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José González's music has always maintained a timeless quality. In the realm of contemporary folk, there is no competition for his soothing yet soulful tones and melodic, plucking guitar. On Vestiges & Claws, the first solo album he's released in 7 years, a new kind of electrifying energy is at play. Melding the intimately personal with the overwhelming impersonal, González takes us on a journey with him, creating the kind of depth that elevates a folk album from pleasant background music to a collection that will stay and grow with you -- as it has evidently stayed and grown with him -- for a long time.
Jose Gonzalez - Vestiges And Claws Album Review  

Page Campbell and Dan Donahue, aka Dream Boat, achieve two impressive feats on their sophomore release, The Rose Explodes. With unflinching lyrics, they convey honest emotion and highlight the uniquely timeless yet unearthly quality of Campbell's voice. With expert instrumentation, they create and fill a space in which that emotion can live and from which it feeds -- a space that has both depth and character without distracting from the album's overall effect.
Dream Boat - The Rose Explodes Album Review
By experimenting with distances, alternating which vocal or instrumental tracks feel close and which seem far, Donahue and Campbell create a musical space that has depth rather than the mere appearance of depth.

On their newest LP, Electric Balloon, New York's Ava Luna offer a solid rock and R&B framework infused with the pulse of experimental music. The result is something they call "nervous soul" -- experimental rock that is as texturally interesting as it is emotionally invigorating. As soon as Electric Balloon begins, its simple grouping of rock instruments offers a cool, open, and vintage-inspired sound. With heavy power chords, musical interlude-tracing guitar licks, funky bass lines that make you want to dance, and a percussion section featuring everything from cymbals and tambourines to maracas and woodblocks, Ava Luna tap into many of the classic and modern rock instrumental mainstays that would be right at home on a Black Keys album and which (at least for me) cannot fail to please. Add to this awesome, soulful, R&B-reminiscent vocals by Carlos Hernandez and light, edgy female vocals that dart in and out of the album's gritty backing instrumentation, and you've already got a soundscape that is engaging all on its own.

With a lead singer as versatile as Highasakite's Ingrid Helene Håvik, it's not difficult for the band to evoke landscapes as diverse as a country road, a spacey sky, or a western plain. On their debut full-length album, Silent Treatment, the Norwegian musicians pioneer the "adventurous brand of indie pop" they've introduced on earlier recordings, emphasizing unusual vocals effects and genre contrasts. Having unbelievable clarity and the ability to turn on a dime, Håvik's voice carries a lot of power on Highasakite's debut LP. The first lyrics of the album's opening track, "Lover, Where Do You Live?", emerge out of the emptiness suddenly and intensely, against a nearly a cappella backdrop. This pattern sets the tone for the rest of the album, with vocals so solid and controlled you feel as if you could graph their progression visually. Meanwhile, complex instrumentation evolves over the course of each track, varying in degrees of intensity with a wide range of effects. Hollow horns, finely tuned upper register guitar parts, shimmering synths, and big indie drumming create alternatingly dense and sparse instrumental sections through which Highasakite transitions seamlessly.

Tei Shi - Saudade EP Album ReviewTei Shi Saudade EP Self-Released (2013)Ever wanted a female artist with awesomely soulful vocals to make cool, interesting, and meaningful music? Now you have one. On her latest EP, Saudade, Valerie Teicher, aka Tei Shi, makes an impressive debut, exposing herself musically as well as emotionally, with powerful and lasting effect. The majority of Saudade is a cappella, with only minimal instrumentation and well-chosen electronic effects that highlight Tei Shi's stunning, cavernous voice. Low and versatile, her vocals, such as those on the EP's standout track, “Adder(f)all," vibrate in your ears with an immediacy second only to if she were physically present and singing directly into your ear. Punctuated with occasional dance beats, sparse percussion, plucked electric guitar, maracas, or bass synth melodies, her voice slowly encompasses you, wrapping itself around you like a fog and settling hooks into your heart with each subsequent layer of breathy harmony, before tugging on them repeatedly in cyclical patterns. Given the emotionality of her voice -- its notes of longing, anger, and passion—every loop, harmony, suspension, and resolution is amazingly spot-on, carrying with it the gravity and precision of choral music and evoking its same sense of controlled chaos.

Shine 2009 - Our Nation Album Review Shine 2009 Our Nation Cascine / Modular Recordings (2013) Shine 2009's sophomore LP, Our Nation, is hard to pin down. Through sampling, instrumentation, and lyrics, Mikko Pykäri and Sami Suova, the Finnish duo behind the album, manage to simultaneously evoke spacey lightness and earthly percussiveness, welcomed nostalgia and contemporary immediacy. The effect is strange but infectious. While assimilating us, for example, to the band's stylistic combination of R&B backing vocals and psych synths is no small feat, Our Nation's lyrics and overall cohesiveness may offer something even more lasting.

Tezeo No One Self-Released (2013) red As soon as you hear the crisp, resonant guitar plucking that begins No One's opening track, "Charisma", you know you're in for an eclectic mix of influences and sounds. As Tezeo's self-titled LP continues, bass-heavy dance beats, excitable synths, and divergent electronic sounds join pure, hollow indie pop vocals and ambient psychedelic layers. The result is an intriguing voyage into an ethereally electronic landscape, and an impressive full-length debut – that only lacks some of the focus necessary to reach its full potential and establish its lasting musical significance.

Moodoïd Moodoïd Entreprise (2013)Modooid - Moodoid Self-Titled EP Album Review In a genre as expansive and sonically promising as psych-pop, there is a lot of ground to cover. On his self-titled 4-track debut, Moodoïd, Parisian Pablo Padovani seems to have acknowledged that fact implicitly, and met the challenge ten-fold. What's most impressive about Moodoïd's debut EP is its ability to combine multiple genres seamlessly, through the quality, variety, and—most importantly—interactivity of its sounds. While relying on the spacey bed of synths and ambient vocals characteristic of psychedelic music, Moodoïd invites other genres into its sphere, including pop, punk, grunge, and experimental, through nostalgic vocals, groovy percussion, heavy instrumentation, and irregular song patterns. "Je suis la montagne" ("I Am The Mountain"), Moodoïd's stunning opener, encapsulates many of the EP's strengths: crisp, echoey percussion that punctuates a fun, repetitious psychedelic loop, along with the driving force of grunge-y electric guitar licks. And though the EP's experimental influences make for rich patches of nightmarish or wild descent, they are in no way overpowering or alienating.
Making of Moodoïd's "Je Suis la Montagne" Music Video, w/ Interviews in French & English