In Notes From Left of the Dial this week, Nooga.com spends time with new music from Annabelle's Curse, City Mouse, Oak House and Rosie Carney. What have you been listening to this week?
Annabelle's Curse, "Be Here Now"
The work of alt folk outfit Annabelle's Curse is grounded in the breezy rhythms and spacious melodies inherent to the history of traditional folk and bluegrass. But there's more to their sound than a checklist of influences—they mold these familiar sounds into oddly built soundscapes and textures. Where most bands would be content to associate themselves tangentially to this lineage, Annabelle's Curse wants much more from their inspirations. And over the course of their past few records, the band has gone from exploring the acoustic aspects of these genres to working their way through a more electrified musical environment.
On their new single, "Be Here Now" (taken from forthcoming EP "Here & Now"), the band shuffles through a bucolic preoccupation with the ways the electric and acoustic sides of their various personalities maintain a precarious balance. They still owe an allegiance to the rustic ruminations of their musical ancestors, but there's also an urge to break away from those same sounds. They blend these divergent rhythmic ideologies perfectly, resulting in a pastoral explosion that sends bits of electric and acoustic guitars in all directions. Blending their voices together in a beautiful racket, the band infuses this track with a complex and unpredictable melodic motivation.
City Mouse, "Bloodshot Eyes"
Formed in 2013, Atlanta-based City Mouse (AKA Brian Revels, Jenna Mobley and Michael Hudgins) basks in a distinctly energized Americana sound. After a period of extensive touring, however, the band was reduced to being a Revels solo project—although he continues to have help from a cadre of various Atlanta musicians. The latest record to bear the City Mouse name will be released sometime later this year and features contributions from all original members of the band. Dubbed "The Sanguine Sessions," these songs are drawn from real and imagined experiences, and possess a candid wit and wisdom that influence every movement that the music makes.
On recent single "Bloodshot Eyes," Revels and his musical compatriots fashion a churning Appalachia-inspired waltz that evokes wind-swept hills and fog-covered fields buried deep within wooded mountains. Bringing to mind the music of Ryan Adams and Cass McCombs, the song reveals expansive string arrangements and a delicate folk inspiration that shivers and shakes in the cool evening air. Throughout the track, we're given a series of emotional revelations that show how love and its all-encompassing perspective can help drag us out of some very bad habits. We're greeted by the strum of an acoustic guitar and given a tour of the wondrous noise that surrounds us at any given time.
Oak House, "Esque"
Some musicians work best when focused on a single sound, where they're able to pinpoint their strength and hone in on some specific musical ideology. However, other bands prefer to mix things up, to crank up the experimentation and dive headfirst into the unknown. For Athens, Georgia, band Oak House, the tendency is to shred expectation and go for the heart of their wildly unpredictable influences. They mix a heady rush of grunge, psych, indie rock and experimental noise in their never-ending search for the noise that echoes throughout their collective subconscious. And with the release of their upcoming record, "Hot or Mood," the band looks to further cement their eclectic perspective.
With their new song, "Esque," they take a handful of sounds and compact them tightly in their hands, creating a mishmash of rhythms and patterns that contract and expand in regular increments. Tossing in bits of classical influence with a bit of guitar-driven rock, they form a cloudy haze of ecstatic sensation and rambunctious melodicism. Balancing measured vocals (courtesy of singer-guitarist Gresham Cash) with whizzing electronics and a complex rhythm section, this track is a perfect example of Oak House's evocatively disparate aesthetic. But like a dream, it's only after the fact that any individual moment calls attention to itself. As the music soars and spikes, it all feels bound within a cohesive musical persuasion.
Rosie Carney, "Awake Me"
Irish songwriter Rosie Carney enjoys the relevance of communal melodies and shared musical associations. Her work is inclusive but specific—the emotions and experiences that she wanders through to find her purpose are dense and complicated, but she travails them with little apparent difficulty. With a voice that seems to hover between our world and someplace much more intangible, she conjures restless spirits and gauzy textures that help shape her impressionistic folk visions. Despite her youthful appearance, Carney holds to some distinctly mature themes and ideas. For her, age isn't a prerequisite for knowledge, as within her layered experiences lays a truly heartbreaking understanding of the world around her.
For the video to her latest song, "Awake Me," Carney opts for an ethereal casing, a cocoon of warmth and ghostly emotion that completely wraps around you. Built around her powerful and persuasive voice, this song shows that subtle arrangements and simple emotion can feel as devastating as the loudest burst of anger. As we follow Carney through an abandoned house and adjacent woods, it feels as though we're given an intimate glimpse into her cloistered world, a brief but gorgeous tour through her inspirations. Propelled by a soft but constant bit of guitar work, "Awake Me" finds her reveling in haunting catharses and a tender emotional inclusion—it's soothing and spectral.
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.