Camille - "Seeds"

It's been a long time since I made a point to listen to Camille. Like many I became aware of her after her sophomore release Le fil, whose lead single "Ta douleur" hasn't lost any of it's original appeal. But even with that in mind I never put a ton of time into the records that followed. Through no fault of her own she's always been an artist that's slides into my life by chance, I listen for a bit, and then just as quietly as she entered, she exits. Normally this occurrence isn't noted, however today she happened to release new material and I happened to find it more exceptional than I normally do. 

"Seeds" is soft and delicate, an ideal candidate for a rainy Sunday morning alone. I'm talking empty house, with gloomy scene outside, seated next to a window with a good book (although I'm playing solitaire) and whatever drink makes you feel most comfortable. The drumline-esque percussions, that become muffled during the verses, offer a steadiness that draws you in immediately. Though it's the beauty of the chorus that has me looping this track, and how it builds a little more each time it comes around. Honestly, it's just an EASY listen, and there can never be enough of those. 


I'd also like to note Camille's long running side project, Nouvelle Vague, whose down tempo, often soothing, bossa nova inspired covers have been a much more consistent listen for me in past years. 

"In A Manner Of Speaking" is their most recognized track, and also a good place to start as it a cut from their debut album. There's something to be said about the bands steady, uncomplicated sound. It builds an atmosphere and easily seduces you with it, and with Fall just around the corner, it's an atmosphere you'll want in your back pocket. 

I'm With Her - "Little Lies"

Often times when you come across new artists/groups you find yourself dwelling in that familiar place of "is there enough here for me to keep listening?" It's an understandable question, with so much music available even people with the most free time (i.e. yours truly) have to pick and choose. It's unfortunate, to say the least, especially when your goal is to listen to everything...ever (PIPE DREAMS!). Because of this "time" conundrum I am always grateful when I hear a sure thing, and I'm With Her is just that.

Formed back in 2015, the group is comprised of three musicians who are all very dear to me, Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek and Aoife O' Donovan of Crooked Still, who both have now been working as solo artists in more recent years, and Sarah Jarosz. All three are engaging on their own, so the marriage of these three dynamic and incredible musicians is something to get excited about. If you're familiar with their work at all, their debut single, "Little Lies" is beauty that should come as no surprise. The airy harmonies, the intricate string work, the calming tones and dreamlike melodies hit all the points you'd expect. Their EP, also titled Little Lies, features this single as well as five live tracks recorded back in late 2015 while the group was on tour. It's a refreshing summertime escape and I couldn't be more excited about a more complete release from these women, should the day ever come.


The trio has a few upcoming tour dates left with Punch Brothers, and if you happen to be near any of their stops remember that money is no object when incredible music is what awaits (CLICK HERE FOR SCHEDULE).

Luwten - "Go Honey"

THIS RIGHT HERE. If you listen to this and aren't taken with it then...then that's your choice and I respect it but when I WON'T UNDERSTAND WHY. You know those songs that are just easy to vibe with? I know you do. That's this. It's simple, and yet complex enough that I no matter how many times I've listened to it it never once has felt boring. With the dream laden vocals, xylophone-like bells, steady percussions, and soothing synths it's just...it's exactly what I want. It's what we all want.

My information on Luwten is as limited as her body of work. She has one song, and I knowone fact, she's based in Amsterdam. But honestly, it doesn't matter; her sleepy, Feist-like vocals, have me committed. Obviously time will tell where she takes us sonically, but I feel really good about this one, I really do. Especially when the only professional image she's presented it one that makes me feel the way her music does. All good things people. 

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Becca Stevens - "Queen Mab"

Why this hasn't found itself a niche audience I can't tell you. It's different, compelling, fun, and a whole mess of other positive adjectives, the most important of which might be "cool." While I was familiar with her from her collaborative work with pianist Brad Mehldau (whose recent release Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau is SPECTACULAR) as well as the jazz outfit Snarky Puppy, I never had listened to her specifically via Becca Stevens Band or her trio Tillery. Due to "Queen Mab" that has changed.

Opening gently with light harmonies, I truly had no idea where she would decide to take it - but let me tell you - each progression gets better and better. The fuzzy bass and heavy backbeat pair perfectly with her layered vocals as they dance and swirl around you. It's such a genuinely pleasing listen, and while rarely feel bold enough to declare my love of a song seconds after it starts, this one was a no brainer. I can't wait to see what comes next and how it fits within Becca Stevens' bigger picture. Which, speaking of that bigger picture, her record Regina comes out March 24th! Good stuff people. GOOD. STUFF.

Kelsey Lu - Church

I listen to a decent amount of music, but when I come across something I really love and see that it’s been out for a long time I still pause and wonder whether I’ve been living under a rock. Kelsey Lu’s debut Church made me do just that. Arriving in July of last year (making this post a hot SEVEN months late), this beautifully haunting six song release has had a hand in changing my preferences almost entirely as of late, forcing me to dig up records like Yann Tiersen & Shannon Wright’s intensely gloomy 2005 self titled collaboration. 

With the almost eight minute opening track “Dreams,” the tone is set immediately. It finds it’s strength in patience and simplicity, largely working with just her voice and cello; and with a sound that’s as arresting as this it doesn’t really require anything else. The second track features her playing with a lighter sound, using melodic plucking as the backdrop (think Andrew Bird, “Something Sinister”). However when she introduces the strings on top of that it shifts the mood back to a darker sound. 

