Wildcard - Danny Gouker
I think I have to include this one, because last week I found myself, once again, telling someone I just met about this record. Track 1 is one of my favorite pieces of recorded music and I found this music because I was Facebook friends with Brad (even though I didn't know him that well yet) and he posted the Bandcamp link to his wall. I sort of idly clicked on it while trying to stop procrastinating, but got sucked in for the whole record. When I first heard it, I think what really drew me in and impressed me about it was how patient and slow moving it was while still drawing me in emotionally and pulling me along. It's a feeling and aesthetic that I generally feel completely incapable of creating myself and I really admire it. This record also got me interested in the whole body of work presented by Prom Night Records and is representative of the way other young musicians, especially trumpet players, in Brooklyn are continuing to inspire and surprise me.
I got into this while checking out some of Kenny Warren's music (oh hey another young trumpet player in Brooklyn) and he said one of his songs was influenced by Phil Elverum, who's the main person behind the Microphones. That was maybe a month ago and now I've got four of these records that I've had on repeat. I think a few critics say that "The Glow pt. 2" is the best record by the Microphones, but I really like to listen to records straight through and get a good feel for the whole record, and I think Mt. Eerie rewards listeners who do that. The whole record works as one integrated suite, segueing throughout and referencing previous material, even though each song could stand alone. There's also a really interesting paradox throughout, where there is a rich, expansive, almost opulent soundscape, but Phil sings softly and simply, often low in the mix. For me it has this feeling of seeing yourself in relation to something large, frightening, and mysterious. It seems like Phil also reuses and gives new context to some of his material, and there's a nice moment at the beginning of the record, during the extended intro on "The Sun" where you can hear some of the instrumental parts from "The Glow pt. 2" if you're listening really closely with headphones. Another one of my favorite parts is when he says something about "scary trumpets" in the lyrics and a bunch of weird scary trumpets come in and it's the only time there are trumpets on the record.
It seems like I go through cycles where I get really stuck on one artist or record for 3-6 months and just keep listening over and over, poring over all kinds of little details and just generally obsessing. I'm coming to a point where I've just gotten over playing all of Joanna Newsom's records on repeat, but it's worth mentioning here, because there was a good six months where I listened to barely anything else. It's hard to pick between her three records, Milk-eyed Mender, Ys, and Have One on Me, because they're all different and together have a really interesting progression as Joanna's music has developed. Ys is really special, though, because of the way some of these very long songs with intricate arrangements come together (and there's evidence she does it live, too, which is also impressive). My favorite two tracks are probably Emily and Only Skin. They're both similar in that they're long (12 and 16 minutes) with dense, nuanced lyrics throughout that hardly repeat, if at all. Both songs are propelled forward by the way Joanna manipulates her voice throughout, giving a feeling of urgency to every word, even if the whole song feels like a book.