On the last day of November I give you this month’s Pick Six. It is a nice mix of tunes I think you will dig.
Bear Medicine – The Moon Has Been All My Life
With a simple strum of a guitar life is breathed into “Redbird”, the opening track on Bear Medicine’s The Moon Has Been All My Life. This modest beginning is the common thread of the album until the final exhale on “All You Celestials”. The latest release from Lexington, KY’s Bear Medicine is one of the most intriguing albums of 2014. The album is so mellow and relaxing while being lively and exhilarating all at the same time. Joshua Wright’s haunting vocals paired with the myriad of stringed instruments gives the music a timely feel yet keeps it from being stale. When Kim Smith and Severn Edmonson join in the vocal harmonies are unbelievable. With songs about death, fear and lost love this isn’t necessarily a joyous listen, but with that being said it is a very fulfilling listen. The album will get listeners thinking as songs like “Rigor Mortis My Dear” and “Blood In Common” contemplates mortality and “My Myriad Daydreams” touches on lost chances. The album closes with the incredible song “All You Celestials” a tune that is a beautiful example of how good music can be. The arrangement of strings and piano is mesmerizing and when Wright’s vocals enter the song really takes off. The song neatly wraps up the album with a narrative of how expansive and different everything is yet we are all one, a nice conclusion to a damn fine record. This is not an album you toss on and dig it you will have to put in some time and effort to fully absorb all of its intricacies, but it is well worth it.
Ex Cops – Dagger
The latest output from EX Cops is one hell of a listen. Utilizing a wealth of infectious rhythms and melodies the duo has delivered an album that is like crack to listener’s ears. (Not that I endorse crack.)Built around catchy pop melodies it is the addition of synthesizers and electronic music that keeps the music from being just like everything else. Drawing from 80’s influences there is a Joy Division/New Order vibe to the record and that is good thing. Songs like “Pretty Shitty” and “White Noise” are constructed around catchy lyrics that are carried by Amalie Brunn’s angelic vocals and when Brian Harding joins the fray the harmonies are quite pleasing. Daggers is a collection of songs about love, losing it, finding it and squandering it. Yes that has been done over and over but they keep it original. On “Weird With You” a punk vibe exists as Harding grumbles about getting weird and “Teenagers” sees them taking things in the bubble gum pop direction as they sing about regressing to the days of being a teenager. The Ex Cops have delivered a record that is loaded with everything that makes a record enjoyable to listen to. Pop infused melodies, CHECK. Catchy lyrics, CHECK. Grooving rhythm, CHECK. Vocal harmonies, CHECK. What more could you ask for? Now go give it a listen.
James Vincent McMorrow – Post Tropical
With his first record James Vincent McMorrow hooked listeners with his soulful vocals and catchy guitar. On the follow up he has ditched the folksy feel for a more electronic/slow jams vibe which is a big departure. After listening to Post Tropical a few times I realized that McMorrow’s music is more about his vocals and less about what surrounds it. Built around haunting melodies McMorrow has embraced a more polished sound as he doles out tunes that are chilling to the bone. There is nothing “tropical” about this record as the palm tree and flamingo are merely a ruse masking chilling tracks such as “Red Dust”, “Look Out” and “Outside Digging”. The latest output from James Vincent McMorrow offers a nice twist on what you would expect from him. He has created a piece of work that is every bit as powerful as Early In The Morning yet the texture and sound is complete opposite.
Devon Allman – Ragged & Dirty
Ragged & Dirty is the album fans have been waiting for Devon Allman to make. While his previous records are loaded with some damn fine music this new release showcases Allman’s guitar prowess like no other. Heavy blues riffs, soulful keyboards and Allman’s booming vocals dominate the record. As the listener progresses through the record their ears are bombarded with so many layers it is almost impossible to focus on one track. Allman and band effortlessly peel back each layer as songs like the soulful “Leave The City”, carried by Devon’s solemn voice and simple guitar playing, the nasty “Ragged & Dirty” with swampy guitars and funky keyboards, and “Half The Truth” a modern Southern Rock masterpiece punctuate this. On an album loaded with such great music there are a coupled that stand out. On travelling chunky rhythms lead the way as Allman delivers some of the finest guitar playing on the record. Then there is “Can’t Lose Them All” which harnesses all that is good about the Allman Brothers Band. Devon Allman has built his career doing his own thing instead of taking the easy way out and riding on the fame of his last name. On Ragged & Dirty he has put everything together and released the best album of his career. With not a single bad track on this record I suggest you go give it a listen.
Holy Ghost Electric Show – The Great American
(This Is American Music)
When the opening banjo on The Great American hits your ears you get the sense that you are in for one hell of a ride. One part folk, one part gospel, one part rock, one part snake oil salesman and one part tent revival the debut album from Mississippi’s Holy Ghost Electric Show exemplifies everything that is good about music today. Using their words and music to paint pictures about life the songs on this record string together a theme of innocence lost. The songs are stimulating making people think about what they are listening to and most are able to link them to their own life. We all grow old, we all lose people in our lives and we all see things differently now than we used to, Holy Ghost Electric Show helps us see that. This record is a great listen from track one to track twelve. The songs stick in your head but not in that annoying way, you will not want this batch of tunes leaving you anytime soon. Hit play, sit back and ingest all that is the Holy Ghost Electric Show.
Bahamas – Bahamas Is Afie
Afie Jurvanen is a Canadian singer/songwriter that releases music as Bahamas. No this is not reggae or calypso it is simple melody driven folk music with a big sound from a not so big approach. Built around his reserved acoustic guitar playing, the music employs spacey melodies and Afie’s haunting vocals to achieve a unique soundscape. Songs such as “Waves” and “Like A Wind” float along peacefully while “Stronger Than That” kicks it up a notch and “All The Time” gets a little funky. My favorite track on the record is “Little Record Girl”. With a hint of country twang the Dylanesque tune sings about the love of records. He really nails it on this one. Bahamas Is Alfie is an upbeat tasty little record that is infectious. The catchy melodies and shuffling rhythms are the backbone of this album but when Afie’s vocals are added to the mix they become more than words and are a part of the sound. This album is a great listen. It is soothing and invigorating all at the same time. Give it a listen and let Bahamas invade your head.