under the radar records – Mark Kozelek & Jimmy La Valle + Vondelpark

Not every recording artist has a Columbia-funded PR campaign (ahem… daft punk) or appearances on national TV to promote their new material (yeah, JT), so it’s possible that you might have missed some beautiful and engrossing records.  Each merits more words than I will give them  but on this week of catching up I thought I’d go for quantity (of music) over quality (of words… and this is always subject to debate).


Mark Kozelek & Jimmy LaValle – Perils from the Sea (click ←)

Former Red House Painters lead singer/songwriter and current mastermind behind Sun Kil Moon has been making gorgeous and heart-wrenching music with stream-of-consciousness narratives for almost two decades.   Yet, his music and name are not as household friendly as they should be.  (But let’s be honest this list of unappreciated artists is rather extensive in my mind.)  Perils of the Sea is a collaboration with fellow musician Jimmy LaValle and the marriage of Mark’s rambling and knife-in-chest narratives filled with mundane epiphanies and daily tragedies with the sinewy sparseness and whimsical lullaby nature of La Valle’s minimalist electronic compositions is about as near perfect as they come, if you like music with emotional effect and thought generating content.  In a curious, way the album reminds me a great deal of The Postal Service’s Give Up (can’t believe it’s been a decade since this was released) with its well-manicured, yet stripped down electronic melodies juxtaposed against unchecked, from-the-gut, heart-on-sleeve confessions, recriminations, and flights of fancy; the only difference, Mark & Jimmy are a little more dour and less poppy than Ben & Jimmy.  But, sometimes somber reflections are a necessary break for some much needed perspective.  

Pay note in particular to Kozelek’s lyrics in “1936”, “Gustavo”, “You Missed My Heart”, and “Caroline”. #bone-chilling


Vondelpark – Seabed

Certain musicians are masters of words and rhythms; others conjure feeling, emotions, and memories with the most intricate yet subtlest of sounds.  On their debut LP, the English trio explores the latter, exuding a relaxing chill vibe that elicits visions of dreamy escapades and sea-side visions.  Nestled somewhere between 90s R&B and dream/indie pop, Seabed is all about tuning in and turning down; a record of experience and evocation rather than declaration and statement.  It can by your Sunday rest or your aural night cap, whatever you decide it will bring you peace of mind and slow down the restless mind.  The closest contemporary analog is the Swedish haze & daze masters jj with little hints of the 90s R&B hippies, PM Dawn, and Parachutes-era Coldplay.  Take it for a spin by clicking above.

or take a little dreamy excursion below

….more to follow including a little retro-downtempo brilliance, emo-instrumental revival, and a wandering songwriter.


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