William Tyler // Cadillac Desert
In 2010, longtime Bonnie “Prince” Billy/Silver Jews sideman William Tyler struck out on his own with Behold The Spirit, a debut album that aligned the young Nashville guitarist with the great solitary guitar instrumentalists of the past: John Fahey, Bert Jansch, Peter Walker, et al. On March 19, he’ll join the mighty Merge Records roster with Impossible Truth, which he dubs “my ’70s singer-songwriter record; it just doesn’t have any words.”
No words are needed for "Cadillac Desert," the record’s stunning first single. His fingerpicked style is accompanied by weightless strings and pedal steel for a creation that’s meditative without being too somber. M.C. Taylor, a.k.a. the fine folk artist Hiss Golden Messenger, lays it all out: “William will worry a phrase—some tangled chordal wormhole—until you are certain it’s all that exists. He’ll take you over the stiles, he’ll love you up and down, and then he’ll make you cry for the world and what we’ve done to it.”
Angel Olsen // Tiniest Seed / Sweet Dreams
Angel Olsen on her stunning new music videos:
"The score was mailed back across the Atlantic and then interpreted using a hand-wound 16mm camera. Two rolls of film were shot in barns and fields, and in gorges and on piers in Upstate, New York. The beginning of the score called for a meiotic effect to be used in tandem with the song "Tiniest Seed." The film was exposed and then rewound and re-exposed many times. Later in the score a more intuitive approach to shooting was the direction, as a reaction to the song "Sweet Dreams." These images were collected with the foreknowledge that the film would be extensively manipulated in the darkroom. The film was mailed back to Vienna. An archaic homemade contact printer was used to create the final look and that film was hand-processed, and rinsed and repeated all in the same room in which the score began. The final version is the documentation of an epistolary-exchange lasting nearly a year. It is an attempt to sync the unsyncable and our experiment at reconciling the space between us. Every hand visible in the final film. A 16mm print available and recommended for screening purposes. This is the digital version."
Rewind: Waterloo Sunset’s Favorite 2012 Albums
It’s been a fine year hear at WS HQ. In January, I switched to an all-new design that’s much more pleasing to the eye (and here’s hoping you like it too, dear reader). I’ve tried to break out of my musical comfort zone this year as well, and it’s been fun exploring new genres that I’d only given a passing glance before. Over at KUT 90.5, I co-created a series called “The Loop” which explores the rising electronica subgenre known as “beat” in Austin—check out a few entries. These artists are fascinatingly original, and they might just be on their collective way in 2013.
This year I tended to listen to individual songs more than albums. One form is not superior to the other, and in fact, tons of artists did interesting things with just three minutes than many can do with thirty. That said, my favorite albums of the year really stuck with me in spite of my listening habits. I still maintain that a fully immersive album is as satisfying as a good book. It never ceases to amaze me that artists can still find new ways to express themselves musically when so many critics complain that everything’s been done before. Truly, the possibilities are endless, and that gives me great comfort.
Let’s bring it back down to ground level. Click through to read Waterloo Sunset’s favorite 2012 albums. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you on the other side.
Jessica Pratt // S/T
Some albums hit you so immediately that you know it will stick with you for years to come. Jessica Pratt’s self-titled debut is one of these. The young San Francisco songwriter recently dropped the LP via Birth Records, an imprint started up by fellow San Franciscan/weirdo Tim Presley, aka White Fence (who’s put out his share of stunning records this year as well).
The collaboration makes sense as the pair obviously loves all things late-60s. Pratt’s debut is full of tape hiss and the kinds of autumnal chords that could be heard wafting out from the latter half of that decade, but her songwriting is so particular and focused that it requires no time stamp. She sings of nature and ghosts and the darkest parts of night, weaving her lyrics in with just a delicate finger-picked guitar. The result is something mysterious and magical and mind-bending in its own quiet way.
Rick Danko // The Unfaithful Servant (Live At The Fox Theatre)
After The Last Waltz and the subsequent end of the Band, bassist/vocalist Rick Danko drifted from project to project, but he never stayed far from a stage—his natural habitat. In 1979, Danko teamed up with the great Paul Butterfield for a tour of small theaters across the States, and on October 12, Danko and his band pulled into the Fox Theatre in Boulder, CO. Most of the evening’s set is on YouTube (thanks to the wise insight of the Fox Theatre staff who decided to film the show), and it finds Danko and Butterfield ripping through a number of blues jams. Blondie Chaplin, a noted session player who spent considerable time with the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones, also sat in as the guitarist on the tour.
But perhaps the best song of the night was an unadorned gem from the Band’s past. "The Unfaithful Servant" was Danko’s soulful showcase on the group’s eponymous 1969 album, and at the Fox he decides to take it for a spin as a piano ballad. Gone are the folk/country trappings of the original—only that chilling melody and Danko’s inimitable voice remain, while Butterfield’s mournful harmonica takes the place of Robbie Robertson’s original guitar solo. The performance is particularly rambling, and it’s obvious Danko was still riding high from a decade of partying and stardom. Yet he finds an emotional pathway through the song, baring his scars for all to see as he did throughout his career. “The man with tears in his voice,” as Elvis Costello once described him.