Posts Tagged ‘Portland’

Horse Feathers feels like a secret you don’t really want to share. Over twelve years and five albums, a passionate fan base has experienced this band as a precious commodity that they want to keep close to their hearts. One reason for this can be found in lead singer Justin Ringle’s distinctive voice, at once vulnerable and piercing, and in the quality of the music: gorgeous, lush string arrangements surrounding stark, visceral lyrics whose bite makes a piquant juxtaposition to the surrounding beauty.

Now, however, Horse Feathers has created an album that differs enough from its predecessors to suggest that the cat might get out of the bag. On Appreciation, their sixth full-length and the fifth on venerable independent label Kill Rock Stars, the signifiers of the band are there: Ringle’s warm tenor and lyrics that speak of work, love, and other struggles. But on this album less of the song dynamics are achieved with strings and more with an exciting new rhythm section steeped in Northern Soul. Longtime violinist Nathan Crockett and keyboardist Dustin Dybvig provide continuity, but much of Appreciation feels like the best of Ringle’s previous musical ideas just took a giant step into a larger arena.

Recorded primarily in Kentucky (at La-La Land Studios in Louisville and Shangri-La Studios in Lexington), the new album features instrumentalists J. Tom Hnatow, Robby Cosenza and R&B vocalist Joslyn Hampton, who helped make Appreciation a mixture of strutting ‘70s-style country-pop (“Without Applause,” “Don’t Mean To Pry”) and supple soul (“Best To Leave,” “Evictions”). But Horse Feathers hasn’t gained accessibility at the expense of quality, nor at the expense of their signature instrumentation (“The Hex” might be the only R&B/soul song where the rhythmic lead is played on banjo). For those who crave what NPR called “the densely pretty seethe of Horse Feathers’ earlier ballads”, the album delivers “Born in Love” and “On the Rise”, accentuating the string surge with Hammond organ, piano, tambourine, and finger snaps.

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“It just felt like a fresh take on how my songs can come across,” Ringle says. “With this incarnation, it’s okay if what I’m doing right now is in fact kind of a pop song. I can have a chorus and repeat something. I’m more aware of that and enjoy it.”

This artistic adjustment comes in the wake of a lot of changes in Ringle’s life. Not too long ago, he left his former hometown of Portland for the coastal city Astoria, Oregon. He’s also been dipping his toes into the world of record production, helping North Carolina band River Whyless with the recording of their last album We All The Light. After a while of bouncing between three states, as well as stops in Camas, Washington to finish Appreciation with longtime compatriot Skyler Norwood at Miracle Lake Studios, Ringle is finally settling down just in time to get ready to hit the road with Horse Feathers in support of this new album. “I wanna get out there and do my job,” he says.

Diehard fans are going to find plenty to cherish on Appreciation. But they’re going to have to make room in the club house for a lot more people – with this album, the Horse Feathers secret is officially out.

Horse Feathers:
Justin Ringle: songs, vocals, guitar, banjo
Nathan Crockett: violin, viola
J. Tom Hnatow: bass, pedal steel, guitar, rhodes
Robby Cosenza: drums, percussion
Halli Anderson: vocals, violin
Dustin Dybvig: piano, synths, percussion
Lee Carroll: piano, wurlitzer, hammond
Jenn Crockett: clarinet, bass clarinet
Joslyn Hampton: vocals
Chriss Dennison: vocals
Appreciation is out May 4th, 2018 on Kill Rock Stars.

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Los Angeles-via-Portland singer-songwriter Sharaya Summers is hyperaware of the suffering going on around her, and feels it all to the core. In her newest single “Easy Life,” Summers sings about being handed a good life, but being so burdened by the pain of others. This is a song of empathy, even tinged with a bit of guilt. With influence pouring out from Laurel Canyon songwriting, along with dreamy guitars and reverb-drenched vocals, “Easy Life” is an unmistakably easy listen. But underneath these layers, there is a subtext of desperation and disillusionment. Summers sings, “Tell me to believe that there’s meaning/ That it all works out in the end.” As she makes this plea, Sharaya Summers still manages to deliver a glimpse of hope. Be on the lookout for her EP set to be released later this year.

