video featuring five songs he recorded at AIR Studio’s Lyndurst Hall.  Accompanied only by drummer Sean Carey, who plays the second piano in this video, the set is a stripped-down run through songs from the Blood Bank EP, Bon Iver, and a cover of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me.”  The result is an exquisitely intimate session that truly captivates and reminds us why Bon Iver came to be celebrated in the first place.  Have a listen below:

(Via NPR)

First Listen: Laura Gibson – “La Grande”

Our friends over at NPR have just posted Laura Gibson’s forthcoming album – La Grande – in their First Listen series.  I’ve been eagerly awaiting this release, Gibson’s third, and can honestly say that it has been worth the wait.  In many ways, this is a more complicated, confident affair than her previous efforts.  For me, La Grande is the sound of an artist who has found her feet, and now wants to fly.  Indeed, as Stephen Thompson writes:

It’s the sound of a confident artist stretching her own limits, without losing sight of the warmth, richness, subtlety and haunted beauty that made her worth celebrating in the first place.

La Grande is out on 1/24 on Barsuk Records.  Have a listen over at NPR’s First Listen Series.

Happy New Year! – Albums I Loved in 2011

Hi, Everyone!  Well, it’s that time of year again!  The time when I get to pontificate about the top releases of the year.  However, as usual, I have a really difficult time ranking things.  This is something that carries over from my work as a professor.  After all, what is the difference between a 93 and a 94?  I know it when I see it, but just how to explain?  So, I’m just going to wimp out present some of the albums I loved in no particular order.  For those of you looking for a more ordered (and possibly comprehensive) list, I would recommend checking in with Pitchfork, Slowcoustic, or NPR Music.  All right, let’s get on with the show!

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