You may have noticed that I lost some interest in this little light green corner for a bit. It just didn’t seem important to me anymore, and I really didn’t want to force it. So I didn’t. And here it lies. I really loved writing here – I’d always regarded blogs as relf-referential paradises for pricks but found out that, with a little direction (and some help from places like the Hype Machine). you could actually find people to talk to about whatever you wanted.

I wanted to talk about music, and that was great, but I don’t anymore. It’s been a strange journey, losing interest. I’m not sure if it’s a natural reaction to a hobby turning into work, but I bloody hope it isn’t because I just got a job writing about video games. Which is still a weird thing to say for me. Basically, my unfocused point is that I won’t be posting here anymore. At least, not for a long time. Not ’til I really care about music again, enough to fit the talking about it into a schedule that is much, much tighter than it used to be.

It would be a bit shitty of me not to leave without talking about some music though, right? And there aren’t many more fitting bands I could write about than Meursault. I fucking love Meursault, I genuinely think they’re one of the most exciting bands in the whole bloody world, and I’ve been posting about them for a long time now. So it seems wonderfully serendipitous that the day I post this is the day their third album, Something for the Weakened, has its launch party. I genuinely didn’t construct that coincedence.

Something for the Weakened could finally make Meursault a “big band”. Unfortunately, I say this with the authority of a man who has said exactly the same thing about the last two albums, but this time I’m even more right. It continues the band’s proud tradition of refusing to ever sound the same – they’ve gone from the first album’s bleeps and banjos to the EP’s stripped back folk to the second album’s Wizard of Oz style (by that, I mean it sounded like there was a single, small man behind all the huge noise) and eneded up in serious anthem territory. Meursault have always been a band that trades in melodies, but this album sticks straight up the front of proceedings and glares at you until you scream along. It’s fucking wonderful, and you should all buy it.And I really hope “the public” will buck up their ideas and buy it too.

I don’t know whether it’s my favourite album of the year just yet – it has some stiff competition from Father John Misty, Barna Howard and White Birds – but it’s putting up a fight. I’m going to attach the single, ‘Flittin” for you to enjoy, and then you should buy all of those albums and think of me and this blog, misty-eyed whilst you compare them. I’m not actually dying, so you can still find out what I’m prattling on about over on Twitter (@2plus2isjoe), or you can read what I’m doing for money in Official Nintendo Magazine or you can see what music I care about enough to write about in my free time by reading DIY or For Folk’s Sake. But that’s it for Music From A Green Window for now. Bit sad. Bye.

I used to be in a school choir (when I was at school, luckily). The thing was that my school was a ludicrous place, so our performance space and occasional practice room was a sizeable abbey. When I say sizeable, I mean it was amongst the largest of its kind in Britain. Looking back on it, it was pretty amazing – this ancient, ringing place that was always on the verge of crumbling down but for gullible tourist donations. The thing is, as a general incompetent, I was late more often than not and would run down the nave as practice began and, as I did, the sheer magnificence of the sound would make me slow down to listen to it longer. Hearing all those words rendered basically inaudible by the sheer time it took for them to reach you meant that the echoes became the song, like some kind of posh shoegaze. That wash of sound was always better than experiencing my over-enthusiastic, partially palsied English teacher’s hollers in the choir stalls, entertaining though he was.

White Birds, although doubtless more technically gifted than Mr. Redacted, are similarly aided by their echoes. When Women Played Drums is their debut album under this moniker (some of them used to trade under the name Drink Up Buttercup, and must have done alright because they have a Wikipedia Page) and is chock-fucking-full of the things. The brilliant part is that, apart from that single trait, this album could have ended up a disparate mess: ‘Hondora’ would be a punchy pastoral full of sunburnt harmonies, ‘We Both Scream’ would sound like a surf song pitched somewhere between Best Coast and Animal Collective (so, basically the more interesting Beach Boys stuff they both stole from) and ‘Mirrors In Mirrors’ would be Beach House taking on ’80s synth pop and going a bit mental towards the end. Basically, it would all still be good, but it would make no sense.

But that echo – and what a bloody echo it is – changes everything it touches. Each song gains some sense of ethereal majesty, forces you to strain for the words and just sounds better, just like my choir. As an example, take ‘Body When You Coming Back’, a song that could, more than any other on the album, have ended up particularly badly. A gentle vocal set against simple guitar and drum patterns, leading to more voices, leading to a break, a crescendo and, finally a synth-augmented grand finale. It’s stadium rock. But, with the echo, it sounds like its being played to an empty stadium. And it’s fucking great. It’s not just the copious usage that makes the album good, however, it’s in knowing when to stop. Most obviously, this come in penultimate track ‘Veins Lined With Rust’, a track that makes silence its lead tool. Stark, crackling production covers a single guitar and James Harvey’s suddenly intimate vocals. It’s a track that calls to mind ‘A Small Stretch Of Land’ or ‘One Day This’ll All Be Fields’ from the Meursault albums – not just for their contrast to the albums they come from, but in the knowledge it displays of how to use production and track ordering to create a real flow, some abstract narrative to a record.

