Homespun: Dylan Brady, All I Ever Wanted

Categories: Homespun

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A slight young man with long blond locks and a scruffy red beard, Dylan Brady crouches on the cover of All I Ever Wanted amid a monochromatic set awash in blue. The cover is both artsy and simple, and the azure palette hints at some of the moodier moments of this hip-hop producer's slow, syrupy, stretched-out tracks. Brady has made music under the name Lil Bando (his old handle is referenced on the track "Little Bando," wherein an untethered voice implores, "Don't play that shit"), but this album serves as the debut under his given name. He has gained some underground cred along the way from hip-hop blogs and garnered the attention of vocalists who sing the hooks on his songs (Night Lovell, Saputo and Ketema); he even has a few annotations for some of these tracks on Genius.com, where you'll learn the provenance of some of his sound samples (Dune, James Bond and Wes Anderson films).


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Homespun: Con & Michael Franco, She EP

Categories: Homespun

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When we last heard from Con (a.k.a., north-side native Malcolm Chandler) this past September, he had just dropped Solstice Part 2 (Dreams from a Snow Globe). That album attempted, in part, to encapsulate some of the rage and sorrow surrounding post-Ferguson St. Louis, and Chandler and his crew were some of the first voices to go on record when the eyes of the world were on our region. That album was one of St. Louis' best releases last year -- not only for Con's deft handling of the political commentary, but also for his strong, clear-eyed verses on all topics, placed alongside smart, soulful grooves. His latest EP, the eight-song She, shows similar range and more robust backing tracks, thanks to Michael Franco's production. Con's political consciousness is still engaged, as evident on the generous sample of Gil Scott-Heron on opener "Them Negus," and the larger message of black unity is introduced in Heron's words and underlined in Con's verses. The message here is less immediately topical but potently evergreen.


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Homespun: Witch Doctor's Witch Doctor

Categories: Homespun

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Courtesy Witch Doctor
It's one thing to call someone a Rock & Roll Lifer -- and depending on how well the leather jacket fits, it can be a term of respect or derision -- but Pat Oldani has earned the title of Rock & Roll Survivor, and not just because he's been leading hard-charging rock bands for more than fifteen years. A Stage IV cancer diagnosis in January of 2013 kept Oldani out of the spotlight for some time, but in between rounds of maintenance chemotherapy, he is now back in front of the microphone.


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Homespun: .E's Of Crashing Symbols

Categories: Homespun

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If you've thought of Dottie Georges as an experimental artist, you only know part of the story -- those off-kilter impulses are most often deployed in the service of her rock- and pop-indebted music. Of course, if you've thought about Dottie Georges at all in the past few years, you are already in the know: The one-woman band known as .e had a fruitful start to the decade, but she's been mostly quiet these past few years, save for a few stray digital missives. Her debut full-length, Of Crashing Symbols, puts an end to that long dormant period. Serving as an introduction for some and a welcome reminder for others, the record stands to be an epiphany for many who fall under the confident, if unassuming, sway of Georges' shifting compositions and feathery vocals. The electric guitar is her weapon of choice, and she can use it to paint her songs with moody, shoegaze-inspired strokes. But she's equally adept at synthesis and programming, and even the most spare of these nine tracks sizzles with electronic pulses and synaptic shimmers.


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Homespun: Animal Children's Animal Children

Categories: Homespun

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It's not impossible to lead a jazz band from behind a drum kit — just ask Ark Blakey — but it does take a certain kind of selflessness to drive the beat while giving a platform to your instrumentalists. Drummer Kaleb Kirby is the leader and chief composer for the new jazz sextet Animal Children, and while he's done time with swing-oriented jazz as part of Tommy Halloran's Guerrilla Swing, he brings a certain expansiveness to his own compositions. Kirby keeps a firm grip on the sway of these songs, but local jazz-scene veteran Adam Maness is a key architect here — not just as an elder statesman in a troupe of relatively young guns, but as the hands behind the Fender Rhodes electric piano. That instrument's plinky tone and muddy depths immediately call to mind everything from the proto-smooth-jazz of Bob James to the fusion experiments of Return to Forever to the barbed mellow of Steely Dan. And Maness references those traditions while helping establish the band's place in the modern jazz tradition — albeit with a few detours. The stop/start dissonance and low-end distortion of "Stay Golden" show the group's comfort with rock dynamics, and "oh-we-ah" starts the album with the kind of brassy pep that would be hard to sustain over a whole program. But as the self-titled album progresses, Animal Children is content to let the songs breathe, playing catchy and kinetic choruses as a unit before allowing its players to step forward individually.


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Homespun: Bear Hive's All in Real Time

Categories: Homespun

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The St. Louis music ecosystem is a curious thing, with its own cycles of hype and buzz, and its own rewards for productivity and lethargy. The fact is, whether a band releases an album every nine months or every five years, its members will likely be no closer to quitting their day jobs. So the long leadup to Bear Hive's official full-length follows a well-liked EP and a few years' worth of ground-level indie buzz, but the kinetic, assured All in Real Time is moody, evocative and danceable in almost equal measure. The trio of Joel Burton, Nate Heininger and Chris Phillips can operate as a guitar/bass/drums unit with shades of post-punk gray and Afro-pop red, though every track on this album is further colored by some form of electronic synthesis, either through scattershot drum programming or squiggly sine waves.

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Homespun: The Educated Guess' The Educated Guess

Categories: Homespun

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Forgive the extended absence of a proper Educated Guess album. In the six years since West Skyline Drive was released, songwriter, composer, pianist and lead singer Charlie Brumley has written a Civil War-inspired song suite, staged the sci-fi musical Chrono Man and lent his talents to various acts around town. But the Educated Guess has long been his most fertile ground, and the protracted gestation period between albums allowed his skills -- and his vision for the band -- to grow.

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The Domino Effect's Unknown: Listen Now

Categories: Homespun

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The Domino Effect, the slightly skewed hip-hop duo of Cue and Steve N. Clair, has been making music since 2008 and releasing albums since at least 2011. The pair most recently released TriAtomic, a collaboration EP with local Bo Dean, but Unknown puts the partners back in the middle of clacking beats, syrupy backing tracks and a few TED Talk-sounding spoken word samples.

It's a heady mix of soulful songs punctuated by the emcees' sharp-cornered verses, and the album's sense of political consciousness seems to bubble and boil over with each passing track.


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Weird White Wolves' Nothing: Listen Now

Categories: Homespun

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Via Bandcamp
Lee Caldwell, a.k.a. Weird White Wolves
The lo-fi recordings Lee Caldwell makes under the name Weird White Wolves tread a line between self-loathing bedroom confessionals and experimental avant-folk. He shows comfort and dexterity with both forms on Nothing, his first release since 2013's Garden EP, though the best moments of this eight-song release push the sad-sack strummers into the violet hour.

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Cara Louise Band's Live at the Demo: Listen Now

Categories: Homespun

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Screenshot from the Loft Sessions video below.
The Cara Louise Band
In 2015, when major world events are just a livestream away, official live albums are a dodgy proposition. In the boom days of major labels, concert recordings often served as little more than catalog fodder or stopgap cash grabs for marquee artists; these days, fans can re-create the concert experience through shakily shot iPhone videos posted to YouTube.

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