Ghost Lights make perfect music to fall asleep to. And I mean that in the best possible way and not because I’m in bed snuggled up to my laptop. The subdued yet lush instrumentation hits you like a muscle relaxant and you’re off to dreamland. The effect isn’t accidental. The artist behind Ghost Lights, Noah Cebuliak, disappeared into Canada’s wilderness and discovered emotions that can’t be transmitted by mere words or waking logic. Who is the Canadian equivalent of Thoreau? I nominate Cebuliak (Canada’s answer to Neil Halstead at least). He went into the woods, with a guitar, to see if he could learn what it had to teach. These songs are his lessons learned and the only way you’re gonna benefit from them is by checking out of the rat race, unplugging, and letting yourself drift toward the lights, the Ghost Lights…
Let me first reiterate that this site has never been about being first. There’s just too much music and too many critics out there playing that game. We share what we love when we find it, or in this case, when we get around to it. Forgive me for waiting so long to get this out to you. I deserve a sound beating. I’ll take it from Washed Out. It’s a pleasure to be pummeled by Washed Out’s gentle rhythms and epic synth-scapes.
Also known as Ernest Green, Washed Out creates soundtracks for sunsets. He uses a wide, soft-focus brush and paints with generous strokes of hazy vocals and undulating echoes of blisstronic. This album messes with your head—you get swept up into some sort of time warp, making every present moment feel like a past memory. A couple lines from a poem by Geoffrey Hill seem to capture this mood I’m reaching for here, “What paradises and watering-places! / What hurts appeased by the sea’s handsomeness!”
Anna Morley is a classically trained vibraphone player from Australia, now living in Barcelona, and she’s quietly making a stir with her unique compositions. Morley works with London-based produced Alex Foster who adds gentle rhythms and heart-beat sized beats to her instrumentation. Along with the vibraphone, Morley occasionally adds her own vocals to tracks and plays the violin, keyboard, and an array of percussive instruments.
Her EP Character (from where these downloads originate) is a chilled-out ambient work and her debut album Red Balance (out today—stream it below) is equally crisp and clean, while a bit more bubbly, a refreshing soda pop on a summer day. Space-age bachelorette pad music at its finest. Although I think anyone, regardless of their marital status, will enjoy lounging to such a soundtrack.
If you’re fortunate enough to find yourself in Spain in the next couple weeks, be sure to check out her shows.
With muffled vocals in minor keys, purposeful feedback, and dominating drums Valleys eerie folk sound resembles a bizarre nightmare.
The duoâ€™s album, Sometimes Water Kills People, can almost be considered as one extensive song, rather than nine separate tracks, thanks to its consistently moderate tempo and transitions that melt the endings into the beginnings of subsequent songs. Lyrics and vocals take a back seat to their mystifying guitar preludes, or thundering drum patterns. The six minutes of â€œCR68Câ€ is composed solely of stifled screeching guitar riffs with simultaneous plucking, and brief interludes of drumming.
If itâ€™s intricate music patterns or inspirational lyrics youâ€™re after, youâ€™re headed in the wrong direction. I admit it was difficult to digest Valleys’ synthesized additives and unorthodox style. But by track two, â€œSantiago,â€ I was hooked to their repetitive lyrics and mellow mood. Tie for first goes to â€œLe Sujet Est Delicatâ€ and â€œTan Linesâ€; the addicting oriental instrumentals coming in halfway through the former and the simple yet poetic lyrics of the latter skyrocketed their play count.
-By Brie Roche-Lilliott
This song may not have even won my attention during a recent listening binge if my nose hadn’t been buried in a particular book. “Bastard Out of Carolina” by Dorothy Allison is that particularity. An insightful young lady, Ruth Anne “Bone” Boatwright narrates the novel, telling the story of growing up poor in the South amongst a colorful cast of aunts and uncles. The rhythm of the language is pure music, while Ruth Anne’s life is pure hell. Besides a couple aunts who come to her rescue, the closest thing that brings solace to Ruth Anne’s life is gospel music. Julie Peel doesn’t play gospel music in the traditional sense, but her soulful voice, and the deep strains of cello echo the yearnings of one searching for some sort of salvation. I assume Peel’s song “Unfold” is about the loss of a lover, but its lyrics and theme resonate acutely with Ruth Anne’s loss of motherly love. Even though that book and this song are filled with grief, discovering them together has been a pleasant harmonic convergence.
