In Notes From Left of the Dial this week, Nooga.com spends some time with new music from Andrew Joslyn, Blake Rainey & His Demons, Katie Burden and Solilians. What have you been listening to this week?
Andrew Joslyn, "Plastic Heaven" (featuring Will Jordan)
The work of composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Joslyn is marked by a desire for innovation and an impulse to explore the shadowy recesses of familiar sounds. Having worked with artists ranging from Mark Lanegan (Queens of the Stone Age) to Doug Martsch (Built to Spill) to David Bazan (Pedro the Lion)—among countless others—Joslyn uses his knowledge of, and affection for, classical history to offer an insular outlook on current musical trends. With the release of his debut solo album, "Awake at the Bottom of the Ocean," due out sometime next year, he further investigates the nuance and rhythmic variety of this aesthetic with a highly adaptable approach to arrangement and production.
On his new single, "Plastic Heaven," he uses his classical background to create a whirling parade of strings, beats and the emotional sounds of guest singer Will Jordan's voice. Intricacy and depth to the arrangements only reveal themselves after repeated listens. You're immediately struck by the grand work of Joslyn's orchestrations, but the smaller details that come later really provide proof of his tremendous capacity to reach inside your heart and pry those cracks open wide enough to let some light shine through. Lyrically, "Plastic Heaven" deals with how fame and celebrity can wear away a person's identity and happiness; and through these tangled visions, we're given cryptic, caustic answers that strike at the hearts of who we are as individuals.
Blake Rainey & His Demons, "Trouble on Holiday"
Atlanta-based folk rock outfit Blake Rainey & His Demons are storytellers above all else. With every turned melody and rustic rhythm, they discover the heart of what it means to use music to pass on stories from one generation to the next. Melding classic rock's mix of bravado and vulnerability with a graceful folk veneer, they fashion a sound that's as familiar as it is affecting. The band is set to release their newest record, "Helicopter Rose," Dec. 9; and they populate these songs with tales of desperate men, lost love and the realities of modern living—really, just the basic stuff when it comes to exploring the significant moments of every day that provide us with the motivation and determination to carry on, despite a host of difficulties.
On their new single, "Trouble on Holiday," Rainey and the band find a balance between the raucous blue-collar attitude of Bruce Springsteen and the lyrical wordplay of Elvis Costello. There's a tangible twang, but it's less a distinguishing attribute and more a gentle nudge toward the bucolic back road narratives common to the landscape of Rainey's native Georgia. This track brings some muscular guitar riffs and a melodic urgency to bear on the inherent conviviality that has been built up over his past few records. "Trouble on Holiday" is what you'd get if Tom Petty and Nick Lowe sat down together to write a song steeped in the perspectives of someone who's spent their whole life in the Deep South.
Katie Burden, "Don't Ask"
Los Angeles musician Katie Burden has a voice that casts shadows in direct sunlight—it's so expressive and weighed down with experience that there's no way to avoid the pull of its presence. She works through some dense psych rumblings and revelations that shed light on the origins of her musical instincts. Having gained insight and support through a meditation retreat, she began the long process of culling the noise in her head down into manageable chunks of sound. These bits and fragments formed the foundation of her latest album, "Strange Moon," which was released by Cautionary Tail Records and found her exploring some wild and unfettered parts of her psyche.
For the video to "Don't Ask," Burden paired with director Marta Dymek to provide a suitably noirish atmosphere to the song's psych-enriched moods. A wonderful ambiguity marks Burden as a unique and unfiltered talent—one whose abilities aren't limited by her influences but are enhanced by their histories. Drums pound and thud against your chest while her voice sinks its teeth into your heart. Providing some truly memorable movements is dancer Alexander Brown, an artist who creates emotion through a series of elucidatory motions. The song spills over with a voyeuristic intimacy, the kind that creates an almost unbearable level of awareness between artist and audience.
Solilians, "Hine Ma Tov (Merc Yes Mix)"
Born from stardust and whatever sounds were left over from the Big Bang, the music of Solilians possesses a unique and universal viewpoint. Composed of Sharon Malkin, Benjamin Malkin, Gabriel Walsh and Neptune Sweet, the band looks upward and out to find their deepest inspirations. Scraps of electronic ephemera blend with distinct prog pop undulations to form the basis of their work. And with the forthcoming release of their new record, "Shin," Nov. 18, the band is laying the foundation for an entirely new and expansive musical journey, one that isn't bound by genres or traditions, only the collective thoughts of a group of people with some particularly uncommon interests.
On their latest single, "Hine Ma Tov (Merc Yes Mix)," the band presents a collection of liquid rhythms and cosmic rock currents that sway in time to the swirling eddies of your imagination. Their aim is lofty, with a cacophony of sounds stretching their fingers toward heaven, but the band is able to provide the necessary lift that the song demands, creating a landscape that is equal parts Stereolab and Brian Eno. It's experimental in that it flexes its muscles to shape the air around it instead of allowing any outside factors to tint its musical identity. With every listen, some new sound creeps into your head, giving you a completely new perspective on just how inclusive the band really is.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.