Sunday, March 13, 2016

Skylar Gudasz - Oleander (Daniel 13, 2016)

Skylar Gudasz
Daniel 13

Rating: 7.5 made-for-TV-movies out of 10

Despite being local I know next to nothing about Skylar Gudasz.  And because of that, it's easy for me to entertain the rumor (that I just completely made up) that this is actually a long lost Karen Carpenter record that Skylar found in an old dusty barn and decided to release under her own name. Yeah, there's probably a little bit more twang to this than you would expect from a Carpenter record, but maybe that's the direction she was heading in before the recordings got lost in that barn!  I mean, it's possible right?

According to this much better write-up by my man Grayson, someone who is actually paid to give his opinion on music, Gudasz employed a "who's who" in creating "Oleander" - Chris Stamey (the dBs) recorded it, and she had musical assistance from a wide swath including the North Carolina Symphony, Django Haskins (Old Ceremony), Brad Cook (Megafaun), and even the one-and-only Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub)!  Her high-quality choices in musical accompaniment fall right in line with the high-quality of her songwriting - there is a timeless nature to her material...these songs (and by extension, her fantastic voice) feel like they've been around forever.  Fans of Sharon Van Etten, Aimee Mann, and fellow locals Mount Moriah would be well served to pick this one up.  

Mount Moriah - How To Dance (Merge, 2016)

Mount Moriah
How To Dance

Rating: 7 cannery workers out of 10

The third record from Mount Moriah, and absolutely no drop off in quality - not a small feat considering how outstanding their self-titled debut was.  That release is still my favorite, to be honest, but I'm not calling anyone to complain about "How To Dance" - hell, I'm such a fan I pre-ordered it months before it came out.  

Nothing on this record is an instant gut punch like "Lament" from their debut, but opener "Calvander" is a damn fine effort.  Heather's voice is as strong if not stronger than ever, and let's not kid ourselves that is the main draw of this band, at least for me (and I'm the stupid person writing this).  If there is anything negative to be said at all, it's the lack of sparse songs ala "Plane" from their first record - very little instrumentation and Heather's voice doing the heavy lifting.  Yeah that's a weird thing to fuss over, but I really dig that style.  But the entire new record is a keeper, even if it is a hair more upbeat than I would prefer.  I'm gonna listen to it a lot regardless.