New Music Tuesday: Laura Marling • Mount Kimbie • Baths • CocoRosie

Every Tuesday, we focus on new music releases by naming our top tracks, album highlights, lowlights and important takeaways for select albums.

Laura MarlingOnce I Was An Eagle

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“I Was An Eagle”
“Saved These Words”
“Where Can I Go”

Album Highlights: Sophisticated 23-year old folk troubadour Laura Marling has a remarkably prodigious output since her first record Alas, I Cannot Swim, which was released in the UK in 2008. Fast-forward to her fourth and best LP in five years Once I Was an Eagle, and it become less and less hyperbolic to declare Marling a virtuoso songwriter, a living legend in the making. The English performer’s distinct vocal range, including the gurgle-tinged Kermit the Frog voice on the baritone introduction of “You Know”, tees up the high notes, making them all the more effective. There are a handful of classics on the sixteen song (!) LP with “I Was An Eagle”, “Master Hunter” & “Where Can I Go?”, but Marling’s biggest success here is creating a cohesive piece that thrives as a whole, not a collection of individual songs. Once I Was An Eagle quickly establishes the illusion of a continuous performance, as Marling doesn’t allow the songs to fully end for the first four tracks, a span of 18 minutes. The tracks transition ever so smoothly to the next song, and Marling proved the first four tracks are meant to be ingested as a suite of songs by creating a breathtaking 18-minute music video to accompany the opening section of this album (view it above). This record doesn’t have too many over-the-top, standout moments – instead it’s steady and successful throughout.

Album Lowlight: A little trimming would have helped with excellent LP – some of the slower ballads like “Little Love Caster” and “Interlude” could have been cut to create a tight, 12 track classic. But hemming and hawing like this is trivial – Once I Was an Eagle is one of the best singer-songwriter albums of the year.

Takeaway: At this current pace, Laura Marling seems to be a name that can go to the top of the female singer-songwriter list with Joan Baez, Emmylou Harris & Joni Mitchell. Marling’s vocal stylings can be reminiscent of the three mentioned legends, but Marling’s messages of female empowerment, which could also be viewed as a strong feminist songwriting point of view, is common throughout her short career and even more prominent in Once I Was An Eagle. For example, in the track “I Was An Eagle”, Marling sings “When we were in love, if we were, I was an eagle and you were a dove… I will not be a victim of romance or circumstance…You were a dove and I rose above you and preyed.” In a striking analogous way, Marling reverses traditional gender roles, which is especially effective within the patriarchal world of contemporary music. Themes of regret and love lost dominate the songwriting in a more general sense; at the end of the opening suite in “Breathe”, Marling says “You wanna woman who’ll call your name, it ain’t me babe.” With such strong songwriting, lyrically and instrumentally, it should be noted how good Marling is now, not some time in the future.

~Mike Frash

Mount KimbieCold Spring Fault Less Youth

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“Home Recording”
“You Took Your Time” (feat. King Krule)
“Made to Stray”

Album Highlights: Mount Kimbie has delivered yet another beaming release that screams progression and forward thinking in a populous era for electronic-oriented music. Cold Spring is one beastly departure from an incredible first LP, Crooks & Lovers, shifting ever slightly more to instrumentation over programming, not to mention much more live vocals, primarily handled by fellow British heat-seeker King Krule. This release is also a perfect compliment to all the Boards of Canada buzz generated this week, as much like BoC, Kimbie craft sonic gold in a manner and way of thinking that is all their own. So many nods to a smattering of musical styles are just subtle enough to not compromise the Kimbie sound, but one can’t help but hear elements of Jazzanova, Artful Dodger, James Blake and many more.

Album Lowlight: Very few on my first half dozen listens. King Krule’s unique croon may not pull in first-time listeners with his quintessential cockney, teenage vocal style.

Takeaway: Cerebral music at it’s finest from two truly unique voices in the ever-changing landscape of post-dubstep music, Mount Kimbie won’t really ever fit neatly into a category, or even sub-category, with their ever-changing sonic approach. It really is hard to ignore the fact something special is being produced by Kai Campos and Dominic Maker while still being relatively unknown, especially in the States. The mood shifts and bobs with a whim on Cold Spring and is fully an album to lose yourself in. Pastoral feelings and minor transcendentalism are included, free of charge.

~Kevin Quandt


3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“No Eyes”
“Miasma Sky”

Album Highlights: Bath’s second album is a well-crafted juxtaposition of beautifully produced pop beats and tragically desperate lyrics. Obsidian highlights the vocal range of Will Wiesenfeld, which fluctuates between a tenor and baritone, whimsically playing off corresponding pitches through call and response structures showcased within the track’s choruses. A generally upbeat album filled with fanciful melodies and intricate BPM layering is presented, so it’s easy to get lost within the enveloping fuzz without paying attention to Weisenfelds’ melancholy verses. Subject matter depicting internal turmoil, anxiety and emotionally devoid casual sex rarely sound so buoyant. Accentuated in poignant tracks such as “No Eyes” and “Ossuary”, Weisenfeld indulges in pitting extremely dark and jaded lyrics against a mostly lighthearted musical soundscape. An idea he’s been entertaining throughout his musical career, Obsidian draws heavy influence from fellow warped songwriter Azeda Booth, whom Weisenfeld was introduced to through friends and previous tour mates Braids.

Album Lowlight: I can’t find much fault with this album beyond issues that may arise out of personal preference or audible favor. It’s beautifully produced, has a great variety of songs and all are equally as engaging and interesting. Even the slower tracks such as “Ironworks”, although somewhat stunting to the flow of Obsidian, are gorgeous in their own right. You could tell that Weisenfeld made a conscious effort to create a playing field that both audiophiles and lyricists could meet on, and he did so in a seemingly effortless fashion. I doubt that this album will get much attention outside of the indie/electronic circles, but it should.

Takeaway: Bath’s sophomore effort is one to be reckoned with, and it should be a testament to not only Wiesenfled’s future success, but it should also be a game changer in the arena of experimental electronic music. Obsidian resonates on two completely stark contrasts, marrying a mainstream genre with a taboo mindset, and he pulls this off triumphantly.

~Molly Kish

CocoRosieTales of a Grass Widow

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“End of Time”
“Far Away”

Album Highlights: Sister duo Bianca “Coco” and Sierra “Rosie” Casady, known as CocoRosie, are back with their 5th album Tales of a Grass Widow. The sisters’s “freak folk” style remains as evocative as ever in this album that tells tales of death and pain. Perhaps the most striking thing about CocoRosie’s sound is the vocal delivery of “Rosie”. Her voice is striking and subtle, with the kind of ferocity akin to Bjork, a definite highlight of this record.

CocoRosie’s sound is unlike anything else in mainstream music. They combine worldly elements, undoubtedly influenced by their Native American ancestry, with a beat-boxer providing a bulk of the rhythm section.

Album Lowlight: I love the beat-boxer, and think it works remarkably well on this record, but I would love to see what they could do with either a real drummer, or a DJ providing the beats. A beat-boxer can only knock so hard.

Takeaway: CoCoRosie is not well-known to mainstream music lovers, but that could soon change. Their style is unique and powerful and has been turning heads since 2003. The vocal delivery is some of the best I’ve heard in recent years, and that along makes this album a must-listen.

~Kevin Raos

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