Sounds Like: A beautifully weird theme record based on Appalachia in the 1930s. These Ohio-bred folk rock boys nail it with harmonious Americana born of the woods.
Free Association: If you don’t listen to the lyrics, you can pretend it’s not a concept LP.
For Fans Of: Will Oldham x Dr. Dog, Okkervil River, handclaps/harmonicas.
So Beautiful or So What
(Concord Music Group)
Sounds Like: Almost 70 and his voice still sounds Graceland good, and while we’re supposed to accept a Christmas song in April, this is shockingly good Afro-folk pop.
Free Association: Don’t let the cover fool you, this is no joke. Low budget, but real solid.
For Fans Of: Cat Stevens x Ladysmith Black Mambazo, indigenous pantsuits.
Sounds Like: She can’t really sing or write, but her producers know how to make a damn beat, and they’ve really turned it out here—brilliantly, even progressively, on trend.
Free Association: A new crop of jams she wants you to “drive to the club with.” Will do.
For Fans Of: Gaga, Ke$ha, Doritos, Christina, gay bars, shiny stuff.
PW's Music Issue 2014