New Music Spotlight #1

Phoebe Jean and The Air Force – Heartbreakers

Phoebe Jean and The Air ForceHeartbreakers

Phoebe Jean’s album dropped in June on French imprint Lentonia Records and its standout track is the hella catchy “Day is Gone”.  It’s a mix of snappy ‘n’ clappy rhythms, cymbal tap, a sprinkling of brighter electronic notes, and Phoebe laying down her short-phrase, spoken vocals with a matter-of-fact attitude.  The rather amusing video for “Day is Gone”, which features a crew of street dancers deciphering group choreography and showing off their individual moves, can be viewed here:

Heartbreakers is split between engaging, high-energy numbers with thumpin’ club beats and occasional horns, and low-key drifters that float by on Phoebe’s bare, hushed vocals and spare arrangements.  This dichotomy is a bit jarring, since the album’s flow goes from dynamic to subdued and back again quite frequently.


Michael The Blind – Are’s & Els

 Michael The BlindAre’s & Els

Michael The Blind is the moniker of one Michael Levasseur, a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist based out of Portland, Oregon and Are’s & Els is out now on Alder Street Records.  Michael has released 3 previous solo albums since 2005, but his latest is a group effort that includes Rachael Renee’, Nathaniel Lee, and J. Elwood Johncox.  The brisk guitar strum that runs through most of the lyrics-centric songs keeps the pace lively, while Michael sings in an earnest, anxious style that brings to mind Michael Stipe on occasion.  Michael’s manic panic, expressive singing matches the blustery tempo of the fast songs, but he also slows it down on some subdued numbers where he draws out his clear wordings in a shivery waver.


Albert Swarm – Wake EP

Albert SwarmWake EP

Helsinki, Finland-based producer Pietu Arvola released his 2nd EP under the name Albert Swarm in early September on Ceremony Recordings.  The highlight of this spaciously atmospheric, electronic EP is “Things Fold Into Themselves”, which is awash with sandblaster sonics and peppered with bright synth tones and quick, kicky beats.  The reflective, but flourishing songs on this EP draw the listener down instrumentally complex, but aurally easy to follow pathways, employing varied tempos (skipping glitches to an elongated flow), light electronic notes, synths ambience, and sporadic floating female vocals, like on the moody, nocturnal “Moths & Moth Catchers”.


Parliament of Bats – 2 Songs

 Parliament of Bats2 Songs

Firmly rooted in the soil of Leicester, England, Parliament of Bats is comprised of Mick Harrison (bass player in famed, but now-defunct band Prolapse, which originated from the same locale), Paul Asher, Mick Gibson, and Mo Gulamhusein.  The band members recorded 2 songs at Chem 19 Recording Studios near Glasgow, Scotland in April and released them this past August.  Like Mick Harrison’s former band Prolapse, Parliament of Bats delves into mesmerizing drone rock with long, burgeoning songs that churn and burn with at least two guitar lines, constant cymbal crash, and changeable drum rhythms.  On the instrumental “Acorns” sharply angular, picked notes vie for dominance with burnished guitar lines that curl off with a Western vibe.  The two flowing songs take their sweet, mellow time to build up to a fiery intensity, but the journey is worth it.


Goodnight, Texas – A Long Life of Living

Goodnight, TexasA Long Life of Living

This debut album from founders and songwriters Avi Vinocur and Patrick Dyer Wolf, as well as Jonathan Kirchner and Andrew Laubacher, has a release date of October 2nd.  Band members used vintage wooden instruments throughout this Americana-styled album which features songs that reference a much earlier era in America’s relatively short timeline of existence.  The story-telling songs progress with a measured pace and are filled out with guitar, mandolin, upright bass, drums, and the occasional harmonica pull and brushed cymbals.  The single “Jesse Got Trapped in a Coal Mine” relates the bleak tale of an unlucky young man who gets stuck in a coal mine with “…ain’t no way to make it out alive.”  The dire straits situation is leavened vocally by Avi’s (or is it Patrick?) clear, matter-of-fact delivery.