Sharon Van Etten's EP "I Don't Wand to Let You Down" is lovely. Strings and piano. A beautiful voice and a beat. Van Etten always reminds us that when you strip things away, simplicity is much better than fluff and production. The title song was released as a single a few months ago, and it remains one of those tracks to listen to over and over. I also like, "I Always Fall Apart." This has flavors of Lucinda Williams and St. Vincent. I just read that Van Etten loves PJ Harvey, which makes sense--this has just enough rock in it to keep things interesting. I'm a little less than one month older than Sharon Van Etten, which I can't believe; not that she seems old, just wise. She sounds like someone who knows everything--like she should be my mother. It makes sense that she grew up in Clinton, NJ and went to college at Middle Tennessee State University: both of those places are like the movies; like where you'd want to grow up and go to college--where people sit around and chat, sipping cold drinks and watching the river.
Fort Frances' new EP, No One Needs To Know Our Name, is only 7 songs (well, 5 songs: 2 of them are unplugged variations): only 24 minutes, but well worth playing on repeat. Lead singer-songwriter David McMillin graduated from DePauw University as an English major, as did most people worth hanging out with. "Anonymous" seems especially fitting for NYC, but it's probably fitting no matter where you are. So much of living in a packed, packed city is trying to get away: escaping within the chaos. "Oh, let's be anonymous: we can hide, hide, hide, hide away from the world, from the world..." No one in NYC wants to give up on NYC (necessarily) but we sure as hell all want to get away from it: we want to find the cafe and the bar and the park that's only ours. "These Are the Mountains Moving" isn't for NYC: it just takes you to the mountains--to Montana or Colorado or wherever you've met mountains that move you--home. The percussion in these songs is great. The piano and the brass and the lyrics are great. This is great.
There isn't much out there on The Japanese House. We know that this is a young woman: a London-based artist. This music is a combination of sounds that are both natural (like, sounds of waves--the ocean--and sounds of dogs barking) and unnatural: electronic. But it's all beautiful. The mix works. It almost makes sense that we don't get to know much about this band, because it's sometimes hard to figure out exactly what we're hearing. What's making those sounds? The EP Pools is up on Spotify, and elsewhere. Soon we'll probably know a lot more about this band, so enjoy the secrecy while you can.