Sean Henry "A Jump From The High Dive (Double Double Whammy)"
I was a huge fan of Sean Henry‘s 2018 album Fink. So, as you can imagine, I was pretty thrilled to check out his 2019 release A Jump From The High Dive (Double Double Whammy). Thankfully, it did not disappoint. It’s every bit as much fun as the last album was, as Sean is keenly attuned to what made ‘90s indie as much fun as it was. A little like early Built To Spill, a little like early Pavement, a little like early Modest Mouse-and if that isn’t a trifecta of indie greatness then I don’t know what to tell you. But don’t think this is some kind of retro show or something-this isn’t just a pastiche. It’s just obvious who his influences are. So check out the aforementionedly BTS-esque “Rain Rain.”
Kae Astra "Fortune EP (Modern Outsider)"
Apropos of nothing-but I must talk about kale an awful lot because my auto-correct refuses to allow me to type Kae Astra’s first name without changing it to a cerian leafy green vegetable that Misfit Market LOVES to send me in every box. So anyway, I had to “teach” my computer Kae as a spelling before writing this. Otherwise, it would have been a comedy of errors. Anyway… back to the music! Fortune (Modern Outsider), the new EP from Kae Astra is as artful a collection of pop-leaning music as your bound to hear. Her hushed, haunting vocals mixing with a swirl of synths, Eno-esque sound design, soaring melodies, minimal percussion tracks, and occasional choral arrangements. Full of dramatic turns and dreaminess, the whole thing sounds like if someone was recreating Spandau Ballet from memory. I hope you think that sounds as good as I mean it to. Give the lead-off track “Howl” a listen and see what I mean!
Rachel Grimes "The Way Forth (Temporary Residence)"
Composer/pianist extraordinaire Rachel Grimes is back with a heady, rousing concept of an album. The Way Forth (Temporary Residence) is a folk opera steeped in American history. The source of this history comes from 18th and 19th-century letters, documents, and photos from Kentucky. But as with everything Rachel does, the music is the main attraction here. Though there are tracks featuring spoken word and choral arrangements, it is all in service of Rachel’s beautiful music–here piano mixed with an Americana-esque chamber ensemble. Check out the first track from the album “Got Ahold of Me.”
Sean O'Hagan "Radum Calls, Radum Calls (Drag City)"
For only the second time in his 30 year career, Sean O’Hagan has made a solo album. Though you may not know his name, you’ll recognize his singular sounds. He’s worked with both The High Llamas and Stereolab, and Radum Calls, Radum Calls (Drag City) sounds like, well… both of those things. If Stereolab were a chamber music group, or if The High Llamas were a little more delicate. Sort of a retro-pop collection, with hints of exotica and lounge music. This are jams that are familiar and brand new at the same time. He did all that without a time machine too. Quite a trick, eh? So check out the first single from the album, the blissful “On A Lonely Day (Ding, Dong).”