Fleetwood Mac

February 26, 2016 10:09 am

For anyone in need of a bare-boned exploration of self in the forest, let Robyn Sherwell be the soundtrack to your woodsy existentialism. Sherwell’s music has a consistently earnest quality to it, which is a tribute to the dulcet tones of her voice anchoring each of her songs. With a soundscape as fittingly serene to accompany Sherwell’s singing, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to seek refuge in a more natural and cozy environment.

Cutting to the core of her own emotions is what’s most appealing about Sherwell. It’s something that’s truly within her, so even when she’s covering a classic like “Landslide,” she’s still able to make it her own completely. For nearly half the length of the cover, all she has are some subtly dubbed vocals anchoring the entire song, doubling down on the despair from Fleetwood Mac’s original. It’s a song we’re all familiar with, but Sherwell’s stripped down approach breathes new life into it.

It’s become a relatively fashionable trend for anyone with a voice as commanding as Sherwell’s to loop bits of hums and ‘oohs’ and use them as a layer throughout the song to self harmonize. Does it get tiresome? Definitely. Sometimes it casts a large shadow over the rest of the instrumentation, but if it’s done well, it’s hard to hate. “Pale Lung” is a prime example of Sherwell using this device with aplomb. She doesn’t revolve the entire song around it, so it never feels like a busy distraction. The layered vocals play their part in giving “Pale Lung” with a simplistic beauty that makes it so captivating.

Sherwell is set to release her debut self-titled album in March. It consists of songs from previous EP releases, her cover of “Landslide,” as well as a few new guys. One major highlight from the LP is “Tightropes.” The twinkling synths illuminate the senses, and the line, “I never dreamed I’d lose you up there,” is fuckin’ bleak. Using the idea of a tightrope as a metaphor for her relationship remains thoughtfully executed for the duration, and makes “Tightrope” arguably her most complete song.

The fully exposed nature of Robyn Sherwell can be a lot to take in at first. She lays everything she has on the table and presents it in a way that forces the listener to have no alternative than to listen to what she’s saying. Such vulnerability creates an authentic connection and brings about a desire to seek truth. That truth can be found in the woods somewhere or at a coffee shop that makes some really great tea. It’s different for everyone, but Robyn can help you look for it.

February 24, 2016 3:55 pm

Jack Tatum aka Wild Nothing has returned with Life of Pause, his third full-length installment on Captured Tracks. Once again Tatum builds majestically shimmering dreamscapes that incorporate a varied palette of influences. This is a record dripping with nostalgia, which seems to not only stem from the particular sounds Tatum jives towards, but also the themes from which Life of Praise revolves. Not uncommon among aspiring artists coming of age, Tatum’s sound explorations mimic his own personal experiences as he grapples of themes not unfamiliar to the Dream Pop cannon: identity, coming of age, love.

lifeLife of Pause opening track “Reichpop” grabs you right through the time-space-continuum portal into a Remain In Light-era Talking Heads groove accompanied by nonsensical lyrics “I am the silencer / I am the only one”.  “Japanese Alice” opens with Shoegazey guitar swerves recalling My Bloody Valentine, but then quickly settles into a funk cut more akin to Toro Y Moi. “Lady Blue” sounds like it was penned by Buckingham-Nicks for Fleetwood Mac’s forgotten late-70s synthesizer record.  It’s on “Lady Blue” that Tatum begins one of many spacey inward discussions about love, “will I find a way / to make sense of the way that you love me?” On “Every Women’s Wisdom”, Tatum points out to a perspective lover, “I don’t believe in heaven / but baby, you can be my church.”  Who wouldn’t be flattered by that line? The title track has an odd resemblance both sonically and stylistically to Foxygen’s “How Can You Really”, which makes sense since both artists cup their hands into a similar stream of hazy 70s leisure rock vibes.   On “Whenever I” Tatum comes full circle, realizing, “And I thought you were onto me / And I thought you’d be good for me / But I know what you are now.”

Overall Life of Pause is nothing short of an entrancing, fluid, well-constructed collection of tunes. If you’re into either neo-psych wave of bands currently in vogue such as Tame Impala or the aforementioned Foyxygen, or dream pop standbys like Beach House or Kurt Vile, this record is a shoe in.  The only real critique is that 11 tracks and close to an entire hour’s worth of transcendental psych can really start to drag on.  But perhaps that’s not such a negative, as it allows you to come back another day and still have a few fresh tracks to bring you back in.

Wild Nothing will be touring extensively in support of Life of Pause, check out dates here.