Thursday, February 28, 2008

Deek Hoi - The Golden Country

Knoxville Tennessee's Deek Hoi have released The Golden Country, an 8-track album dominated by banjo and sinister bass, with dreary, half-sick harmonica and vocals to match. Those vocals are split between Jen Rock and Danny Coy, also of Kentucky's spectacular Big Fresh, and Big Fresh's John Ferguson, also in the Apples in Stereo and Ulysses, contributes to the CD as well. Rock and Coy's songs sound like Appalachian folk songs filtered through the sensibilities of 60's psych-rock and 70's CBGB's acts. The songs are catchy, but they're also mesmerizing. "Eiea" hits the sweet spot with its dreamy background vox; instant single "California" falls more on the nightmarish side of the equation with its toy piano and mysteriously simple lyrics and singalong chorus. Two-parter "A House a Home" will have you slamming your tambourine slowly in accompaniment. It's perfect lo-fi ear music, and all kind of unexpectedly great. Highly recommended.

MP3: Deek Hoi - California
Deek Hoi MySpace
Buy The Golden Country at CDBaby

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Two from Paper Garden Records

Nashville's Darla Farmer are releasing their debut album, Rewiring the Electric Forest, March 4, and it's hypnotic, rocking, tragic, otherworldly. I am not exactly sure I have the slightest clue what it's about, but I can't stop listening to it. Lead singer/guitarist Clint Wilson's lyrics are intensely descriptive and eloquent, sometimes screamed at such a pitch, the words compressed so tightly, that they can scarcely be understood; at other times they unwind slowly like a rusty coiled wire and present emotions and characters that are strikingly vivid. The most apt song in the collection might be "Dirty Keys," the album's centerpiece, which describes a frothing-mad circus that turns against its audience, blocking the exits and forcing them to confront its horrors. This is exactly the kind of music a mad circus would make. Darla Farmer uses an arsenal of instruments, but its two primary weapons are a blaring horn section of trombone and trumpet, and sweet violin strings pleading and pulling the assaulted listener back. And if it all seems much too much, Wilson's vocals, constantly reciting stories straight out of Edgar Allan Poe, make it all riveting. An emotional pitch is reached on the improbably named and improbably moving "The Cow That Drank Too Much," in which Wilson opines:

Everything is falling fatefully/I see the past is chasing me/Must meet her while I sleep/And face the truth/In between every dream

This is the kind of music that might exist between dreams--reveries and nightmares waking you in a sweat, confused, exhausted.

MP3: Darla Farmer - History
Darla Farmer MySpace

Darla Farmer - Upcoming Dates

03.04.08 Nashville, TN @ Exit In (Album Release Party)
03.13.08 Austin, TX @ Maggie Mae's (SXSW)
03.15.08 Austin, TX @ Lucky Lounge
03.25.08 New York, NY @ Club Midway

From the same label and at the other end of the sonic spectrum is Doylestown, Pennsylvania's Peasant. Damien DeRose is a tremendously gifted singer/songwriter, and his new album, On the Ground (available February 26), is mostly stripped-down acoustic folk, occasionally opening up for a wider, pleasing pop sound on tracks like "We're Good" and "Those Days." But there's also the haunting, harpsichord-driven "Birds," and the ethereal "Missing All You Are" (which reminds of Michael Penn) that speaks to a more subtle experimentation with melody and sound. It's a lovely album. Peasant will be playing a handful of live shows before heading overseas--U.S. dates are below.

MP3: Peasant - Those Days
Peasant MySpace

Peasant - Upcoming Dates

02.28.08 New York, NY @ Piano's
02.29.08 New Hope, PA @ John n' Peter's
03.01.08 Doylestown, PA @ The Classi Cigar Parlor (Album Release Party)
03.07.08 Bronxville, NY @ Sarah Lawrence College
03.08.08 Moorestown, NJ @ Emancipation Rocklamation
03.10.08 New York, NY @ Union Hall
03.15.08 Austin, TX @ Lucky Lounge