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Alt Folk

49 Burning Condors are arrestingly ablaze in their Southern Gothic album, Seventh Hymnal

49 Burning Condors released a strong contender for the album of the year with their latest tribally awakening release, Seventh Hymnal. Penned during lockdown, the 7-track release traverses some tender topics; with the sonorous amalgam of goth rock and occultist alchemy, it is as bewitching as it is emboldening.

It isn’t often I’m left speechless. But considering the very nature of Seventh Hymnal is to express what can never be portrayed through words alone, the arrested daze that 49 Burning Condors left me in speaks volumes of their ability to run with an powerful concept and take you along for the visceral ride until you’re subsequently soothed by the sonic vernacular.

The album opens on the swampy stripped-back bluesy single, Bayou, before Little Death delivers a haunting ode to frailty through baroque strings, sparse vocals and hypnotic percussion. Track 3, Willow Tree, lets the compassion pour through the gentle folkish melodicism before Red Drum Skin will make you want to lead a sacrificial lamb to slaughter. Track 5, Noonday, one of the previously released singles stands as a profound testament to the vocal soul from Kimber before the album concludes on the sorrowfully sublime title single, which is just as cinematic as Ramin Djawadi’s work on Westworld.

Here’s what 49 Burning Condors have to say about their latest release:

“Seventh Hymnal was written during the pandemic; a time of abounding uncertainty, where death loomed around every corner, and chaos lingered in our world, homes, and veins. Our songs are dripping with stories of grief, bodies floating down the river, men drowning to a siren’s song, and of the gods worshipped, who ultimately turned calamitous.

Seventh Hymnal is not only an outpouring of all the things we wanted to say but couldn’t express in regular words to those we loved and even to ourselves, but a benediction and examination of a woman’s role of power in the world of men.”

Seventh Hymnal will stream across all platforms from September 7th. Hear it on SoundCloud and Spotify.

For more info, head over to their official website or follow them on Instagram.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Deep Sea Tourist explored our embitteringly perplexing world in his alt-folk single, Bodies

Scottish singer-songwriter, Deep Sea Tourist, channelled the melodious evocativeness of Frightened Rabbit in his alt-folk single, Bodies, taken from his 2022 album, Everything Will Be Okay, Probably.

The loss of Scott Hutchinson left a massive empathy-shaped hole in the Scottish indie scene. If anyone has the astute compassion to fill it, it is Deep Sea Tourist. He dove deep into introspection to pull out comforting melancholy and blissfully resolving acoustic melodies accentuated by folky strings.

Bodies almost unravels as an intimate conversation on the confusion that transpires when we try to excavate an understanding of our human experience in this ever-perplexing and imbittering world. Bodies is genuinely one of the most stunning singles I have listened to this year. If I wasn’t on so many antidepressants, the floodgates would have undoubtedly opened to the tune of it.

Everything Will Be Okay, Probably is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Intuitively spiritual rhythm meets sensual folk in DORA GOLA’s latest single, Dance with Danger

If any track is going to tempt the weary and wary out of their comfort zones after sanity diminishing lockdowns, it is the artfully fierce electronic folk-pop earworm, Dance with Danger, from the spiritually magnetic singer-songwriter, DORA GOLA.

With the intuitiveness of the rhythm, you scarcely need her bio to tell you that she’s a dancer. Her connection to music is enviably strong, but at least she’s had the grace to share her natural gift with the world through emboldening hits that tease your rhythmic pulses as much as they stir the soul.

Following the release of Dance with Danger, the Poland-born, West Ireland-based artist will continue to make her discography a rediscovery of ancestral roots, mystery and sensuality. We can’t wait to hear what follows. She shines luminously bright in a sea of ego-driven artists.

Dance with Danger will hit the airwaves on June 17th. Stream it here.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Robin Lewis speaks for the malaised in his Waitsy Americana acoustic rock single, No Light

Armed with his trusty resonator guitar and Gibson 63, the BMI published folk singer-songwriter & producer, Robin Lewis, has released his Americana acoustic rock heartbreaker of a Waitsy release, No Light, taken from his moody and retrospective lockdown-born album, Everyone Has a Story.

