Tag Archive: Marissa Nadler

Best music of 2018


Laura Gibson released my favorite album & song in 2018

In 2018 I reviewed 219 records for the Whisperin’ & Hollerin’ webzine. Of these, the following is a list of my ten favorite new albums and the top 5  reissues. You can read my reviews to all these on the W&H website to find out why.

1. LAURA GIBSON – Goners
2. SARAH LOUISE – Deeper Woods
3. GWENNO – Le Kov
4. MARISSA NADLER – For My Crimes
5. JOAN AS POLICE WOMAN – Damned Devotion
6. MODERN STUDIES – Welcome Strangers
7. ETHAN GOLD – Live Undead Bedroom Closet Covers
8. THE BEVIS FROND – We’re Your Friends, Man
9. JIM JAMES – Uniform Distortion
10. IRON & WINE – Weed Garden EP

1. BUFFY SAINTE- MARIE – Medicine Songs
2. CALEXICO – The Black Light (20th Anniversary Edition)
3. BERT JANSCH – A Man I’d Rather Be
5. DAVE EVANS – The Words In Between

LAURA GIBSON – Domestication

Top albums of 2016

One of the reasons whjambinaiy there have been fewer blog posts
this yeswordar is that I spend a lot of my free time writing music reviews for the online ‘zine Whisperin’ & Hollerin’.

This year I reviewed a grand total of 240 releases and although 2016 was by no means a vintage year there is still plenty of good music around. This, as always, exists on the margins away from the mainstream.

My preferences continue to veer strongly towards weird folk and post rock and the following are the ten albums that I enjoyed the most with links to my reviews:

  • JAMBINAI – A Hermitage  Jaminai are a trio from South Korea and I wrote that “The power and intensity of their music taps into the feelings of anger and isolation felt by a new generation suspicious of the conservative forces that seek to control them”.
  • YAIR YONA – Sword  Yair Yona is a gifted Israeli musician and this powerful instrumental album “covers universal themes of personal endurance and trauma”.
  • MODERN STUDIES – Swell To Great  Ornate and dreamy British folk music from a supergroup of sorts.

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marissaBlack becomes Marissa Nadler. It suits her pale complexion and matches the atmosphere of her songs.

On stage, however she is not dark and gloomy but polite and unpretentious. Her much publicised stage fright is not evident. It helps that she is accompanied by cellist Janel Leppin who lends gravitas to the tunes.

This being a free concert at a beachside bar/club, there’s always a chance that you get an audience of sightseers rather than true fans but the small but appreciative crowd were on Marissa’s side from the outset.

Of the thirteen songs she played in a one hour set, only three were from her earlier records; the rest were all from her latest album, July. This song-cycle covers a year in her life, from one July to the next, and centre on an acrimonious break up.

Bleak settings in cheap motels and lost highways add to the forlorn mood. The bitterness and anger is controlled and directed towards moving on rather than wallowing in self pity. Continue reading

A massive 94 track tribute album has just been released in honor of Lee Jackson, a Dallas-based music writer who passed away in late March 2012 aged 38 after a struggle with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
He’s not someone I’d heard of before but the scale of this project makes me think I missed someone I should have read or at least read about.
The album is compiled by Mats Gustafsson, Travis Johnson and Ned Raggett and is described in this way on the Bandcamp site:
“This collection of songs, nearly all of which are new or previously unreleased, comes from the many bands and musicians who Lee not only covered and celebrated with such passion, but also in many cases befriended over many years of correspondence, concert and festival attendance and more”.

Among the artists who make me sit up and take notice are : Charalambides, Valerio Cosi, Six Organs of Admittance, Marissa Nadler,Kemialliset Ystävät, Roy Montgomery ,Vanessa Rossetto and I’d hazard a guess that many of the less familiar names  are well worth checking out too.

The tracks are streamable at Bandcamp or, better still, the whole package can be purchased for $30 with all profits going  to the Texas chapter of the ALS Association..
The download version contains 12 hours of music plus  full information about each song as well as thoughts about the contributing artists, taken from Lee’s writing work.
Good cause, good writing, good music – looks like a no-brainer to me.

Part of an irregular series of bite-sized posts about 7″ singles I own – shameless nostalgia from the days of vinyl. (Search ‘Backtracking’ to collect the set!)

JOAN BAEZ – One I Had A Sweetheart (Fontana EP, 1963)

As I was just 5 years old when this record was released so I obviously didn’t buy it myself. I grabbed it off my elder brother when he was having a clear out.

The quality of the disc is pretty bad , a couple of scratches and major surface noise but this adds character.  The sleeve notes are by an anonymous Vanguard Recordings scribe who waxes lyrical about the healing power of folk music. Quoting Shakespeare he (she?) gushes: “Perhaps we turn to folk music because we feel too ‘cabin’d, cribbed, confined’ by the standards of our world, where to be cool is to be wise, and to avoid complications (such as other peoples’s troubles) is the road to suburbia and its house so fine, a world where love is a sometime thing and the voice of the turtle-dove is hushed in the shadow of the mushroom cloud”.

Joan Baez is praised for her ability to draw emotional depth from our “shared fund of experience” which in the case of this disc consists of renditions of four traditional songs. Two feature dead lovers, one is about a dead dog and one is about being spurned by a cad.

From the brief flurry of applause, the title track was recorded live somewhere though nothing on the sleeve indicates when and where. “One I had a sweetheart and now I have none” is the self explanatory message of this song.

The Trees They Do Grow High is about an arranged marriage between a 24-year-old woman and a boy half her age. It’s in the form of a dialogue with her dad, understandably pissed off about the situation. She comes to terms with it because he is the handsome son of a Lord. She reflects philosophically that  and  “he’s young but he daily grows”. The boy/man  fathers a child and then promptly dies at the age of 16. Life can be cruel.

Wildwood Flower is a song made popular by The Carter Family whose version is far superior.

Old Blue is about a faithful dog who ups and dies. The singer hopes to be reunited with him in heaven.

On the songs Joan Baez accompanies herself on acoustic guitar and sings in her plaintive, lovelorn fashion. It’s a screechy love it or hate it  style that contemporary female artists like Marissa Nadler and Josephine Foster have adopted as their own.

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