Father John Misty - Live at Stubb's (2015)

Father John Misty delivered one of the best shows of the tour for Austin.  One hour and forty-three minutes of sardonic wit and amazing music passionately performed, broken into labeled tracks.  Admittedly an imperfect recording for such a perfect night, but well worth sharing for your enjoyment. 

Jam it.

Dorothy Ashby - Afro-Harping (1968)

Pioneer Dorothy Ashby's exquisite harp atop a quality band deftly mixing soul, cool jazz, and touches of bossa is just perfect on this record.  Beautiful from start to finish.

Hear some here and here.

Do it.

Hiatus Kayiote - Choose Your Weapon (2015)

oh my fucking god, can this band do no wrong? seems like ever since we bumped these guys way back they have just kept on blowing up. also, what a killer sleeve. cover of the year? nuanced, free-flowing, experimental, and absolutely lovely nu-jazz-nu-funk-space-soul music.

The Internet - Feel Good (2013)

ridiculously good and ridiculously overlooked album from 2013. some really good shit in similar vein to the much talked about hiatus kaiyote. so fucking good.

Sisyphus - Sisyphus (2014)

it always blew my mind that everyone slept on this album. you have sufjan, serengeti, and son lux together in one album and the result is fantastic, albeit a bit strange sometimes. but it's artsy as fuck, yo. i paid for it, so that should tell you something here. standout: rhythm of devotion

sloslylove - The Haunted (2014)

this guy is the shit. been following him since 2012. god damn, times goes fast doesn't it?

Pinkshinyultrablast - Everything Else Matters (2015)

just look at that cover. and yes, they did get their name from astrobrite's album. also, it's russian shoegaze-y dream pop. do i need to say anything else? it's great


Treasureseason - Julep EP (2014)

hey guys. it's been a while.
this is such a killer EP. i recommend this to everyone who even remotely enjoys synth heavy pop.

Barbara Jean English - Just Like a Lady (1974)

This has been one of my favourite records for a long, long time. Her voice is slick, the arrangements are tight, and the lush, layered production value lends it an incredibly warm sound overall. At first listen, it's a record for the last lazy days of summer; it's an album for laid-back gatherings and cozy nights in. But what makes it a little "off" - or extremely special, in my eyes - is that despite its positive sound, the lyrics are heartbreakingly bleak.

It took me a few listens to notice, but in the bluntly titled "So Many Ways To Die", I started picking it up. Right off the bat, she lists several options for ending it all: drowning in a river, jumping off a mountain, or drinking an entire case of bourbon, cursing "every drop that I am drinking, 'cause I know booze will get me by and by". Dark themes continue in other tracks, whose apt titles like "I'm Living a Lie" and "Danger Signs" speak for themselves.

There's something almost humorous about this dissonance: this tortured soul, expressing her desolate stories, but over an upbeat, feel-good, jivin' four-on-the-floor track. But ultimately, it's a tender and bittersweet record, and a testament to a woman making cathartic music in the best way she could. And it's really, really good.

At risk of reading far too much into the lyrics, and reflecting them back onto their singer (I can't confirm who's responsible for songwriting on this gem), I did a little digging on Barbara Jean. There's almost nothing out there, though I did manage to glean that she reconnected with her earlier girl group, the Clickettes, to do some touring in the '90s. She's now semi-retired from singing. (What I'm trying to say is, I'm glad she didn't drink that case of bourbon.)

You can sneak a preview of my favourite track below, or get the full record here.

VIRE - Human Contact EP (2015)

The most catchy and accessible tunes to come out of the dark, industrial genre in a while. This amazing one-man-band literally built his own electronic drum kit, by repurposing and remixing an existing acoustic kit, and refitting it with trigger pads, sample units, and whole set of real, acoustic cymbals for extra bite. What results is a project that sounds amazing, but is also killer fun to watch - his kit outfitted with lights, his stage soaked in projected visuals, with both the former and the latter responding to every glitch, twitch, thump and bang of his songs.

All these songs are fantastic, but "Control You" is particularly catchy: the intro's wavering, pitchy bass, paired with distorted bleeps and blips, will suck you in right before he drops the drums in a big way. These feel like theme songs for busted robots - or, as we become increasingly attached to our devices, maybe they're songs for our own broken, bionic selves. Listen below, or pick it up here.

Danny Paul Grody - Furniture Music (2014)

Songs awash in warm melody, deft musicianship, and ambient hypnosis populate the latest albums from Danny Paul Grody, with often little more than his acoustic guitar achieving these heights.  A founding member of instrumental masters Tarentel and the jazzy, atmospheric The Drift, his solo music has taken the minimal, circular, and trancelike aspects of his previous work and boiled them down to their essential elements, but with a newly inspired sound.  These records are largely within the vein of American Primitivism, with spacious patterns of fingerpicked guitar, but Grody's particular treatment gives the genre a dreamy sound like no other.  His most recent album, Furniture Music, is his most stripped down yet; just simply beautiful songs and a feeling like these sounds and moods were ever-present in the world and Grody simply had the ear and ability to make them manifest.  Read his description for his inspiration behind it.  His other albums are similarly high quality, but fans of this John Fahey post may enjoy this the most.

Listen and support.

Slowreader - Slowreader (2002)

The first things I loved about Slowreader were the fantastic vocal melodies and their rhythmic sensibilities, the kind that make you move your head even in spots when there is no percussion, but as their lyrics became clearer with more listens, the more I realized these guys had a rare ability to perfectly mix bittersweet pain and regret, slyly dry humor and self-deprecation, and subtle turns of phrasing with their unique blend of mostly acoustic jams, ethereal keyboard pieces, bare bones songs, and melodic pop compositions.  That is the roundabout way of saying this is strong songwriting all around, and, although it's their only release, an album that endures as a result.

Drink this in.

John Fahey - The Dance of Death & Other Plantation Favorites (1964)

Taking traditional American folk, bluegrass, and blues influences and expanding their possibilities with his own original, melodic, and increasingly intricate fingerpicking and slide guitar techniques, John Fahey laid the foundation for what would become known as American Primitivism, referring to the self-taught and innovative take on the American musical tendencies of the period between the early 20th and late 19th centuries.  This early steel-string acoustic album of his only begins to hint at the level of dissonance, experimentation, and spacey arrangements and textures Fahey would eventually bring to his work, while still remaining a blend of traditional styles, classical composition, and Fahey's own signature imprint.  The last four tracks were not on the original release, but added to this reissue of the album.

Dance the dance.

Jorge Ben - Força Bruta (1970)

An effortless mix of bossa nova, samba, and acoustic swing, this gem of an album from Brazilian giant Jorge Ben Jor is simultaneously an invitation to chill out while soaking in a sunset and to get up and dance, even if you're physically incapable.  From the pitch perfect opening, the playful soothing of "Charles Junior," to the more percussive "Apareceu Aparecida," and finally the assertive closing, the album lives up to its name, 'Brute Force'; obviously not through aggression, but through such a vulgar display of sheer talent and quality.

Hear some.

Have some.