When Women Played Drums could have been unremarkable – worse, it could have been seriously, badly weird – yet, with one brilliant production choice, it’s turned itself into one of the best albums I’ve heard this year. In the same way that my choir sounded better from far away (and not because I wasn’t in it, haters), these tracks become unbelievably cool by swaddling themselves in something that should lessen their effect. White Birds have some serious talent. I fucking love this.

For a band who I only know for one Sade cover, I got really quite excited by the prospect of new material from Beachwood Sparks. As the woozy progenitors of my psychedelic country interest, they have a lot to live up to in my brain – not least because I’ve been too enamoured by that one track to listen to anything else by them since. Luckily, their first new track in eleven years has sated me.

‘Forget the Song’ is a sun-warped mix of Yoshimi-era Flaming Lips melodics and almost-but-not-quite trad. country punchiness, never quite one or the other. It’s almost as if the fact that the original four-man lineup was bolstered to seven for the group’s new album sessions has widened the band’s scope in-song – this has a kick to its chorus that, although presumably weakened by some restricted depressant or other, feels distinct from ‘By Your Side’s exponential echoes. Then again, I actually know fuck all about the band’s own original compositions, so this might all be par for the course. As a beginner, I’m liking it.

You can grab the song below, or go here and get it as you sign up for the band’s newsletter to get info on their new album, The Tarnished Gold as and when it comes along. It’s out on June 26th and I will actually listen to it.

Beachwood Sparks – Forget The Song (YSI)

I’ll be talking about this in more rambling depth on this week’s radio show, but there’s something about ‘2012’, the new(est) track from sibling duo This Frontier Needs Heroes that reminds me of Other Lives. What my favourite Stilwater multi-instrumentalists do in huge, dramatic soundscapes TFNH do in a certain stomping, melodic windrush – that being a conjuring of some vaguely mystical America. There’s something more at work in both beyond simply the noises they make, and it’s what makes both bands so much fun to listen to and infuriatingly difficult to write about.

Then again, it could just be that TFNH have produced ‘2012’ as though they played it from within an echoing, cosmic sphere. Either way, it’s some seriously fantastic skewed folk-pop and two versions of this song will cost you a dollar, so you should buy it – they might be able to afford a real cosmic sphere if you do.

Haven’t we had quite enough of the whole shoegaze revival now? In the words of Mallory Archer:

Seriously, go watch Archer, it’s great. Oh, and listen to Stagnant Pools – this Indinianapolis brotherly duo’s new track, ‘Consistency’, is a beautiful, swelling thing. Aided by both a beautiful, sweltering, heat-haze throb of guitar treatment and some deep, effortlessly melodic vocals, it’s a wonderfully ambiguous presence, treading the line between being swallowed by its own noise and the far poppier sentiment at is core. In fact, you know those deeply slowed down pop tracks that end up sounding like Brian Eno pieces? This could be a slightly faster one of those. Sort of. Seriously excellent stuff.

Stagnant Pools – Consistency

As I slip deeper into a beautiful musical morass of lonely people with antiquated instruments, The Owsley Brothers are keeping me rooted in a noisier musical world by continuing to excite me with their particular brand of straightforward, no frills blues ‘n’ roll. ‘Hot Mess’, the first track from their upcoming debut album Cobalt is apparently the work of a rejigged lineup from their previous singles and, whilst a little cleaned up – swapping the grimy window of production they used previously for a more intimate, dusty-front-porch-in-a-tornado approach – the sense of sheer abandon, a certain leather-jacketed, beer bottle smashing swagger, in their music is still present and most definitely correct. This is surely the kind of music to swear about – fucking loud, fucking cool and fucking excellent.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

My new microphone, so treasured when I bought it only weeks ago, appears to be falling apart, resulting in a show in which my sinuses manifest themselves in a way that simply isn’t true to life. That aside, I really liked this week’s episode and have recently discovered that Day Joy have been leapt upon by cool people with far more bloggy caché than this humble knob, which has both pleased and affirmed me. Dream-folk is 4 real.

I would go on about what I thought of Andrew Bird’s Noble Beast, and why I think his new album, Break It Yourself is a lot, lot better, but it’s more or less the crux of the entire review SO THAT WOULD BE STUPID. I wrote dis 4 For Folk’s Sake.

