Jan 9, 2021
Apr 10, 2020
In the overcrowded marketplace of 2020, wading through all the new releases can be an especially daunting task. We have the whole musical landscape at our fingertips from our favorite streaming services, but all these choices can in turn be overwhelming. When it comes to finding cool new artists, it's theoretically easier than ever these days, but everyone has become so used to skipping through everything which doesn't grab them in the first 8.6 seconds that some of the magic of discovering something new and letting it grow on us over time has been lost. In these times, uniqueness and distinction are incredibly important; you will hear this from every judge/coach on every singing reality competition when they are especially taken with an artist: "There's no one quite like you." It's special and exciting when a new artist stands out and immediately captures my attention as both a music fan and reviewer, and such is the case with Van Darien and her full-length debut album, Levee.
For this listener, it was Van Darien’s voice which stood out from the very first line of the opening track, “Ponderosa.” She’s the vocal love child of Stevie Nicks and Tanya Tucker, with all the grit and soul of both of them and some Bonnie Raitt rasps in her higher register for added color. Vocal ability is not always prized in Americana, and it’s refreshing to hear a technically gifted singer who still sounds this raw and unpolished and just plain interesting.
Sonically, this album fits within Americana, but less because of a folk style and more because of the sheer variety of styles from which Van Darien draws here. The previously mentioned “Ponderosa” is rife with steel and acoustic guitar, with an atmospheric, western vibe that makes it seem like the album might be a thoughtful, quiet, mostly country affair. But then we have songs like “Twisted Metal,” one of the album’s most interesting tracks both lyrically and musically, a hard rock anthem about the chaos and danger of being in love with someone even though logic might say it’s not the greatest idea.
In fact, the way Van Darien depicts love as a whole on this album is nothing short of fascinating. “Twisted Metal” has a harsh beauty about it, perfectly describing the way these two feel drawn to each other despite circumstance. “Insanity” reflects a similar emotion, comparing true love to feeling insane and asserting that perhaps it’s better to be alone than in a relationship which feels lukewarm, mundane, or really anything less than completely, gloriously out of control. “The Sparrow & the Sea,” featuring Owen Beverly, might be the highlight of the whole record, as the story of two people who long for each other and yet cannot be together is revealed to us through the illustration of the sparrow who wishes she could swim in the depths an the sea who dreams of joining her in flight. Each can see the other, but neither can reach across the divide. These three selections show Van Darien at her best as a lyricist and always frame love in a bittersweet light, seeming to portray all the complexities and emotions of it all at once, joy and heartache sometimes existing side by side.
This is a strong, interesting debut from Van Darien. She’s a refreshingly unique artist and a special vocalist. A couple of the songs have not quite caught up to her vocal talent, but there are some truly remarkable examples of songwriting here, displaying enormous potential for her. It’s a promising introduction with some standout moments, and Van Darien’s next record could be an absolutely incredible album. For now, Levee is a good one, go enjoy listening to it and discovering a cool new artist along the way.
Dec 31, 2016
Oct 10, 2016
Sep 1, 2016
Jul 8, 2016
Jul 7, 2016
This is Trailer's list of favorite albums. The year-end list will look a lot different because all
Farce the Music's contributors will vote on it, there will be actual write-ups of the top albums,
and besides... there are 6 more months in the year.
11. Bonnie Raitt - Dig in Deep
12. Hayes Carll - Lovers and Leavers
13. Margo Price - Midwest Farmer's Daughter
14. Quaker City Night Hawks - El Astronauta
15. Western Centuries - Weight of the World
16. Loretta Lynn - Full Circle
17. Deftones - Gore
18. Chance the Rapper - Coloring Book
19. The Temperance Movement - White Bear (out July 22)
20. Parker Millsap - The Very Last Day
21. Band of Horses - Why Are You OK?
22. Larry Hooper - No Turning Back
23. Tedeschi Trucks Band - Let Me Get By
24. Southern Family
25. Robbie Fulks - Upland Stories
26. Candlebox - Disappearing in Airports
27. Arliss Nancy - Greater Divides
28. Dub Miller - The Midnight Ambassador
29. Chris King - Animal
30. Randy Rogers Band - Nothing Shines Like Neon
31. Wheeler Walker Jr. - Redneck Shit
32. The Honeycutters - On the Ropes
33. Rival Sons - Hollow Bones
34. YG - Still Brazy
35. The Cactus Blossoms - You're Dreaming
36. Mavis Staples - Livin' on a High Note
37. The Jayhawks - Paging Mr. Proust
38. Kyle Craft - Dolls of Highland
39. Bonnie Bishop - Ain't Who I Was
40. King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard - Nonagon Infinity
Apr 5, 2016
(Note: This is only Trailer's Top 10 of 2016 so far and is subject to change.
Our official list will be a combined effort from all contributors in December)
1. Hayes Carll - Lovers and Leavers (out Friday)
Jan 2, 2013
First of all, 2012 was an utterly amazing year
in (mostly) non-radio music.
That being said, placing on FTM's Top 75 of 2012 meant an album was very strong and worthy of much acclaim and multiple listenings. In fact, I was upset to have to place some of these so "low."
A few rules: No live albums, no albums including a majority of previously released songs, no EPs.
Without further adieu, here's the FTM Top 75 Albums of 2012: 51-75:
52. Bonnie Raitt - Slipstream
54. Kasey Anderson and the Honkies - Let the Bloody Moon Rise
55. Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson - Wreck and Ruin
57. Lincoln Durham - The Shovel vs The Howling Bones
59. The Lumineers - s/t
60. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - The Lion The Beast The Beat
63. The Shins - Port of Morrow
65. Ty Segall Band - Slaughterhouse
66. The Smashing Pumpkins - Oceania
67. Green Day - Uno
69. The White Buffalo - Once Upon a Time in the West
71. Old Crow Medicine Show - Carry Me Home
73. Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball
74. Chris Robinson Brotherhood - Big Moon Ritual