If You Haven’t Heard: Volcano Choir
So far, 2013 has been a year of perspective for me. I’ve tried to put myself in the shoes of and view life through the lens of others. It has been rewarding and painful so far. It has also been a year of new obsessions. These include, but are not limited to Yummi Deli, Breaking Bad, and, as of a few days ago, wearing out the new album, “Repave,” from Volcano Choir. I just simply cannot stop. I first heard of these guys in 2009, when they released their debut, “Unmap,” which was mostly a collaboration of friends written through successive emails. At that point, and in all fairness still today, Volcano Choir was simply treated as a Bon Iver side project for indie golden boy Justin Vernon, and that remains fair because of the unprecedented rise of Bon Iver in 2011. However, with this release, the band is very clear about wanting to separate itself and mark its own territory. Still a collaboration of friends, though this time the collaborating was done in the same room with one another, Volcano Choir have created a sound that is interesting and elegiac, but feels strangely familiar and comfortable. The album’s poignantly subdued reservations make me wish that fall was already upon us. “Repave” is out September 3 via Jagjaguwar.
Washed Out – ‘Paracosm’
“Washed Out is Ernest Greene, a young guy from Perry, Ga., U.S.A. who makes bedroom synth-pop that sounds blurred and woozily evocative. There’s a sense of longing and distance in Greene’s somber, filtered vocals, but it’s what he does compositionally that makes Washed Out stand out. Backed by gently pulsing, Balearic-tinged disco, Greene’s voice takes on a new dimension.” I read a small portion of Washed Out’s bio on his Last.FM page, and realized that I wouldn’t able to do any better of a job conveying who Washed Out is. I certainly wouldn’t have come up with the phrase “woozily evocative,” or brought up the genre “Balearic-tinged disco.” I’m just a simple writer. However, I’m certain that you are familiar with Washed Out, whether you are aware of it or not. You know that beat behind the opening credits for the show “Portlandia?” That beat that you’ve probably heard and thought, “That is one of the tightest beats I’ve ever heard.” Washed Out is responsible for that track. It’s called “Feel It All Around” and it’s from his 2009 EP, “Life of Leisure.”
On “Paracosm,” Greene has decidedly stretched himself, both artistically and instrumentally, while maintaining a rapport with his haze-laden, psyched-out reputation. Greene reportedly used more than 50 instruments to make this new long-player, which seems like it would make listening to the album tedious and cluttered, but “Paracosm” revels in catchy simplicity and the term “complicated” never really comes to mind. Back in June, we got a taste of Washed Out’s new album, when lead single “It All Feels Right” was released to the world. I remember the first time I listened to the song; I was immediately sucked into its catchy, upbeat hook. It’s difficult to listen to this song, and relationally this album without getting caught up in Greene’s feel good, post-chillwave vibes, and I think that is his intent, which he seems to have zero qualms about.
A paracosm is a fantasy world created during childhood, which is usually very detailed and carries on for years. Earnest Greene has created his own paracosm and invited us, his audience, to follow him into it. We are quite fortunate. “Paracosm” is out now via Sub Pop Records.