Andrew Bird has always flirted with the idea of making pop music. His often sprawling, always impressively constructed compositions have toyed with the boundaries between experimentation and melodic straightforwardness for years now, but his strength has always lain in being able to engage the listener but not compromise on his own sound. On Break It Yourself, his sixth solo album, he seems to have chosen to step off that line, and taken a side. This is as close to pop as Andrew Bird is ever likely to get, and he’s all the better for it.

Lead single, ‘Eyeoneye’ is the most extreme example, but a perfect one at that. A burst of Shins-indebted classic pop-rock, eminently catchy, distinctly punchier than we’re used to but still rooted in Birdsian traditions – the boundless vocabulary presented in his lyrics (“go ahead and re-ionise yourself”), structural ideas beyond the usual verse-chorus-middle eight and, of course, the life-threateningly brilliant whistling that’s become the hallmark of every Bird record. If you did come into this album with expectations based on the single alone, you’d find yourself deceived, but it’s certainly not a false indication of what’s contained in Break It Yourself.

The easiest way to think this record through is as a balloon, struggling to take off into airier, freer climes, but anchored by the weight of pop’s conventions. Opener ‘Desperation Breeds’ begins with a gently rolling guitar, which gives way to another Bird trademark, pizzicato violin, which then underpins violin sweeps, each growing in volume as the song continues. It’s a classic buildup, the sort of thing stadium rock bands use to pretend to be emotional, but deconstructed and placed within the confines of Bird’s style. ‘Orpheo Looks Back’ takes a different approach, harking back to Bird’s early affinity with British folk music, a running, tumbling fiddle part dominating most of the song but always returning to a central, whistle-accompanied refrain that acts as chorus. It’s breathless stuff, and perhaps the most vibrant and engaged a Bird song has sounded for years.

It’s that engagement that marks this album as different to its predecessors. When Bird gives up his usual lofty pronouncements to softly lament that “I can’t see the sense in us breaking up at all” amidst the gently thrumming soul of ‘Lazy Projector’, you can’t help but feel that this is a moment that’s imprinted itself on Bird himself, rather than the fanciful tales of “calcified arythmetists” and “proto-Sanskrit Minoans” from his last album. Similarly, the interplay with the recurring voice of St. Vincent’s Annie Clark, most notably on the accented dream-pop of ‘Lusitania’, doesn’t just give you the sense that Bird is making connections with other parts of the industry but, paradoxically, makes the songs more personal – that in hearing his conversation with others, we’re learning more about Bird than we ever have previously.

Of course, it can’t be all one way traffic, and by the final two tracks that metaphorical balloon is let loose to climb higher than we’ve seen it go before. ‘Hole In the Ocean Floor’ is an eight-minute windswept meander through expressionistic violin patterns and closer ‘Belles’ is a field recording-cum-ambient track that’s exactly as straightforward as that description makes it sound. It’s an odd way to end an album so steeped in recognisable styles, but perhaps a fitting one, an acknowledgement that what we’ve seen of Bird here is only telling part of the story, no matter how artfully it’s presented. Break It Yourself is just that, then, a well-considered presentation of Andrew Bird’s skill at mixing both his virtuoso talents and ear for melody, a perfect evolution for established fans and a welcome introduction for those interested in taking the plunge into a discography that could seem forbiddingly abstract at times. This is by no means the full picture, but it’s an incredibly appealing one, and certainly the best we’ve seen from him so far.

Andrew Bird – Eyeoneye

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Here are the last two weeks of Folk Bloke shows. Put aside two hours and ruminate on the dualistic nature of the world. One was recorded outside in the sun, the other inside as it rained. Binary systems, yeah?

So I was actually coming here to post about something completely different and amazing, but THAT CAN WAIT.

I’ve been getting gradually more and more excited about the upcoming Father John Misty record – J. Tillman’s first solo album after leaving Fleet Foxes – based solely on the fact that I can’t stop listening to ‘Hollywood Forever Cemetry Blues’, so to find an album track secreted away on a seemingly unconnected Soundcloud account has confused and excited me. ‘This Is Sally Hatchet’ begins as what sounds like some spindly blues-pop but ends with a beating, dramatic riff that sounds straight outta ‘Kashmir’ (mash-up artists, HO!). How it gets from one to the other is an exhilerating journey of husky barroom choruses, creepy atonality and a life story seized up with the dust of Americana. It’s wonderful, evocative stuff that’s only spurred me further towards the Misty bandwagon.

Father John Misty – This Is Sally Hatchet