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Folk/Americana - Released August 30, 2019 | No Quarter

A worthy air to Sandy Denny, Vashti Bunyan, Joan Baez, Linda Thompson, Nick Drake and, more suitably, Gillian Welch, the American Joan Shelley carries on their torch. The folk singer from Louisville who had Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy produce her eponymous 2017 debut album continues her scenic journey with a unique and moving grace. The melodies and rhythms of songs on Like the River Loves the Sea contain fragments of the multiple musical traditions that make up the sonority of her native Kentucky: Irish, British, African to only mention a few. For Shelley, “the most beautiful music is that which converses with the all-seeing divine, the trees and ancient beings that are witnesses to the entirety of human history. These songs represent part of this conversation.” And this divinity is indeed present on titles such as When What It Is where a tranquil piano envelops a guitar and pure vocals; the result is dumbfounding… Much like her predecessors, Joan Shelley is never superfluous and delivers an incandescent folk artistry. Calm moments and silences allow her to create an atmosphere of beauty and purity. Less is more, more than ever… © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Pop - Released August 22, 2019 | No Quarter

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Pop - Released July 16, 2019 | No Quarter

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Pop - Released June 11, 2019 | No Quarter

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 17, 2019 | No Quarter

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 12, 2019 | No Quarter

Guitarist/composer Chris Forsyth grew from experimental roots but developed his playing into something masterful and distinctive as he honed his craft over the years. Even while he was most active in the sometimes challenging sounds of New York's improvisational scene in the late '90s and early 2000s, Forsyth was looking for new ways to twist his instrument into something that could be technically sharp and without conventional boundaries at the same time. By the time he founded the Solar Motel Band in 2013, Forsyth had spent decades cultivating a guitar sound that drew on the sturdiness of classic roots rock and extended free-form jamming and elements of spiritual jazz and early Americana. The sprawling double album All Time Present is a sampler pack of Forsyth's strongest impulses, offering up just eight mostly instrumental pieces but stretching out in different directions over the course of its hour-plus playing time. Though All Time Present is the first work billed as a solo album since 2013's Solar Motel, Forsyth is bolstered by various players on every track. Most notably, bassist Peter Kerlin (also of Sunwatchers) and drummer Ryan Jewell add weight to tracks like album opener "Tomorrow Might As Well Be Today" or the Rosali-sung "Dream Song." These songs push steadily while they buzz with a loose, anxious energy, like Crazy Horse jamming with Amon Duul and trying to keep up. Songs drift in and out of each other, the free ramble of "The Past Ain't Passed" swimming in formlessness for almost nine minutes before giving way to the acoustic intro of barnburner "New Paranoid Cat." Though Grateful Dead-modeled jamming plays into Forsyth's style, he opts for a far more calculated take on jam band psychedelia, making sharp, intentional turns on the synth/guitar duet "(Livin' On) Cubist Time" rather than noodling aimlessly. The various parts of the album go in a multitude of stylistic directions but still feel intertwined. Even though most tracks approach the ten-minute mark and album closer "Techno Top" nearly hits 20 minutes, Forsyth never stays on one idea too long, and the entire experience somehow seems to rush by. While All Time Present moves through various moods and approaches, from Krautrock reenvisioned as rural guitar rock to floating ambience, it remains knowingly tied together by threads of dazzling playing and boundless exploration. ~ Fred Thomas
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 4, 2019 | No Quarter

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Pop - Released November 2, 2018 | No Quarter

A starter home is where a couple begins to live out its dreams yet the term is a contradiction of sorts. A home suggests permanence but the starter modifier acknowledges this dwelling is temporary: a place that will serve as the launching pad to greater things, or perhaps lead to a premature end. As a former carpenter, singer/songwriter Doug Paisley understands the power of habitats and as a writer, he's keenly attuned to habits of humans. Starter Home, his fourth album, finds Paisley deliberately mining the intimacies that exists within a relationship and how physical spaces can accentuate or erode those connections. Paisley's nine tales of the heart are subtly etched and softly delivered -- a listener may need to lean into the speaker to discern the narratives -- but there's no distancing effect at play in the production. Hushed though it may be, Starter Home is a cozy, even comforting, collection of burnished roots music that feels a bit like a musical version of reclaimed wood: it draws upon tradition and is spun into something tasteful, handsome, and fresh. Such complexities are why Starter Home is so resonant: it's an album that reveals a little bit more of itself with each listen. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released October 22, 2018 | No Quarter

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Pop - Released October 5, 2018 | No Quarter

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Pop - Released September 18, 2018 | No Quarter

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Pop - Released September 5, 2018 | No Quarter

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Pop - Released August 27, 2018 | No Quarter

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Folk/Americana - Released July 20, 2018 | No Quarter

