After Joanna Newsom's critically lauded 2006 opus Ys and 2010's triple-disk Have One on Me, the musician had a lot to live up to on her fourth studio album, Divers.
The album may be her most accessible to date and the lyrical content and arrangements are just as dense as previous releases. Though Newsom sticks to her signature style of avant-folk, Divers explores more into country and art-pop. In true Newsom style, the album opens like a great film, featuring light string swells that open the curtains to Newsom and her beloved harp. Though the track "Anecdotes" does not showcase anything that Newsom hasn't done before, the lush orchestration surrounding her eclectic croon fits nicely and evokes a well-aged fantasy folk story.
The centerpiece of the album is the seven-minute title track "Divers." The track slowly gains momentum with layers of descending pianos and percussion — like a chase scene in film. The tension of the piece grows, takes a tonal turn, then evolves into an incredibly enjoyable pop-song structure. With Divers, Newsom has added another fantastic album to her solid discography. Out now on Drag City records, Divers is Radio 1190's CD of the Month for November.
For years, Colorado trio The Yawpers have been making country-tinged punk music for the masses. The group recently singed and debut an album on Bloodshot, a label where they finally seem like they're home.
American Man may not showcase anything new for the group, but the sound showcases that the trio is capable.
Lead single "American Man" is a tall and proud homage to America that could please the dirtiest of punks to the loudest of Texans. Though the song is anthemic and melodic, The Yawpers put enough grit and personality into their sound to make it genuine. Though the group takes cues from blues, country and punk, "Beale Street" is a track that's sonically influenced by bluegrass and Celtic folk. What The Yawpers do so well is pull from various genres, making each one very much their own. Likewise, the way the group speaks of American topics is neither preachy nor typical country, but rather progressive-minded and proud.
Los Angeles-based group Gun Outfit is known for making psychedelic indie-country music, and its debut on Paradise of Bachelors is the band's best release to date. Though their sound is simple on simple, the rock outfit turns minimal melodies into something very heady.
The track "Matters to A Head" is a jangly, driving song that features hints of sitar and Dinosaur Jr-esque vocals which makes it calming and psychedelic. The songs are country-tinged, but also resemble '90s indie rock mixed with a western film soundtrack — which may sound strange on paper, but on the record comes off effortlessly and enjoyable.
Calvet is Radio 1190's music director. Read more reviews: coloradodaily.com/columnists.