Marissa Nadler’s new album, For My Crimes.

Maris­sa Nadler’s For My Crimes.

For My Crimes is Maris­sa Nadler’s eighth album, and it has the dis­tinct air of being the cul­mi­na­tion of every­thing she’s being cir­cling around for the last decade or so. As such, it feels as much like a great­est hits album as it does a new record. Which makes it the per­fect entry point for any­one yet to sam­ple her very dis­tinc­tive and ample charms.

Maris­sa Nadler.

Dream folk is the some­what reduc­tive label some­times applied to her sound. What you get here on this album is that com­bi­na­tion of lush, Goth­ic-pop, anchored by plain­tive, indie coun­try, buoyed by the sound of melod­ic met­al, each of which she’d pre­vi­ous­ly toyed with, indi­vid­u­al­ly, on pre­vi­ous albums. But all of which she melds so that they cohere here, on one round­ed album.

Or, to put it anoth­er way, it’s Sharon Van Etten meets Lana Del Rey via Roy Orbi­son. Van Etten actu­al­ly pro­vides guest back­ing vocals on one of the tracks here, as does Angel Olsen. The title track, which very much sets the tone for the rest of the album, began as a test that her hus­band set her, to write a lyric in the voice of some­one on death row, as Olivia Horn writes in her review on Pitch­fork here, where she gives it a respect­ful 7.2.

Sharon Van Etten in Twin Peaks sea­son 3.

Though clear­ly auto­bi­o­graph­ic in the feel­ings they describe, Nadler’s are songs fil­tered through the prism of the craft of sto­ry telling, in much the same way that those of Nick Cave and Bob Dylan are. As such, they are expres­sion­is­tic rather than con­fes­sion­al. The result is duski­ly atmos­pher­ic and glo­ri­ous­ly cinematic.

You can see the video for Blue Vapor here.


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The Antlers new album “Familiars” Simmers.

The Antler's "Familiars".

The Antler’s “Famil­iars”.

After releas­ing a cou­ple of albums on his own as The Anl­ters, Peter Sil­ber­man was joined by mul­ti instru­men­tal­ist Dar­by Cic­ci and Michael Lern­er on drums, and Famil­iars is the third album from them as a threesome.

The band have fre­quent­ly been joined by fel­low Brook­lyn res­i­dent Sharon Van Etten on back­ing vocals (whose lat­est album is reviewed ear­li­er here), and as you’d expect from their postal address, we’re very much in the beat­ing heart of hip­ster­land here.

What makes the music of The Antlers so engag­ing is their very dis­tinct tone. They craft songs of emo­tion­al hon­esty, naivety almost, and posit them in an expan­sive if minute­ly cul­ti­vat­ed musi­cal land­scape. These are then giv­en body with a suc­ces­sion of unapolo­get­i­cal­ly gor­geous melodies that are draped in Silberman’s sweep­ing, ele­giac vocals.

Some time backing vocalist Sharon Van Etten.

Some time back­ing vocal­ist Sharon Van Etten.

Though the results are in many ways very dif­fer­ent, it some­how calls to mind Nixon, Lambchop’s sem­i­nal album from 2000. Kurt Wag­n­er and his band though were more clear­ly defined as com­ing under the alt coun­try rubric. The Antlers will only ever be list­ed under Indie. They just man­age to be incred­i­bly melod­ic with­out ever being sac­cha­rine. But best of all, they are unashamed­ly earnest.

There is lit­tle in the way of irony or dis­tance here. All of the sophis­ti­ca­tion is invest­ed in the music. So there’s an emo­tion­al heft to the songs that the sweep­ing melodies only serve to height­en. The boys from Pitch­fork gave it an impressed 7.8 here

And you can see the video for their sin­gle Palace here.

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Sharon Van Etten’s new album “Are We There” Soars.

Sharon Van Etten's Are We There.

Sharon Van Etten’s Are We There.

Sharon Van Etten has been wow­ing the good folks at NPR’s All Songs Con­sid­ered (reviewed ear­li­er here) and the boys from Pitch­fork for some time now. Her last album Tramp (2012) was pro­duced by The National’s Aaron Dess­ner and includes a guest appear­ance from Beirut’s Zach Con­don. And in his pro­file of her in this month’s New York­er (‘Relaxed Fit”), Sasha Frere-Jones describes her lat­est album as “aston­ish­ing”.  In oth­er words, we’re talk­ing indie roy­al­ty here.

Her fourth stu­dio album, Are We There, is a seri­ous piece of work. But on first lis­ten, it seems to be a tad con­ser­v­a­tive, con­ven­tion­al even. There’s noth­ing here that we haven’t heard before. Songs of heartache set to pleas­ing melodies lay­ered with lush harmonies.

The mandatory All Songs Considered podcast.

The manda­to­ry All Songs Con­sid­ered podcast.

What’s “aston­ish­ing” is how the whole adds up to so much more than the sum of its parts. These are songs that real­ly ache, and those melodies and har­monies build and grow with every lis­ten. Before you know it, they’re secure­ly lodged in the com­fort of your subconscious.

This is the album Van Etten has been build­ing up to. Son­i­cal­ly, she’s come a long way from the hushed con­fes­sion­als of those ear­ly record­ings. This is a much fuller sound, but it’s achieved with­out sac­ri­fic­ing any of the inti­ma­cy. On the con­trary, the big­ger sound ampli­fies the emo­tion­al heft. What’s she’s pro­duced in oth­er words is the ulti­mate Fleet­wood Mac album.

You can see the video for Every Time The Sun Comes Up here.

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