Posts Tagged ‘Western Vinyl’

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s Tides was initially released on Western Vinyl in 2014, but it’s only now that it’s getting a physical release via Smith’s own Touchtheplants imprint. Her label is “dedicated to the joy of storytelling and exploring the spirit through music and visual arts.” And appropriately, the nine tracks that comprise the album were originally commissioned for use in the yoga classes that Smith’s mother teaches. Every piece on Tides was composed and performed on a Buchla Music Easel, a modular synthesizer that has been utilized by musicians as varied as Sarah Davachi, Donnacha Costello, and David Rosenboom. While she’s always made synth-based music, Smith doesn’t aim for the cosmic epics or thrilling art pop of her recent albums here. Instead, she conjures up lambent ambient soundscapes that are as serene as they are delicate.

Tides feels like it falls between the charmingly homespun pieces Smith released in 2012 and her more adventurous records from the past few years. While a few tracks contain wind chimes and birdsong, the album is otherwise built on the sounds of the Buchla synthesizer alone—there’s no guitar, piano, or vocals, let alone the playful mixing that gives some of Smith’s work its verve. She trusts in the instrument to be the source of all evocation, and this honing of her craft was presumably necessary before she could create the colorful synth work that characterizes her later albums.


While it offers a curious glimpse into a vital part of Smith’s career, Tides is also a remarkable album in its own right; each track introduces listeners to a discrete space, letting us rest within its rhythmic swirls. “Tides I,” “II,” and “III” are comforting in their playfulness, their high-pitched tones and wobbling melodies evoking childlike wonder. Others, like “Tides V” and “VIII,” provide monolithic, aqueous atmospheres for listeners to soak in. “Tides IX” is the most notably different, featuring a sustained synth note dissolving into an extended field recording. With that particular transition, Smith posits that the invigorating warmth of these songs can be found in nature itself. It can be said, then, that Tides revitalizes listeners who step inside its environment, opening their eyes to the world around them.

“I wrote this record partly to strip mental illness of its power,” says Charlottesville’s Juliana Daugherty of her full-length debut. Captured in the Virginia countryside, Light reveals a songwriter finding quiet confidence amidst personal strife and the political tumult of her hometown. Songs gently sway and swell with understated narrative and unwavering purpose. Daugherty’s nuanced craft—moody, minimalist folk penned with an MFA in poetry, lightly supported at times by keys, bass, and drums—brings to mind “anything from Joni Mitchell to Angel Olsen,” says BrooklynVegan. Through darkness and difficulty arrives a stunning collection, out on Western Vinyl.


It’s hard to imagine that Juliana Daugherty’s softness and subtlety could materialize amid the tumult of current-day Charlottesville, VA, to analyse their every word for some hint of the planet altering political turmoil that engulfed the city during last year’s riots, but every mode of being continues in the people of Charlottesville, as it does elsewhere, despite the impressions headlines might give. Despite the societal ills that dominate our screens, private struggles still exist, and Daugherty’s debut Light gives them palatable, manageable, and satisfying form.

“I wrote this record partly to strip mental illness of its power,” Daugherty says. She adds, “There is nothing useful or beautiful to be gleaned from the experience of depression.” Though this statement seems contrary to the romantic tone of Light, it’s refreshing to hear an artist speak of their own depression with objectivity, unwilling to be charmed by the gloom. Daugherty wields her songcraft like a sword, not a diary to be buried in a drawer.

As one listens, it becomes clear that Light was not a title chosen despite the gravity of its subject matter– romantic struggle, abject depression, and throbbing vulnerability– but rather in service of it. Light, so to speak, comes when we give shape to what haunts us.


Listening to Juliana Daugherty though, you’re reminded of something arguably more important, reminded that as world events occur, the everyday lives of people must carry on. Juliana’s debut album, Light, is a reminder that the private struggle remains. That album will arrive at the start of next month, and ahead of its release, this week Juliana has shared the latest offering from it, new single, Baby Teeth.

Discussing the track Juliana has suggested it is, “essentially a breakup song”only presented with the clarity of time and distance, it serves largely as a chance to, “get the final word in”. Juliana’s background may be classical music, on Baby Teeth though, any sense of layering and complexity is stripped back, to the rawest, most vital bones. Juliana is, for the most part, accompanied by just a muted, rhythmic guitar, allowing her dancing, pirouetting vocal melodies to shine brightly and beautifully. The wonderful vocal tone is easy to get lost in, yet make no mistake, in the lyrics are some painfully barbed words, as she sings, “when it’s just us two, you fill the room making your righteous pronouncements like someone is counting.” Brutal, beautiful music, a winning combo in our book, Juliana Daughtery is shaping up as one of the year’s most intriguing newcomers.


From the debut album Light. Available June 1st, 2018 from Western Vinyl.

