With most major avenues of entertainment at a stand still, the music industry has been churning out new projects to pick up the slack. While the biggest names in music have kept mostly quiet on new projects, indie artists have been busy releasing original music.
Critical darlings Sufjan Stevens and Fleet Foxes dropped their much anticipated albums on September 25 and September 22 respectively. Followed shortly afterwards by “Dusk," released on October 1, by newly established mxmtoon.
1. “The Ascension” by Sufjan Stevens
Sufjan Stevens is most famously known as the man who sang “Mystery of Love” on the “Call Me by Your Name” soundtrack back in 2017. However, Stevens is an industry veteran working in music since his 1999 debut album “A Sun Came.” His much anticipated eighth solo album “The Ascension” keeps the same soft vocals of his previous records while adding significantly more reverb. The acoustic guitar and piano found in his previous 2015 album “Carrie & Lowell” is long gone, replaced by an electronic sound and discordant chords in songs like “Make Me an Offer I Can’t Refuse” and “Ursa Major.” The highlight of the record goes to the final track and lead single “America” a twelve minute epic at the end of a fifteen song album. “America” perfectly encapsulates what “The Ascension” is, long and winding, beautiful at best and downright confusing at worst. It is an uncomfortable album with moments of Stevens trademark honest and tear jerking lyrics wrapped up in an experimental sound hard to find anywhere else.
2. “Shore” by Fleet Foxes
For Australian based band Fleet Foxes quarantine allowed them time to put the finishing touches on their fourth studio album. A release years in the making with only twenty four hours of promotion “Shore” was an unexpected, but welcome surprise to fans. The record, unlike Stevens experimental sound, has the expected mood to follow up to their 2017 album “Crack Up.” Simple instrumentation and lyrical structure contribute to the relaxing and welcoming folk-rock sound of this album from the first track “Wading in Waist High Water” to the last title track “Shore.” A highlight of the album being the brutally honest and unsure “Quiet Air/Gioia” in the back half of the album, giving the sunny beginning of the album a foil in the darker sound. This fifteen song album will take some time to get through as it clocks in at just over fifty four minutes, but it is well worth your time. “Shore,'' just like a beach, spans from sunny to cold, but never loses the heart of its lyric and instrumentation.
3. “Dusk” by mxmtoon
Singer-songwriter mxmtoon rose to prominence for “Prom Dress” which gained popularity on the social media app Tik Tok. This popularity has only pushed her to release new music more often. On October 1 the singer dropped “Dusk” a short seven song record to compliment her album “Dawn” which was released on April 22. Both dropped only a little over a year after her 2019 debut album “the masquerade.” “Dusk” has a more reserved sound than the upbeat indie pop sound of “Dawn,” relying on nostalgia instead of hope. Celebration for the new year in “Dawn” is replaced with craving normalcy in songs like “show & tell” and “bon iver.” A response to the pandemic “Dusk” serves as a means of catharsis. Clocking in at just twenty two minutes it is a fast, easy album to listen to. With a feature from pop artist Carly Rae Jepsen on “ok on your own” mxmtoon does what she does best. Slick production mixed with her gentle voice and catchy melodies creates a honey thick sound easy to get lost in.
Featured songs playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLXmOOkdMnzG_9MHmP8dsXscyf31JCqLcG