Indie // Ambient Math Rock
Self Released – July 11, 2017
Lexington’s Jandergan released their new EP, Tilted Heads last week, and celebrated on Saturday with an album release show with ATTEMPT. Tilted Heads is the first new music from Jandergan in a couple years – it follows up another EP from 2014, Neighbor, as well as “Two is Glue,” a single from 2015.
“Waxwing” leads off the EP, and almost immediately, it’s noticeably more intense than much of what I’d head from them. The band’s five members nimbly maneuver through mathy sections, crashing them in to one another with ease – the latter half of the song sets up a great guitar duet that races faster and faster toward the end of the song. The EP’s title track is quick and disorienting, building through one dense section toward another, before suddenly settling into a dreamy, lengthy outro. “Good Mourning (for David)” is a touching meditation on a person’s final moments, and a great example of the band’s ability to play and compose beautifully. Despite slowing things down for this track, Jandergan maintains an intensity and tightness in their timekeeping, which only further adds to the haziness of things. Fading in from the previous song, “Anxious for a Change” mixes in synthesized bass and distantly distorted guitars to great effect as the band explores distrust and discontent of our society, singing “don’t ask what keeps everybody so … anxious for a change.” “Sleepless Decisions” brings the album to a close – after a wildly fast intro, it changes colors into something much dreamier, before carrying the EP with lots of momentum towards a great ending.
Tilted Heads is richly captured EP of complex songs – dense sections with many busy parts never get bogged down, and it’s great to be able to listen in on each individual’s part. The group is talented, pulling off complicated chord and rhythm changes with seeming ease, allowing the music to sound effortless. Those who’ve heard Jandergan before this will likely notice some changes to the sound here. They’ve expanded at either end of their dramatic range – sections of high intensity stretch even higher, and the more serene moments are more beautiful and further developed than ever before.
Tracks I Liked: Waxwing!!, Tilted Heads!, Good Mourning (for David)!!!, Sleepless Decisions!
Ben Southworth – July 16, 2017 – Post Road
Serene Indie Folk
Self Released – July 22, 2017
Few people would say that Scott Whiddon doesn’t keep himself busy. As a follow up to the three EPs released by his band, Palisades, since 2014, Scott is now putting himself out there with a full length album of solo material. In Close Quarters with the Enemy – a title taken from the work of Walt Whitman – Scott’s musical and literary influence (he’s Director of the Writing Center at Transylvania University) are as pronounced as ever. Fans of Palisades will find his songwriting familiar, but have occasion on this album to hear it in a more relaxed setting, now with the back up of J. Tom Hnatow, Robby Cosenza, and Cecilia Miller Wright.
The album opens with the beautiful instrumental track, “The Bird Girl” – one that builds layers of acoustic guitar, strings, and piano to give a hint at the atmosphere surrounding the remainder of the album. “Holidays” is built on a low, droning guitar and sets the scene of a kid struggling to fit in – ‘he’s got some kind of accent // he’s not like the other boys upstate.’ On “Faster than We Hoped,” Scott’s lyrics effortlessly evoke imagery of a pair pushing a car off a cliff, putting the past behind them. The melancholy of the track is supported by a mellow organ and sweet vocal harmonies during the choruses – a warm harmonica provides a nice, sweet color for the bridge.
The title track, “In Close Quarters with the Enemy,” is perhaps the most like Palisades – it carries throughout it a more distorted electric guitar, features a group singing harmonies during an extra-catchy chorus, followed immediately by a more intense break-down bridge. All the while, the track feels right at home at this point the album, providing a sort of high point in it’s arc. Following is “The Breakers,” another instrumental track that picks up exactly where the first instrumental left off – it brings the intensity back down as the album drives towards its end, and is even more lovely than the opening track it compliments. The album’s final track, “What We Knew All Along,” is colored by organ, light drums, and understated bass; the song’s middle section is perhaps the most beautiful of the album, but it never breaks a sweat.
Those who have heard Scott’s work before should enjoy the sounds on In Close Quarters with the Enemy – though, sonically, things are different here than on Palisades recordings, Scott’s songwriting retains a strong sense of itself. At many points throughout the album, I found myself with vivid pictures of the lyrical subjects in my head. These songs have a strong sense of place, and though his memories are not my own, those shared here are nearly universally relatable – it’s easy to feel as though they belong to you.
Tracks I Liked: Scatter and Fade!, Holidays!!, Faster than We Hoped!, In Close Quarters with the Enemy!!, The Breakers!, What We Knew All Along!!!
Ben Southworth – July 9, 2017 – Post Road
Underground Lexington Sounds
Desperate Spirits – June 23, 2017
Desperate Spirits follows up their first Lexington-based compilation with another – this time one of all female-identifying artists, with label co-founder, Kim Smith, at the curating helm. Spanning eighteen tracks, the compilation collects many of Lexington’s finest, as well as artists with ties to Lexington now living elsewhere.
