New at Southwest Sound: Feb. 16

by Cooper Stapleton

Feb. 16I’m With Her, “See You Around”I’m With Her brings together three of the greatest minds in the contemporary folk and bluegrass scenes for a collaborative album to rival the classic “Trio” of Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, and Dolly Parton. “See You Around” brings together Sara Watkins, Aiofe O’Donovan, and Sarah Jarosz on a subdued but triumphant burst of folk wonder. The three women work so well within each other’s confines that it feels sometimes as if they have always worked together, filling the spaces of the others’ breathing with an unconscious fullness. Instrumentally, the album doesn’t feature any really elaborate playing, with the vocals taking most of the focus. Each track seems to have a driving theme of self-reliance, even on a track like “Ain’t That Fine,” where past mistakes are idly left behind. If you are a fan of modern folk music then you will find a lot to love on “See You Around.” I know I talk about supergroups a lot, but this one is not to be missed.

Windhand/Satan’s Satyrs, “Split”Windhand took the doom metal world by storm a few years ago with their record “SOMA,” revelling in the fuzzy, incensed atmosphere of languid riffs and frontwoman Dorthia Cottrell’s absolutely entrancing droning vocals. Satan’s Satyrs are new on my radar, but the blending of the two bands makes a lot of sense. They up the tempo a little bit, bringing a more traditional rock ’n’ roll flavor to their side of the split, almost toeing the line between rock and punk at times. There is a lot to love here between the five tracks, especially for those who love old-school amplifier worship music. The highlight for me is the opening Windhand track, “Old Evil.” It hits the exact level of reverbed-out psychedelia that causes me to drone out and start slowly headbanging, holding aloft crooked claws of evil, losing all self-control. This is a track that I will play for people who don’t know what doom metal is, and if they don’t get it, then I know they never will.

Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet, “Landfall”Kronos Quartet is one of my favorite contemporary classical music groups with the eeriness and solemnity they bring to their recordings without sacrificing the simultaneous grandiosity and intimate emotions that comes with the sounds of a string quartet. “Landfall” is poet and musician Laurie Anderson’s visceral and enlightening experiences during Hurricane Sandy, mostly presented as spoken word with the classical backdrop. If you aren’t into the poetry aspect then you will probably find this record unfulfilling, but I found it entirely compelling. The stories are intriguing, offering sometimes horrifying and sometimes whimsical insights into an experience that I am eternally grateful for never having to live. Punctuated by bursts of storm sounds, whistling and whispering winds, and whining violin strings, the album paints a perfect picture of the horror found in the wrath of nature, and the beauty that can be found in the human response to such horrifying indifference.

Cooper Stapleton

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