Ten Mile Stereo
Glenn Jones “My Garden State” (Thrill Jockey)
One of the hidden gems of the year so far came courtesy of the forever dependable Thrill Jockey Label; Glenn Jones’s “My Garden State”, an album of understated and fragile beauty. The album was written in Jones’s family home in Northern Jersey prior to the sale of the house due to his mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. A strong spirit of memory and nostalgia are evoked throughout. Glenn Jones’s guitar playing prowess is (as ever) on full display where a deep sense of warm intimacy and a myriad of feelings are captured effortlessly. The album features sisters Laura and Meg Baird on accompaniment and was recorded in the home studio of Les and Laura Baird in New Jersey, keeping with the album’s Garden State theme.
John Murry “Miss Magdalena” (Forthcoming LP)
“The Graceless Age”, John Murry’s debut solo LP, was a deeply moving and a life-affirming experience. Written after Murry had overdosed on heroin and was left clinically dead, “The Graceless Age” is an album of pain and suffering, while – ultimately – one that exudes a moving spirit of redemption and hope while Murry’s soul is laid bare. “Miss Magdalena” would see the light of day while Murry – and band – toured extensively this spring and summer in both Europe and the US. The song will be released on forthcoming LP and follow-up to the internationally-acclaimed “The Graceless Age”. John is currently recording the follow-up and has appealed for funding on his kickstarter initiative (ONLY 36 HOURS TO GO!) with many special prizes on offer: All details on Kickstarter here.
Daniel Bachman “Seven Pines” (Tompkins Square)
My first time discovering Virginia-born Daniel Bachman came courtesy of an intimate performance at Cork’s Gulpd Cafe courtesy of Plugd Records where Bachman showcased material from his current Tompkins Square LP “Seven Pines”. Bachman’s guitar playing is astonishing to witness and all the more astonishing to behold in a live setting. The album was written over a 12 month period while living in Philadelphia and shares the same spirit of William Tyler’s “Behold The Spirit” as well as such guitar luminaries as Roy Harper and John Fahey. At only 22 years of age, Daniel Bachman has the world at his feet.
Torres “Torres” (Self-Released)
Released at the beginning of the year, Mackenzie Scott’s Torres’ self titled album is one of the year’s outstanding achievements. Mackenzie hails from Nashville, Tennessee and – like Bachman – is only 22 years of age. The album’s ten songs are direct and stark and continue to linger long after repeated listens. The album recalls Sharon Van Etten’s personal and affecting songs – where folk, indie and rock traditions merge wonderfully with Mackenzie’s stunning voice.
Charles Bradley “Victim Of Love” (Dunham Records)
Few albums have garnered such wide cross-over appeal as soul maverick Bradley’s stunning “Victim Of Love” LP. Released on Dunham – a label belonging to the legendary Daptone Records label – “Victim Of Love” is a modern-day soul masterpiece. Bradley’s amazing “success” story (and, indeed, remarkable backstory) has kindled a spark in many a music fan’s heart over the last year or two (similar in some respects to last year’s celebration of the legendary Sixto Rodriguez) and has captured the imaginations of people across musical genres – and generations. As Bradley writes in the album’s inlay: “To all of you with God’s love. Thank you. I love you always. Charles Bradley. P.S. See you soon.”
KÖLSCH “1977” (Kompakt)
I only recently came across the incredible talents of Copenhagen’s KÖLSCH (via the wonderful musical institution that is Galway-based An Taobh Tuathail) and “1977” has provided a constant source of headphone listening for the small hours ever since. KÖLSCH is Rune Reilly Kölsch, a renowned producer who has been responsible for a whole host of records under various monikers over the last fifteen years, most notably the internationally successful dancefloor hit “Calabria” from 2003. Kölsch ran his own monthly Club Smile parties at VEGA Natklub in Copenhagen, while also running bimonthly parties at legendary Culture box.
Tree “Sunday School II: When Church Lets Out” (Creative Control)
My first introduction to the incredible “Sunday School II: When Church Lets Out” LP came courtesy of Pitchfork’s Overlooked Records list for 2013. Tree is the alias for Chicago rapper/producer Tremaine “Tree” Johnson. The album is a hip hop tour-de-force featuring a myriad of inspired samples including Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Fallin In Love” (as Johnson says on the intro to “The King”, “I had to go get The King for this one”). The sheer range of sounds serves to recall those wonderful “mixtape” vibes from DJ Shadow’s seminal “The Private Press” LP. Lyrically, the album is as powerful as they can come, featuring tracks of raw power delivered straight from the soul of Johnson.
Karen Gwyer “Needs Continuum” (No Pain In Pop)
From the incredible drum/bass/synth opening of “Sugar Tots”, the nine tracks on “Needs Continuum” showcases the wonderful talents and breathtaking sounds of London-based Karen Gwyer. Released this year on the wonderfully eclectic and ever-reliable “polystylistic” independent label No Pain In Pop, also based in London. My current favourite is “Lentil” which begins with softly textured vocal layers before gradually building to a stunning, ethereal and multi-layered climax. Also available is a remix EP of Gwyer’s “Needs Continuum” featuring Toronto’s Doom Squad, Not Not Fun’s Samantha Glass and Australian Neon Pulse.
Sorcha Richardson “Sleep Will Set Me Free” (Self-Released)
I first crossed paths with Sorcha Richardson courtesy of the Irish Times’ “The Ticket”. Delving into Richardson’s stunning songbook has proved an unforgettable experience. The Dublin-born composer – now based in New York – has recorded a number of E.P’s to date (including the mesmerizing “Sleep Will Set Me Free” EP), containing fragile folk treasures recalling such spirits as Karen Dalton, David Pajo, Vashti Bunyan and Lisa Germano. Whether featuring arrangements of guitar or piano, it is Richardson’s poetic and truly captivating lyrics and breathtaking vocal delivery that casts such a deeply affecting spell on the listener, one which will never be broken.
Minutemen “Double Nickels On The Dime” (SST)
An album that proved a key catalyst for Calexico’s Joey Burns on his musical journey (the band often cover both “Corona” and “Jesus and Tequila” live), Minutemen’s “Double Nickels On The Dime” album was released on the legendary Californian independent label SST in 1984 and continues to inspire new generations of musicians. The double album, containing a stunning 45 songs, was the third studio LP released by the band who consisted of D. Boon, Mike Watt and George Hurley. Tragically, in December of 1985, Boon was killed in a van accident. However, Boon’s legacy and Minutemen’s songbook will live on forever.