I first encountered Miles Tilmann on the compilation “Six Records Breaks Your Heart Again” (in truth it was the first and last time the label would break your heart, because it was their first release and they haven’t released anything since) and a recent revisit to the album sent me searching around for facts and tunes from some of the artists. Miles Tilmann, pleasantly surprised me by offering up close to 100 MP3s on his site. Tilmann produces a variety of ambient tracks, but the ones I chose to highlight here are more beat driven. Tilmann’s music is awash in fluid synths, deep kick drum pulsations, and well, plenty of ambient sounds. You’ll discover similarities to Boards of Canada and Aphex Twin. Tilmann has been steadily releasing music since 1999 on labels like Sub:marine, Consumers Research & Development, and Toytronic. For his latest effort Departures (2008) he collaborates with drummer Steven Hess for an album of unpredictable rhythms and soundscapes. Extreme chill factor ahead.
I’m not gonna lie. Hope Sandoval makes me feel old. I can’t believe it’s been 19 years since the first Mazzy Star album. What makes it seem even longer are the eight years that have passed since Sandoval’s last album. Sure, she’s sang on other records here and there, but one-offs are never enough. Once again she teams up with Colm Ó Cíosóig, who admits he holds back on his work with Sandoval, and that the music exists on “the opposite ends of the spectrum” as compared to My Bloody Valentine, his other band. “Blanchard” is the first single from the album, Through the Devil Softly, due out September 15th. Compared to the songs on her last album, “Blanchard” is downright dense and lush. Dare I say, it sounds a lot more like Mazzy Star (who by the way are finishing up another record, but Sandoval told Rolling Stone that she “has no idea what that means.” I love it. She’s still wonderfully reticent). After an eight year absence, it’ll be great to have Hope Sandoval’s still, small voice flowing anesthetically through my brain. If tour dates coalesce, I hope the venues have seating, because while Sandoval’s voice completed resisted deterioration for the past twenty years, my ability to stand during extremely mellow concert sets has not.
Since I missed the ’70s and blindly followed the “Proud to be Drug Free” crowd in the ’80s, Brian Olive is filling in the blanks for me. If I fell asleep to this record I’m sure I’d dream myself into New Orleans sometime in the ’70s, chemical high and all. The music is as colorful as the album cover, and sounds like a stack of beatnik, jazz, and psychedelic records melted into one soundtrack to a ’70s brown-hued television show. I think I’m gonna need a brownie.
(by our friend Emily M.)
Julie Doiron has one of the best resumes in indie rock, as well as one of the most versatile sounds and expressive voices. Listening to a dozen of her songs feels like working through a record label sampler. From rocking out to laying herself bare, Doiron does it all well. The first of the new tracks here, “Consolation Prize,” is from her most recent release, I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day, which came out about a month ago. The other two below it are from two different 2004 albums, and are tracks that weren’t posted in her original 3hive entry. All three serve well to express her endearing range and talent.
Original post: 03/09/06
Julie Doiron’s been on the indie scene since she was 18 years old, and it seems like she’s pretty much done it all: playing bass for Eric’s Trip, recording solo for SubPop and Jagjaguwar, starting her own label, winning a Juno Award, publishing books of her photography, singing in French, settling down in the hipster hub of Sackville, New Brunswick and performing with Shotgun and Jaybird. Paperheart Music even put out a tribute compilation in her honor. How 3hive overlooked Julie Doiron for so long is a mystery for sure. Start your tour of her work with the haunting “Dance All Night” off her most recent release, Goodnight Nobody, then try the comfort of “Sending the Photographs” from 2002’s Heart of Crime, then go for something in French maybe, or check out her book at Broken Jaw Press , or just sit back and drift in her gentle sounds (more of which are available at her website).
After checking through our voluminous archives of 3hive’s unpublished stuff, I found that my friend and colleague Sean was thinking of posting Canadian singer-songwriter Barzin back in November of 2006. Since the statute of limitations has expired, I’m gonna run with it. Like Josh Hayden’s old band Spain, or maybe Mark Kozelek’s Red House Painters, the songs of Barzin move at a snail’s pace. What may not be clear, though, is that it’s a beautifully passionate and intricate snail suffused with longing, filled with the heartbreak of being trapped in its rigid shell. In other words, Barzin rocks it low and slow, with strings here and vibraphone there, never losing control of the specific and delicate emotional precision of a moment. Over the course of three albums, Barzin has stayed quiet, which is naturally a welcome if not absolutely musical necessity in a world of big cities and small children, machinery, televisions, iThings, etc. Give these tracks a shot; you won’t be surprised at all.