Eli Winter is a young fingerpicking guitarist with a lot of talent. The Time To Come was a pleasure to listen to and a great showcase for Winter’s technical prowess. None of the specific tracks jumped out at me, but the whole record flowed extremely well. I was reminded of John Fahey and the more recent fingerpicking work of my high school friend and Bella Union artist Will Stratton. Winter has excellent command of his instrument and it shines through on The Time To Come. It’s refreshing to here someone this proficient at the guitar, in a time when everybody (myself included) has resorted to USB keyboards and laptop synthesizers.
I would recommend this album to fans of instrumental and folk music. It’s a promising debut and a very mature statement as a record taken on its own merits. The backstory on the album’s Bandcamp page is interesting, but I prefer to evaluate music strictly on its own terms. This is a very enjoyable listen and the producers and mixer of this album deserve high praise as well for bringing out the best in Winter’s guitar tone. Excited to see what comes next for Eli Winter.
M. Grig’s latest album Mt. Carmel is a somber and beautiful meditative record that invites the listener into a self-described personal reflection on his childhood in Los Peñasquitos, California. The cover of the album is a perfect representation of how this album functions like the musical equivalent of a landscape painting. I can vividly picture the brush of California desert listening to the lap steel and dobro on Mount Carmel. The instruments and element of field recordings gives the record space which could connote any expansive outdoor setting. I can just as easily picture the sweeping fields of Iowa or any other bucolic American setting.
M. Grig manages to incorporate folk instruments into a sound that doesn’t feel like folk but is at the same time distinctly American. The drone aspect of Mt. Carmel is pleasant to listen to as this particular kind of drone is more for atmosphere than the focus of the music. I’m reminded of the way Wilco incorporated the E-Bow into their album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. That actually is a decent frame of reference for the work on Mt. Carmel. Alt-country ambient music? Never heard it before, but I’m a fan.
Europa Pools is an experimental and instrumental concept record about a woman who died under mysterious circumstances in England in 1997. The beginning and end to this record sound like very weird vaporwave, and the middle portion of the album really goes out there. I enjoyed this record a lot and found it listening to it to be very much like the experience of listening to an instrumental soundtrack. Her Majesty’s Coroner for Wirral is a great name for this artist and reminds me of The Olivia Tremor Control, especially since both artists share bizarre conceptual backstories.
‘She Lit Up the Room’ is probably my favorite track on Europa Pools, as I feel it functions as the centerpiece of the record, but this is an album meant to be listened to all the way through. I also have to add that it’s a very strange album to listen to before 7AM. Recommended for any fan of experimental music.
The Love Songs of Oedipus Rex is a fun record unlike any I’ve heard before. Decidedly dark but mixing in the upbeat influence of surf music, The Holy Gasp created an album that sounds like it stands at some strange intersection of later Tom Waits, Link Wray, Nick Cave, and a more local act I used to listen to in high school called The Brimstones. The Love Songs of Oedipus Rex is essentially a goth surf-rock record, arranged and recorded very well. The amount of players in the credits is a testament to the group effort it took to make an album that sounds this full.
A sense of humor is what I think separates The Holy Gasp from their influences, and this is an enjoyable aspect to the album. Unlike the goth-surf of The Love Songs of Oedipus Rex, psychobilly as a subgenre takes itself way too seriously for my taste. Fortunately, I wouldn’t call The Love Songs of Oedipus Rex a psychobilly record: it manages to transcend that designation. The Waits/Cave dynamic is too strong for this to be psychobilly which is why I think ultimately The Holy Gasp succeeded at putting out a dynamic and interesting LP. I’d recommend this album to fans of any of the artists I mentioned in this review, and any fan of music that tows the line between goth and camp.