On Saturday, May 20, multi-instrumentalist and lauded bass player Erik Kramer released his debut studio endeavor, an EP entitled ‘Missed the Boat.’ The Brooklyn-based musician has an especially eclectic sound, one that employs the talent of a slew of musicians: saxophone, trombone, viola, trumpet, back-up vocalists - they’re all there. An experimental record through and through, ‘Missed the Boat’ is an indie record quite unlike anything else that’s come across my desk in recent months.
The most unique quality ‘Missed the Boat’ boasts is its ability to effortlessly hop between genres, all while maintaining an aura of cohesiveness. It’s very difficult to be an artist that pulls influence from so many sonic avenues and keep your sound organized, and Kramer does this remarkably well. The titular track, which opens the EP, has a very Radiohead-infused sound. The soft vocal croons, funky bass riffs, and erratic brass sections all sound like they’re from a ‘King of Limbs’ session.
The following track has much more of a jazz influence, offering a rather beautiful soundscape of piano noodling accented by a fantastic string section. If New York experimental music was written for a late night jazz club, ‘Seagulls’ would be the song that would result from it. ‘One of Many,’ the track after that, is a tune that really lets the brass section shine. There’s more funk and fusion influence apparent on that song, and the more upbeat nature of the track gives Kramer more room to experiment as a vocalist.
The EP’s most easy-listening track is surely ‘Tell You Otherwise,’ a sublime listening experience that washes over the listener in a surreal fashion. The equally enigmatic lyricism matches the instrumentation beautifully, as does the sparse, but effective female vocal backing. Heavy jazz inspiration then returns for ‘The Way It Goes,’ exhibiting some of the collection’s most excellent musicianship.
The finale of the EP, ‘The Light,’ may be its strongest song, at least, lyrically. The story-like lyricism puts the vocal content at the forefront of the song, whereas the rest of the EP usually reverses that dichotomy. At this point, it’s also very much worth mentioning that the production on ‘Missed the Boat’ is incredibly good, too, and Kramer has a superb hand over such a large soundscape of musicians.
‘Missed the Boat’ is an excellent EP from beginning to end, defying genre by jamming together funk, jazz, and experimental influences. It does it in an unpretentious fashion, too, which is rather vital to success in this arena.
onj. is an instrumental post-rock band that has been playing in and around Asheville, NC for about 4 years now. The four members of onj. are Marklar Klepac and Joel Wolfe on guitar, bassist Sean McAusland, and drummer Dylan Webb. Their first EP, "Opposition," was released at the beginning of 2014.
Over the past 3 years, onj. have been working on material for the new album, "Alone." The album attempts to capture the various feelings of being left alone while dealing with depression, loss, and separation.
The full EP, 'Coping Strategies' just released on & Options (Cassette and digital). It explores erosion of meaning and collective anxiety, and people’s attempts at dealing with those things. People seem to be finding the world an increasingly overwhelming and absurd place. Noticing how they deal with that has been finding its way into my CARES' work.
"I only knew what this EP was about after it was finished. I approach writing with an idea about a sound or a vague feeling or imagery but leave the concepts open ended to try to write in a more abstract and subconscious way. I’m really excited to release something on & Options because I think they're doing something really interesting with the catalog they’re building. The label is Toronto based but a lot of the music they are putting out is from all over the world. There is a really bold mix of ideas from their roster so far and I'm happy to add to it."
"Late Night Mornings" is hotkid's first full-length album as a three piece. Adding bass to their previous guitar/drums duo has allowed for a little more space and freedom in the songwriting and production. Working with producer Adam King (Lowell, Mad Ones) gave them the opportunity to spend time experimenting in the studio. They also incorporated self-recorded elements, giving the album a range that spans from more produced and experimental, to a little more raw and immediate.
Northwest is one of the most promising musical projects in the independent scene. They gained media attention because of their ethereal and cinematic sound, their nostalgic and mysterious image and their diverse blend of influences (from bands like Radiohead and Portishead to composers such as Debussy and Robert Wyatt).
Northwest was formed in 2015 in the UK by multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer Ignacio Simón and visual artist, composer and singer Mariuca García-Lomas They gained attention with three home recorded singles (Reflection, Wind and Look At Me) which were released independently and with very little promotion, accompanied by three artistic videos directed by Mariuca García-Lomas herself.
The duo Northwest moved from Spain to the UK and spent half of the year traveling around England and Scotland. Inspired by these trips, they started writing their debut album in 2016. This album has been almost entirely writen and recorded in less than a year while the artistic couple locked themselves in a country house outside of London.
Northwest has managed to create an original and otherwordly atmosphere thanks to their unique blend of experimental jazz rhythms, ethereal and enigmatic layered vocals, classical orchestration, delicate production and nostalgic lyrics. Their upcoming debut album is one of the most awaited and promising projects of the independent music scene.
Ali Murray is an ethereal folk songwriter/musician from the cold isle of Lewis in the north of Scotland. He writes dark atmospheric folk music with lush sweeping dreamy soundscapes and Celtic-twinged instrumentation. His new album LAND OF EVERGONE strikes a balance that is intimate and soaring, peaceful and haunting, sad and quietly joyful, delicately reverberating with Murray's dreamy voice and guitar playing.
Orellana is a neo-classical/post-rock collective hailing from Bristol, UK. Their new album “52”, released in late December, brought in the new year with it’s explosive and intricate sound. The project’s music transcends genre definitions in order to focus on a broad, diverse concept that is more emotional than tangible. This particular release is full of rich and diverse arrangements, but it is also a powerful exercise in minimalism, one that showcases the strength of very few notes placed in the right spots. The simplicity of the arrangement is actually one of the strongest aspects of this entire release: there’s a palpable stillness created by the long, drone notes in the background, which almost makes you feel like the world is happening in slow motion. When the chords and notes change, it feels quite monumental due to the beautiful contrast between the stillness of the background textures and the expressive sound of the guitar-based melodies.