M. Ward has a new song and a new album out called A Wasteland Companion, which you can grab right over at the awesome Merge Records. Here's a little blurb about the awesomeness:
The album, consisting of 12 stunning tracks, was made with 18 musicians and recorded in eight different studios in Portland, Omaha, New York City, Los Angeles, Austin and Bristol (UK). Ward’s honey-soaked vocals, deft finger-picking, innate sense of melody and beguiling lyrics have already cemented his reputation as one of America’s true musical treasures and A Wasteland Companion features some of the finest songwriting and most striking delivery of his career. With each and every recording Ward finds new ways to make the colors of his songwriting palate sparkle and his dexterous skills as producer, arranger, guitarist and singer seem to burst into even brighter bloom on each release.
You can stream the whole thing over there too. Or check out this great track:
"Class Clown Spots a UFO," the title track from Guided By Voices' latest album, has been in the works for years. The earliest version of the tune, called "Crocker's Favorite Song," was penned by Robert Pollard back in the late Eighties, and another version ended up on the cutting room floor when the band made their 1994 classic Bee Thousand. Alternate recordings with the newer title appeared on three different GBV compilations. When the mid-Nineties lineup of the band reunited, they revised and re-recorded the song, which now has a polish and harmonic complexity lacking in earlier renditions. The song will be released as a 7-inch single on May 15th and the album Class Clown Spots a UFO will hit stores on June 12th, but you can download the song for free here.
So last weekend I was reading my Twitter feed and one of my favorite authors (Blair Mastbaum) tweeted that he was hanging out at a bar in Brooklyn with Will Sheff of one of my favorite bands (Okkervil River). Which is so weirdly awesome of a moment that it basically makes Twitter the greatest invention in the history of the world. I was quickly filled with thoughts like "How the hell do they know each other?" and "How come I wasn't invited?" and "Which bar in Brooklyn can I possibly stalk the two of them at?" and "Who is @BirdOfYouth" who was also there and apparently touring in support of an album Will produced and I did get the answer to the last one at least. She has a new album out and she's all kinds of great.
If you haven't been following my Twitter feed (@VagueSpace) you may be unaware of the continuing saga of my never-ending foot pain (now entering its 2nd year!) but one of the only (or the only) bright spots is that I can't really travel for work due to the foot pain which may end up costing me my job so that won't be such a bright spot but for the short term it means that a new job we have in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada will not include me as I'm sure it would have otherwise. And bad foot or no foot, I really don't want to fly to Saskatoon. Even though this song makes it sound really awesome. PS I Love You.
My favorite former Microphones project Mount Eerie has a new album out called Clear Moon, available for download and physical copy now. Here's some stuff about it.
In this first of two new albums planned for release in 2012, Mount Eerie presents a monumental work of depth and maturity. These are songs about a quiet life in and around a small northwest town, usually buried in fog, and the unexpected moments of clarity that briefly flash through. Clear Moon is the resonant lone bell symbol, the glint in the water, the sudden breath.
After all the world-touring that followed the release of Wind’s Poem, Phil Elverum has spent 2 years establishing a new recording studio, “the Unknown”, in an old de-sanctified church in Anacortes, Washington. These 2 new albums, Clear Moon and Ocean Roar (due in September), are the first Mount Eerie recordings to be released from the new old space. You can hear the giant wooden cathedral room in these songs. Vast echo, resonating gongs, impenetrable walls of thickness, and always a voice cutting through the fog, moon-like.
And here's a song. It's all kinds of great, very much old-school Elverum:
And last, we have a new album and single from the venerable The Walkmen.