Posts Tagged ‘Best Albums Of 2019’

<span class="preorder">Preorder</span>Modern Mirror

Since the 2015 release of Drab Majesty’s debut Careless, and the release of the acclaimed sophomore album The Demonstration the following year, artist Deb Demure and collaborator Mona D. have firmly established themselves amongst the pantheon of dark synth-pop greats, establishing a devoted fan base worldwide with their singular hypnotic sound and mysterious, constantly-evolving presence.

Following intense and extensive touring in support of the first two albums, Drab Majesty escaped to the inspirational landscapes of Athens, Greece to channel the songs for their most ambitious album creation yet: Modern Mirror.

On their third album Modern Mirror, Los Angeles synth-pop duo Drab Majesty sound more majestic than ever. Their futuristic vocals, entrancing rhythms, bittersweet sentiments and lush guitars emit forces of woe and uplift that never feel contradictory. The record was inspired by the group’s trip to Greece, and they take influence from the ancient myth “Echo and Narcissus,” taken from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. They explore the story of the dangerously ego-driven Narcissus who falls in love with his own reflection, but it’s retold through the lens of postmodern triggers for self-obsession like technological proliferation and lack of quiet self-reflection. Drab Majesty’s lustrous synth escapades and intergalactic bleeps are just as slick as their commentary on modern day romance and personal conundrums.

Blowing the dust off the antiquarian myth of Ovid’s “Narcissus”, Drab Majesty uses its premise as groundwork for a modern reinterpretation. Each song tells a piece of the story, in which the listener’s own self-identity has become warped and dissociated through rapidly expanding technology, losing touch with the origins of their own personalities. Setting the stage as a romantic saga of antiquity, “A Dialogue” asks the listener if they are truly in love amid a building wash of guitars and reverb. Elements of classic tragedy weigh heavily in the reflection of Modern Mirror in songs like “The Other Side”, possessing a fundamental sound that is energetic, luminous and hopeful. Fusing the sonic aesthetics of predecessors like New Order and The Cure within the cautious instruction of Greek mythology and modern science fiction, Drab Majesty has birthed a hybrid of dreamy malaise, captured for a future moment.

The first single “Ellipsis”, romantically plays up the distorted concept of courting through modern technology in a world that has yet to adapt, while on “Long Division”, Deb’s resounding guitar cascades around the chorus shared with No Joy’s Jasamine White-Gluz,wistfully warning us against our vanity and self-obsession. Even when hope for everlasting love peeks through in “Oxytocin”, a sparkling and stoic track sung by Mona D., we are firmly reminded our fleeting existence.

The third single “Oxytocin” from Drab Majesty’s third album: Modern Mirror, out 7.12.19 on Dais.

The second single from Drab Majesty’s third album “Modern Mirror”, released July 12th 2019 on Dais Records. “Long Division points to an elusive impasse one may face in a personal relationship; a fundamental difference whether it be culturally, physically, or emotionally, that reaches a tipping point where both people involved have ultimately lost sight of their own identities through the futile act of trying to accommodate one another. It’s about a crafted dissonance in an attempt to harmonize.” Produced by Josh Eustis (Telefon Tel-Aviv) with guest vocals by No Joy’s Jasamine White-Gluz

Modern Mirror is a journey of self-reflection, nostalgia, love, beauty, and heartbreak told across eight addictive and emotional synth pop anthems – a seemingly classic tale delivered unblinkingly through the frame of the modern world.

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Charly Bliss released a new album this year, “Young Enough”, via Barsuk . Many of its standout tracks were already released as pre-release singles (and all had made our must listen Songs of the Week ), but there are also some worthy album tracks too. We considered the late album ballad “Hurt Me” (“You need me like a parachute” is a good line), but album opener “Blown to Bits” caught our ears the most. In the sequencing it provides a nice built up to album highlight (and first single) “Capacity.” “I don’t know what’s coming for me after 24,” frontwoman Eva Hendricks sings. If her band keeps putting out albums as good as Young Enough then lots more great things should be coming for her in the future. Touring their sophomore album, Young Enough, that has proven they’re a true force to be reckoned with

Previously Charly Bliss shared a video for Young Enough’s first single, “Capacity,” which was directed by Michelle Zauner aka Japanese Breakfast . The they shared another new song from the album, “Chatroom,” also via a video for it. Maegan Houang directed the twisted clip, which starred Hendricks as the member of a cult. “Chatroom”. Then they shared another new song from the album, “Hard to Believe,” via a video for it .

