A good friend thanked me today for always sharing music with her. I told her that there is nothing I enjoy more than sharing music I love with people I love. It’s the truth. So thank you all, listeners and artists, for allowing me the opportunity to do that! You’re the best.
Bear & Moose / “Bear & Moose” from Bear & Moose (Buy at CD Baby)
These guys are a relatively new Portland two-piece, playing a kind of beat-heavy, slightly mathy jangle rock that has become something of a staple here in the Rose City. Will appeal to fans of Blitzen Trapper, the Joggers, or Helio Sequence. They’re celebrating the release of this excellent double-album somewhat belatedly on January 5th of next year–for those of you in Portland, stop by the Doug Fir!
Cypress String Quartet / “Two Sketches Based on Indian Themes – I. Lento e mesto” (Griffes) from The American Album (Buy at CD Baby)
I don’t know too much about classical music, so I won’t embarrass myself by pretending I do. But I like this album of chamber music from this long-running and well-regarded string quartet from San Francisco. This piece was especially interesting to me for the backstory:
Charles Tomlinson Griffes’ Two Sketches is based on two Native American songs. The members of the Cypress String Quartet have done a great deal of research on which songs Griffes used in his concert work. They spoke with an elder of the Chippewa tribe, and found that the first sketch is based on the “Chippewa Farewell Song,” and the second is part of a Hopi festival. Cypress cellist Jennifer Kloetzel explains further, “The farewell song may have been sung by the tribe’s warriors as they walked to war, and then sung by the tribe’s women and children as they walked back to the village from the battlefield.”
Hiro Kone / “Knives” from Hiro Kone (Buy at CD Baby)
I’ve never really known what to call it when one person calls themselves a band-like name. Is that a band? Solo project? Should I call the person that name? A friend suggested the term “bandle,” as a portmanteau of “band” and “handle.” Works for me. Anyways, Hiro Kone is the bandle of Brooklynite Nicky Mao, who makes spacy, slightly gothy soundscapes above which she lofts her Björk-esque voice. As Village Voice says, “For all the electronics at work, the word that best describes Hiro Kone’s music is earthy.”
Brownbird Rudy Relic / “I’ve Given Up” from I Am the Juke! (Buy at CD Baby)
See how handy that term is? Brownbird Rudy Relic doens’t use his government name, going by his bandle in his ventures as a street performer in New York City and as a prolific vegan blogger. He calls his music “holler blues,” hearkening back to the field songs of the early south.
Lonesome Wyatt and the Holy Spooks / “Long, Long Ago” from Heartsick (Buy at CD Baby)
Lonesome Wyatt and his Holy Spooks aren’t really so lonesome — they’re in good company in the world of gothic folk, joining the likes of Black Heart Procession and Dead Man’s Bones in the creepier corner of the new Americana.