Nashville singer-songwriter Trent Dabbs found the inspiration for his latest album in therapy with horses, and The Way We Look At Horses, his eighth full-length, spins his experiences into atmospheric, rousing folk tunes. Dabbs has a mettle for crafting engaging songs and lyrics with depth; on "She's My Destination," he turns a worn-out theme of love inward, tying romance to his own path towards goodness in a poignant twist, and the song's stomping Lumineers sound (updated nicely with slight electronic touches) gets the message across. Another standout is down-to-earth rocker "Midnight Walls," a rumination on trust delivered in sturdy songwriting and Dabbs' steadfast vocal. The album's quieter moments are just as powerful, though: the title track sets the album's rainy Saturday mood through gently swelling strings and hazy production, and "Time Decides" is perfect winter music, finding Dabbs reflecting on his present from a wider point-of-view and ultimately finding inner peace. On The Way We Look At Horses, his focus on moving forward expresses itself in a multitude of ways--some quiet, some bold, but all of them stirring. Stream "She's My Destination" below (and the full album here):
French IDM musician Sam Waks claims he created alter ego Sound Strider to "reconnect post modern man with his transcendental roots through the ancient ritual of drum and dance," a philosophy evident in his Intrepid Travels EP. The five-track effort has quite a bit to offer in terms of rhythm and switches things up across its thirty minutes. We start off with "The Stakes," which etches scribbles of high-pitched synth trickery and vocal samples discussing everything from love to space travel across a patchwork of tribal beats; "Menlo Park," on the other hand, has a sense of cosmic horror lurking over its churning, robotic rhythms--even when the song's melody (or at least what faintly resembles a melody) takes a sunnier turn, it's hard to shake the sense of staring something big and uncaring in the face. The lack of hooks or anything tactile makes Intrepid Travels a hard record to grasp at times, but the rhythms never slouch, pulling back when you least expect them to before coming back in with surprising force; it's a listen engineered to put things in perspective, to unnerve--and perhaps awaken. Stream and download the entire EP for free below:
18-year-old Kindred's first EP, Psyche, which he wrote, recorded and produced on his own, is a trippy voyage to the darker side of serenity. The overarching tone is one of subdued splendor, as if he's taking you for a night on the town but everything you see around you has been shuttered. His repetitive, lumbering beats keep energy levels low, and sometimes the music gets mired in a frustrating stasis, but he showcases his well-developed sense of atmosphere, swirling in acoustic flourishes here and stirring blasts of brass there: when he finds a way to play off of the inherent disconnect in his music, he proves unnerving. Standouts include the bustling but washed-out "Demeanor" and the title track, where guest rapper Tazza provides a nice change of pace. Stream Psyche below:
Southern Californian folk artist Nettie Rose's debut LP People I Know shows a musician with an inviting voice and a knack for sketching interesting characters: the effort is both polished and personal, as good for easy listening as it is for introspection. Rose's voice is already well-developed; the relaxed "Highway" sees her expressing her gratitude to a loved one over a low-key setting replete with layered guitar and slow, steady drums, and she navigates the space between vulnerability, matter-of-fact honesty and reassurance nicely. She also carves out her own take on traditional folk music here, infusing frank Americana sentiments with a sunnier West Coast vibe. People I Know doesn't demand too much, and it's easy to get lost in the music's flow, but that's hardly a bad thing when Rose is such an amiable presence. Check out lead single "For My Young Lord Drake" below:
Ian Humberstone's music is both simple and complex; classical and modern; familiar and innovative. His latest EP, Three Songs, packs a plethora of ideas into just ten minutes of music. Pastoral piano melodies echo over earthy percussion on "Ocean Paths To Palace," gentle acoustic guitar strums tangle with orchestral dissonance on the subtly haunting "Three Dreams," and wordless vocal cries pile in the background of "Sing Young" before "Untitled" resolves the strift with a stirring lullaby haunting in its own right. The scenery may be strewn in a sprawl, but Humberstone ties the motifs together through a delicate balance of elements and his voice; he delivers abstruse, vaguely haunting lyrics in the comforting cadence of a grandfather, blurring the line between dreams and nightmares in this brief but memorable trip. Stream below:
Closing out our last Round-Up of the year, here's Minneapolis-based act Aaron & The Sea, whose new EP Cloak & Dagger is a lesson in cosmic horror. The title track pushes Aaron's pensive vocals against stuttering synths and percussion equal parts dream-pop and hip-hop, letting his soft croons unfurl but never quite unshackling him from his tight constraints. Sometimes the moments of release are terrifying: "Blac Of Heart" opens with skittering percussion before swallowing everything in a monstrous, throbbing wall of sound. You never quite shake the sense that something much larger than you can comprehend is looming over you. Even brighter moments like the upbeat "Little Bit" are tempered with a looming darkness, as if Aaron & The Sea is pushing against a force field too big to budge, and Cloak & Dagger finds emotional resonance in its friction. Stream and download the EP for free below:
It's been a real pleasure writing for MuzikDizcovery this year. Happy holidays to all of you! Thanks for sticking with our little site and I hope I'll see y'all next year.
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