micah p hinson

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Richard Buckner: Meadow (Merge/Rhythmethod)

Richard Buckner: Meadow (Merge/Rhythmethod)

In a fortnight during which I have heard exciting music of all persuasions -- from the London wideboy hip-hop of Jamie T to the orchestrations of Philip Glass (see below) -- this one is the real standout. From swirling but moody pop-rock which recalls elevating 60s jangle and Joy Division simultaneously (the exciting opener Town) through...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007 Iron and Wine: The Shepherd's Dog (SunPop/Rhythmethod)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007 Iron and Wine: The Shepherd's Dog (SunPop/Rhythmethod)

Sam Beam -- who is Iron and Wine -- really sounds like he has hits his stride with this exceptional, engaging and folkadelic outing, and he's achieved that by just continuing on the same, mildly eccentric and determined path as he has taken on his previous albums and EPs. This time however the songs sound more full and fully formed, the array...

Beirut; The Flying Club Cup BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Beirut; The Flying Club Cup BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Ambitious and slightly eccentric pop music doesn't come much more ambitious and eccentric as this, the second album by Zach Condon (aka Beirut), an American with a European sensibility whose musical reach encompasses indie Anglopop, French chanson, nods to Scott Walker, hints of Spanish or mariachi music, snippets of conversations, swooning...

Hobotalk: Homesick for Nowhere (Yellow Eye)

Hobotalk: Homesick for Nowhere (Yellow Eye)

The Scottish singer-songwriter Marc Pilley who is the hub of Hobotalk has a gentle way with his music: nothing feels forced or false, and the augmentation of his simple tunes by mandolin, violin, female backing singers and the like just bring these songs to life even more. A refined simplicity is the key here and you can hear why he was...

Steve Reynolds, Exile (Fulfill/Exile)

Steve Reynolds, Exile (Fulfill/Exile)

I know nothing of this LA-based Canadian singer-songwriter other than he turned up on that pretty good tribute to the Band, Endless Highway, that came out last year. (He did a fine version of Stage Fright) But this rollicking, often urgent-sounding acoustic driven folk-rock is an excellent showcase of his many talents, from finger-picking to...

The Eels: Meet the Eels and Useless Trinkets (Geffen/Universal)

The Eels: Meet the Eels and Useless Trinkets (Geffen/Universal)

Wherein cult band the Eels get the kind of re-issue/repackage usually reserved for Major Big Name Acts: Meet the Eels is a 24 track compilation of 10 years from 1996 with a 12 clip DVD collection (with commentary option) and an informative booklet; and Useless Trinkets is a 50-track double disc collection of B-sides, soundtrack pieces, rarities...

Beck: Odelay Deluxe Edition (Universal)

Beck: Odelay Deluxe Edition (Universal)

This cornerstone album from '96 confirmed that Beck was going to be something much more than the one-hit wonder for Loser and even the "Dylan of his generation" as some writers had it. Odelay was good enough in itself to stand some kind of re-issue/repackaging, but this Deluxe Edition (some unreleased tracks, another disc of remixes...

British Sea Power: Do You Like Rock Music? (Rough Trade)

British Sea Power: Do You Like Rock Music? (Rough Trade)

The title of this glisteningly melodic album is doubtless rhetorical -- but these guys also seem to like Brian Wilson's ambitious pop symphonies, ambient music in the manner of Brian Eno, Paul McCartney's better pop ballads, Anglofolk, having mates hauled in to act as a choir, strings . . . So yes, they like rock music -- but aren't...

Bonnie Prince Billy: Lie Down in the Light (UKSpin)

Bonnie Prince Billy: Lie Down in the Light (UKSpin)

After establishing himself as the downbeat and somewhat gloomy singer-songwriter living in a half-lit corner of oldtime Americana, Will Oldham (aka Bonnie Prince Billy, Palace, Palace Brothers etc etc) sounds like he has changed his listening habits and maybe gone into a sun-soaked cornfield.Some will find this disappointing and it does need to...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Micah P Hinson and the Red Empire Orchestra (Inertia)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Micah P Hinson and the Red Empire Orchestra (Inertia)

This slight American singer-songwriter impressed hugely on a brief New Zealand tour a few years ago when he delivered his reflective acoustic songs and wry between-songs banter to very small but appreciative audiences.Cult figure then -- and much the same today I am guessing.Here with a small string section (and his own impressive catalogue of...

