Ghost On Ghost
Iron and Wine
The amazing mind of Sam Beam seems to always be questioned when his latest record drops. Some think he's crazy for escalating his whispering traditional folk into a parade of unusual instruments. Some commend him on his giant leaps forward into the abyss, but with each passing record, Beam progressively favors form over function.
His 2013 LP Ghost On Ghost follows up on his mid-career nostalgia over youthful love and summertime. Since the release of The Shepard's Dog and Kiss Each Other Clean, Beam hasn't returned to his roots of quiet and intimate folklore (that's what his live show is for), instead adding unseemingly out of place instruments into a congregation of varying genres. And since taking on the bandleader role, has made some pretty risky moves in terms of styling, and stepping far away from what fans expect. Nonetheless, he is successful, brilliant, and constantly poetic.
Ghost On Ghost doesn't hold many surprises. Beam's words still ring out in his familiar soothing voice, beautifully structured and poignant. The music is gracious, adventurous, and certainly not boring; the 40 second be-bop breakdown in "Lover's Revolution" is completely out of place, for instance. Composing the record with an abundance of off the wall instruments, and some main stays such as pedal steel and acoustic guitar, this seems to be the new trademark of Iron and Wine. Lyrically, Beam hasn't changed gears in a few years. Opposed to his prior focus on folklore and abstract stories, it seems he's trying desperately to remember what being a frustrated 16 year old boy is like. Sure, not all songs sit this way, but it is a repetitive notion that's wearing thin.
At the end of the day, Ghost on Ghost is another great record put out by one of America's most prolific singer songwriters. His ever maturing adult contemporary brand of folk music is a fairly consistent pleasure to listen to and enjoy.
Nothing Lasts Long EP
The Nothing Lasts Long EP from San Francisco duo Painted Palms is a fast moving and eclectic electro pop record. Paced at a quick grooving speed and only six songs long, it is a fun and outrageous record that is over far too soon.
Heavily synthesized and processed, Painted Palms have taken slivers from different sounds and spliced them all together. A little bit psychedelic and a little bit 80's electro with a large heap of pop goodness on top. The duo feed melodies and rhythms into the beats that just sit right, feel good and complement each other well. Good, audible lyrics help tie it all together and keep the music grounded. The record is easy to digest and easy to get into, making a popular choice for any sort of activity.
Definitely danceable and definitely fun, Nothing Lasts Long EP would make a great addition to any summer playlist.