On Guppy, Eva poked fun at herself lyrically, but on Young Enough she resists the urge to swerve sincerity. “I was trying to be completely honest, and not always go with my first instinct, which is to be sarcastic or to deflect,” she admits. Eva’s still singing about cute things like bathing suits and kissing boys, but now there’s more sex and nakedness (“I’m fucking joy and I hemorrhage light,” she belts on “Bleach”), more confessions of fear and pain.

Inspired in turn by Lorde’s Melodrama, Superorganism, and recent tours with Bleachers, Wolf Parade, and Death Cab For Cutie, the foursome is especially pleased with the way Young Enough sounds dynamic, forthright, and full of feeling. “It’s still explosive,” still has that frenetic Guppy spirit, Spencer notes, “but it’s more emotional.” They strove for diversity of sound, allowing the songs to have “more space,” to not always be “in-your-face” and “at 110 percent,” an approach that led to roomier, more languid tracks like “Young Enough” and “Hurt Me.”.

Eva, is now twenty-five, is talking specifically about the title track of the forthcoming Young Enough. Lyrically, she says, the track reflects on the anger she expressed on Guppy. “We’re young enough / to believe it should hurt this much,” she sings, her tireless voice mellower than usual; “I had to outgrow it to know or destroy you.” She calls this potent slow-burn the album’s centerpiece, because it’s about “what it means to come out the other end of a really terrible situation” as a softer person, about looking back at yourself with kindness and acceptance, about recognizing you’ve evolved. “You gotta go through it,” she says, addressing her younger self, “but it’s not who you are forever.”

While Guppy took years to complete—they recorded it twice, and some of those songs were almost five years old by the time they came out—Young Enough is the product of complete concentration. After Guppy, each member of the band quit their steady barista and bartender jobs in order to become completely engrossed in the songwriting process. Not always trusting their initial impulses is something the band can all agree on, as evidenced by the re-recording of Guppy, and their penchant for what they call the “Frankensong.” Guppy’s standout, the firecracker breakup track “Glitter,” was one of those; it went through rounds of editing and rearranging until all that remained of the demo was the pre-chorus.

It’s hard to put into words how excited we are to share our second album Young Enough, released May 10th, with all of you. This album was a joy to make. We worked harder and were more focused than ever before, and our confidence and trust in one another and ourselves grew with every song we wrote. This album is a celebration of personal growth, meant to be danced and cried to in equal measure. We can’t wait to share more songs and more information with you in the comings months, but for now, we hope you enjoy our first single, “Capacity” and the beautiful video directed by Michelle Zauner and shot by Adam Kolodny. Also, Also, a huge thank you to Ebru Yildiz for our beautiful album cover and press photos.

After eight years as a band, Charly Bliss’ unfuckwithable chemistry has only gotten stronger. “It just gets better,” says Sam, who’s lanky, earnest, and excitable, and has recently been sporting a platinum coif,

After exploding out of the gates in 2017 with arguably the best rock record of the year in Guppy, Charly Bliss were always going to have to put in the hard yards to outrun the shadow cast by their debut.

Not only were they able to achieve that with Young Enough, they were able to do so entirely on their terms. Yes, this is an album that embraces the band’s love of pop music. It’s not a dirty word where these four come from — and nor should it be.

The VIP tracks this time are “Capacity” and “Chatroom,” also the Frankensongs. “Capacity”— is a sparkling, characteristically feisty, anthem-sized song whose tempo, Sam says, was designed specifically for strutting down the street—was tabled before the band “reopened the case” many months later, during pre-production with producer Joe Chiccarelli (The Shins, The White Stripes).

