50 Unheralded Albums from 2011

50 Unheralded Albums from 2011

In just one more trip around the sun, another swarm of immensely talented but under-recognized musicians has harnessed its collective talents and discharged its creations into the void. This list is but one fraction of those dedicated individuals who caught our ears with some serious jams.

True Widow

Q&A: True Widow

True Widow: As High As The Highest Heavens And From The Center To The Circumference Of The EarthTrue Widow: As High as the Highest Heavens and From the Center to the Circumference of the Earth (Kemado, 3/29/11)

True Widow: “Skull Eyes”

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Following the dissolution of his punk band Slowride, guitarist and vocalist Dan Phillips could have spent his two years living in Massachusetts solely focusing on his art and woodworking. But his creative expression didn’t limit itself to his small, New England quarters. After returning to Dallas, Texas, Phillips crafted a new brand of heavy, melodic material with the help of bassist and vocalist Nicole Estill and drummer Timothy (Slim) Starks, in the trio known as True Widow.

The stonegaze outfit is set to release its second album, As High as the Highest Heavens and From the Center to the Circumference of the Earth, through Kemado Records at the end of next month. The new album merges heartfelt melodies that drip over distorted guitar chords with heavier rock interludes. Here, Philips explains his passion for visual art, True Widow’s approach to music, and the process of writing and recording deep in the Texan woods.

After the disbandment of your previous band, Slowride, you had a brief stay in Massachusetts where you trained in woodworking and some other forms of art. Can you describe a little about your move and your developments in painting, woods, and drawing?

I moved to Boston to go to the furniture-making program at The North Bennet Street School. It was a two-year program, and during those two years, that was all that I was concerned with. I spent every minute that I could at the school. The curriculum included several visits to museums and American furniture collections in New England. Being a person who draws and paints, I was very interested in the whole gamut of early American decorative arts — not only the furniture that I was there to see.

While immersed in research, I found myself exploring the themes and aesthetics of all of the art forms of colonial America up through the Federal period. Unconsciously, the influence of all of this stuff found its way into my drawings and paintings. My approach is simple: I like that; I want to make one too. The things I make are often based on or rooted in something that has existed before, or a variation of a theme — never a reproduction.

Morrow vs. Hajduch

Morrow vs. Hajduch: The Mag Seven’s Black Feathers

Scott Morrow is ALARM’s music editor. Patrick Hajduch is a very important lawyer. Each week they debate the merits of a different album.

The Mag Seven: Black Feathers

The Mag Seven: Black Feathers (End Sounds, 11/16/10)

The Mag Seven: “By the Time I Get Out of Phoenix”
[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/The_Mag_Seven_By_the_Time_I_Get_Out_of_Phoenix.mp3|titles=The Mag Seven: “By the Time I Get Out of Phoenix”]

Morrow: Over the course of a dozen years and a half-dozen releases, The Mag Seven has traversed surf rock, Italian western, punk, rockabilly, guitar-centered jazz, and more.  Originally configured with True Widow and Slowride guitarist Dan Phillips, the group shifted its sound in the mid-2000s with the addition of guitarist Brandon Landelius, and the decision was fruitful.

Black Feathers is the group’s new seven-track vinyl/digital EP — its fourth album with Landelius and sixth overall.  It’s charged with the same surf-rock energy of albums past but scales back the jazz leanings and Angelo Badalamenti-style moodiness of its last release, Cotton Needle Sessions.  Though short, it’s a well-balanced release, alternating between the down-tempo swagger of “Jive Turkey,” the reverberated rock of “My War,” and the western dub of “By the Time I Get out of Phoenix.”