No Light was compassionately composed for listeners all too accustomed to the days which become signified by malaise. In all sincerity, it imparts solace in the reminder that the sun sets on even the darkest of days. Lockdown releases may often get tarred with the same trite brush, but No Light will be resonant for years to come. It’s a stunning exposition of the collective state of our consciousness; now that we know the ‘new normal’ generally blows and there’s no putting the gloss back on the facade of our modern existence. We honestly couldn’t be more psyched to have Lewis on our radar. We’d advise that you reserve him space on yours.

No Light, taken from Robin Lewis’ album, Everyone Has a Story, was officially released on May 16th. You can check it out for yourselves by heading over to SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

 

Michael R Shaw is set to release his feat of dark-folk redemption ‘Lord of All’

Michael R Shaw

Lancashire singer-songwriter Michael R Shaw has teased the humility and ornate originality in his upcoming album by giving us a preview of the short and profound dark-folk single, Lord of All.

Straight away the Nick Cave, Guy Garvey, and Richard Hawley influences start to resound around Shaw’s art-folk ingenuity which carries a touch of tenderness, poetry exhumed from a plaintive soul and a bold alchemic appeal that almost takes this folk track to a celestial level. It certainly wouldn’t be out of place on the Peaky Blinders soundtrack. Lord of All could have been the track to prevent the criminally excessive use of Red Right Hand.

Lord of All is the intro to Shaw’s upcoming album, which is due for release on September 1st, 2022. Check out Michael R Shaw via his website and SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

J.R. August delivered the antidote to our spiritually dilapidated materiality with his Sophomore LP, Still Waters

After picking up a nomination for the IMPALA Album of the Year and 5 Porin Awards with his 2019 debut LP, Dangerous Waters, the mystically eloquent Croatian singer-songwriter, composer, pianist and composer, J.R. August, has released his sophomore LP, Still Waters.

When we first heard his arresting originality back in 2018, we scarcely imagined room for improvement in his naturalistically narrative style. With Still Waters, he’s moved even more dauntlessly into his expressive diction and sonic depictions of biblical iconography, which intersect with artful constructs, dreamlike epiphany, and profound consideration of the elements of nature that we’ve crawled away from.

Still Waters, which was penned in late 2020, captures our adrift and enraged distrust and disinterest in others, where the most pertinent goal is the next drip of dopamine – by any means necessary. The panic attack-inspired opening single, Dealing with the Pain, achieves what so many of us fail to do. – artistically or otherwise. It digs up the raw emotions that follow the reality-warping panic attacks that draw each breath from the atmosphere with the paralysing spikes of cortisol.

Subversively, it forces you to consider the paradoxical nature of our fear that cows us into silence on the subject of it. Especially when the disjointed sense of connection is one of the main reasons for our primal fear and despondence. The asphyxiated breath at the outro jaggedly hammers home just how much Dealing with the Pain was a personal reality.

Track 2, I Forgive Her, carries a similar celestial pull that many became enamoured with when J.R. August became the best-selling artist in Croatia with his debut LP. Yet as a contrast to the gospel-Esque timbre, there’s the unremitting turbulence that becomes a signifying shadow across the expanse of the album.

Goddess of The Flame runs through as an impassioned proclamation of the kind of affection and devotion that leaves you pious to the sheer all-encompassing emotional gravity while the instrumentals scintillate on the very same frequency as those unfalteringly unconditional feelings.

Hope acts as a reflective instrumental divide between the preceding singles and the following five that reveal the progressively candid nature of Still Waters. The tender piano score becomes both a testament to the compositional tenacity of J.R. August and the perfect meditative break before you’re thrown into the Radiohead-reminiscent desert folk single, Divine Intervention.

Track 8, Release Me from My Sin, is a sorrowfully profound confession that exposes more of JR August’s soul than you have seen before, but every piece of the portrait draws you in through the urgency in the plea for salvation. If any song can show you the true universality of human suffering and affirm that those shamefully all-encompassing emotions should never be affixed to shame, it’s Release Me From My Sin.

For the concluding single, Lonely, J.R. August leans even deeper into a sense of mysticism while teasing a new salaciously poetic side as he carries the same daringly revealing tone on from Release Me From My Sin. The lyrics are beyond cathartic to hear; I can’t even begin to imagine how it felt to verse them into such a phenomenally ethereal piece.