MICAH P HINSON INTERVIEWED (2008): We won't have to be lonesome

MICAH P HINSON INTERVIEWED (2008): We won't have to be lonesome

Micah P Hinson is one those artists who is just starting to appear on the radar for many people, this despite much touring, two excellent albums before his current Micah P Hinson and the Red Empire Orchestra album, and a back-story that has been of interest to music writers. The slight Hinson -- who grew up in a fundamentalist Christian...

Jolie Holland: the living and the dead (Anti)

Jolie Holland: the living and the dead (Anti)

There are no liner notes on the advance copy of this album I received some weeks back, but it would be interesting to speculate which of these songs from this San Francisco-based singer-songwriter were penned while on a writing retreat in New Zealand: the  throwaway Enjoy Yourself ("it's later than you think") at the end perhaps...

Noah and the Whale: The First Days of Spring (Shock)

Noah and the Whale: The First Days of Spring (Shock)

Beauty is not a quality that popular music (ie pop, rock, r'n'b, indie-rock or whatever) places much store in: yet from the Velvet Underground through Mazzy Star and the early Cowboy Junkies to the Fleet Foxes, or from Eno to the landscape of guitars in Explosions in the Sky, there has been beauty aplenty. Beauty need not be sentimental...

Kath Bloom: Thin Thin Line (Caldo Verde)

Kath Bloom: Thin Thin Line (Caldo Verde)

Although this wobbly-voiced American folkie has been around since the late Seventies I confess I have never heard/heard of her. On a first hearing I can't say I think I missed much: vocally she comes off like a shaky-voiced version of Daniel Johnston and Yoko Ono (when Ono gets in "ballad" mode). Notes are there but sometimes a...

Tuung: And Then We Saw Land (Full Time Hobby)

Tuung: And Then We Saw Land (Full Time Hobby)

Somewhat improbably this English acoustic folk-rock outfit recently appeared on stage with the desert blues-rock band Tinariwen -- which really shouldn't have worked at all, yet reports were highly favourable. Tuung's debut album Comments of the Inner Chorus and the follow-up Good Arrows certainly offered a beguiling musical blend which had...

Bonnie Prince Billy and The Cairo Gang: The Wonder Show of the World (Palace)

Bonnie Prince Billy and The Cairo Gang: The Wonder Show of the World (Palace)

My guess is that because Bonnie Prince Billy aka Will Oldham aka Palace aka Palace Brothers etc has done so many albums that, like Woody Allen movies and local buses, you can afford to miss one because another will be along soon. This low-key, mostly acoustic outing framed by Neil Young-styled folk and Billy's default position of analytical...

The Album Leaf: A Chorus of Storytellers (SubPop)

The Album Leaf: A Chorus of Storytellers (SubPop)

This quiet, mostly instrumental and discreetly seductive album by a band with a very confusing name has been slipping back into the player quite a lot recently -- and I suspect it came out a few months ago, but I've only belatedly discovered it. The Album Leaf has been the on-going project of the San Diego-based songwriter Jimmy LaValle whose...

Peter Wolf Crier: Inter-Be (Jagjaguwar)

Peter Wolf Crier: Inter-Be (Jagjaguwar)

Peter Wolf Crier are an electro-acoustic duo out of Minneapolis (not to be confused with this guy) and this is their modest debut album. I say modest because while they utilise all the lo-tech vehicles at their command (loops, filters) they aren't intent on breaking free as a duo like the White Stripes or Black Keys. Their hearts are closer...

Simon Lynge: The Future (Lo-Max)

Simon Lynge: The Future (Lo-Max)

Singer-songwriter Lynge's story may be more interesting than his lowkey acoustic folk-pop: born in Denmark, childhood in Greenland (where his father is the local Bob Dylan apparently), back to Denmark, then to Los Angeles and Nashville, debut album Beautiful Way to Drown recorded in LA in Copenhagen in 2005 . . . Hard to top that in...

