Merge Records recording artist M. Ward has released a string of acclaimed solo albums in addition to five LPs with Zooey Deschanel in their duo outfit She & Him. M. Ward’s latest album, More Rain, is evidence of the lauded singer-songwriter and producer’s ability to shine through the soggy gloom of his perennially damp adopted home of Portland, Oregon. Showcasing collaborators R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, Neko Case, k.d. lang, The Secret Sisters, and Joey Spampinato (NRBQ), More Rain is a collection of upbeat, sonically ambitious yet canonically familiar songs that both propel Ward’s reach and satisfy longtime fans. M. Ward’s graveled croon leads the way for him to roam across America’s musical past with its slow-burning balladry, breathy harmonies, and countrified indie rock sound on More Rain.
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down
Produced by Merrill Garbus of Tune-Yards, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down’s latest album A Man Alive finds Thao exploring darker and more personal territory than in her earlier songwriting. Much of A Man Alive is vibrant and danceable while focusing on the trajectory of her relationship with her father who drifted in and out of her family’s lives. Many of the songs are often punctuated by handclaps, sing-along choruses, and soul-shaking beats. While the album’s narrative comes from a deeply personal origin, the music has a very buoyant quality ready to get listeners on their feet and dancing. A Man Alive giddily jumps from crackling staccato funk and reverb-soaked garage-punk to psych-folk and experimental hip-hop.
Season Host: Liam Mayclem.