The Judas Horse

judashorse

Another obsession of mine, in case you didn’t know, is music soundtracks. From Twin Peaks to Sweeney Todd (and the not-so-secret-guilty-pleasure Footloose), I love music that blends in visual sounds and musical landscapes. Despite not being part of a soundtrack, The Judas Horse’s EP Holy War would be perfect on a David Lynch or a Gus Van Sant movies. Meghan Mulhearn and Linn Rogers both come from diverse musical backgrounds. After the breakup of their individual former bands Descolada (Meghan) and Birds on the Ground (Linn), The Judas Horse released the first album, Pathfinder, on Descolada Records in June 2009. Dave Lynch joined a few months ago and has made a dramatic impact in the sound of the band. Holy War is the result of different musical sources and stimuli, drawing from both the Gothic tradition and slightly disturbed folk a là Thus:Owl.

Firstly, the use of violin as a third vocalist creates a spectrum of reflections which goes beyond the female/male choruses (Neighbour, Holy War), as the violin-driven Gambit may prove. The EP flows from funereal landscapes to baroque guitar picking, winking at the roughest classical tradition in a crescendo of strings (Chess), proving how instrumental does not necessarily mean flat sound. A doom-y bass line creates a richer and less melancholic outset, which approaches the psychedelic suites of Expo ‘70, in a more acid-infused experience. The songs tend to fluctuate between reverb-esque psychedelic violin-solos and musical climaxes, in a rich kaleidoscope of sounds.

There is harmony and dissonance, a choir of voices and sparks that alternatively clash and conjoin, and a focus mainly around Meghan Mulhearn’s gloomy violin, still with a special attention to the musical universe that revolves about it all. Such a wide palette of colours, that it is almost impossible to place it in this musical mosaic.

Cover Album
Holy War
Similar Artist: Expo 70, This Mortal Coil, Danny Elfmann
Rating:

Tracklist

Taste the Music: Oracle O., The Bonesinner, City Reign, Artifacts

Enjoying the delights of my day off, I started digging into my crammed inbox, searching for some tasty nibbles to play during the other couple of projects I am currently working as PR and general task-wizard. As they proved to be a quite motivating soundtrack for me, I figured I’d share them with you guys.

Enjoy.

Oracle O. – Voodoo Walk

Tribal percussions, war images and fuzzy electric guitar. Oracle O. first single Voodoo Walk for the upcoming debut album Cracking The Eyes (Fuzz Club Records) is a journey through sensuality and brutality. Copenhagen-based Oracle O. perfectly mixes a Carioca background and electric explosions of Chilean guitarist Mauricio Santana. Evocative vocals of Danish/Irish lead-singer Madeleine Kate McGowan make the rest of the magic.

The Bonesinner – Without You

Dusty and crunchy, Without You is a minimal acoustic ballad by The Bonesinner. Comparing himself to artists such as Camarón de la Isla, Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash, Elvis, Robe Iniesta, The Cramps, Sinatra, Nick Drake or Scott Walker, Mario Sanchez Gomez uses the simple devices of a guitar and piano background to deliver some forthright folk. Vocals are clear, enhanced by backing vocals and a Wild West-esque aura: What really moves me to writing music is life, this fucked up, strange life. Everything is love and hate… lots of love and lots of hate.

City Reign – Making Plans

Brian Molko going indie-pop? No worries, it’s just City Reign’s new track Making Plans. Despite the slightly nasal Placebo-like vocals, the single is quite different from the gloom of Brian and co. Catchy and easy to sing-along, the song adds an unexpected electric solo in the end, distancing itself from the general indie-pop vibe which became its trademark.  The band teamed up with Mancunian producer Sam Jones (Alex Turner) to record and re-work the new album Another Step, due for release on 25th February. He took the band into Sacred Trinity Church in Salford – choosing the church for its rich natural reverb, which helped to bring depth to the band’s classic guitar sound.

Artifacts – Echoes

I talked about gloom, but I did not deliver you any reverb-y Editor-y sound so far, did I? Artifacts. are exactly what I needed. Trying to unbound from a specific genre, Artifacts. create a sound packed with delay and backing vocals, adding an electro-hint that blends perfectly with the electric guitar riff – avoiding the “electro 80s zone”. Echoes is now available as a digital download via the band’s website.

Dave Baxter

davebaxter

Have you stocked up on all the cold weeknights essentials? I think I have, to be honest. A lot of chocolate, in various forms? Check. Blankets and uber-fluffy slippers? Check. Movies, books, iMagazines? Check. Suggestive folk tunes? Check. That’s why today I am going to be highly magnanimous and I’ll give you the best week-night music treat. It’s  evocative and it’s honeyed without being too saccharine.

Dave Baxter is the lead singer of Avalanche City. On 16th December 2012 he released his solo EP Let It Go. I know, this was supposed to be a Christmas gift (it’s a free download, everyone), but I discovered it too late, so, let’s call it a belated-Christmas treat.

