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Every month, Utne Reader presents free, downloadable music gleaned from current and upcoming releases on independent music labels. This sampler was curated by editor in chief Christian Williams and associate editor Ben Sauder.


July 2016

Heaven For Real – “Subliminal”

Recalling the 90’s slacker vibes of bands like Pavement, Heaven For Real experiments heavily with the boundaries of the typical “rock song.” On the single “Subliminal,” the band weaves between straight forward chord progressions with tidy resolutions and jazzy, discordant guitar spasms that feel like they might veer off the path completely. It’s a satisfying listen when the band steadies the musical ship. Fraternal twins Mark and Scott Gundy, along with Cheryl Hann and Nathan Doucet, excel in taking their songs just close enough to the edge to keep things interesting without careening off into the aimless abyss. Their songs are simultaneously simple and complex – warranting multiple listens to let it all sink in. Kill Your Memory, the band’s debut album on Mint Records, comes out July 15.


Marisa Anderson – “In Waves”

Dropping out of school at the age of 19, Marisa Anderson roamed the country and ended up in Portland, Oregon. The classically-trained guitarist then got work playing whenever and wherever she could, whether it was a country band, jazz band, or even a circus band. After recording several albums in the Delta blues and Appalachia tradition, Anderson has shifted focus toward the west on her new album Into The Light. Imagined as the soundtrack to a nonexistent science-fiction western movie, the album follows a visitor lost and wandering in the Sonoran desert. The track “In Waves,” evokes a sense of mystery, adventure, and loneliness of an open and barren landscape. What sounds like at least two guitars make up the sonic scope of the song, with one guitar keeping a steady and assertive rhythmic focus and the other hanging in twangy suspension. Into The Light is out now.


Ben Lukas Boysen – “Nocturne 4”

Experimental composer/collagist Ben Lukas Boysen is entertaining some heavy sonic thoughts on his new album, Spells. Through interesting juxtapositions involving live and programmed instrumentation as well as arrangements that explore how much (or little) composition is necessary in order for the ear to officially recognize a pattern of notes as a “song,” Boysen has crafted a sonic experiment that’s both a melodic and fascinatingly complex listen. Here’s “Nocturne 4” from Spells, out now Erased Tapes.


The Galaxy Electric – “Please Come Home Soon”

If lo-fiĀ­ is not your thing, then The Galaxy Electric is probably not for you. However, if you like dreamy pyschedelia that sounds as if it could have been released in any of the past several decades, then there’s likely a place for the band in your music library. The group consists of singer/keyboardist Jacqueline Caruso and bassist/electronics manipulator Augustus Green. On the song “Please Come Home Soon,” a simple bass line, drums, and a mellow, looped synth riff play under Caruso’s soaring and melancholic vocals. The track closes out the band’s new album, Everything is Light and Sound. The self-released album is out now.


Rhyton – “End of Ambivalence”

Combining a foundation of psychedelic roots rock with improvisation, the Brooklyn rock trio Rhyton is paving new ground in the genre of experimental rock. The title of the trio’s new record, Redshift, refers to the astronomical term involved with measuring the expansion rate of the universe, among other things. It’s an apt name for the scale of experimental improvisation taking place on the album from the trio, which is comprised of Dave Shuford, Jimy SeiTang, and Rob Smith – all three of which have forged their own individual niches in the field of experimental music. On tracks like “End of Ambivalence,” the music fluctuates from familiar to unpredictable and teeters precariously close to falling apart completely before the exceptional musicianship of the trio pulls it all back together. Redshift is out July 22 on Thrill Jockey.


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