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Thao And MirahIn 2010, Thao Nguyen, leader of Thao With the Get Down Stay Down, and singer/songwriter Mirah (K Records), linked up for a tour. And now, the two have joined forces to release the self-titled album, Thao & Mirah. The duo recorded the album in a two-week period, with Tune-Yards mastermind Merrill Garbus co-producing, guesting, and writing one song. Various Bay Area musicians also contribute.1. Eleven
3. Little Cup
4. Rubies and Rocks
6. Spaced Out Orbit
7. How Dare You
8. Sugar and Plastic
9. Likable Man
11. Squareneck$15.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
The OrnamentNothing gold can stay. Even as he tried to capture it in verse, Robert Frost appreciated the ephemeral nature of beauty. And so does Grant Olsen. Yet a nod to the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet is only one of the reasons the Seattle-based songwriter, best known as half of the duo Arthur & Yu, christened his new project Gold Leaves. An autumnal character imbues these nine originals. Just as foliage buds, changes color, and eventually falls from the branches every season, so too do themes of birth, death and regeneration permeate The Ornament.
Like most creative types, Olsen's muse is always in transition. The album went through myriad permutations between inception and completion. Although he began work on it nearly four years ago, he scrapped the bulk of those early efforts after a bag containing his laptop and notebooks was stolen. The theft seemed a sign. Perhaps he was writing a second Arthur & Yu album? No. In the space of composing and refining The Ornament, Olsen had married, traveled through Central and South America, seen the birth of new family members, and watched a dear one pass. This transitional period was coupled with observations of his nation in flux, all of which informs the universe of this record. While he hoped to open these subjects up in a manner that would permit a broad range of listeners to relate to the sentiments, he recognized that their inciting intimacy precluded turning these songs into Arthur & Yu tunes.
Although he wrote all the songs, calling Gold Leaves a solo project is a misnomer. Olsen had a great deal of help making The Ornament. Jason Quever of Papercuts was by his side through most of the recording process, serving as co-producer, engineer, and multiinstrumentalist. Quever helped guide editorial choices, keeping scratch vocals when Olsen wanted to go back into the vocal booth and try again, and laid down the four-in-the-morning cello part that haunts Hanging Window. With a resume that encompasses tutelage under Motown veterans and credits with Beach House and Brightblack Morning Light, Ben McConnell was an ideal percussionist to anchor Olsen's amorphous musical ideas. Thao Ngyuen (Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, Thao & Mirah), Amy Blaschke, and members of the Moondoggies all contributed backing vocals.1. The Silver Lining
2. The Ornament
3. Endless Dope
4. Hanging Window
5. Cruel & Kind
7. Hard Feelings
8. The Companion
9. Futures$13.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Changing LightOn her fifth solo album, Mirah breaks it down and builds it back up
again with the street smarts that only years behind the wheel of
love can inspire. Ready with the maps and driven to the rhythms
on the radio dial, Changing Light's ten songs carry us from
heartbreak to wholeness and all the places in between.
Uprooted from her home after a scorching break-up, Mirah spent
four years rambling and recording. Tracks were laid down in almost
two dozen houses and apartments - from the Northwest to
Southern California to the East Coast. Sparse demos were
recorded with co-producer Christopher Doulgeris in Portland and
Los Angeles. Embellishments were then added by a slew of friends
and collaborators, including Greg Saunier (Deerhoof), Mary
Timony, Emily Wells, and Heather McEntire (Mount Moriah). In
Philadelphia, Mirah and her sister Emily Zeitlyn (Divers) penned
"LC," an homage to childhood inspiration Leonard Cohen.
Seattle-based composer Jherek Bischoff drew up intricate string
arrangements which were recorded in the living rooms of each
individual player. And Tune-Yards producer Eli Crews
co-produced several tracks with Mirah in her new hometown of
Brooklyn, New York.
Changing Light's reassuring compass is found in Mirah's
shimmering vocals and incisive descriptions. There is yearning
("Gold Rush" and "Fleetfoot Ghost") and hot anger ("Goat
Shepherd"), but no shortage of lyrical and musical playfulness.
Whether it be the T. Rex-inspired rough edges of "Radiomind,"
the rollicking lo-fi bang-and-pop of "Goat Shepherd," or the lush
pop balladry of "Turned the Heat Off," the album corrals string
sections and vintage synths with horns, a multitude of guitar tones
and overdriven drums. With calm and clamor, Mirah brings us all
closer together through her universal honesty and occasional use
of the vocoder.
"It's a break-up record. It has some moments of darkness, some
twists and turns , but ultimately, there's a resolution," says Mirah.
So much can happen in four years, even forgiveness"
While Mirah has been making independent pop records for well
over a decade, Changing Light is the debut release on her new
imprint, Absolute Magnitude Recordings.1. Goat Shepherd
2. Oxen Hope
3. Turned the Heat Off
4. Gold Rush
5. Fleetfoot Ghost
6. I am the Garden
7. No Direction Home
8. 24th St
10. Radiomind$18.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Her fourth solo album strikes a bold path across a landscape of dynamic and varied melody forms and holds many surprises within its undulating reverie. (a) spera is Latin for hopes and difficulties linked inseparably, as we all are. This brave trek through a fragile ancient forest unfolds, revealing the destruction wrought by cruel conquest, recalls the relics of a love never realized, and decries the loss of ancient wisdom. Kalimba, hurdy gurdy, bongos, horns...instruments for all worlds, all times. Featured musicians include Chris Funk (The Decemberists), Tara Jane O'Neill, and Lori Goldston.1.Generosity
2.World Is Falling, The
5.Country Of The Future
7.Gone Are The Days
9.Bones & Skin
10.While We Have The Sun$14.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now