Marissa Nadler: Marissa Nadler Review
Most artists get their self-titled album out of the way early on, releasing it as their first or second project and then moving on from there. Singer/songwriter Marissa Nadler, however, has waited nearly seven years since her debut to record her titular opus. Marissa Nadler will be her fifth studio LP, and it comes at a time when Nadler has already established herself as one of the most talented (if under appreciated) voices in the country. The long wait time adds a bit of gravitas to the forthcoming release, as if to say: “this piece will be the definitive Marissa Nadler.” And that might not be too far of the mark either: according to Nadler her self-titled record is “the most honest, natural record [she’s] ever written.”
If indeed Nadler’s fifth album is her most self-embodied, it doesn’t speak well for her psyche. Marissa Nadler the record is a pretty bleak, melancholy collection of eleven densely atmospheric folk tunes. But still, as a singer who seems to carry the weight of a thousand crushed romances on her shoulders, a bunch of devil-may-care songs would probably have rung a bit hollow. Melancholy is what Nadler does best, and on her titular record she excels at it. Her sparely strummed guitar chords and heavily reverbed piano tones solemnly and gorgeously compliment her complex metaphors for tortured relationships. While some tunes like “Alabaster Queen” and “Wedding” seem hopeful (albeit doom-tinged) songs like “Wind Up Doll” and “Puppet Master” hint none too subtly that things have not always gone well in the past.
Musically Marissa Nadler hews pretty closely to the artist’s established formula of both strumming and classical guitar supplemented by other instrumentation. In a few cases, such as in “The Sun Always Reminds Me of You” and “Wedding,” Nadler makes the use of some far-out sounding synthesizers. Drums also make a notable appearance, punctuating the atmosphere with delicate rhythms and elegantly brushed cymbals. For the most part though she sticks to a traditional sound that relies heavily on confessional hushed folk as well as a little country twang.
It could be construed as sad how an artist’s “most honest” representation of herself sounds so forlorn, but as with her last few records, Nadler manages to make her suffering a thing of great beauty. While the quietly intimate intensity of the album’s melodies set a majestic tone, its Nadler’s soul-wrenching singing that really draws the listener in. The notoriously shy singer, while admittedly already an agonizingly personal lyricist, seems to lay bare the last shreds of her concealment in the lyrics of her new tunes. The meanings aren’t always apparent, but by the emotional weight Nadler puts into every hushed syllable you can tell that each utterance has deep personal meaning. I have no trouble believing that the eleven tracks of Marissa Nadler are honest to the core, and consequently I also do not doubt that they are some of the songwriter’s best.
— Jon Behm
Marissa Nadler – The Sun Always Reminds Me Of You
Marissa Nadler will perform at the Turf Club on July 22nd
Marissa Nadler will be available on 6/14 via Box of Cedar Records
Marissa Nadler: Site
Marissa Nadler: “The Sun Always Reminds Me Of You”
Dreamy folk siren Marissa Nadler just dropped a new tune off of her forthcoming self titled album (June 14). “The Sun Always reminds Me Of You” follows up “Baby, I Will leave You In the Morning,” as the second single on a record that is full of really long song titles, apparently.
*Also this just in: Marissa Nadler just announced a July 22nd show at the Turf Club!
Stream “The Sun Always Reminds Me Of You” here
— Jon Behm
Marissa Nadler: Site
Vampire Hands To Perform With Original Lineup
Fans of the original Vampire Hands take heed: The band (with original member Colin Johnson who left over a year ago to pursue other avenues) will be performing on May 20th at the Turf Club with Daughters of the Sun. While I do enjoy the band’s current threepiece incarnation, I am definitely looking forward to the double percussion and eerie vocals that Johnson once brought to the mix.
— Jon Behm
Vampire Hands: Site
Brute Heart: Lonely Hunter Review
Minneapolis trio Brute Heart has for the last few years been one of the Twin Cities best kept secrets. While their debut record, 2009’s Brass Beads, was and is one of the most monumental musical works to come out of the Twin Cities in the last decade, band members Crystal Myslajek, Crystal Brinkman, and Jackie Beckey still remain relatively unknown. However with the imminent release of the group’s sophomore effort, Lonely Hunter, it seems that things may be poised to change. Brute Heart recently landed a spot on the Current’s local show as well as Mpls.tv’s video series, which hopefully will lead to a lot of well-deserved momentum going into the group’s record release show this Saturday. Occasionally we here at Reviler get a little grumpy at how the establishment dictates which bands are heard and which aren’t, but in this case I think we are all agreed that any attention brought Brute Heart’s way is entirely merited. And then some.
