Preview: Shearwater – The Golden Archipelago

Out February 23rd on Matador, Shearwater’s sixth album The Golden Archipelago – is a stunning, dramatic work that merges Art Rock, whispy Folk, nature sounds, and a soundscape of complex, shifting harmonies that move like light on leaves.  From the outset, the album’s “Leaves Eclipse the Light” has an earthy, hypnotic quality that evokes the sense that we aren’t so much beginning an album as we are flowing into a more magnificent space.  Though there are more frenetic moments – “Corridors” and “Castaways” for example – the album seems content to speak in an intimate, frank voice that is just for you alone.

And perhaps that’s best… at the suggestion of the folks over at NPR, I’ve given this album a couple of listens through nice headphones, and it really is immersive and grand.

The Matador review tells us, and I sincerely echo:  “The results are singular, revelatory, and demand to be appreciated as a whole. Islands under siege, islands of impenetrable solitude, islands of the world and islands of the mind – all are here in The Golden Archipelago, whose shores and reefs flicker and beckon, even as they crumble under rising seas. “

You can hear the whole thing after the cut, courtesy of NPR, and you can download a couple of songs, too!


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Preview: Peter Gabriel – Scratch My Back

I’m back from my dissertation-induced exile to let you know that the The Guardian newspaper in the U.K. is streaming a preview of the forthcoming Peter Gabriel album Scratch My Back.  The idea behind the album is straightforward: For each song that Peter Gabriel covers, the artist whose song it was will cover one of Peter’s songs.  That album, to be released at a later date, is called I’ll Scratch Yours.  For the moment, though, we get to enjoy a release that is remarkable not only for its breadth, but for the speed at which Gabriel – a noted perfectionist and long-time studio noodler – has produced it.  Needless to say, covering tracks by Elbow, Radiohead, and Regina Spektor, among others, is a fairly bold career move at this stage in Gabriel’s career.  Fortunately, it all mostly works, and the result is a decidedly intimate, engaging album full of challenging interpretations of songs both familiar and strange.

Go ahead and use the player below to hear the whole album (courtesy of The Guardian).  Also, you can download a copy of Gabriel’s cover of Bon Iver’s “Flume” by following the link below the player.  Lastly, the album’s out on February 15th in the UK, and March 2nd in the US.  Enjoy!

As an added bonus, enjoy this cover (not on the album) of Vampire Weekend’s “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” featuring Peter Gabriel and Hot Chip: [audio:|titles=Peter Gabriel and Hot Chip – Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa]

Lissie – Why You Runnin’ EP

I might have missed the release of her debut EP – “Why You Runnin'” – back in November, but I’m definitely trying to make up for lost time with Lissie.  From her soulful cover of “Wedding Bells” by Hank Williams (Sr) to the lush, aching deep of “Everywhere I Go,” Lissie’s music just makes your breath catch and your world slow down.  It’s a rare enough feeling that I’ve decided not to cloud it with too much exposition.  But if you want a little bit more, here’s an excerpt of Sean Moeller’s biography of Lissie over at Fat Possum’s site:

She lives by herself, with her dog, in a farmhouse in Ojai, Calif., where she tends to drink wine and will, on a whim, go to the store to buy paint for her rocks so she can construct a medicine wheel in her big backyard. She has all the time to listen to what’s happening in her inner chambers, what’s turning on and off her lights, what’s giving her goosebumps and where she thinks she’ll be led tomorrow.

You can find some of her songs on her myspace page, on daytrotter, down below this text, and wherever else fine music is served.  The EP (on vinyl and cd) is out on Fat Possum Records.  Go and check it out!

[audio:|titles=Lissie – Everywhere I Go] Download

[audio:|titles=Lissie – Wedding Bells] Download

Other Stuff You Might Like: Black Cab Sessions

When I was much younger, I used to enjoy riding around in my car and playing (performing) music with my friends.  I think this might be something that many people in high school bands go through, and it certainly was great fun.  Since then, I’ve loved finding clips of people playing in their bedrooms, basements, cars, etc.  Small club shows are great, but there’s nothing quite like the immediacy of performing in a strange place (parties count, too, I’d imagine).  So, it’s a great pleasure to stumble across Black Cab Sessions.  The site’s motto is “One Song. One Take. One Cab,” and that’s exactly what you’ll get.  From Bon Iver to Dawn Landes to Fleet Foxes, the site features great musicians riding around and improvising around their songs.  Go have a look!

You can see one of my favorite clips after the cut:

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