Stuart Moxham: Personal Best

Personal Best is a new compilation of the solo work of Stuart Moxham, formerly a member of 1970s post-punk band Young Marble Giants. My generation knew Young Marble Giants best through the cover of their song “Credit in the Straight World” on Hole’s Live Through This album. Personal Best is a collection of new songs, B-sides, and previously unreleased material by Stuart Moxham spanning 1981-2009, and will be released on June 22nd.

The music on Personal Best is an unusual blend of multi-instrumental folk, pop, and rock.

Songs like the opener “Vampire of Love,” “It Says Here,” and the melodic “Sunday Afternoon” have a soft, retro pop style.

The rhythmic instrumental “Golden Childhood” and “Oh Boy” have a light Reggae arrangements, and the apt title “Baroque Calypso” perfectly describes that refreshing little song.

But the stand out is “Save It,” which strikes a strange balance between Andy Partridge quirkiness and the darker sound of The Smiths.

Stuart Moxham – Autumn Song (mp3 removed) *

*mp3 provided by & hosted w/ permission of artist’s PR rep

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Stuart Moxham MySpace

Jen Gloeckner: Mouth of Mars

Mouth of Mars is the new sophomore release by singer-songwriter Jen Gloeckner. Jen’s deep vocals and dark, distinctive melodies call to mind the eerily atmospheric music of Johnette Napolitano and at times even classic Patti Smith, with a mix of electronic beats and rock riffs similar to Melissa Auf der Maur.

The astounding title track opens Mouth of Mars, setting the stage for Jen Gloeckner’s churning, pulsating, chill-producing blend of electro-rock.

Standouts “Pulse” and “Sleep to Dream” continue to quake, while the string-accented “Die” and slinky acoustic “Haunt You” are quietly mesmerizing. There isn’t a single weak track on the album.

Jen Gloeckner – Pulse (mp3 removed) *

*mp3 provided by & hosted w/ permission of artist’s PR rep

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Jen Gloeckner Official Site
Jen Gloeckner MySpace

Mp3 Menagerie: Kathryn Williams, Jacques Labouchere, Bellflur

Kathryn Williams – Little Lessons (mp3 removed)*

British singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams will release her eigth album The Quickening on July 6th.

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*mp3 provided by & posted w/ permission of label

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Jacques Labouchere – 2nd Long Street (mp3) *

Catchy, jangly pop-rock from Jacques Labouchere’s new album Bi-polar Baby Strollers.

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*mp3 hosted by & posted w/ permission of artist’s PR rep

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Bellflur – Insect Politics (mp3)*

Dreamy tune from Bellflur’s new album asleep.asleep.

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*mp3 hosted by & posted w/ permission of artist’s PR rep

Xavier Rudd: Koonyum Sun

Singer-songwriter and didgeridoo virtuoso Xavier Rudd will release his new album Koonyum Sun on April 19th. As I said when I first posted the download link for “Love Comes and Goes” back in February, “with the exception of Hadestown and Allison Crowe’s upcoming Spiral, Xavier’s Koonyum Sun is my most anticipated album of 2010.” Until recently, I said that Xavier Rudd was my favorite contemporary male artist. After hearing this new album and thinking about his entire catalogue (two of his releases were on my Best of the Decade list), I must revise that statement. Xavier Rudd is my favorite artist, full stop.

The opener “Sky to Ground” initially seems to scale back to the simpler acoustics of Xavier’s earlier works, but the song soon bursts into a rock guitar riff recalling the harder sound of Dark Shades of Blue. The Koonyum Soon album as a whole is a beautiful, atmospheric marriage of these two distinct styles.

Many of the tracks – such as “Set Me Free,” the harmonica accented “Fresh Green Freedom,” and psychedelic folk-rock number “Bleed” – combine rock guitar thunder with haunting tribal percussion and chants. Weaved throughout are Xavier’s signature mellow acoustics, multi-faceted voice, and environmentally conscious lyrics.

The soft arrangement of “Love Comes & Goes” is certainly a familiar style for Xavier, but the post-breakup lyrical content is something very new for him. Xavier’s site says 2009 was “a tumultuous year” for him, and lyrics like “no other pain like losing a soulmate” and “picking up the pieces of a broken nest” indicate this song was inspired by the loss of a relationship. Whatever his motivation, Xavier has written the perfect anthem for the brokenhearted.

In contrast, the plucky buoyancy of “Time to Smile” seems to illustrate the joy Xavier feels when performing with his new band Izintaba. Izintaba is a new trio Xavier formed with South African bassist Tio Moloantoa and drummer Andile Nqubezelo, with whom Xavier says he shares an “an undeniable connection – musically, spiritually, and emotionally.”

With the exception of the finale “Badimo,” Xavier’s trademark didgeridoo is conspicuously absent this time around. It’s occasionally used to add texture to the percussion on other songs, but you have to listen very attentively to hear it. I do miss the deep sound of that unique instrument, but otherwise Koonyum Soon is yet another breathtaking masterpiece that’s sure to land Xavier Rudd at the top of my year end list again.

Xavier’s website is offering a free, legal m4a download of the new song “Love Comes and Goes” to anyone who signs up for his official email list at the following link:

Xavier Rudd – Love Comes and Goes (download page) *

*link provided by artist’s official newsletter, you must sign up w/ an email address to access the download.

Buy @ Amazon

Xavier Rudd

Muruch’s Xavier Rudd Reviews

Xavier Rudd Official Site

Xavier Rudd: New Song Download

My favorite contemporary male artist and didgeridoo extraordinaire Xavier Rudd will release his new album Koonyum Sun on April 19th. With the exception of Hadestown and Allison Crowe’s upcoming Spiral, Xavier’s Koonyum Sun is my most anticipated album of 2010.

Xavier’s website is offering a free, legal m4a download of the new song “Love Comes and Goes” to anyone who signs up for his official email list at the following link:

Xavier Rudd – Love Comes and Goes (download page) *

*link provided by artist’s official newsletter, you must sign up w/ an email address to access the download.

Pre-order @ Amazon (not yet available)

Muruch’s Xavier Rudd Reviews

Xavier Rudd Official Site