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July 2014
Peter Matthew Bauer
"Liberation!
"
mp3
Thank God The Walkmen are on a “hiatus.” As unpopular a statement as that might be to fans of the beloved indie-rock outfit, the resulting album, Liberation! (Mexican Summer), by the group’s former bassist Peter Matthew Baur reinforces the truth behind what I think. Baur has taken the time as a chance to expand his wingspan creatively, producing an album that’s slick, resonant and infectiously psychedelic.
 
It’s a heady journey through the artist’s far-from-normal life, never lacking in emotion and fundamentally based in a sense of optimism. Also, one of the most fascinating things going on with Liberation! is how it blends local and international aesthetics without ever feeling like appropriation or pandering. Songs such as “I Was Born in an Ashram” and “Philadelphia Raga” feel organic and refreshing, incorporating exotic influences without ever making them feel awkwardly placed or unnecessary.
 
The whole effort is the culmination of a meditative post-“hiatus” tour through Europe, and it shows. The record is relaxed and casual yet exploratory, never seeming to break a sweat while being thoroughly entertaining. The collection of songs has a comforting accessibility reminiscent of couchbound evenings of honesty-filled, drunken/stoner chats with your best buddies, which may seem to come few and far between as all of us get older and busier. - Daniel Ludwig

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The Deli Philly’s October Album of the Month: Soft Fall - Sun Airway

The Deli Philly’s October Album of the Month: Soft Fall - Sun Airway

Versailles and French Surrealism are cited as influences for Sun Airway’s sophomore full-length album, Soft Fall. Yeah, pretty much: with lush arrangements and massive textures of sound, Soft Fall, is a giant, gorgeous record decked with chopped-up classical music samples and hooks that envelop the listener. Sun Airway’s all-encompassing sense of maximalism echoes what M83 did last year on Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, making the familiar, comfortable turns of pop music vibrant and fresh by infusing some reverb and a soothing synth-tone. The result is a record that feels safe - not safe in the sense that it’s dull and afraid to take risks, but safe in the way that home feels safe, in the way you know the roads, the haunts, the people, and intrinsically understand that you’re not in any danger.
 
Yep, we’re in dream-pop territory, and Sun Airway’s Jon Barthmus plays admirably to the genre’s strengths. Guitar and keyboard lines come together like coast and tide - the line definitely there but impossible to define. Governing it all is Barthmus’ smooth, breathy baritone, which is seductive without flair for dramatics. On album highlight “Close,” he sighs “you’ve never known loneliness before/I tried to get close to you,” which sounds pretty glum, but the song itself is practically ecstatic. The work on that is done by breakneck drums, an impressionistic Cure hook and a guitar occasionally squealing gleefully in the background. Barthmus’ understated vocals give the song room to soar, and soar it does; it’s an absolutely killer tune. Instrumental interludes are scattered throughout the LP guiding you to and from other standouts on the record like “Wild Palms” and “Symphony In White No. 2” (that also appeared together last year on the 7” vinyl single that followed the band’s beautiful debut Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier).
 
As is often the case with dream-pop, the sonic palette that washes melodic lines together eventually extends to the songs themselves, and while Soft Fall is never boring, the distinctions between individual tracks become less and less vital as the album gels into one solid artistic statement, which makes Soft Fall a perfect little record to escape with. It’s a great way to drop menial anxieties for nearly 45 minutes and enter a pleasant state where nothing will frighten you and you’re comfortably safe as can be making any fall more enjoyable as you take in the sights from above. Soft Fall officially drops tomorrow via Dead Oceans. - Adam Downer
 

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