whispertown2000The second album from Los Angeles based band the Whispertown 2000 is also the first release for Gillian Welch’s new label Acony Records, and it’s a eccentric, ingratiating and often surprising hybrid of country, rock and psychedelic folk, with a now familiar mix of sunny musical surfaces and dark lyrical undercurrents. The first half of the album is dominated by easygoing folky pop, with a lot of acoustic guitars and the kind of vocal harmonizing that characterizes the record as a whole. The album takes a left turn into psychedelic territory midway with “Erase The Lines” and pretty much stays there, at least until the country rock ballad closer, “Mountain.” Morgan Nagler’s frequently eccentric lead vocals may be a matter of taste for some listeners, but fans of adventurous indie pop will want to check Swim out. Standout cuts: “Done With Love,” “Pushing The Oars,” “Erase The Lines” and “Lock And Key.”

http://www.myspace.com/whispertown2000

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Second EP this year from Brooklyn based singer/songwriter Joseph Arthur highlights eight songs done with drum machines and synthesizers, woven into Arthur’s unique brand of folk and rock, infused with a poet’s sensibility. The result is a cool, sultry and sexy set of music, more soulful and funky than just about anything else Arthur has released in the past. A number of the songs have Jen Turner on background vocals or else dueting with him, to great effect, as she’s a perfect complement to his voice, and vice versa. Greg Dulli also contributes guest vocals to “Nothing 2 Hide,” one of the best tracks included here. I liked Could We Survive, the first of four projected EPs from Arthur this year, but I have to say, I love Crazy Rain. I can’t wait to hear Vagabond Skies, the next in this series, due out next month. Standout cuts (though I like all the songs): “Killer’s Knife,” “Nothing 2 Hide,” “Radio Euphoria” and “Hunter.”

http://www.myspace.com/josepharthur

In advance of his seventh LP due in early August, the ambitious, mercurial singer/songwriter Joseph Arthur is releasing four EPs over the next four months, beginning with this one, Could We Survive. It’s difficult to assign a single catch-all term to Arthur’s music since he’s run through a number of different genres since his first pair of albums, which contained world music and electronica influenced folk rock, and especially since he’s gone indie on his own label, Lonely Astronaut (also the name of his sometime band since 2006, albeit in a plural form). He dabbled in psychedelic and acid rock on his last release, Let’s Just Be, a progression hinted at on his first Lonely Astronaut release, Nuclear Daydream. Here on Could We Survive, however, he’s in a more introspective, often stripped down acoustic folk mode, with a mood akin to “In The Sun,” “Honey And The Moon” and “Redemption’s Son.” The EP begins with “Rages Of Babylon,” a anti-war song told from the perspective of an American soldier going overseas, who heartbreakingly wonders “Will my family remember me?” It’s one of Arthur’s best, most moving songs. Other highlights include the title track, a quiet, whispery ballad, and the final track, “King Of Pavement,” a folky tune with a warm, psychedelic feel. Reportedly, the next EP, Crazy Rain, due April 15th, will have more of a techno sound, and as for the two EPs after that, who knows? However, with the arrival of Could We Survive, it’s clear this is the beginning of a very good year for Joseph Arthur fans.

http://www.myspace.com/josepharthur