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Sharaya Summers, tells a story of disillusionment, dysfunction and discovery. As her debut single ‘Light of the Moon’ rapidly gained over half a million streams on Spotify, she prepares to release her full EP in mid 2018.

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The Orange Kyte is an experimental music project with a manifesto to release music in various shapes and forms varying in fidelity and approach but always drawing heavily from a love of ethereal tones, fuzz, reverberation and all things psychedelic. Introducing Stevie Moonboots and a revolving cast of collaborators and cohorts, musical and otherwise. Vancouver, British Columbia’s The Orange Kyte is an exercise in boundless sonic tomfoolery with an emphasis on mind expansion and continuous evolution.

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Little Cloud Records was founded in October 2016 by Mike Nesbitt, Josiah Webb and Mike’s twin brother, Joe. What started as a way to release Magic Shoppe records has become a vehicle for releasing vinyl for other bands we dig. This includes releases from Pete International Airport (Pete Holmström of Dandy Warhols), New Candys (dark psych rockers from Venice, Italy), The Orange Kyte (tripped-out Irish transplants living in Vancouver, BC), Firefriend (São Paulo psych warlords) , Heaven (Brooklyn based psych rock) and Arizona’s Wiccan Godesses, Burning Palms. 
 
We’re partnering with a Portland, OR vinyl based plant and Joe runs a Chicago based printing facility. This allows us to produce all records, printing jacket design / printing and vinyl pressing in-house. We have been established by Cobraside in the United States and Fuzz Club Records in the UK. For digital distribution we use our own department to plaster your bit Across the usual suspects … like Spotify, iTunes, Google Play Music, Amazon Music, YouTube Music and many more.
 

ALELA DIANE – ” Cusp “

Posted: February 12, 2018 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Alela Diane has a new album out titled “Cusp”

“This music is about motherhood,” Alela says of her highly anticipated fifth album Cusp. “Even just by saying that, it feels like people will write you off. It’s like you’ve suddenly lost the charm of being youthful and even attainable––you’ve been commoditized as available. There is not a big place in the music industry for 30-something women with kids making music.” She laughs as she pauses, then adds, “Maybe we can create that space.”

If anyone can carve out needed new territory, it’s Alela. Cusp may be a thematic departure for the Portland, Oregon-based artist, The new 11-song collection was born during Alela’s three-week artist residency at Caldera in Oregon during January 2016. The time was a revelation to Alela, who’d been consumed with her then two-year-old daughter and had found little time to create. In a small A-frame cabin deep within Caldera’s snowy woods, alone for the first time since becoming a mother, she tended to a wood stove, made soup, rediscovered how to be on her own, and wrote songs. “I was just coming back to myself and learning how to take care of me,” she says. “It was really wonderful to be able to get back in touch with my creative side and just reflect on the intensity of what I’d been going through, becoming a mom––reflecting on that from a space where I wasn’t inside of it.”

Early in her Caldera stay, Alela broke her thumbnail while shoveling snow, and her signature finger-picking guitar became a challenge. She had noticed a grand piano in the main lodge and wondered: Why not write songs there? The result is the most piano-driven album of her career, fueled by that energy that only comes with facing and falling in love with something new. “It definitely felt different,” Alela says of composing for the first time on the piano, pointing to the visibility of chords that keys allow, especially when compared to guitar. “It was pretty freeing to get out of my normal habits that I usually fall back into when I write on guitar.”

Alela recorded most of Cusp at Flora Playback and Recording while pregnant with her and her husband’s second daughter, who was born in February 2017. Produced by Peter M. Murray and mixed by Noah Georgeson, the album features contributions from heavyweights including Ryan Francesconi (Joanna Newsom), Rob Burger (Iron & Wine), Peter Broderick, Heather Woods Broderick (Sharon Van Etten), Luke Ydstie (Blind Pilot), and Daniel Hunt (Neko Case).

