Genre: Acoustic Psych-Folk
RIYL: William Tyler, Nick Drake, Mark Fosson, Fleet Foxes
Bear Medicine is the up and coming band Lexington band that everyone (in town, and beyond) would be smitten with, if they knew about them. Made up of four veterans of the Lexington music scene, the band hones in on a sound that thrives on a gentle, but persistent ebb and flow of melody and texture (it seems apropos that the album title references the moon in this way.) With the gentle precision of Josh Wright’s guitar playing and singing, textural noodling from Kim Smith and Seth Murphy (piano/flute and cello/bass, respectively,) and the always tasteful drumming from Severn Edmondson, the record is at the same time relaxingly pleasant and engaging. The songs range from simply arranged finger-picked acoustic guitar tunes (“Red Bird,”) to texturally dense psych-folk numbers (“Guillotine Valley.”) Favorites of mine are “Infestation” and “Blood in Common” – both have a way of reaching a rollicking stride, and do it cleanly, flawlessly, and effectively. Whether or not you’re already familiar with the stuff that Bear Medicine is doing, this is one to check out – it’s a quick, pleasant, and thoroughly refreshing listen.
Tracks I Liked? *Red Bird!, Infestation!!!, Rigor Mortis Dear!, Blood in Common!!!, Two Steps, Guillotine Valley, *Big Chief!, Sevens!!, All You Celestials!!
*(Tracks 1 and 8 are both great instrumentals!)
Can’t wait til mid-October to hear some? Hear “Infestation” below!
Ben Southworth – September 26th, 2014 – Hagermann and Maxwell
Genre: Ambient Electronica
It’s been a great summer for producing music if you happen to be Ellie Herring. After first releasing her eleven-song collection of remixes last month (a very strong release in itself,) she’s put out another cluster of previously unheard tracks. Kite Day is named for a day in her elementary school years where students were allowed to go outside and fly kites, but more importantly refers to her father’s taking of time the day before to teach her how to fly one. The music, too, has a feeling of the fogginess that surround my own – and perhaps your – childhood memories, flowing around lazily from section to section, song to song. She traverses every texture available – putting massive amounts of reverb with the vocals, panning synths and pads with precise intention, and stirring in sharp drum beats to give a certain amount of busyness to the sound that that borders on, sometimes stumbling into the territory of trance music. Unlike Potion Shop, Kite Day originates entirely from music she wrote herself – though it is tail-ended with three remixes of songs from this album. Not surprisingly, the songs chosen to be remixed are also the ones that stick out initially as most accessible, and are done well themselves. This is the kind of music that necessitates sitting down with a decent pair of headphones or speakers and simply allowing oneself to get lost – Ellie has made that an easy thing to do here.
Ben Southworth – July 30th, 2013 – Cedar Creek
Genre: Alternative Rock
Astor Place Riot is one of the very first bands that I gave much exploration in my time at WRFL – their album Fine White Line was a collection of songs that featured meticulously crafted contributions from each of the members of the band. This EP, Crossing Lines, is a continuation of this detailed songwriting practice, featuring five songs of well-paced build and rich cohesion between bandmates. These guys also have a knack for creating a dark, swampy atmosphere with their music – they spend plenty of time exploring minor chords, but don’t let this make their music dreary or bogged down. Songs like “Prevail” and “2against3” groove along with active basslines and involved drum fills that propel the music, rather than allowing it to mope around. Coupling this with the tasteful guitar work and the slinky coloring from the violin, Fletcher’s is able to put across the lyrics they’ve worked out – his voice, and the melodies he choose, are often angular, finding just the right tones of dissonance to make things pop. The production on this EP is also very well done – each person’s lines stand out with great clarity, and give room for all parts to be as effective as possible. If you’re a sucker for text-painting, like I am, you might be a fan of the pairing of bass drum thumps with the lyrics “It’s because of you that I get these thumps at night.” All in all, it’s a great EP from one of Lexington’s younger alternative indie-rock bands, and one that pairs very nicely with the sound they created on their debut LP.
Tracks I Liked: Backhand!, In Too Close!!!, Prevail!!, 2against3!!!
– Ben Southworth – June 7th, 2013
The first record to get sent my way from the far reaches of Bowling Green – Heavy Chase’s Spinning in Circles – is a great one. The album opens up with the title track, starting out as a pretty sedated, mid-tempo sound that blooms into a mass of distorted guitars and soaring vocals by the end of its five minutes. The remainder of the EP moves along with the same sort of intensity – the fourth track, Hold On, is especially full of high energy, and in the last minute or so, when the background vocals echo the guitar riff, it’s a simple but highly effective move. If you’re familiar with other Kentucky music that’s going on right now, you might see what I mean when I say that they’ve got a bit of a sound like Lexington’s Astor Place Riot, especially in the way that Rigdon’s voice seems to find some of the more interesting notes in each chord. The rest of the band is rounded out by guitarists Jared McKinney and Jason Sadler, and by a Lexington bred rhythm section in brothers Tom and Sean Elwood on bass and drums, respectively. This album doesn’t do anything really new or out there, but I think that’s a good thing in this case – the songs really hit all the right things, and I’m sure it’d be great to see these guys live. If you’re a fan of high-energy rock, this would be a good album for you to dig into, especially when thinking about supporting your local music scene.
Tracks I Liked: Spinning in Circles!!, Mad Cap!, Hold On!!, Color!!
Check these guys out elsewhere:
– Ben Southworth