In Notes From Left of the Dial this week, Nooga.com spends time with new music from Maybe Canada, Cajsa Siik, Wild Skies and Bat House. What have you been listening to this week?
Maybe Canada, "Ruined Hearts"
The work of Swedish singer-songwriter Magnus Hansson (AKA Maybe Canada) feels drawn from the scenic landscapes that litter his hometown of Gothenburg. Through a collection of impressionistic influences—namely traditional folk and country, with an echo of modern pop—he fashions spacious and gossamer filaments of sound attuned to specific emotions and events. His ability to effortlessly evoke acres of deep-seated affection is a testament to how well he understands the interconnected associations inherent to these particular sounds.
On his new song, "Ruined Hearts," Hansson paints a gorgeously pastoral landscape with hushed acoustic rhythms and a shuffling percussive framework. Drawing comparisons to Ryan Adams and Cass McCombs, his sound is a wonderful amalgam of inspirations tied to a casual country gait. His voice is a languid liquid constant, with a striking and measured cadence that plays off these sounds with a practiced ease. "Ruined Hearts" is an unabashedly emotional series of experiences that explores our connections with the people who filter through our lives.
Cajsa Siik, "Talk to Trees"
The movements and motivations behind Swedish artist Cajsa Siik's graceful and intense music are intrinsically tied to the looping melodies that find weight within her voice. She forms spherical synth pop constellations and proceeds to thread a woodsy, singer-songwriter narrative through this artificial environment. The resulting mass of noise and pop-minded elasticity conveys a wealth of influence and intent without sacrificing Siik's singular wit and identity. And she'll continue to work through these sounds when her new record, "Domino," comes out in April.
On her latest single, "Talk to Trees," Siik fuses an inimitable blend of folk and pop muses to create a truly otherworldly collection of sounds. According to her, the song explores "madness, brawls, truth and illusion"; and within its relatively brief existence, it perfectly expands upon these complex ideas. Her voice positions itself gently inside your head, a ghostly thing that calls out to you from the dark, drawing you closer to both the light and the darkness. Anchored by a sparkling pop intuition wrapped up in a folksy atmosphere, the track reveals the ethereal divide that exists between these sounds.
Wild Skies, "Fumes & Faith"
Collaboration is at the heart of music—whether it's the meeting of minds within a band or the collusion of influences outside a formal group setting. For Chicago band Wild Skies, this amalgamated sound is the result of individuals with drastically different backgrounds and musical lineages. Bringing together an opera singer, a jazz musician, a prog rock guitarist and a Bob Dylan cover band drummer, Wild Skies is the result of a brash barrage of inspirations—yet, with all these contrasting tendencies, the band never feels like anything less than a completely singular purveyor of graceful and bombastic folk rhythms and melodies.
On their recent single, "Fumes & Faith," the band wanders through a pristine Americana landscape where the scars of past loves mingle with the hopes of the future. Guitars shimmer in the shadows while voices are raised together and thrown out against the world. Persuasive in its simplicity of earnest emotion, the song transcends its own folk rock history to approach a more communal awareness. There's a freeing sense of momentum that allows the song to leave the confines of its earthly origins and drift upward toward the lower atmosphere, to a place where the distillation of all these sounds and experiences results in a pure folk euphoria that washes over you in dramatic tidal motions.
Bat House, "Yarn"
The calculated noise of Boston math rock/psych outfit Bat House is built from an expansive and intricate web of influences and experiences. It's steeped in exponential rhythmic equations and extended guitar-driven sounds. Composed of singer-bassist Emmet Hayes, drummer Nicole Pompei, guitarist Alexandra Juleen and guitarist Shane Blank, the band draws inspiration from the works of bands like Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Tame Impala but places their own distinct imprint on these complicated and multijointed rock revelations. The band is gearing up for the release of their forthcoming self-titled record, due out April 14.
With "Yarn," the band's latest song from their upcoming release, they twist their psych and algebraic melodies into a dense latticework of sound and intent. Guitars splinter and crawl across the studio floor, looking for ways to put themselves back together. Voices collide, rebound and reassemble in complex structures—it's not simple, but the band still makes it absolutely relatable. Drawn by the inherent gravity of its arrangements, you can't help but become hopelessly lost in its orbit. With "Yarn" as a measure of the new record's spirit and tenacity, it appears that April 14 can't get here soon enough.
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.