The continuation of our (sort of) monthly series focusing on recent non-metal releases that have been in constant rotation. This month we play some catch up and revisit albums from the beginning of 2017 through this past month…
Ak’chamel, The Mythik Tricksters – Transmissions From Boshqa
There are few bands in the world that a) change the subtitle of their name as much, b) pull from as many musical sources from across the globe and c) come away with recorded material as wholly unique as the lo-fi experimenters, Ak’chamel. Their Bandcamp page freely tags their music as “cultural cannibalism” and there may not be a better and more tongue-in-cheek way to describe what exactly it is that Ak’chamel does on each and every release. This time around it’s various Middle Eastern elements that take center stage among the bizarre radio transmissions and esoteric noise passages. Transmissions From Boshqa is a fitting title for this collection of songs that sounds exactly like it was transmitted from some tiny desert village through the space-time continuum amidst a thick haze of psychedelics. (Originally released in December, we include it here because it’s just too captivating a release to allow it to pass by without mention.)
Noêta – Beyond Life And Death
Released in the dead of winter, the newest album from Swedish duo, Noêta, was the perfect warm blanket to curl up with in the darkness. Listed as “Black Ambient Folk”, Noêta traverse the sometimes seedy and depressive underbelly of the ambient folk world to cultivate a sonic web that one can become all-too-easily ensnared in. Breathy female vocals are layered upon undulating rhythms and pensive gloominess to create something that feels as dangerous as it does beautiful. The entire album breathes and moans like an ethereal daydream come to life over and over again only to fade like wisps of smoke through the trees. It’s at times a breath-taking affair and one worthy of multiple listens.
Mercy Choir – Like a Fountain Stirred
One of the first great releases in 2017 came from the prolific hands of Connecticut’s Mercy Choir. Essentially made up of musician extraordinaire, Paul Belbusti, and his band of hired guns, Mercy Choir has always been bent and folded to the whims of its founder. Like all Mercy Choir albums this one is completely unique and virtually devoid of any ties to previous releases. It’s a grittier and darker affair than we are used to from Belbusti. With an almost noir essence running like a strong current throughout the entire album, Belbusti is able to carve out yet another niche for himself – this time as master of the dark corners often left unexplored by the average indie folk musician. Whatever drove Belbusti to search out these shady crevices within his personal canvas the hope here is that he commences with further explorations. The end result this time around is one of his best efforts from an already impressive discography.
All Riot – Crossfire Traffic
Few albums over the last four months or so have caught me so unready to receive their awesomeness the way this album has. I walked away from this album for a week or so after a day filled with multiple listens, wondering if I’d come back to it feeling as excited about it as I had upon first listen. Short answer: I did. Filled with driving punk aesthetics deftly woven into a searing indie rock tapestry, Connecticut’s All Riot have gifted us one of the catchiest albums of the year. Connecticut has a long, and often storied, history of indie rock, punk, and post-punk releases. While still a relatively new act, All Riot with this release should usurp the crown bestowed upon the occasional act voted “Most Likely to Break the Tether to Their Home Base and Explore the World At Large”. At least, that’s the hope here. There’s no way an album as well-produced and performed as this one wouldn’t play out well to a scene larger than the one in their own backyard. Not afraid to break the mold either, All Riot allow their songs to wander in the best way possible as five of the seven tracks clock in between 5-7 minutes in length. Run, do not walk, to your closest listening apparatus and enjoy.
Audio Jane – Naive
Listing influences as varied as Fleetwood Mac, Mazzy Star, and Kings of Leon, (yet somehow able to hold their own in a conversation about metal albums on Twitter) Hartford’s Audio Jane exist somewhere in the folds of those acts, and more. After an impressive EP released last summer, this five-piece returns with a sound that is frankly bigger and better than before. Their brand of atmospheric, female-fronted rock will immediately pull Mazzy Star off the mental shelf, especially for anyone from the Gen X set, yet in reality the comparisons stop there as Audio Jane rarely attempts to lull the listener into a gorgeous-looking trance the way Hope Sandoval and company could/would. The other pieces of the puzzle they cull together from various corners of the rock world won’t allow it. While there are certainly enough ethereal and dreamy passages to be found here, they are often quickly matched by an accessible aesthetic that the more progressive rock radio stations wouldn’t have an issue getting behind. It’s a downright delicious collection of music and an album that maintains a solid momentum from beginning to end.
The Rivergods – State of the Union
One of the longest, continually running musical acts around these parts is New London’s The Rivergods. Since the late 90s they’ve been churning out their down-home, folksy brand of Americana. Three years since their last recorded material, and six years since their last full-length, The Rivergods finally return with possibly their best release to date in hand. State of the Union is an album that sets up shop at the intersection of Alt Country and Roots Rock, waiting for Indie Folk to show up in her pick-up truck so they can take off together down the back roads of Americana, windows down and dust flying. A perfect album for the back porch as the days grow longer and the sun shines a little brighter.