The rest of Church, while never feeling repetitious, maintains the atmosphere; intense in nature, soothing in reality. It’s a remarkably mature first work, and I love the eastern sounds weaved in throughout. Kelsey’s vocals complement her brand perfectly (I love last half of "Morning After Coffee") and I think that’s what solidifies the effectiveness. While I’m generally partial to orchestral and classical sounds when it comes to my everyday, this adds a new element I wasn’t aware I had been craving. It grips you instantly as her style feels extremely visual, and if this is the beginning of her career I can only imagine the artistic heights she’s capable of ascending too. This is easily one of the most exciting artists I've come across in awhile.

Milo Greene - "Afraid of Everything"

Milo Greene's 2012 debut was one of my favorite records of the year. Beautiful, melodic, sweeping, simple, and other positive adjectives accompanied what was a little bit of everything you'd want from a folk album. When their 2015 followup Control failed to connect with me I reverted back to their self titled and wondered where they would go next. While I always support artists following the path their most passionate about, I was greedy for more of what I'd come to love. 

"Afraid of Everything" sits somewhere in between, and I have to say it's a nice happy medium. While I'm still earnest for days past, this compromise may be the best we get, and as of now that leaves me hopeful. I'm tentatively holding out for the next couple singles before I cast judgement (may thine judgement be true!), but for now I'll say welcome back. I've missed you. 

Susie Suh - "This Is Love"

I'm seeing Susie tonight and realized that I've never as much as mentioned her on the site, which warrants an apology to both you AND Susie. She's kept a relatively low profile since 2011's The Bakman Tapes, releasing a few singles and a small EP in 2015 (Everywhere). In other words, things haven't been flying in. Still, she's someone that, come winter, I always find myself falling back on.

"This Is Love" meets my winter expectations perfectly, picking up right where she left off on Everywhere. Her sound is atmospheric, feeling at times like a thick fog she casts her net over me with her equal parts soothing and melancholy vocals. This concert should prove to be nothing short of a dream, and who doesn't like living in a dream? 

Laura Marling - "Wild Fire"

I truly can't say enough about her. All good things, by the way. Because I do say so much, it warrants smaller posts when each single comes in, hence the probably shortness of this. Then again, I've been known to ramble so...

"Wild Fire" carries a traditional sound, soothing and relaxed, a perfect complement to the winter chill. This is the second single in support of her upcoming sixth LP Semper Femina, due to hit our ears in full on March 10th. So while we've still got a couple months, we've got more than enough music to tide us for another lifetime, so I think a two month wait doesn't sound so bad.

Also, just because it's the greatest thing I'll never see but I feel you all should be aware, tomorrow night Chris Thile, the new host of A Prairie Home Companion, will host guests Andrew Bird and Laura Marling on the program, and effectively end all evil in the world. If you in the Chicago area, make it your temporary life's goal to be in that audience. You're welcome. All of you. 

Mree - "The Evergreen"

I've mentioned Mree before on this site, right? Just kidding (good joke Spense!), definitely have...and by "mentioned" I mean brought into the conversation truly every chance I get. But I have good reason for my persistence, it's because she's the best. Need I say more? *dramatically wipes off hands, heads to the kitchen for something sweet.*

Back to the point. "The Evergreen" is a holiday song that contains every ounce of magic you crave and more; which makes sense, considering her sound can easily be paired with the fall/ winter months. Her angelic vocals and soaring harmonies surround you, just like the blanket you're wrapping yourself with (do iiiit), and her delicate, dream inducing instrumentals warm you like that hot chocolate you hopefully made BEFORE you got comfy with that blanket. Really though, absolutely gorgeous stuff from an artist whose music all but confirms a higher power.  


Also, side note (end note?), Mree's side project Perlo, a collaboration with Henri Bardot, released their debut EP Patterns back in March. It's a natural complement to both the season and fans of Mree's work, so if it's more you want, look no further.

I don't want a big empty space here so I'm going to ramble a bit. I started working on a piece where I chose my favorite fall album from each of the last 10 years (just to clarify I mean my favorite albums that represent fall, not favorite albums that happened to be released during fall).

Unfortunately it turned into a much larger endeavor than I anticipated and because I'm already swamped compiling my Top 50 Albums of 2016 (coming next week) I'm afraid I had to postpone that post until next Fall arrives. Hopefully you're still around by then, and if you're beyond desperate to know which albums I had in mind just text me, though I only got as far as narrowing each year down to 10 choices aka I still have 100 albums to sift through (HOW did I not think that would take long?). Anyhow, Happy Holidays!

Kadhja Bonet - "Honeycomb"

Yes. Yes yes yes. Kadhja Bonet's debut release The Visitor came to us a few months ago, and I'm more than upset that I haven't said anything about it until now. The entire thing feels like it's from another time and place; blending classical, folk, jazz, and a slew of other genres into this retro-modern soundscape, elevated by her porcelain vocals and perfectly executed vision. 

"Honeycomb" was the lead single from the record, which is why I singled it out, but it would be a mistake to not listen to this in full. It's clear Bonet had the intent to explore, leading to some really beautiful moments (the back half of "Gamma Honey" is just....it's so good), but at the same time she never stretches herself to a place that doesn't fit. Everything feels so natural, and her control of it all is what makes this so special.

So for those of you listened to Janelle Monae's "Sir Greendown/ Oh, Maker/ 57821" and said "I would LOVE a full album like this," look no further. To merely label Kadhja Bonet is one to watch would be a gross understatement, because based on everything I've heard, she just might be THE one to watch.