With that being said, you won’t find any other pop song on the radio right now that strikes upon the human condition the same way standout tracks like ‘Capacity’ and ‘Chatroom’ do. Emotively striking and visceral in its honesty, they’re delivered so subtly and in such glossy packaging that you might not even fully understand the weight of that verse you’ve been singing along to this whole time.

From the charging ‘I Fought the Law’ pastiche of ‘Blown to Bits’ through to the quietly-devastating title track, Young Enough is a stellar achievement for a band that doesn’t show any signs of slowing momentum. “I’m always nervous,” Eva concludes. “But it feels good to have songs that are still changing every time you play them, because you’re reviewing what’s working and what’s not working. And to be really nervous—it feels really good.”

The band:

Eva and Sam Hendricks, Dan Shure, and Spencer Fox

Palehound Black Friday

The very first Palehound songs were acerbic and wired. They could be dark and ugly, even masochistic at times. “Vandalize my body if it helps you sleep soundly,” Ellen Kempner begs on one of her best early tracks. The music she was making back then matched that energy: knotted guitars dripping with sourness and slime. But as Kempner has grown up and settled down, her songs have become less nervy and more quietly assured. Black Friday, Palehound’s third full-length album, is her most accomplished yet. It trades in the slicing guitars that made Kempner so beloved for more pillowy arrangements that sound like something you could fall back on to keep warm. “I think I hate my body/ ‘Til it’s next to yours,” she sings instead here — something once accepting of harm now deserving of love.

Love abounds on Black Friday. At its center is a healthy partnership that feels like a safe bubble, one that isn’t liable to fade away any time soon. “Aaron,” one of Kempner’s most gorgeous songs, is about supporting her partner through his transition, and it’s filled with tender-hearted declarations of devotion that slide out into open air. “You live your life with your back turned to me/ Your body swaying, voice steady in stance,” she sings. “If shutting my mouth will help you/ Turn around, Aaron/ I can, I can, Aaron, I can.” Even more than the specific experience, “Aaron” is about learning how to be comfortable with what we’ve been given, about wanting to feel weightless in the face of life’s burden. “Rid of our bodies, come and float with me,” she beckons. It’s the happiest Kempner has ever sounded in her music, when she’s opening herself up to new forms of love.

Palehound’s last album, A Place I’ll Always Go, had happy songs like this, too, but they were tempered by songs about death. That album was written shortly after Kempner’s grandmother and a close friend passed away in quick succession, and a lot of those songs were dealing with the disconnect that comes with happiness arriving at the most inopportune time. But Black Friday accepts happiness as something that we’re entitled to, that everyone should feel regardless of their situation. “If there’s anything I learned while I was back in town/ It’s that nothing worth loving ever sticks around/ But you,” Kempner sings on the last lines of this album.

Her newfound stability allows her the opportunity for some perspective to explore devotion in all its forms. Some of the most impressive songs are about friendships and partnerships that didn’t work out. On the album’s title track, Kempner reflects on one such friendship where she constantly felt like an afterthought, but a mislaid sense of dedication kept her coming back for more. “I’ll take being the last one on your mind,” she sings. “Still squeeze me in, never cared about waiting on your line.” The album’s title comes from this clever barb: “You’re Black Friday and I’m going to the mall,” a reminder of our tendency to keep doing things that we know are bad for us, like keeping up the ties of an imbalanced friendship or stoking the memories of an old flame, like Kempner does on the anthemic “Stick N Poke.” There she adopts some of her clanging old-school dramatic flair for a shout-along chorus: “I think I’m due for a shitty tattoo! I only have these thoughts when I’m missing you!”

A good relationship will only get you so far away from your demons, though, and Kempner still falls into old patterns of negativity on Black Friday. Love isn’t a cure for self-consciousness and self-loathing. The feeling that you’re never going to be enough is pervasive, that expectation that the worst will happen never really goes away. On “Worthy,” she pokes at that old wound of unworthiness: “I text you late at night/ I’m in the motel bathroom/ Staring at my thighs.” But Kempner leans into that fear, using it to remind herself of how far she’s come already. “At the thought of losing you/ My muscles hum familiar tunes/ And curl me to a naked ball/ Wet on our shower floor/ How do I unfurl from here?” she sings on the album’s closing track. But the difference between then and now is that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, in the form of another half that understands where you’re coming from and accepts you for who you are.