The joy in guitarist Nathan Salsburg's third solo album lies in its rustic austerity and sturdiness of craft. In the five years since his last release, 2013's excellent Hard for to Win and Can't Be Won, the Louisville-based musician has become more widely known as a collaborator, gifting his lyrical fretwork to albums by Red River Dialect, the Weather Station, and Jake Xerxes Fussell, while acting as singer/songwriter Joan Shelley's full-time musical partner. He and like-minded fingerstylist James Elkington delivered their second volume of acoustic guitar duets in 2015's lovely Ambsace, but the aptly titled Third marks Salsburg's return to solo work and is also his first to feature nothing but a single acoustic guitar. The solo guitar album as a concept is no great revelation, and in fact has made somewhat of a comeback in certain circles, but rarely is it done with such finesse and earthy elegance as on these ten tracks. A lifelong student of folk traditions, Salsburg has manned his post as curator for the Alan Lomax Archive since the mid-2000s and his own composition style lies in a sort of mid-Atlantic realm that takes as much influence from the British Isles as from his native American South. Standouts like "Timoney's" and the gorgeous "Impossible Air" are stacked with impressively cascading melodies that, while executed with supreme fluidity, somehow remain ruggedly earthbound and unfussy in their attitude. His fingerpicking is clean and confident, though not specifically technical, calling to mind U.K. greats like Dick Gaughan, Martin Carthy, and Nic Jones, the latter of whom he nods to on the traditional "Planxty Davis," a staple of Jones' 1980 masterwork, Penguin Eggs. The brief set, "Ruby's Freilach / Low Spirits," calls to mind some of the pieces from his collaborations with Elkington, hinting at fiddle tunes, dark blues, and even subtle modernist experimentation, particularly in the drawn-out repetition of the latter piece. Overall, though, these songs are meant to exist in a complete volume, tied together gracefully with a sweetness that belies their complexity. ~ Timothy Monger
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Folk/Americana - Released June 5, 2018 | No Quarter

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Folk/Americana - Released June 5, 2018 | No Quarter

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Rock - Released May 1, 2018 | No Quarter

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 25, 2017 | No Quarter

One of Chris Forsyth's many gifts as a guitarist is his ability to create a sonic sprawl that always makes quantitative sense. Whether engaging American and Anglo-Saxon roots styles, psychedelia, or kosmiche projection, his sense of space and attention to melody are enviable. Since forming the Solar Motel Band, his explorations have revolved around everything from muscular jams strong on six-string pyrotechnics, to intensely minimal lyric songs. Dreaming in the Non-Dream contains four songs spread over 35 minutes -- two are over 11. The set was cut live in the studio with precious few overdubs added later. The Solar Motel Band includes veterans Peter Kerlin on low strings and Shawn Edward Hansen on synth, Wurlitzer, and alto saxophone, along with new drummer Ray Kubian and Jeff Zeigler on electronics. This is a continuation of Forsyth's guitar-based methodology, though the particular nuances differ from what we’ve heard before. Opener "History & Science Fiction" commences with a simple two-chord sequence illustrated by layered guitar chords and vamps. They establish a harmonic and rhythmic base. Forsyth's solos all emerge from melody; they go inside the chord changes to explore every tonality encountered and in turn extend their dynamics. As it progresses, his playing travels afield but always returns to a circular center. Halfway through, it breaks down into a sparse ballad with lovely cymbal interludes and fingerpicked electric guitar. It’s almost folk metal until Hansen's overdubbed saxophone lines emerge to cross Roxy Music with Van Der Graaf Generator. Throughout, the dialogue between musicians remains accessible to the listener; each player burrows into the next rather than expand out, revealing subtle yet still illuminating ideas, tones and textures. The bluesy intro to "Have We Mistaken the Bottle for the Whiskey Inside?" sets up Forsyth's haunted declarative vocal that rides atop increasingly dark, insistent garage rock worthy of early Pere Ubu. Snaky guitar lines, spiraling, spooky woodwind sounds, and a trance-like beat wind together and collectively push toward rock & roll catharsis. At nearly 16 minutes, the title track sounds like it begins in the middle. The band is already cooking on a nearly Motorik rhythmic vamp, with Forsyth playing short lyric phrases all over the neck to highlight the expressiveness economy can dictate when employed properly. Amid shard-like Wurlitzer stabs, a hypnotic bassline, and a snare, hi-hat, and kick drum shuffle, the guitarist begins spiking his way forward through an improvisation that cracks the margins of the tune with a wiry swing, swagger, and bite; all the while relying stubbornly on tight utterances that express themselves in concrete terms. He and Hansen duel with one another but eventually join in a prismatic climax. This breathless jam sets up the brief, skeletal, dreamy whisper of a ballad in "Two Minute Love." Dreaming in the Non-Dream is the sound of Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band breaking into the muck and mire of rock history to emerge with a communicative, dynamic language of their own design. ~ Thom Jurek
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 21, 2017 | No Quarter

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 19, 2017 | No Quarter

Following 2013's Long Island, Vibe Killer is the fourth album from Brooklyn-based rock ensemble Endless Boogie. Composed of gravely vocals, searingly overdriven guitar riffs, and rollicking basslines, the record once again features guitarist and producer Matt Sweeney (Iggy Pop, Jake Bugg). The title track single "Vibe Killer" is the lead-off track. ~ Rob Wacey