Sun Kil Moon – “The Possum”

Stream: Sun Kil Moon – “The Possum”

After all that War On Drugs business, it’s nice to hear Mark Kozelek taking SKM back into less controversial territory with this new single titled “The Possum.” It’s a nine-minute cut that, like much of the material on Benji, focuses on life’s little learning experiences. This particular one involves an injured possum and a Godflesh concert. Mark tries to match the ferocity and excitement of the situation with straining, impassioned vocals and a steady drum beat from Steve Shelly. However, that’s just the first third of the track.

The song shifts from one mournful guitar passage to another in its final moments. It would seem as if the concert served as a fun distraction from what would otherwise be Mark’s uneventful movie binges. Then his mind drifts back on the possum walking his last walk, and Mark reflecting on youth and old age.

It’s certainly an interesting track, and tackles a lot of familiar themes with an even more ambitious approach to structure.

elvis depressedly – “n.m.s.s” (Video)

Elvis Depressedly is a musical trio fronted by moody minstrel Mat Cothran. A few years ago I was praising his melancholy compositions via a different pseudonym: Coma Cinema. The transition from one name to another has been far from night and day. Cothran’s songwriting and recording style has remained roughly the same; however, I’d say this new Elvis Depressedly song is still worthy of your attention.

The distant vocal melody and calming string accompaniment on “n.m.s.s” fit really nicely against the song’s gentle acoustic guitars and ambient synthesizers. The song is emotionally gripping, but sonically relaxing at the same time.

Look for this track and others on the forthcoming Elvis Depressedly album titled New Alhambra. It’ll be dropping via Run For Cover Records in 2015.

[edit: Some of my Twitter followers are telling me that, in fact, Coma Cinema is not dead. I guess Mat brought the project back without me being aware of it. Yay.]

Ariel Pink – pom pom

Pop’s biggest oddball comes through with his strongest set of songs since the 00s.

iamamiwhoami – Blue

iamamiwhoami returns with her sophomore album, Blue.

Days N’ Daze – Rogue Taxidermy

I may not be about that folk punk life, but I can certainly enjoy the music, can’t I?

Days N’ Daze is a Houston, TX band–because they’re too punk for Austin–and they’ve been putting out records since the late 00s–so Rogue Taxidermy isn’t their first rodeo, and it doesn’t sound it either. The band’s got some pretty obvious influences: Gogol Bordello, Johnny Hobo, early Against Me!, Choking Victim, Andrew Jackson Jihad, and maybe some Defiance, Ohio. However, the playing here is fantastically tight, and they know their way around a song, too. These guys have a rough outer shell, but their righteous lyrics, solid structures, and sticky melodies leave a sweet aftertaste.

Matthew Revert – “The Heart’s Heartbeat” / Food Court – Self-Titled (Excerpt)

Kye, the record label of one of my very favorite artists Graham Lambkin, has put out its final two releases of 2014. The first is Australian novelist Matthew Revert‘s Not You, a singer-songwriter project with lo-fi and electroacoustic inclinations, as you’ll find with cut “The Heart’s Heartbeat” below. And the second is the self-titled debut of fellow Australian act Food Court, the collaboration between avant-classical and electroacoustic practitioners James Rushford, Joe Talia, and Francis Plagne. Hear an excerpt from the album above. Enjoy!

Dean Blunt – Black Metal

UK singer-songwriter and musical oddball Dean Blunt releases an album that’s difficult to put into words. While simple in composition and sloppy in execution, the album still manages to draw up some real feelings of isolation, melancholy, and frustration.

Jessica Pratt – “Back, Baby”

With a voice like Janis Joplin minus the cigarettes and guitar playing like an angel with problems, Jessica Pratt seems to be a rising contender in the folk rock world. Pratt’s original and peculiar approach is simple, but allows her to enter a completely different category to modern folk rockers: a strummed or plucked guitar, and vocals that hold such unfamiliar nuances that their beauty really lies in the heart of the listener. “Back, Baby” is a single from her upcoming album titled On Your Own Love Again, which is being released on January the 27th.

Although the track is similar to her previous work, there seems to have been some emotional progression. Reminiscent of a pregnant Joan Baez at Woodstock, Pratt tells a tale of a lover from the past, a man she wishes she could revisit, but understands the consequences could be dire. As she “sometimes prays for the rain,” I pray her new album lives up to the standard that this single has set.

- Fin Worrall

Father John Misty – “Bored in the USA” (On Letterman)

Mainstream America got its first exposure to Father John Misty’s (Josh Tillman) haunting vocals and effortless stage presence on David Letterman. The word “angelic” is thrown around liberally when folks discuss the Fleet Foxes camp, and it’s always done deservedly so. Most often done in reference to Robin Pecknold, but now ex member of the band Josh Tillman is slowly claiming his place in the spotlight. Tillman’s unique mix of sincerity of satiric performance art is difficult to decode, but always remains incredibly entertaining to behold. “Bored in the USA” will be featured on Father John Misty’s upcoming album I Love You, Honeybear. While FJM’s last record Fun Times in Babylon displayed his talent for songwriting and lyricism, his vocals were unfortunately not featured prominently enough in the slightly muddy production. Here’s to hoping this next album is crisper than a 7 AM run through the Himalayans.

P.S. The piano is playing itself.

- Garrett Cottingham

My Brightest Diamond – This Is My Hand

My Brightest Diamond releases its most lively album yet.