Black Friday’s central visual motif is a plush puppet mask (created by Gaudmother) that’s featured on the album’s cover art and recurs in its music videos. In the one for “Aaron,” we see this puppet before it assumes its final form. It’s rough-looking, covered in lint and muck, a gigantic outer protective layer that ends up being shed as it runs wildly through the streets, emerging into a cozy and lovable Muppet-like creature, delightful in its awkwardness. Kempner achieves a similar transformation with this album. Her gnarled guitar lines have given way to soft-focus serenity, warm keys stemming the anxiety that once threatened to envelop her. Her bitter edge has opened up to vulnerability and light.

Black Friday is out 6/7 via Polyvinyl Records.

“Beware Of The Dogs”feels like the embodiment of a movement of young artists in Australia who are refusing to let this oppressive behaviour slide. What a debut from Perth’s Stella Donnelly! She combines witty, intimate, hyperlocal songwriting – which more often than not takes down hierarchical power structures and toxic dudes, see opener Old Man – with slack, shoegazing guitar lines.

There are subdued moments, like Mosquito, where her girlish vocals come to the fore, only for songs like the title track to build to a loud, impassioned – and funny – call-to-arms:”There’s no Parliament worthy of this countryside/All these pious fucks taking from the 99,” she cries. Let ‘em have it, Stella.

Stella Donnelly latest album ‘Beware of the Dogs,’ out March 8 on Secretly Canadian

The year is just halfway through, but 2019 has already been a big one for Alexandra Sauser-Monnig. The musician best known as one-third of Mountain Man, the folk trio who made their comeback with last year’s beautiful Magic Ship, announced earlier this year that her debut solo record was en route. Dawnbreaker arrives less than a year after Magic Ship, Mountain Man’s second album as a trio and their first after an eight-year hiatus. It’s a gentle 10-song collection of rustling folk-pop.

Dawnbreaker is the first album Alexandra Sauser-Monnig she has released under the name Daughter of Swords. To celebrate its release (it’s out today via Nonesuch Records) Sauser-Monnig broke the album down for us track-by-track.

“Fellows”

The guitar line of “Fellows” materialized while I was living in a beautiful, ramshackle old farmhouse in rural Virginia with a former partner, and the words later while camping high up a California mountain road on a break from touring with Feist many years ago. The writing of the song spanned the end of one relationship and the beginning of another, and it reflects on the futility of defining yourself through your relationship to a partner.

“Gem” 

“Gem” was the first song that Nick Sanborn — who engineered, co-produced, mixed and played on the record — and I collaborated on arranging. He’s really good at following what’s fun, and pivoting to another song or idea or approach when the joy or the energy feels like it’s beginning to lag. After having recorded a couple of pretty spare demos and takes, this song ventured into new terrain and was the first time the breadth of the spectrum of sound and arrangement of the record became clear.

“Shining Woman” 

I wrote this song when I was feeling wrapped up about what being an adult person with a womb means. Writing it felt like a reminder to myself that the world is full of inspiring people choosing to make their own paths through life liberated from the cultural and biological script. The main character of the song took up residence in my mind and served as a reminder to me that change is always possible.

“Fields of Gold”

Drummer Joe Westerlund, formerly of Megafaun and currently of Mandolin Orange, played a large role in shaping the feel of “Fields of Gold.” He is a wizard of aux percussion and has a library of things to make sounds with, from shakers and bells to custom made metal sculptures that you play with a bow to things nature made that happen to sound beautiful. He lived next door to the studio where Dawnbreaker was made, and for a couple of magical days made complicated, delicate percussive arrangements holding more percussion in his hands than seemed humanly possible before I saw him in action.

