Album Review – Mount Eerie: Clear Moon (2012 Albums of the Year)

There’s no doubt about it that Phil Elverum can write an amazing song. Throughout his many projects and monikers he has racked up a considerably interesting and respected catalogue of music that requires a lot of thought and dedication to really absorb properly.

“Clear Moon” is the fifth official album under the ‘Mount Eerie’ name and serves as a companion piece to “Ocean Roar” an album that will be released later on in the year.

“Clear Moon” is a step away from the harsher sounds of 2009’s Wind’s Poem that had a heavy black metal influence which was an album full of isolation and introspection in which Elverum left the claustrophobic city life and began living in a cabin away from civilisation in rural Washington – on that album you can hear the despondent solitude and the complex thoughts that swirl around in your head when too much time has passed without interaction with others.“Wind’s Poem” seems to have really informed the direction and sound that this album has gone in.

While there are still some heavy, brooding moments here, it feels less obstructive and a lot more mindful – if “Wind’s Poem” was the drunken thoughts from the night before, full of confusion and anger “Clear Moon” is definitely the sobering morning after.

BEST SONGS: Through the Trees Pt. 2, The Place I Live, Lone Bell, House Shape, Clear Moon

If you like this you’ll like: Grouper, Scout Niblett, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Smog, Nick Drake

8/10

Album Review – Sharon Van Etten: Tramp (2012 Albums of the Year)

I remember when I first heard her debut album “Because I Was In Love” a heartbreaking lament of lost love and unresolved feelings. It had such a resonating quality to it, I guess, there are albums that are released or discovered at the right times that seem to chronicle what is going on in the listeners head – I definitely felt a kinship with Van Etten.

“Because I was in Love” had a much more skeletal approach which basically consisted of Van Etten on vocals and guitar and not much else. I was captivated – especially for someone who tends to lean towards more singer songwriter stuff, and if it’s slightly melancholic I’m all ears. Comparisons to other female singers are inevitable – a reference point is always good though. Van Etten poses the same pretty, dreamy vocals that makes Hope Sandoval so adored, but with ‘Tramp’ it’s amped up more almost harking back to the PJ Harvey of the ‘Is This Desire?’ days.

A song like the opener ‘Warsaw’ is a prime example of that. “Magic Chords” is a stand out song, the marching band-esque nature of the drums throughout the song mixed with the dub-like synths wrap around her ethereal voice effortlessly – it’s beautiful.

While “Tramp” still retains those days of old feeling, Van Etten still remains vulnerable and candid, even with a more fleshed out sound it doesn’t detract from the emotional and beautiful song writing – which I might add as only got stronger with each album – it really has no weak spot at all, which its very rare especially these days. With help from well known musicians like the Dessner twins from The National, Zach Condon from Beiut and Wye Oak’s Jen Wasner “Tramp” becomes an utter triumph and more focussed and stronger Van Etten only makes for multiple listens.

BEST SONGS: Warsaw, Serpents, Leonard, In Line, All I Can, We Are Fine, Magic Chords, Ask

If you like this you’ll like: Mazzy Star, Hope Sandoval, PJ Harvey, The National, Wye Oak

9/10