Like the music on White Power is for Dummies, the sounds on Lady Parts! span a wide range of musical sounds. The compilation opens with “Hold On,” contributed by Reva Dawn Salon – it mostly features an uptempo string band, save for a colorfully contrasting bridge. Coralee’s “Kick My Heart” is a beautiful, low-key track with lots of atmosphere; soon after, For the Crown mixes their clear voices over a funk-tinged industrial-synth track on “Hands Where I Can See Them.” Jeanne Vomit-Terror’s “The Author and His Egg” is a quick, dizzyingly heavy electronic punk track; the rich string arrangements of “Moon Song” by Kate Wakefield provide an aural contrast a couple songs later. Powder Room’s “I Watch You Sleep” is an infectious listen, toeing the line between calm and unsettling; following that, “Resolve” by Italian Beaches features Reva Williams’ voice on top of an always great mix of dense synthesizers and behind-the-beat drums.
Compilations are a great way of finding new music you might not have heard otherwise – I’d never heard of several artists on this compilation, and I’d been meaning to hear many others. Lexington is fortunate to have an abundance of talented female artists, and Lady Parts! gives you only taste of many musicians who have much more to listen to. Purchase a copy on Desperate Spirits’ Bandcamp, and 100% of proceeds go to the Kentucky Health Justice Network, whose mission includes supporting direct services to healthcare access, education and advocacy for reproductive health in the Commonwealth.
Tracks I Liked: (All of them, but especially) Reva Dawn Salon (“Hold On”)!!, Coralee (“Kick My Heart”)!, For the Crown (“Hands Where I Can See Them”)!!, Jeanne Vomit-Terror (“The Author and His Egg”)!, Kate Wakefield (“Moon Song”)!!, Oh My Me (“Where the Red One Goes”)!, Powder Room (“I Watch You Sleep”)!!, Italian Beaches (“Resolve”)!!!
Ben Southworth – July 2, 2017 – Post Road
Sweet Southern Rock
Self Released – May 12, 2017
I first heard of Louisville’s Bendigo Fletcher in early March. Around that time, they put out “Sleeping Pad” as a single (which you can read a little more about here), following that up in May with a four-song EP. The release opens with “Sleeping Pad,” which sets a nice tone for the remaining tracks in the lyric “open your eyes and find a damn good reason to live.” “Joni Blue” is a little dreamier with a lot of texture in blending violin and understated synthesizers – it manages somehow to turn a clever phrase about wanting someone to come back using global warming as its metaphor. The opening of “My Dad” is washed out and filtered from somewhere far away before it locks instantly into focus. The track is the catchiest and most concise of the four here as Anderson sings about his dad flying back from overseas to land back in his mother’s arms. Last on the EP is “Dislodger,” a sweet track about wanting to understand another person. Bendigo Fletcher come across in their music as a band made up of kind, happy folks – listening to their music just makes you feel good.
Tracks I Liked: Sleeping Pad!!, Joni Blue!, My Dad!! Dislodger!
Ben Southworth – June 11, 2017 – Post Road
Dreamy Baroque Folk
Self Released – April 21, 2017
Last summer, Austin Wilkerson made his residence in an old farmhouse and recorded this album. Altruisms is largely his invention – the record is ten songs of refreshingly creative and personal music. It opens with “Come to the Garden,” a track that very effectively sets the tone and color of the album to come. After a quick, rich intro, Austin’s voice dances lightly over an odd meter as he sings “life never is what we want it to be, I’ll never know all the secrets it keeps.” “Worthy” bounces back and forth from a hazy, finger-picked guitar and a more upbeat feel – the transition into the final verse is almost startlingly rich. The world appears from nothing on “Creation Song,” as Austin joyously sings “I can hear the oceans forming, I can see the mountains rise, I know it’s good, oh yeah!”
“Memory Harp” begins with ringing bells before layers and layers of acoustic guitar form the song’s foundation – each section flows seamlessly into the next, constantly evolving so that no moment is wasted. Austin’s string accompaniment is used most effectively on “Elegy,” where the double bass echoes the melody of his lyrics after he sings “in my dreams I follow soundlessly down to the water, there I spy your body shimmering beneath the moonlight.” “Called from Above” begins with sounds of nature set behind an acoustic guitar, before the song leads the listener through another set of delicately placed sections of dreamy music. As an album, Altruisms never settles into a single sound for more than a minute or two – even several times through, I am still hearing new things on each listen. The music is beautiful and personal: it breathes air of compassion and beauty.
Tracks I Liked: Come to the Garden!!, Worthy!!!, Creation Song!!, Towers by the Sea!, Memory Harp!!, Jeremiah!, Elegy!!!, Called from Above!!, Valley of the Bees!
Ben Southworth – June 4, 2017 – Post Road