Now Hear This: November 2021 edition

Robert Ham's monthly scouring of Bandcamp to find good new stuff by Oregon musicians to add to your digital library.

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Now Hear This is a monthly column that scours the pages of music distributor Bandcamp, looking for new work from local artists that would make fine additions to your digital library. This time around, that includes naked folk-pop, remote experimentations, “guitar awesomeness,” grinding bastards, NWOBHMy black metal, and plenty more–just in time for Bandcamp’s next Fee Free First Friday.

Cuchulain, FEAT

Folk-pop singer-songwriter Cuchulain Kelly survived being stuck inside during the shelter-at-home phase of the pandemic by reaching out. After recording the guitar and vocal parts for all the songs on his new album FEAT, he sent the audio to his various musical friends around the country who added everything else the song needed. The final product that Kelly is releasing on Friday feels like what we all want Zoom hangouts to be: bubbly, colorful, and full of those moments of deep connection that have sustained us through this weird time.

Pre-order FEAT here.

Lillian Dunham, Letters To Both Of You

This new collection from Lillian Dunham represents the ideal of what a service like Bandcamp could do for an artist. With no gatekeepers and minimal effort, this folk singer-songwriter was able to present a recording that sounds completely naked, with small imperfections hugging the corners of each song. That homespun quality feels essential to Dunham’s explorations of heartbreak and sorrow, while also offering up raw material for some enterprising label or producer to work with. Hopefully someone will stumble upon her work like I did and be enraptured by what they hear like I still am.

Loren Chasse, two letter words

Seeing the title of this release and how this experimental artist named its two tracks, I’m guessing that Loren Chasse was playing a lot of Scrabble during his stay at a remote cabin in Zigzag, a small village in the Mount Hood Corridor. No better way to wind down after crafting extended, multi-layered compositions built from guitar agitation, organ drones, and tape hiss. The perfect antidote to the unsettling quiet of the wilderness, and maybe the right set of sounds to keep forest creatures at bay. 

Sponsor

Fly Kin Mountain, Concrete Pillars

Brandon Knocke’s project Fly Kin Mountain rewards patience. On his new album Concrete Pillars, songs are slow to develop, first appearing as clouds of drones—or on “Left Arm Numb,” the surprisingly rhythmic sounds of running water—before delicate arpeggios and some humble synth melodies begin to emerge from the fog. Knocke may saddle his music with solid, dangerous titles (his 2020 release was called Gunned Down) but his music is as soft and pliable as a pile of kinetic sand. 

Jamie Stillway & Eric Skye, Home on the Midrange

The tagline for the upcoming release show for this album of duets by Jamie Stillway and Eric Skye puts it plain: “guitar awesomeness.” That’s a fine shorthand for what these two players get up to on Midrange, even if it does skim over some of the nuance and beauty within each flat picked instrumental. Highlights include the bluesy “Don’t I Know You?” and “Hazelnut Grove,” a pastoral cut that recalls the complexities of Genesis ca. Selling England By The Pound

George Colligan / Lisa Lipton / Micah Hummel, Fredson the Jeffy

George Colligan, one of the most agile musicians and composers working in modern jazz, found a kindred spirit in clarinetist Lisa Lipton. She had commissioned Colligan to compose a single piece–the playful “Illegitimi non carborundum” (“Don’t let the bastards grind you down”)–but he found the results so inspiring that he kept writing. Using his work with Don Byron as a template, Colligan came away with a dozen pieces that explore the clarinet as both an instrument of yearning and whimsy. 

In Seance, Unholy Ghost

Released just in time for Halloween–and a mere month after In Seance dropped their first album–this new EP finds the duo further peeling back the curtain to reveal the influence of thrash and NWOBHM on their otherwise assaultive, screeching sound. And unlike a lot of black metal, vocalist Wraith’s lyrics are easily discernible even as he screeches them out. The pictures he paints are appropriately bleak and more than a little terrifying.

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About the author

Robert Ham is a critic and journalist living in Portland, Oregon’s outer reaches. During his time in the Rose City, he has contributed to The OregonianWillamette WeekPortland Mercury, and Portland Monthly, while also amassing a healthy amount of clips for print and online publications including PitchforkDownBeatBandcamp, and Village Voice. In 2019, he was the recipient of the SPJ Award for Best Sports Feature. In addition, Robert produces and hosts Double Bummer, a radio show focusing on new and newly reissued experimental music from around the world that airs every Tuesday night at 11pm PT on XRAY-FM. To read more of his work, visit his portfolio site or follow him on Twitter at @roberthamwriter.

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