Listen to this fantastic new orchestral track, “Brush Social Club”, from artist Jason Nolan. I don’t think I’m breaking any confidence in saying that he sent this track to me with a message that read, “I think you may like my latest track.” The answer is a resounding yes. The song begins with slow drumming, a clack and clunk of clutter, dissonant piano chords and a repeated lyric. It’s a slow-building track, that seems to piece together disparate elements, not unlike the fragmented artwork that accompanies the song and the title that conjures familiar words in a form that may make little sense to the listener but much to the Oxted Town musician himself. Even the song itself seems to exist as contradiction — isolated and echoed vocals (“I’ve got no place to go / When there’s nothing left”) are the lonely and fragile half of a song that also imparts warmth through intimacy and conveyance. There’s a quietude to “Brush Social Club”, as it’s a club of one blossoms subtly into many — joined layered vocals and a blanket of gorgeous, dramatic, sweeping strings, like a long-lost Youth Lagoon track. Follow Nolan at facebook. Note: All lyrics are unofficial. – David D. Robbins Jr.
Japan’s wonderful Cuushe (aka Mayuko Hitotsuyanagi) has scaled back the experimental digital side of her earlier tracks, like her work on 2013’s Butterfly Case, and added another style to her expanding repertoire. This time around she’s venturing into a more seductive R&B sound with “Tie”, creating a more traditionally melodic track, with lush repeated vocals and entrancing rhythms. “Tie” is one song off Night Lines, her first release for Cascine and fourth for Japan’s flau label. Follow Cuushe at facebook. – David D. Robbins Jr.
You can stream the French-Cuban sister combo Ibeyi’s (Naomi and Lisa-Kainde Diaz) first LP over at NPR’s First Listen. It’s a cool record that blends rich R&B, nu-soul and Afro-Cuban rhythms with polyphonic backing vocals and harmonies. It’s only in this era where music can birth sounds like this, mixing different cultures, beliefs and genres into the vast description-less, melting pot that modern music has become. The ladies come from a grand musical tradition too — they’re the daughters of famed Cuban percussionist, Anga Díaz, who was a member of Buena Vista Social Club. The closest companion to this style of sound may be the great Zap Mama. One of my favorite tracks is a piano-based song called “Ghosts”, which you can hear below. (Or watch Ibeyi perform the song live thanks to Deezer.) You can follow the duo at facebook and twitter. The album is out February 17th via XL Recordings. – David D. Robbins Jr.
Feast on falsetto and gentle electronics on this new seductive love song from Glendale, California’s mAsis called “Make Me Higher”, which is also the name of their upcoming EP release. The song is a soulful dreamscape about love: “Your warmth is my sunlight / Your truth is my air / Feeling free to live with arms open wide / Always knowing you’ll be there.” Note: All lyrics are unofficial. – David D. Robbins Jr.
What can I say I about this new Inti Rowland track, but that it’s one of the best songs I’ve heard this year? I was stunned when I first heard it. It takes only a few seconds into “Masks of Winter”, right when the strings and the guitar rhythm kicks in to hear what makes it so pretty. It reminded me of some of the more sedate and seductive Belle and Sebastian tracks, but for the lush, teeming strings that build into a full-on chorus at the end of the track. Yes, there are touches of Nick Drake and Vashti Bunyan, as the promo copy suggests, with hints of The Low Anthem and the more luscious vocal harmonizing of Mutual Benefit. The arrangement of “Masks of Winter” is marvelous — textures are ornate, refined and complex as might befit an artist with years of experience — or in this case a musician with a few friends accenting a record with cello, violin, dulcimer, fluglehorn and cornet. “Masks of Winter” is a single off the artist’s upcoming release, 17th Century Japanese Aviary, out April 13th. It was recorded in six days in a converted chapel in the Scottish Highlands. You can listen to a second track, the solemn “Mongolian Hunters” at bandcamp. This record is Rowland’s third release, following Eyes Of A Starling EP (2012) and The Ballad Of The Ballroom Ghost EP (2011). Follow Inti Rowland at facebook and twitter. – David D. Robbins Jr.