By Jason Leger
Iron & Wine – ‘Ghost On Ghost’
Sam Beam’s moves are very difficult to predict. He is the archetypal musical chameleon. In case you dropped off the Iron & Wine train in recent years, that guy who used to sound like he was singing you to sleep has made changes in leaps and bounds over his past two albums. “The Shepherd’s Dog,” released in 2007, saw the beginning metamorphosis toward full band instrumentation and lofty style stretching, which really became fully realized on 2011’s “Kiss Each Other Clean.” Now, it has been two years, and in all honesty, I think Beam began to realize how difficult it is for the listener to know what to expect from him, and now he’s screwing with us. From big band style swing to alt-country to jazz to funk to throwbacks to Beam’s former acoustic driven style, “Ghost On Ghost” is all over the map. While undertaking all of these influences into one work, Beam glows with a confidence that might not be commonly heard on such an ambitious album. He legitimately sounds very, very relaxed. Single, “Lovers’ Revolution,” surfaced on the web a couple of months ago, and to be honest, at first listen, I scratched my chin a little. It’s very jazzy. In fact, it sounds like listening to Beam collaborate with Miles Davis—oh, how I wish. After several spins however, the song grew on me, much akin to the two singles from his previous record. It just takes a minute to digest, but afterward I became very excited for “Ghost on Ghost.” Highlights other than the single are the funky “Singers and the Endless Song,” the laidback “Winter Prayers,” and the twangy album closer “Baby Center Stage.” “Ghost on Ghost” is out now via 4AD and Nonesuch Records. I recommend it for anyone looking for a good guessing game as to what Sam Beam will attempt next.
Cayucas – ‘Bigfoot’
Pensacola, your album for summer 2013 has arrived. Well, it’s almost arrived. Reverb laden, smart, breezy, and seamlessly fun, “Bigfoot,” the debut album from Cayucas, the moniker chosen by Santa Monica native Zach Yudin, screams to be played in the sun, on white sand, near a large body of water. The name “Cayucas” is actually homage to a small surfing town in San Luis Obispo, Calif. called Cayucos. This knowledge really makes the band name fitting, considering their surf-influenced sound. It’s difficult to listen to “Bigfoot” and not detect a hint of juvenility, however wrapped up in the same package are the tried and true sounds of a generation past and a very grown up sense of direction. The Beach Boys are the obvious connection, as well as The Animals and The Tornadoes. So far, the band have released three singles, “East Coast Girl,” “High School Lover,” and “Cayucos,” and each one is equally as upbeat, catchy, and carefree, at least musically, as the other. “I was reaching for the last branch, thinking I could hang. Lighting fireworks and watching ‘em go ‘bang!’ Came running through the back door, covered in grass stains. It’s just a summer thing.” This line from the aptly titled “Summer Thing,” unabashedly sums up the feel of the album. Growing up here on the Gulf Coast, lyrics like these stir up memories from summers past, which makes “Bigfoot” an album which is not only easy to vibe with and connect to, but will also allows it to have staying power past the summer months, into the fall, and beyond. “Bigfoot” is out April 30 via Secretly Canadian.