As for Lonely Hunter itself, the new material does an excellent job of refining the band’s unique sound as well as pushing it in some interesting new directions. Longtime listeners will no doubt recognize Jackie Beckey’s finger picked viola in tracks like “Eclipse” and “Evil Eye” – it’s a sound the band could practically patent. And Crystal Myslajek’s lead vocals still sound as good as they ever did. She sings in an alto that brings to mind the disaffected cool of the some of the riot grrrl groups while also dabbling in the staccatos of Grace Slick’s druggy psychedelia.
Myslajek’s lower tones are complimented by Beckey’s periodic howled “ooh’s’ and “aah’s” that give each tune a wild sense of primal energy (drummer Brinkman adds in her voice as well). Compared to Brass Beads though, that energy is a bit more focused then the last time around. The band has maintained the passion of their debut album but also trimmed it into a more cleanly cut shape. The three ladies still sound like an elemental tempest of bass, drums, and viola, however on the new record the storm is more precise and tightly executed.
Lonely Hunter also seems to incorporate a more Asiatic sound into its strings at times. In ‘Eclipse” and also particularly in the instrumental “Serpentine” the ladies employ a style that seems influenced by music a bit further East than some of their more gypsy oriented work. Piano and keyboards are also a welcome new addition – giving “Charmed One” an airy, light melody and album closer “Open Windows” a melancholy jazz feel. Despite the broadening of their horizons though, Brute Heart have very much maintained their core sound. Lonely Hunter is anchored by the band’s signature bestial nature – the howled vocals over jagged strings, primordial doom-laden beats, and climactic bursts of joy when the trio reaches an apex. Brute Heart’s is one of the most compelling sounds in our vibrant music scene today, and its a thrill to see that with Lonely Hunter the band seems to finally be getting its due.
— Jon Behm
Brute Heart – Blindfolded
Brute Heart will release Lonely Hunter this Saturday (5/14) at the Turf Club (with Jerusalem and the Starbaskets, tender Meat, and Lighted
Brute Heart: Site
Jerusalem And The Starbaskets: DOST Review
Compared to the rest, the first two tracks on Jerusalem and the Starbasket’s debut LP DOST (not counting the intro) sound like straightforward garage pop. “Chocolate Covered Everyberry” and “Brighter the Light,” are pretty tightly constructed tunes, with the former’s climactic guitar fury balanced out with an evenly keeled beat, and the latter dabbling in post-punky synths. After those first two song though its almost as if the Columbia, Missouri based duo discovered a bottle of whiskey and a stack of Townes Van Zandt records under the bed. After the relative sobriety of its start, DOST quickly spirals into fast and loose punk inflected country (or perhaps the country inflected punk?).
The first of the record’s booze-soaked numbers is “Pretty Patty,” in which singer/guitarist Jeremy Freeze hollers the blues over thick, echoey slabs of guitar (there also seems to be an undercurrent of electronic noise though the production makes it incredibly difficult to make out). Freeze follows with “First Cigarette in the Rain,” a tune that’s vocals have so much reverb it’s at times difficult to discern whether there are two people singing or if it’s just an echo effect. Following that “Chinese Rifles” trims back the country influence a bit for a murky psychedelic foray that evolves halfway through into jammy pop rock chords.
Like the A-Side, DOST’s B-side begins with a dreamy guitar instrumentation that shows off the band’s dexterous picking. Then its back to the whiskey again with “Fuck A Parade” laying down a rough and tumble rockabilly vibe, and “Sister Sorcerer” crafting dense psychedelic country. “Similar Cog” finishes the record out on a high note by layering some nice, melodic guitar work into the distortion. One can’t help but try to imagine how much better “Similar Cog” might have sounded (not to mention a number of DOST’s other tracks) if the production quality had been a little bit better. Much of DOST sounds like it was quickly and cheaply recorded, and while it does lend the sound a certain DIY aesthetic, it also results in a lot of the record’s nuance getting lost in translation. Still, even lacking better production the obvious quality of Jerusalem and the Starbasket’s tunes still shines through.
— Jon Behm
Jerusalem and the Starbaskets – Chocolate Covered Everyberry
JatS will be performing on 5/14 at the Turf Club with Brute Heart (for their fantastic new LP release)
DOST is currently available here
Jerusalem and the Starbaskets: Site