With so many releases flying at you, here are recommended vetted listens from Nialler9 for you this week, as collated in the Nialler9 New Releases Spotify playlist, updated weekly.
The debut album from Dallas native Conner Youngblood is a love letter to the art of travel. Subdued and nuanced, the blend of folk and ambient heard throughout Cheyenne is the perfect soundtrack for those taken by wanderlust.’The Birds OF Finland’, an early highlight on the project, showcases many of the reoccurring aspects of Youngblood’s music which make it so endearing. The opening 30 seconds sprawl out, gradually gathering form and shape in the added layers of instrumentation. Some of these sounds feel organic, like the twinkling of the acoustic guitar and others feel like the product of some lo-fi studio witchcraft. In this respect, much of the material on Cheyenne owes its origins to the sound palette used on Bon Iver’s seminal For Emma, Forever Ago.
That being said, Cheyenne doesn’t feel like the product of countless hours in the studio. The album, in the micro and macro, feels like it exists out in the places from which it was inspired. Looking at the tracklisting, many of the songs are named after specific places, with the sound design geared toward conveying the artist’s experience there. ’12 lbs’ is the album’s highpoint. A sombre yet sweet slow burner. With some stunning layered vocal harmonies, the song is among the most beautiful of 2018.
Be The Cowboy
Everybody’s talking about Mitski’s Be The Cowboy. Putting aside the fact that the artist has become the darling of critics and social media pundits alike, there’s much to be actually said about this evocative, sensitive and flawed album. Be The Cowboy is Korean-American singer-songwriter Mitski Miyawaki’s 5th studio album. The first thing that demands attention is the artist’s meticulous lyricism. Each of the 14 songs on the record plays like a vivid description of individual moments. Whether it’s a tense moment shared between two lovers on ‘A Pearl’ or a moment of shared appreciation on ‘Me And My Husband’. These moments share loose themes, most seem concerned with romantic interests, but can often contradict one another.
If the main pull of Be The Cowboy is Mitski’s superb penmanship, it’s main fault lies in some very lacklustre musical arrangement. For every flash of greatness, say the organ sound on ‘Come Into The Water’, there’s a track like ‘Geyser’ with a void where the track’s personality should be. These moments and the tracks they’re in definitely dampen the overall quality of the record, but not to the point of making it an unattractive. Afterall the buzz can’t be totally unjustified. Be The Cowboy is an expressive collection of snapshots into its creators psyche. Check it out.
Col3trane is the product of both Egyptian and American culture, inherited from his parents. His childhood influences came in the form of various UK hip-hop and grime outfits, where he grew up. It’s little wonder then that the music on his new mixtape Boot, contains such a rich array of different sounds and genres. Primarily a nu-R&B project in spirit though it’d be a huge misstep to label it as just that.
‘Roses’ is a great example. Coming in around the mixtape’s halfway point the track is backed by a steady flow of jazzy chord arrangments and trip-hop inspired drum sounds. Woozy and fluid, this laid-back love song showcases just how much Col3trane has to offer as an artist. The vocal delivery throughout the release is unmistakably R&B. More cynical listeners could dismiss it as too close to Frank Ocean’s style, but Col3trane is an inherently different artist both in tone and intent. Much of the material on Boot finds an artist caught in transit, balancing his life at home and his life on the road, referred to as “the scenic route”. Check out ‘Resume’, the mixtape’s standout track to hear Col3trane’s huge radio appeal.
Old Rockhounds Never Die
Old Rockhounds Never Die is our surprise album of the week. Odetta Hartman labels her music as Cowboy Soul, as intriguing as it is intangible. On her second album, it feels like any sort of southern influence has been relegated to the mere starting point. Working with collaborator Jack Inslee, Hartman has created a record packed full of instrumental oddities, take the synth bass and banjo combination on the supreme ‘Honey’, and warm field recordings to create a slow-burning delight of an album.
It’d be all too easy to be fooled by crude album opener ‘Old Rockhounds’, which as a first impression gives little away of what’s to come. Hartman’s penchant for blending all things old and new first becomes apparent on ‘Cowboy Song’, which uses rich field recordings, squealing harmonicas and a whirling bass sound to create a rich and textured track full of attitude and swagger. It’s rare that a record offers total immersion, but Old Rockhounds Never Die creates a world of total light-hearted charm and late summer evenings, offering the listener just under an hour of blissful escapism. Check out album highlight ‘You You’ if you need a taster.