The most beautiful thing that an artist can do is dare say what creeps around the most private corners of our mind to give that blissful feeling of hearing vocalised what has only been whispered in staunch psychological silence. That’s exactly where J.R August triumphed in Still Waters. Between each of the nine tracks, all the most innately beautiful phenomena in our 21st-century-choked reality appear; it’s enough to restore your faith in humanity.

Still Waters was officially released on April 15th. You can check it out for yourselves on all platforms via this link.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Shane Cooley finds freedom in isolation in his alt-indie-folk single, Coyote

https://soundcloud.com/shanecooley/shane-cooley-coyote-radio-edit/s-3SBTPIaFsbn?utm_source=clipboard&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=social_sharing

Inspired by tumultuous times and personal emotional upheavals, the acclaimed alt indie-folk singer-songwriter, Shane Cooley, stepped into the metaphysical wild to create his seminal upcoming album, Forest. The first single to be released, Coyote, is a hauntingly euphonic hit that blends tonal palettes of Jack White and Elliott Smith while experimenting with artful simplicity and the dust of desert rock. Vocally, Cooley parallels Grandaddy with his honeyed high timbres that still resonate as organic despite the raised velvety pitches.

With lyrics that run like wild poetry, “A coyote/In grown man’s clothing/Forever lonely/Forever free/Down in the valley/Out on the streets/If you push me/ I’ll show my teeth”, this modernised feat of indie-folk Americana won’t fail to reel you into the themes of isolation and freedom, which are proven to be two of the same.

We can’t wait to hear what the rest of his seminal LP delivers. The Richmond, VA artist may be flying under a lot of people’s radars. Yet, it is only a matter of time before he gets full recognition for his inexplicably honed-in talent and instantly magnetic charisma as a songwriter.

Coyote will officially drop on April 8th, 2022. You can check it out for yourselves by heading over to Bandcamp.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Colin Clyne sings the blues in his profoundly plaintive alt-folk single, Wishing Winter Away

Colin Clyne

The endlessly accoladed Aberdeen alt-folk singer-songwriter, Colin Clyne sang the blues in his orchestrally decorated raw Americana single, Wishing Winter Away; winter’s teeth have scarcely seemed sharper than when they bit into the warmed sepia tones.

The roots of folk sway in the highly evocative melodies, but Clyne also discernibly has a knack for modernising profoundly plaintive folk. With his Waitsy vocal timbre that shares the same honeyed whiskey-soaked gravity falling over the arresting acoustic guitar progressions as they weave around the striking keys and classic strings, it is enough to test your soul’s capacity to feel. Or at the very least leave you yearning for summer.

Check out Colin Clyne on his official site, Instagram, and Facebook.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Spotlight Feature: Get elementally radiant with Laura Loh’s latest alt-pop single, Morning Light

There has been no stopping the Hampshire, UK-based singer-songwriter Laura Loh since she released her debut EP in 2020. She has been lauded by BBC Introducing, taken to stages at Weyfest, ValeFest and Westival, and even recorded vocals at the infamous Abbey Road Studios.

Now, she’s here with her optimistic blend of alt-pop and folk, Morning Light, which brings her background of classical and jazz music into the luminous mix, which serves as the perfect reminder of the pleasure we can take by simple yet stunning facets of nature. Yet, cleverly, Morning Light is simultaneously a parable of the radiance that the right people can spark within us. My soul feels infinitely lighter for hearing the emotional depth in Loh’s smooth vocal lines and the intricately ascending melodies. Loh knew exactly where to greet you with pools of shimmering reverb for transcendent effect. We can’t wait to hear what follows.

Morning Light was officially released on March 4th. You can check it out for yourselves by heading over to SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Bluebyrd cut through the static in their latest alt-folk single, Too Much Noise

Too much noise by Bluebyrd

The Wolverhampton, UK-based alt-folk duo, Bluebyrd, has aurally triumphed once again with their latest single, Too Much Noise, which cuts through the static in our cacophonous existence.

For anyone that acquired a new level of overwhelmed anxiety as a parting gift from the pandemics and other chaos that leaves us feeling powerless, Too Much Noise should be considered an essential release. Not only do Bluebyrd deliver resonance hand over fist, but they also create a cathartic indie-folk soundscape that sits somewhere between Cohen, Billy Brag, Semisonic and the Levellers. I couldn’t think of a better new release to drown out the world to.

Too Much Noise was officially released on January 28th. It is now available to stream and purchase via Bandcamp.

Review by Amelia Vandergast