“Grasses” 

“Grasses” is a meditation on acceptance. I wrote the words when I was sick with tick-borne illness. My body felt really wrong and I was having trouble getting any insight or advice, or even a diagnosis from doctors. So all I knew was that I felt terrible and that it wasn’t getting better. I sang “Grasses” to myself while lying in bed in an effort to comfort myself and to get down from the high ledges of fear and panic I was on in my mind.

“Easy is Hard”

Country was the first kind of music that made me feel something potent that I couldn’t name. It’s often where my songwriting begins, even if it doesn’t stay there. “Easy is Hard” follows its own logic, but feels like one of the songs on the record whose roots are most obviously in country.

“Rising Sun”

For a while I had an old worn out Sun Records tape of Billy Lee Riley songs in my car. I was in a very transitional phase of life and latched onto this tape and listened to it all the time in a way that gave me the tiniest sense of stability. I learned a blues shuffle off of it and wrote a different version of the song, which is “Rising Sun.” One of my favorite moments on the record is the end of this song — as the band fades out, the voices of Mountain Man fade in, humming like the highway and ending with all our voices and the sound of the room predominant in an unexpected way.

“Long Leaf Pine”

I had just moved to North Carolina and had been out blackberry picking and exploring the woods behind my house when I wrote “Long Leaf Pine.” I came back in and sat down and the song came out more or less complete. Recording it was equally magical — Nick Sanborn and I had been trying different arrangements of the song, and had started over again, making some kind of far out choices. It had started snowing outside when Amelia Meath and Molly Sarlé came over. They sang beautiful witchy harmonies while snow was falling outside the window and contextualized everything else beautifully within the realm of harmony.

“Human”

This was another song that appeared mostly formed very fast. I’ve had the possibly common but definitely surreal experience a few times of my subconscious delivering up verdicts on my life choices in song form before the rest of my mind is ready to acknowledge whatever it is, and that was the case with Human. We recorded the song, and then I left it alone for almost a year without even listening to it. There was a point that I didn’t want it on the record because it’s so raw. But now its presence feels crucial to me in the arc of the record.

“Dawnbreaker” 

“Dawnbreaker” is a dive into the ways imagining possible transmogrification into a different life form sometimes feels preferable to facing the hard emotional truths of life with a human consciousness. This last track on the record was one of the first takes that we recorded, and it was recorded as a demo. For a while, I wanted to get a different take to use, but none of the subsequent takes had the same rawness and tentative energy that ultimately felt so right as a note to end on.

thanks to http://www.talkhouse.com

“Dawnbreaker” is on the debut album from Daughter of Swords, out 28th June via Nonesuch Records

PHOEBE BRIDGERS  &amp;  CONOR OBERST  - PHOTO BY NIK FREITAS

Hearing Conor Oberst’s froggy, pain-dappled voice paired up with a frank, wispy lady like Phoebe Bridgers. On their self-titled debut as Better Oblivion Community Center, he’s pushing forty, learned and weary after nearly thirty years in the business, while she’s still in the first bloom of fame at twenty-four—and the intermingling of their fragile dispositions makes good sense. Oberst’s voice is always quivering like the last leaf on an autumn tree, while hers cocoons his like a silver lining, patient as a lullaby.

Better Oblivion Community Center performing live in the KEXP studio. Recorded March 17th, 2019.

Songs: Dylan Thomas Didn’t Know What I Was in For Little Trouble Easy/Lucky/Free

Calexico and Iron & Wine - Years to Burn

Calexico and Iron & Wine first made an artistic connection with In the Reins, the 2005 EP that brought Sam Beam, Joey Burns and John Convertino together. The acclaimed collaboration introduced both acts to wider audiences and broadened Beam’s artistic horizons, but it was the shared experience of touring together in the tradition of Bob Dylan’s “Rolling Thunder Revue” that cemented their bond. Their metaphorical roads diverged in the years that followed, but they kept in touch and cross-pollinated where they could. But although they often talked about rekindling their collaboration in the studio and on the stage, it wasn’t until last year that their schedules aligned.

