Grace Notes is a weekly exploration by Jason Morehead 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.
If you’ve spent any time reading previous “Grace Notes” articles, you’ve probably noticed that I often link to Bandcamp. As much as people sing the praises of Spotify and Rdio for discovering new music, I prefer Bandcamp if only because it highlights smaller, more truly independent artists (and can be pretty beneficial for them, too). So for this edition of “Grace Notes”, I’m going to focus on a few gems that, if it weren’t for Bandcamp, I never would’ve heard.
Chalk Dinosaur – Follow Me
Chalk Dinosaur’s John O’Hallaron describes his music as “eclectic rock”, and eclectic it most certainly is. Over the course of Follow Me‘s five songs, three of which cross the six minute mark, O’Hallaron explores and incorporates a number of musical genres, from country and surf-pop to dreampop to electronica. And it all sounds fantastic, thanks to O’Hallaron’s ear for catchy melodies and his meticulous attention to detail. His songs are bursting with little nuances, such as the lap steel and vocal harmonies that give the title track its dreamy summertime feel. The result is an album that I’ve listened to countless times in recent weeks, and though I find its melodies stuck in my head for days on end, each listen feels like the very first one.
Lowtide – You Are My Good Light
Melbourne’s Lowtide sound like they’re stuck in the shoegazer scene from Reading, England circa 1990, and that’s fine with me. There are times during You Are My Good Light where you can’t help but wonder if the only album the band has ever owned is Slowdive’s Just For A Day, which is also fine with me. Chiming guitars, gorgeously gloomy atmospherics, ethereal vocal harmonies — yes, the band’s music features all of the usual shoegaze elements, and does so well. “No Horizon” opens the EP on a beautifully shimmery note that quickly sets the tone but it’s the title track that always gets me. It begins with funereal drums and slowly blossoms into a graceful, introspective epic that would be a perfect soundtrack for lying down in a grassy field somewhere and watching the clouds drift by high overhead.
I know almost nothing about Garbage Man. Is it, indeed, a single guy, or a group? All I know is that he/she/they are from Montreal, they classify their music as “pop”, and that their “Garbage Man” moniker should be taken as tongue-in-cheek: there’s nothing trashy about this elegant, breezy music. Taking some inspiration from Vini Reilly’s Durutti Column, Garbage Man’s self-titled album sends spidery, elegant guitar notes, ultra-smooth basslines, and melodies drifting over electronic beats, landing somewhere between post-rock, electronica, and — dare I say? — funk. What I enjoy most about Garbage Man’s music is trying to determine the patterns that the freewheeling songs will take, and in the case of songs like “Wonderful Eyes” and “Praha”, I’m consistently surprised.