 

The February weekend that Cusp was mixed in Los Angeles, Alela planned to be there. Instead, she went into labour––five weeks early. Severe complications ensued, and in a harrowing twist, Alela almost died giving birth to her little girl. “I have never felt so grateful to be alive as I do now,” she says. “I hope that by exploring motherhood in song, I can help demand respect for the life givers we are. Talking and singing about the experience of motherhood is not something I can shy away from. It is the essence of who we are as human beings. This album is my version of women’s work.”

When Alela releases Cusp in February 2018, it will mark exactly one year since her near-death, new-life experience. “Life and death meet in a cusp,” Alela says. “The two are intrinsically linked. My second daughter was born on the cusp.”

Cusp explores the weight and beauty of creating life. Album opener “Albatross” bemoans the pain of leaving her daughter behind for a promotional tour––a heartache she’d never experienced. “The chorus is a reference to flying overseas and having to leave my kid at home, the intensity of that,” she says. Forlorn but also imbued with wonder and acceptance, the song is a perfect example of Alela’s ability to capture the nuances of an experience. Gorgeous “Move Us Blind” delves into our complicated relationship with time, while “Buoyant”––which Alela says “surprised her”––is rich with the vivid imagery her loyal listeners have come to expect.

Throughout the record, Alela refuses to stray from her perspective as a mother and woman. “These songs are about a really different moment in my life than my earlier work, which was more rooted in being young, innocent, curious––I was reflecting on the past and the magic of youth.” “Song for Sandy” was written for British singer Sandy Denny who died shortly after the birth of her daughter. Triggered by the drowned Syrian toddler who washed up on a Turkish shore, Alela penned the haunting “Emigré” in response to the international refugee crisis. Moody “Never Easy” tackles Alela’s complex relationship with her own mother, a recurring theme throughout her albums.

Alela Diane – Ether & Wood (Official Video) Album ‘Cusp’ is now available

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Portland-based Haley Heynderickx has been making waves with her spirited musings on self reflection, religion, and growth. Her new single, “Worth It,” explores the difficulties of defining oneself in the shadow of other’s expectations. The ways in which the song unwinds itself, with a faster tempo in a dramatic buildup, is reminiscent of the triumphant feeling of overcoming those anxieties. Over winding guitar riffs, she sings, “Maybe I’ve, maybe I’ve been selfish/ Or maybe I’ve, maybe I’ve been selfless / Maybe I’ve, maybe I’ve been worthless, or / Maybe I’ve, maybe I’ve been worth it.”

Heynderickx informed a little bit about the song’s origin story. “I was living in a house with six women at the time and attempting to pursue music as more than a bedroom act,” she wrote. “In this, I was struggling to find confidence and purpose in it. Writing ‘Worth It’ was a cathartic release at the time, just allowing myself to take up space and make as much noise as I could in our basement without driving my roommates too crazy. After several weeks, this song got carved out. It has been through a lot and it means something new to me each time I hear it.

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A rare “love song” from Anna Tivel. “Dust & Magic” is a song about loving someone, learning their colors, their depths. It’s about trying to see someone honestly, even when they’re hard to see. It’s about knowing and hoping the person you love can find their way back from a darker place, believing in the raw power of their beautiful spirit

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Sara Renberg is a songwriter hailing from Portland and now based out of Pittsburgh. Having recently released her second album, Night Sands, on the excellent Antiquated Future Records, Sara has this week shared the album’s second single, and stand-out track, Elderly Lesbians.

Discussing Night Sands, Sara has suggested it’s a record about being, “thirty-two, gay and single”, the album muses on the theme of simultaneously fearing and craving intimacy. Jangly lackadaisical guitars drift atop lo-fi, cymbal heavy drum beats, all topped with Sara’s conversational vocal style. Lyrically it really shines, Sara walking the similarly mundane-surreal tight-rope perfected by the likes of Frankie Cosmos and The Mountain Goats as she comically recalls googling, “elderly lesbians to cheer myself up but all the results were porn”before hitting straight to the emotional core with the repeated line, “I’m still not sure exactly what it means to be living in exile from old dreams”. A wry observer of the minutiae that make life both crushing and beautiful, Sara Renberg and her elderly lesbians are wonderful.