Years to Burn can’t help but be different from In the Reins. Back then, Calexico entered the studio with a long list of previous collaborations (first in Giant Sand, then backing the likes of Victoria Williams and Richard Buckner) and the knowledge that they loved Sam’s voice and his songs, but wondering if his material was so complete and self-contained that it lacked a way in, so hushed and delicate that it might be overwhelmed. For his part, Beam had been intimidated by their virtuosic playing and their deep comfort in an encyclopedic array of styles. “In my mind, I was a guy who knew three chords and recorded in a closet,” Sam says. “They were playing big stages and were superb musicians.”

Those fears were dispelled quickly. Calexico was bowled over by Beam’s many talents: “The arranging, the writing, his sense of rhythm, the quality of his vocals—and then there’s the experimental side of Sam,” Joey says. “They were the perfect band at the perfect time for me,” Sam adds. “I loved all their different sounds. They’re musical anthropologists, not regurgitating but absorbing what they discover.” Nearly 15 years on, “coming back to the project has to do with acknowledging how much impact the first record had for me in my life.”

Calexico and Iron & Wine

Released via Sub Pop (World) and City Slang (Europe)

Image result for sharon van etten

Singer/songwriter Sharon Van Etten experienced a lot of change after the release of her last album, 2014’s Are We There, and they’re the kind of life-altering shifts newfound romantic partnership, motherhood, career advancements—that are all but destined to reveal themselves in one’s art. And here, on her fifth studio effort Remind Me Tomorrow, those evolutions are apparent in a powerful sonic swerve, and in Van Etten’s desire to explore both nostalgia and rebirth, and maybe even how they intertwine.

Remind Me Tomorrow was the first great rock album of the year, and it would behoove any and all of Van Etten’s fans, even those who staunchly prefer her folk-leaning material, and rock ‘n’ roll aficionados of all stripes to open their ears (and their hearts) to this beautifully executed pivot. And for all its bold sonic upheavals—the addition of drum machines and electric shred and cavernous synth Remind Me Tomorrow maintains Van Etten’s gothic sensibilities.

Sharon Van Etten was truly one of the great lyricists of the ’10s, but with this breathtaking project, she’s proved an artistic pliancy her contemporaries may not possess. She hit her stride with Are We There, but here she’s not even on the ground.

Wand’s music lets the soul wander their fifth full-length “Laughing Matter” is another worthy side-by-side . Laughing Matter follows the Los Angeles rock outfit’s sky-high 2017 LP Plum and shapeshifting 2018 EP Perfume. While early releases from these Drag City Records mainstays were characterized by sludgy neo-garage and fuzzy stoner psych, their latest offerings conjure far too much slippery wonder to warrant concise categorization. Wand take risks and thrive on contradiction—their heady guitar embellishments keep you on your toes, and their surreal imagery simultaneously makes you feel insignificant and a pivotal part of the cosmos.

Laughing Matter is a intoxicating listen for a number of reasons. Their often opaque lyrics are a strangely touching and immersive experience, and lead vocalist Cory Hanson delivers them with a benevolence that will allow you to trust fall into his snug, fluttering coo. Wand’s affection for nature is evident, and there’s both a foreboding sense that something is slipping from grasp and a blissful acceptance of its fleeting or cyclical existence. “Rio Grande” captures a grand trek with breathtaking vistas (“Rivers twist like spider’s silk around the stolen land”) and their evocative descriptions are filtered through Hanson’s warm vocal eccentricities. “Lucky’s Sight” is an abstract, sensory collage with one of the record’s most exhilarating outros and most dramatically vivid lines (“a bag of pollinated daydreams smeared across an empty street”).

Amidst reverberating guitars and raining cymbals, “Scarecrow” expresses in the most tragically sublime terms, the plight of a straw-filled scarecrow standing guard in a field of grain as the scarecrow falls victim to the very crows it’s meant to spook. “Walkie Talkie” sees Wand at their sunniest peak as Hanson sings about the blurring of senses, “I’m kissed by the sight and I’m struck by the sound / My heart blinks like a light as I hitch into town.”

