Grace Notes is a weekly exploration by Jason Morehead and Drew Dixon of signs of common grace in the music world. We hope to alert you to wonderful music, some of which will be spiritual in nature but all of which will be unique and worthy of your attention. Each week we will share brief reviews of albums worthy of your attention and maybe a video or two.
My French is pretty rusty, so I don’t really have any idea what the enigmatic individual who goes by the name of B’eirth is singing on much of the latest Birch Book EP. However, given his history as frontman for psych-folk outfit In Gowan Ring, I suspect he’s singing about fairly otherworldly, “wyrd” subject matter. In any case, this collection of six songs (most of which are sung primarily in French) is a simply lovely collection of music. Fans of Nick Drake and Scott Walker will find much to like here, and there are plenty of subtle psychedelic flourishes, e.g., the reverb-laden guitar on the Ennio Morricone-esque “Les Feuilles Mortes”, that add some extra levels of sonic interest. At the core of the EP, however, is B’eirth’s graceful acoustic guitar and lazy, dreamy vocals, which come together in a deceptively simple, yet truly gorgeous fashion. You can listen to the Birch Book EP here.
Have you ever heard a song that just stopped you dead in your tracks, that forced you to put aside everything you were doing and focus on it and nothing else — and then compelled you to listen to it all over again? I had such an experience earlier this week when I came across Antonymes’ “Lost In Waves Of Light”. Crafted out of fragments of Antonymes’ recently released full-length The Licence To Interpret Dreams, “Lost In Waves Of Light” more than lives up to its title, as atmospheric electronics, melancholy orchestral drones, and sparse piano notes swirl, float, and drift around the listener. The song clocks in at over eight minutes, but it’s over before you know it. Or maybe time seems to stand still while it’s playing. I’m not sure exactly which one is the case. I’m too entranced by the elegiac, beautiful, majestic ambience to really notice anything else, much less the time. You can download “Lost In Waves Of Light” for free or listen to it here.
If you are a fan of Daft Punk or Passion Pit you will surely enjoy Friendly Fire’s latest album Pala. Though just as dancable Daft Punk and nearly as poppy as Passion Pit, Friendly Fires ads an their own rock vibe to that formula and the result is a delightful sophomore album.
Highlights include “Blue Cassette,” “Hawaiian Air,” “Pull Me Back to Earth,” and “True Love.”
My Morning Jacket
My Morning Jacket’s album Z was one of my favorite albums of 2005–second only to Sufjan Steven’s Illinois. Its weird how sometimes I hold grudge on artists sometimes when they fail to meet my expectations–that is exactly what I did with MMJ’s follow up album Evil Urges–not that it was a bad album by most people’s standards–it was just too ambitious and not as memorable as Z . So now some 6 years later, MMJ has released their 6th studio album, Circuital, and I figured it was time to put my grudge aside and give their new album a whirl. I am glad I did because its a solid album. The title track finds Jim James howling and guitars sprawling for over 7 minutes. “Wonderful” is the most spiritual song on the album that provides much needed respite from the rest of the album’s pace. “Holdin on to to Metal” is delightfully groovy and “You Wanna Freak Out” is good enough for me to finally bury the hatchet and forgive MMJ for not making every subsequent album up to my strange standards.