From the indie folk-pop of Avalanche City, to a minimal piano/guitar release, where this New Zealander musician mixes falsetto, backing vocals and echoes to a translucent effect (the spellbinding Journey). Despite being fragile and silver-toned, the EP jumps from a child-like chiming instrumental interlude in the track with the self-explanatory title Old Memories to magnificent martial drums in the climax of Diamonds. The encounter of drums, piano and a triumphant choir of voices creates such a powerful aura, despite the minimal approach that is perceived throughout the whole release. Between Urusen’s country-vibe ( the instrumental The Way We Were) and Memory House’s bedroom-folk, Let it Go is such a small, harmless gem hidden under the sand, that you’d really miss out not grabbing it.

Cover Album
Let it Go EP
Similar Artist: Lord Huron

Tracklist

01. Whispers
02. The Journey
03. Old Memories
04. White Cliffs
05. The Way We Were
06. Diamonds

150words: Vernon Sélavy, Girless and the Orphan

Vernon Sélavy – Distressed Blues

Fuzz and Delta blues in the same release. What can possibly go wrong? Italian nu-blues is hitting harder than ever, first with Movie Star Junkies, now with the début of Vincenzo Marando, aka Vernon Sélavy. This Turin-based artist draws from, among the others, Sam Cooke, Leonard Cohen and pancakes (quoting the artist). A spicy combination of gloomy lyrics, dusty drums and fuzzy guitars, with a pinch of Delta blues’ nostalgia (All the Sinners) and a profusion of backing vocals. Instead of enhancing the upbeat-catchy side of such a multifarious genre, Vernon Sélavy does what he knows the best, providing exquisite melancholic, distressed blues.

Cover Album
Distressed Blues
Similar Artist: Sam Cooke, Movie Star Junkies
Rating:

Girless & the Orphan – Nothing To Be Worried About Except Everything But You

Fuzz-folk. Here, ladies and gentlemen, stands a new sub-genre. The hybrid of dark folk (fuzz, lo-fi) and folk-pop (cheerful and snappy), fuzz-folk is the genre you will associate to the Italian act Girless & the Orphan. Sometimes winking at the 90s R.E.M.-styledlo-fi rock (Bad Scene, Your Fault) and sometimes to some minimal bedroom folk (It’s Your Job to Keep Class-Worm Elite), with acoustic guitar and finger-picking. However, it all flows perfectly smoothly, also when anger sneaks in Cinnamon and Arrogance (just the name is beautiful, to be honest!). A pretty late autumn gem, free download below.

Cover Album
Nothing To Be Worried About Except Everything But You
Similar Artist: R.E.M., Pocket Chestnuts
Rating:

Algernon Doll

Algernon Doll - Promo 1

Ah, England, you and your light drizzle. You really know how to start a Friday morning with the right foot. If you feel a bit gloomy yourself, you may be in the right state of mind for this raw alt-folk-ish gem. I’d rather not call it folk, as the music itself draws from such a rich spectrum of references.

Camomile is Algernon Doll’s journey through a difficult year dealing with the mentally debilitating toils of extreme anxiety disorder and bipolar. After having experienced with the punk and hardcore scene, Algernon Doll, moniker for Ewan Grant, progressed his sound  to the next level, in order to exorcise his own demons. Camomile leads us to the deep meanders of his own mind, using music as a vehicle of emotions.

The acoustic guitar picking keeps clashing with the tense background made of cello intermissions and and interferences, almost emphasising the power that bipolar disorder exerts on music (I tried…, Son of a Gun, brother to None). Vocals are almost about to crack with emotion, haunted by spooky backing vocals and echoes, stressing on the feeling of paranoia that crawls during the the whole full length (Tender Attention). In a roller-coaster of sensations, the album goes from reveberber-y new wave hints (Strung Between, Feather to Fall), to some minimal acoustic tracks, slightly warmer in the sweet-sour approach (Coast). The gloomy atmosphere will slowly blur, as the subtle feedback crescendos explode from the tension reached, leaving the helpless listener surrounded by a Twilight Singer-esque gothic aura (Styrofoam Eyes). The album slowly leads to a Jeff Buckley-like confession with the closure of the title-track Camomile, in which the frustration is explicated via a barely audible distortion, that will eventually lead to full fireworks.

As you may know by now, I like to challenge myself exploring “difficult” albums, as life is not all made of sunshine pop sugary landscapes and unicorns. As an intimate statement of human suffering and frustration, Camomile is one of a kind.

Cover Album
Camomile
Similar Artist: Jeff Buckley, Twilight Singer
Rating:

Tracklist
1. The Great Western Snowfield
2. Spiral Sounds
3. I Tried…
4. Styrofoam Eyes
5. Coast
6. Feather to a Fall
7. Intermission (Apology #1)
8. Son of a Gun, Brother to None
9. Tender Attention
10. Strung Between
11. My Apologies
12. Camomile

Interview (eng/ita) with Missincat

Caterina Barbieri, aka Missincat, is an Italian folk-songwriter now living in Berlin. Now in her homecountry to promote the new album ‘Wow’, Caterina found some time to have a chat and talk about Berlin, Italy, Aussie music and bare foot in the snow. If you haven’t already, you can just taste the album below, and let it be the soundtrack of this intimate interview.

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