Alice Phoebe Lou – Glow
The first of two records released by Alice Phoebe Lou in 2021, Glow is filled with yearning. The South African artist discusses matters of the heart among cool, sparse soft rock. Vocals on the title track have a sassy lilt that embraces the guitar progression, all of which amounts to Lou’s brand of psych rock. There is much beauty in simplicity, reinforced a final time by the closing track “Lovesick” and its splendid jazz arrangement.
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Rachika Nayar – Our Hands Against The Dusk
The wavering electronics laid out in Our Hands Against the Dusk transport me to an alternate dimension. Pulses and vibrations define the record, for a challenging and rewarding listen. Rachika Nayar created the album by processing analog guitars…digitally (I don’t understand how it works, but you should read the liner notes for more detail) and then took the product and layered it with synths, piano and strings. The result is an affecting physical experience that justifiably flattens out by the penultimate track, “Aurobindo.” Only for “No Future” to follow with another exciting ride.
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Spirit Was – Heaven’s Just a Cloud
After the dissolution of LVL UP, Nick Corbo busied himself with a clever folk-emo project, and eventually released his first solo record, Heaven’s Just a Cloud. When I first gave this LP a spin, I was struck by its self-referential poetry. Then I realized Corbo had written the lyrics describing “haunting, beautiful scenes of the natural world,” and every image and motif took on new meaning. As much as the album tends toward darkness, I cannot let go of the hope in the title track: “But time is on your side! Planning your garden, watching it die and come back as flowers.”
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Hana Vu – Public Storage
The latest album from Hana Vu is certainly not where I expected to get my spiritual grunge fix, but here we are. Public Storage starts out with a quiet conversation with the sun then builds in excitement from there. I particularly gravitated to “Aubade,” and its deep, at times ominous, vocal melody which ends up being precursor to a revelation: “I can’t believe I’m here at all.” Then “Maker” caps the record off with a plucky indie tune that is both accepting and accusatory; as the Bandcamp notes reveal of Vu’s intention: “we are all fucked up, scattered [and] prone to getting lost, and whoever, whatever made us is fucked up, scattered and lost too.”
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Young Gun Silver Fox – Canyons
Canyons may be the third album from duo Young Gun Silver Fox, but it was the first I’d heard of their yearning funk. And what a delight to realize the romance obsessive himself, Andy Platt, is one-half of the act (joined by Shawn Lee). I remember his voice best from Mamas Gun, and his desperation for love is both a strength and his Achilles heel. That motif carries across Canyons, which treats l’amour with a sense of urgency—from wistful nostalgia on “Kids” to heartsick torture on “Long Distance Love Affair.”
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