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Spatially grounded, Astronauts, etc share new single, I Know

28 Apr

astronauts, etcThe first rays of sunlight provide a nascent glow for a few minutes before the sun fully rises. Those moments are like new cells, mimicking their environment, giving back the same emotion that surrounds them. Fresh and flowing, “I Know” from Astronauts, etc reflects the light newness of the dawn.

Vocals by Anthony Ferraro float near a falsetto, while the keys and guitar guide him. Ferraro is the main force behind Astronauts, etc, but you may be familiar with him as the keyboardist in Toro Y Moi’s touring band. He also has been getting some attention for combining cold, lifeless machines and life-giving art with his Hypothetical Beats algorithm. Talent abounds in this young classical pianist-turned-producer, but he won’t be bound to one path; he takes the tried-and-true and makes it all his own. That is to say, despite his recent knack for computer science, he recorded “I Know” with a full band on analog, and had it mixed and mastered on tape.

Astronauts, etc’s EP, Sadie, is out now on Hit City Records. For more information on Astronauts, etc, visit his Facebook, Twitter, and Bandcamp.

Closure in the Chords

31 Mar

sufjan stevens

Sufjan Stevens is the son of Rasjid and Carrie, though he was also a child of divorce. Most of his childhood was spent with his father, after Carrie left when Stevens was barely a year old. He spent a handful of summers with Carrie and her husband Lowell in Oregon, which he speaks of in cryptic references throughout the record (such as the mention of blue buckets of gold in the final track, which references a legend about a lost gold mine in present-day Beer Creek). Stevens has always dug into his past to add to the folktales in his music- which is most obvious on Michigan, an album about the very state where he grew up- but permeates all his music in its own right.  One of my favorites includes “Decatur, or Round of Applause for your Stepmother!” from Illinois, where he doesn’t hide his own childhood pettiness: “Our stepmom, we did everything to hate her.” Stevens is prone to bitterness, but he is open to forgiveness (“Appreciate her! Stand up and thank her!”). Forgiving his stepmom for having to deal with him and his siblings at that age was easier than coming to terms with his biological mother’s abandonment. Stevens didn’t (couldn’t) understand this until Carrie was on her deathbed. Then his perspective changed. Arguably, Carrie left for the right reasons, but now that she is permanently gone, she can no longer justify her actions. Sufjan fashioned his reflections on their relationship into the tightly wound Carrie & Lowell, an ode to unconditional love.

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Do you feel set free?

4 Mar


GRRL PAL are back with another new single for February, “Set Free.” This is a slower track than I’m used to with these Aussies, but it is mesmerizing. Be set free below.

There are a lot of good elements here that come together seamlessly. Cooing in the background provides a backdrop for the real question- do you feel set free? Throughout, there is a spatial drone, mixed with sparing synth. This song could be on loop for hours, and I think I’d be okay with that. At some point it simply becomes part of the background, not demanding your attention, but unable to be ignored.

“Set Free” will be the closing track on GRRL PAL’s next EP due out in April. Find out more on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Soundcloud.

Snippets of Feeling: an interview with Kathleen Mary Lee

14 Nov

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a delightful new folk artist, Kathleen Mary Lee. I discussed her latest single, “Hours Gone By,” and now she is back with a video for the track. I was also privileged enough to virtually sit down with Kathleen (we were both at computers in our respective homes), and ask her some questions about her music and the new video. Continue reading

Holy Holy Hozier

16 Jun



When I first heard Hozier’s dark croon masterfully guide the lyric of his subtle condemnation “Take Me to Church,” I listened in silent awe and quickly lapped up his EP. That was month’s ago, and since then Hozier has taken the alt/rock world by storm by way of YouTube, Reddit, and the eager ears of many active listeners. He has also released a new EP, From Eden. I am not that different from the rest of the millions of ears that have allowed Hozier’s voice to soothe them; his vocal has become unmistakable and one listen can easily ensnare any music lover.

What is it about the 24-year-old Irish musician that is so enticing? Is it his aforementioned voice, which blends the passion of Dan Auerbach and command of Bhi Bhiman? Is it his instrumental diversity, wet and heavy with foreboding percussion mixed with lightly plucked guitar accompanying consequent softness? Clearly both of these elements play to Hozier’s draw, and it is an absolute pleasure to write about such a skilled musician.

Hozier is a true musician. He has consistently been involved in groups, including Anuna, an Irish choral group, which he sang in for three years. Now, he has shifted his focus to unique rock music, and the music scene is the better for it. Hozier’s seminal piece “Take Me to Church” is not only a commentary on religion but also an oddly spiritual experience; the vocal and voluminous melody transport the listener to a melodious shrine. It is difficult not to listen to this song on repeat.

“Like Real People Do,” which also appears on Hozier’s debut EP (Take Me to Church) is a completely different tune. While “Take Me to Church” is a dark, rhythmic piece, “Like Real People Do” is more Iron & Wine than Airborne Toxic Event. The song is subdued and, dare I say, pretty. The guitar is picked with Hozier’s voice, and the song is fluent.

I suggest checking out more of Hozier’s music on his website. You can also check out his Facebook and Twitter.

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