The outro is another highlight with booming, coiled drums and Hanson’s enchanting backing vocals that weave in and out of the foreground. “High Planes Drifter” recalls the compassionate acoustics of Hanson’s solo effort The Unborn Capitalist From Limbo, if you swapped heavenly strings for intergalactic synths, and the instrumental “Hare” gently bubbles below the surface with pirouetting keys and eerie violin screeches. “Wonder” may be the record’s finest offering with its juxtaposition of ballsy, overdriven guitars and sweet, blissful vocal melodies.

Wand: <i>Laughing Matter</i> Review

The first disc of this double album release is more immediately gratifying, in part because of the track lengths on the second. You might find songs like “Evening Star,” “Airplane” and “Lucky’s Sight” a bit lengthy or decadent after a few listens, but the more you return to these longer cuts, the more melodic Easter eggs you’ll uncover.

Side two opens with the sound of instruments aimlessly plucking as if they’ve just plugged in and tuned up following the album’s implied intermission, and the eventual meandering piano lines and propulsive guitars create a paradoxical tornado of immense sonic weight. Tracks like “xoxo” and “Airplane” exhibit how quickly and smoothly Wand can transition from chill soundscapes to blustery musical tangents. Their extended, contorted guitar jams range from prog to kraut to psych, their keyboards are both familiar yet elusive and their percussion swings from machine-like to completely off-the-cuff. Keyboardist Sofia Arreguin’s occasional lead and backing vocals are straightforward yet consolatory, and drummer Evan Burrows’ candid, Lou Reed-indebted vocals on “Jennifer’s Gone” enhance the frank, depressing quality of the track’s mourning lines.

Throughout Laughing Matter, Hanson and Burrows’ lyrics take everything known about defined forms and senses and turn them on their head—sounds can be swallowed, the future’s neck can be cut and life can eat into life—and the album’s improvisational jams, winding outros and emotionally crushing melodies result in perhaps Wand’s most realized release yet.

Oh My God

Kevin Morby has been thinking about God. If you’re a fan of the Kansas City-raised songwriter, you’re probably already aware of this. On his first four solo LPs, Morby has riddled his lyrics with allusions and questions, never quite discovering what sort of universal presence he’s engaging with. On his latest album, “Oh My God”, Morby presents the logical conclusion of this investigation. Not only it is his deepest dive into a metaphysical pulse, but it’s also his most stunning and brilliant record. With Oh My God , Morby swings for the fences with abandon and excitement.

The album begins with the title track, and after a brief word of encouragement from co-producer Sam Cohen, Morby begins. We get ragtime piano, heavy chords, and church choir backing vocals. Immediately, this is something new. Morby’s always been a fantastic songwriter, but this is something big, something different. When we ask the guitarist about these heightened goals, his answer is simple: “We wanted this one to feature music that could fit inside of a cathedral.”Even though Morby isn’t religious, he’s fascinated by the way it shapes our lives.

As a young Midwesterner, he witnessed it all around him. Whether he’s a believer or not is far from the point. This is the world he’s grown up with and it constantly invades his vernacular. Whether intentionally or not, Morby conflates politics with religion and, as such, this record is interested in the world we live in. But, Oh My God is more ambitious than its era.

It’s an album for all-time, not just 2019. When Morby turns this world inward, Oh My God is at its best. Kevin Morby is a growing spirit, a disciple for the Godless. And yet, there’s something here for everyone. Morby is confident without becoming preachy, questioning without being faithless. It’s a tightrope and Morby’s learned how to cross it blindfolded. I wonder what his next trick will be.

This is Kevin Morby’s defining album to date, that sounds as celestially enlightened as the themes it tackles, balancing sonic depth with a masterful lightness of touch and a painterly vision of the complete picture. “this one feels full circle, my most realised record yet,” he says. “it’s a cohesive piece; all the songs fit under the umbrella of this weird religious theme.” this is Kevin’s opus – a double concept album on spirituality and religion, for fans of Steve Gunn, Conor Oberst, Waxahatchee, Woods, and Kurt Vile .

Kevin Morby “Nothing Sacred / All Things Wild” from “Oh My God” out April 26th on Dead Oceans Records.