THE PRINCE AVENUE SONGBOOK: Athens songstress Marty Winkler has recently been enjoying some new success across the pond, where she was signed by Swedish company Hemifran, which handles distribution and promotion to the UK and key European markets. This week, she officially releases her newest album, Songs I Never Sang For My Father, which has been available digitally for a few months. Winkler performs music from a broad cross-section of popular early and mid-20th century vocal styles and often stretches into blues, middle-of-the-road swing and sway, as well as standards. For more information, please see martywinklermusicacting.com and martywinkler.bandcamp.com.
SONGS LIKE THIS: Anticipation has been building for several months around the debut album of Sloan Simpson, System Update, which is slated for full release May 13 (digital) and July 1 (vinyl LP). Known best as a live recordist for the past two decades, Simpson began recording songs with a veritable cavalcade of stars back in late 2020 after live shows had been scuttled universally. The album is now available for preorder, and the vinyl comes courtesy of Science Project Records. In the spirit of full disclosure, let it be known that I have worked with Simpson very closely on this release and the effort to bring it to market. Which is why you’re getting just the facts, and no opinions, from me in regard to this. To hear the new singles and place your order, please see sloanbrothers.bandcamp.com.
MADRAS & HUARACHES: Songwriter Elliot Shaw released a two-song single earlier this month (“Cat Got Tongue” b/w “Occurred to Me”), and it’s a double dose of smooth acoustic vibes. Betraying knowledge of both mid-1960s production styles and their late-century revival, Shaw’s music evokes a kind of soft nostalgia. Specifically, Shaw’s music recalls artists like The High Llamas, The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, and maybe even a slight—albeit exceptionally so—amount of Lee Hazelwood. Check this out at elliotshaw.bandcamp.com.
MUSIC FOR IMAGINARY FILMS: Longtime Athens musicians Joe Rowe and George Davidson have released their newest collaborative collection of songs. Working together under the name Exchains, previously known as Cherry, this new group of six tracks is named Deep Stroll. We last heard from the pair in May 2021 when they released Poems Wanted. Similar in style, the new record again mixes earworm jazz expressions with a touch of modernism. Davidson’s saxophone figures as the prominent driving melodic force, but Rowe’s thoughtful percussion expressions support it all the way through. While I wouldn’t classify this as traditional easy listening it’s certainly not difficult, and those with a bent toward mood and expression may find it an appropriate companion for cocktails, driving alone or just staring out the window and thinking. Find it at exchains.bandcamp.com.
SNAP, CRACKLE AND POP: The glitch-ambient project sweetearthflying has two new releases out as we speak. The first, a single 17-minute-plus track named “Reflecting Pool,” came out in January and is both long and crackly enough to make the inner ear itch. The second, a three-track offering named Unfocused Enchantment, is more immediately melodically driven but still solidly entrenched in its own head especially on the multi-movement opening track “Twin Edges.” While I enjoyed both of these to varying degrees, neither will change your life but they just might change your afternoon if you sit back and give them a chance to slowly wash over you. Find each at sweetearthflying.bandcamp.com.
I BEFORE E EXCEPT AFTER C: We last heard from composer Marcel Sletten and his Primordial Void label last May when he was still a new transplant to Athens from Lodi, CA. This week—Friday, Feb. 25 to be exact—Sletten will release his newest album, Irish Words and a Bottle of Myrrh. The album itself is quite long and clocks in at a full 16 tracks. While Sletten’s work is quite influenced by the past 100 years or so of experimental composition, there are specific touchstones here that hint at a taste for primitive futurism. I found this most enjoyable when listened to straight through from beginning to end. In pure layman’s terms, it is noisier in its early movements and eventually sheds some hard skin to reveal moments of traditional beauty. Find this at primordialvoid.bandcamp.com.
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