The second single from Sara Renberg’s sophomore album “Night Sands.” Out February 2nd, 2018 on Antiquated Future Records.

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Drums: Cayla Davis (on 1-4, 9)
Bass: Joshua James Amberson
All other instruments and vocals: Sara Renberg

Night Sands is out now via Antiquated Futures Records.

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Raised on a steady diet of sarah records singles, slumberland noise pop, and creation-era shoegaze, Portland’s A Certain Smile work hard to find that balance between the sweet twee, the fuzzy gaze, and punky pop

Thomas Andrew, band leader of A Certain Smile, is a man on a mission to keep the Portland indie-pop scene alive; whether he’s playing records at the Toffee Club Sunday Brunch, or putting out his radio show on Freeform Radio or fronting his band, he’s always keeping the jangly, fuzzy, indie-pop flame burning. Originally formed back in 2002, A Certain Smile are in some ways an homage to the music Thomas loves, labels like Slumberland and Sarah’s Records, bands like Velocity Girls and McCarthy; their influence is all over the band’s upcoming debut album, Fits And Starts. That record is out next month.

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Discussing the inspiration behind the track, Thomas suggests that it is,  “about long distance love and the inequities of separation.” Atop a backing of energetic blurring drums, reverberating guitar lines and driving bass, Thomas’ vocal carries a tale of missed phone calls, changing lifestyles and the joy of getting the call and slipping right back into love. It’s a perfect blend of the melancholic and the romantic seemingly free of musical fads and trends.

There are those who will argue this record is some sort of retro-throwback, the final dying scream of a genre on its last legs, yet when it is done this well, it’s hard to do anything but embrace the jangle and enjoy a perfect indie-pop song.

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Ever since his wonderful debut album ‘Dolls of Highland’ was released on Sub Pop Record in 2016, Kyle Craft has been a critic’s dream. Based in Portland, he serves up all the observational, storytelling talent with none of the attitude that so often comes with male singer-songwriter territory. “I’ve found my place,” he says. “I’m not one of those people that approaches music for anyone other than myself. My favorite part about music is when it’s just me and a notebook.” Speaking of, his second forthcoming album ‘Full Circle Nightmare’ is entirely autobiographical. Sonically, thematically, lyrically, it’s a huge leap forward from his 2016 release.
The title ‘Full Circle Nightmare’ refers to a moment where Craft saw his life for what it is and told himself to be satisfied. “But that’s nightmarish to me,” he laughs. He described his debut record as: “like walking down this long hall of bizarre characters and surreal experiences, moving through the spider web of love and loss.” This album is when you get to the end of that hallway, turn around and see all the stuff you’ve been through, then walk through the door, close it and start a new chapter in an even crazier hallway. A straight-up rollicking rock’n’roll album, it traverses all the different nuances of the genre; from the bluegrass twang of ‘Exile Rag,’ to the gothic style..of ‘Gold Calf Moan,’ it’s a timeless piece that could exist in any of the past five decades.

In terms of contemporary peers, Craft likes to stay in his own lane. He’s an old soul who sticks to his tried and tested influences. Social media is not his game – it’s just not interesting to him. He’s not fussed about preaching his politics or discussing the status quo either. “I don’t really like writing a time piece. I don’t wanna get trapped in the ‘Donald Trump era of Kyle Craft,’ you know? I’m a very off-the-grid sort of person. As much as I am traveling across this giant place sometimes I just feel so outside of it. Also, I’m not necessarily a stand-up citizen so it’s hard for me to say: here’s Kyle Craft’s America, ladies and gentlemen.” 

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The ironic thing is that ‘Full Circle Nightmare’ sounds exactly like Kyle Craft’s America. That is what he’s built for us: the story of one man’s trials and tribulations to find his passion and voice for art and creativity in this vast opportunistic country. Where did he find it? Among the historic riches of America’s most honest sounds.