It’s been a year since Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith gave us Ears, the album that preceded her latest full-length offering The Kid. Not much breathing room whatsoever, we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

The Kid is, as she described herself, “a journey from birth to death it’s about four stages of life through my interpretation of it. It’s all about remembering and forgetting your kid energy,” and will see Smith embarking on another US tour right after its launch. Four Tet has remixed a song off Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s new album The Kid. Listen to his rendition of “I Will Make Room for You” and check out the single’s artwork below. Four Tet recently released a new album of his own, titled New Energy.


Last year, Smith released two new albums: EARS and a collaborative project with Suzanne Ciani called Sunergy. Earlier this year, she also covered Sade’s “By Your Side.”

Although she has previously unveiled singles ‘To Follow & Lead’, ‘An Intention’, and ‘To Feel Your Best’, the full thing is now available now.


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Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith is incredibly consistant. Last year, she released her electronic album Ears as well as a collaborative project with composer Suzanne Ciani titled Sunergy. Now, she’s back with a new full-length release.

In 2017, the musical term “electronic” is nearly obsolete given the processes in producing music. Even so, the prevailing assumption is that musicians working under this broad umbrella must be inspired by concepts equally as electrified as their equipment. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith has demonstrated in her still-blooming discography that this notion couldn’t be further from the truth, and that more often than not, rich worlds of synthesized sound are born from deep reverence of the natural world. The album, which punctually follows up her 2016 breakthrough Ears, chronicles four defining cognitive and emotional stages of the human lifespan across four sides of a double LP.

The first side takes us through the confused astonishment of a newborn, unaware of itself, existing in an unwitting nirvana. Smith’s music has always woven a youthful thread befitting of the aforementioned subject. Here she articulates it in signature fashion on the track “An Intention,” which serves not only as a soaring spire on The Kid, but on her entire output. There is playfulness here, but it’s elevated by an undertone of gravity into something compelling and majestic that is fast becoming Smith’s watermark. The emotional focus of side two is the vital but underreported moment in early youth when we cross the threshold into self awareness. The subject is profound enough to fill an entire album, but rarely makes its way into a single track, indicating Smith’s ambition to broach subtler and deeper subjects than the average composer. This side offers up another highlight in the form of “In The World But Not Of The World” which serves its subject well with climbing strings and decidedly noisy textures over a near-Bollywood low end pulse.

Side three emphasizes a feeling of being confirmed enough in one’s own identity to begin giving back to the formative forces of one’s upbringing, which is arguably the duty that all great artists aim to fulfill. This side ends with the exploratory album cut “Who I Am & Why I Am Where I Am” recorded in a single take without overdubs on the rare EMS Synthi 100 synthesizer. This humble piece of sound design serves as a contrast to side four’s verdant orchestral moments, all written and arranged for the EU-based Stargaze quartet by Smith herself. This final side represents a return to pure being, the kind of wisdom and peace that eludes most of us until the autumn of life. On “To Feel Your Best” this concept is voiced in the bittersweet refrain “one day I’ll wake up and you won’t be there” which Smith intended to be a grateful acknowledgement of life rather than a melancholy resentment of loss. The song has both effects depending on the mood of the listener, and both interpretations are equally moving.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith belongs to an ilk of modern musicians who are defined by their commitment to creating experiential albums despite the singles-oriented habits of modern listeners, and here she represents her kind proudly. The subjects on The Kid are not simple to convey, and yet through both emotional tone and lyrical content, Smith does just that. There is a similar gravity to both birth and death, and rarely is that correlation as accurately and enthusiastically mapped as it is here. As Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith explores her existence through music, she guides us in gleefully contemplating our own.

The Kid is out on October 6th via Western Vinyl and she’s kicked off the roll-out with the release of lead single ‘An Intention.’


By the time he was 15, singer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Carter Tanton was already playing bar shows in his hometown of Baltimore. Two years later, he caught the attention of Gary E. Smith, best known for discovering and producing The Pixies. After working together for a year, they parted ways, but Tanton never slowed down. In the mid-2000’s he released a couple of EPs with his band Tulsa, prompting Rolling Stone’s David Fricke to claim “…his indie-seraphim voice is not of this world…”, and after a particularly impressive live set KEXP’s John Richards said “…he’s among one of the best singer-songwriters in the country today.”


Over the years, Tanton has toured and recorded with numerous artists including Marissa Nadler, Strand of Oaks, Lower Dens, and The War on Drugs. In 2012, he assembled Freeclouds, his first collection of songs for Western Vinyl. A couple of years later, Tanton moved to England where he wrote all of the songs on his new album Jettison the Valley. His old friend and collaborator Marisa Nadler contributes lead vocals to “Jettison the Valley”, and Sharon Van Etten sings on “Twenty-Nine Palms” and “Through the Garden Gates”.

From the album ‘Jettison the Valley’ out March 4th, 2016 on