Bryan Away – Canyons to Sawdust
On the pastoral Canyons and Sawdust, Bryan Away’s storytelling is given the perfect stage. Among the tales he sings is a nod to Ingmar Bergman’s miniseries (you may know its adaptation with Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain) and that track’s direct foil, the jaunty “Scenes from a Wedding.” The title of Away’s summer LP derives from an analogy in an interlude toward the end of the record. It is an uneasy piece of music, where a cacophony of stringed instruments bubble, waver and wail—though that is not necessarily indicative of the rest of the album.
La Battue – Get Set, Go ! EP
La Battue deliver on soft pop. Pop made by French musicians (and ex-pats) is generally marked by optimistic melodies or gentle synth progressions. Following those tacit guidelines, Get Set, Go ! is a five-track EP with the sensibilities of an album; “Tasmin Gray” and “The Wreck of My Soul” are perfect as the bookends to the record, and everything in between keeps the energy moving, galloping through a field of lilies and rosemary.
Deniz Cuylan – No Such Thing As Free Will
Turkish film producer Deniz Cuylan put out his debut solo effort in 2021, and it centers around the classical guitar, which was the first instrument he learned in high school. His expertise on the instrument gives the illusion of having its own voice, piping up in surprise or staying low for a lullaby. He gave Magnetic Mag an in-depth look at it and the other equipment on No Such Thing As Free Will, including a clarinet and mics for cellos which both undoubtedly contributed to the record’s beautiful textured rhythms.
Generationals – ILEANA EP
A lot of these year-end reviews have a lot to do with nostalgia, and none moreso than for ILEANA by Generationals. The four-track EP packed a high-octane punch of pop with rich 2010 blog era cues, from quick tempo guitar licks to steady hand claps. The dramatic intro on “Tryin’ to Reach Ya” emulates the fake beef of a modern friendship in a bombastic power ballad.
Yoshinori Hayashi – Pulse of Defiance
So much to love about Yoshinori Hayashi’s Pulse of Defiance LP. It is an electronic experiment in the same way that jazz is experimental, with atmospheric sounds mingling with synth effects and anti-melodies for something entirely different. “Touch” takes us into the mind of a machine, while “Morning Haze” will start your day with a hint of chaos. Where ambient loves rest and drone loves sustained notes, Pulse of Defiance thrives on upending expectations.