Moondoggies: Tidelands (Hardly Art)

Moondoggies: Tidelands (Hardly Art)

Their name might not inspire much confidence -- the sort of band name 12-year olds think up -- but this rootsy, alt.country and indie-rock outfit from Seattle on a SubPop imprint label have a mainline connection to the same core of music (Neil Young, the Band) as informs the Felice Brothers, early Wilco and Richmond Fontaine. They certainly...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Iron and Wine: Kiss Each Other Clean (4AD)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Iron and Wine: Kiss Each Other Clean (4AD)

The previous album The Shepherd's Dog by Texas' Iron and Wine (Sam Beam) was fully three years ago and was one of the Best of Elsewhere 2007 albums. So anticipation is high for this -- although might have been higher a year ago, but I guess he works at his own pace. And we forgive him because he delivered the excellent Around the Well...

Bright Eyes: The People's Key (Polydor)

Bright Eyes: The People's Key (Polydor)

Weird, but in a strangely compelling way  . . . like the best sci-fi. Last time out Bright Eyes/Connor Oberst located his album in a Florida town Cassadaga which is apparently famous for the implosion of spiritualists there – and this one opens with a long and odd spoken word it about the spheres, Sumerian tablets and reptiles...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Micah P. Hinson and the Pioneer Saboteurs: Micah P. Hinson and the Pioneer Saboteurs (Full Time Hobby)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Micah P. Hinson and the Pioneer Saboteurs: Micah P. Hinson and the Pioneer Saboteurs (Full Time Hobby)

Recorded over a two year period and soaked in strings, this folksy rumination on the state of his nation takes its inspiration from Walt Whitman's poem Pioneers! O Pioneers!, a kind of literal and metaphorical reverse-mirror Times They Are A' Changin' of its day when the young America was flexing its muscles across the continent. Hinson uses...

The Low Anthem: Smart Flesh (Nonesuch)

The Low Anthem: Smart Flesh (Nonesuch)

Sin and death and guilt; archaisms like "apothecary", "Gatling gun" and "player piano"; harmonica, pump organ, violin, saw and cello; whiskey and gin; recorded in a freezing cold room in winter . . . all the right elements would seem to be in place for more rustic music grounded in an older America from educated...

Bill Callahan: Apocalypse (Drag City)

Bill Callahan: Apocalypse (Drag City)

After his last exceptional album Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle (a Best of Elsewhere 2009 album) it was hard to imagine how this Americana singer-songwriter -- who previously recorded as Smog -- could remain on the margins of mainstream acceptance. That the album demanded, but also commanded, attention might just have put him once more...

The Mountain Goats: The Eternal's Deck (Merge)

The Mountain Goats: The Eternal's Deck (Merge)

The dramatic, almost declamatory, voice of John Darnielle (aka The Mountain Goats) is as distinctive as it is well enunciated. You get every word he sings, which means you are dragged from one poetic line to another where images tumble over one another (think Dylan '65-'66) and if there is a story it comes from an accumulation of ideas and...

Bierut: The Rip Tide (Pompeii)

Bierut: The Rip Tide (Pompeii)

Within the very bland cover - despite the gold impressed lettering -- lies the typically colourful, romantic sound which we have to come associate with Zach Condon and his associates who bring accordion, horns, a touch of "South of the Border" as well as ukulele and pump organ. Although scrupulously crafted -- you don't write horn...

The Haints of Dean Hall: The Haints of Dean Hall (Arch Hill)

The Haints of Dean Hall: The Haints of Dean Hall (Arch Hill)

This off-kilter and eerily dreamy slice of Americana from a conjured up "South" comes from an unexpected source: the Haints of Dean Hall are in fact Stephen Reay and singer/photographer Kathryn McCool, the former from the rowdy Flying Nun band the Subliminals and the latter who now lives near Melbourne. A haint is an imagined ghost...

M Ward; Post-War (EMI) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

M Ward; Post-War (EMI) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

Matt Ward could easily be a musicologist's research assignment: this album -- his fifth -- roams effortless from hushed balladry to guitar work which sounds like the Shadows on a surf-rock kick, and from alt.rock to something Paul Simon would be proud of. And in many places he sounds like someone a few decades older -- and blacker -- than he...

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