Rest in peace goes to Centromatic,the Denton, Texas, band is a staple in my record collection. Last year the band decided to call it quits. I was heartbroken, though hopeful for future projects from members of the band. Will Johnson, the singer for Centromatic had released a couple of solo records in the past and has just released his newest record “Swan City Vampires”.
“Swan City Vampires” is a refinement on Centromatic and other Will Johnson solo material. The album opens up with an instrumental piano piece featuring a heavy reverberated noise. It’s a new styling for Johnson who has often played it safe with acoustic guitars and voice only on previous albums. The 2nd track heads straight into classic guitar and vocals you can come to expect.
Will Johnson is best known as a songwriter. He is somewhat of a hidden gem in a field of songwriters though. This year, he has benefited from a reissue campaign of his previous 2 albums on vinyl. Both albums were particularly amazing in their own right. “Swan City Vampires” does not disappoint. If you are looking for strong songwriting you can always count on Will Johnson. A lot of the songs remind me of the Molina / Johnson collaborative record that came out years ago. “Nameless but a Lover” is my absolute favorite track on this album and draws obvious influence from a shared favorite artist of both Johnson and I “Songs: Ohia”. The dingy blues riffs along with moon references in lyrics show a nod to a friend that passed to early. Another classically beautiful styling is the track “Multnomah”. The soft acoustic guitar and melody is on point.
I highly recommend “Swan City Vampires” and both his other reissues “Vultures Await” and “Murder of Tides”. If you enjoy folk rock or singer songwriters, be advised Will Johnson is on top of his games and only stands to continue to gain more fans. Silver Platters has all these records in stock on my accord, and really please just buy them.
Youth Lagoon (stage name for Idaho musician Trevor Powers) has been an apparent secret in the independent lofi circle. His debut album “The Year of Hibernation” was recommended to me by a Silver Platters employee that has, for the most part, sworn off music post 1978, calling it “shite.” Questioning the selection from this particular employee “Really, this… from you…? Are you sure?” After he reassured me of his recommendation I purchased the album. The album was heavy in lofi tendencies and reminded me somewhat of Daniel Johnston. The second album, “Wondrous Bughouse” delved more into my area of psych. I became a believer.
Then something happened. I had a change of plans, sold more than a third of my record collection and swore I would not buy or replace a record unless I loved it. I’ve really stuck to this moto for the last year and it’s working well for me. Though, I have missed out on many limited edition pressings and whatnot, I am more pleased with my music collection. One of my selected purchases happens to be the new Youth Lagoon record “Savage Hills Ballroom”.
The “Savage Hills Ballroom” record is really a swan song of an artist. All the heavy dirges in psych are still there. Production is marked up. Sometimes the guitar reminds me of Death Cab For Cutie. Songwriting is not cheesy like many over produced artists. The songs are well written and lead you in with their leaps and valleys. You can tell by this album that Youth Lagoon is heading places. Who knows where to? Maybe he will cease to be after this point.
You really owe it to yourself to discover this band and this is the record to do it with. I could safely recommend this album to my father and feel good about it. There really is something for everyone on this record. This really simply is an artist masterpiece. BUY THIS RECORD!
EZTV’s “Calling Out” totally flew under my radar for months after its release from Captured Tracks in July. Captured tracks puts out a lot of quality stuff. Yet it still somehow evaded me. I had no idea what it was and to be honest I thought it might sound somewhat like Mac Demarco, alas it doesn’t in the least.
EZTV is a band from Brooklyn, however it does have a member from Seattle that used to run Cairo on Capitol Hill. The record has an immediate pop rock attack that you grew to love from bands like Big Star. The sound is very immediate and catchy. Production is very on point with smartly written pop rock songs. This is however not a complete rip off of the classic records you know to love. EZTV add their own spin on things with somewhat lazy vocal styling, more guitar production and lots of overall harmony.
I first heard of the band through Kevin Cole on KEXP. He played a track and I pulled my phone out to check the artist, adding it to my favorites. The next day he played another track, I did the same. This continued until I went on my phone and previewed the record. I kept the record on repeat. I ran to Silver Platters and purchased the record. It’s a constant spinner on my turntable. This record is definitely going to be in my top 5 releases of the year. It will appeal to any generation that knows and loves classic rock or pop rock.
In mid 2014 I picked up Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queen’s “Cold World” from Silver Platters based solely on the cover and the hype sticker Daptone Records placed on it. The sticker read that this record contained, “Soul music of the highest caliber.” I brought the record home and spun it. I then spun it again and again. I have not been able to put this record down. I even recommended this album to at least 6 friends that ask for my help with music. They immediately asked me to buy them a copy.
Born in the 40’s Naomi Shelton is an old school gospel singer. She started her career in church choirs and moved to adapt a soul sound to gospel music. Her music is akin to The Staple singers in many ways lyrically. The production on “Cold World” is spot on with Gabriel Roth running the show. You can expect the typical slick Daptone production you have heard with Sharon Jones, Charles Bradley and the Budos Band. Many of Daptone’s house players lend a hand in instrumentation.
Though this is a soul record I would almost label it folk lyrically. Most songs describe the trials of the world and rising up above the smoke. Other songs are devotional songs praising Jesus. Although, I am not a Christian I find this music to stands up above its religious undertones. It must be said this record was recorded in Mono. That holds some significance because this album would fit in and rival any soul or gospel music put out before it.
Have you paid attention to Charles Bradley on KEXP or maybe Sharon Jones? I feel that this record deserves the same attention as either of those two artists. Surprisingly there are copies still floating around in each of the Silver Platters locations. Go pick this record up and put it on your turntable or in your cd player and turn the music up. You literally will receive a smile on your face and a warm feeling in your heart after listening.