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Watch & Listen
Nashville resident Conner Youngblood crafts melodies through a wide range of obscure instrumental arrangements. Often centered around a specific place of natural landscape or human connection his songs embody delicate, nuanced moments in nature and the introspection of these moments.
Where many musicians pick their instrument of choice and let it be their primary songwriting vessel, Youngblood finds different instruments allow him to tap into varied parts of his songwriting brain. His debut album ‘Cheyenne’ features no less than 30 different instruments – a harp, a bass clarinet, a tabla, etc – all of which are played by Youngblood on a record featuring no guests. Instead it’s simply him and an engineer he’s known and worked with since he first started releasing music back in high school. Though he’ll be building up a band to play live, he has before now mimicked the sounds of certain instruments on stage and supported people such as Janelle Monae, Aurora, SOHN and Angus & Julia Stone.
“Listening to music there are certain ways you think are the right ways to create songs, then you realise you can write however you want. Like, ‘Oh, I can play bongos, accordion and a guitar’ – as long as it sounds good,” Youngblood explains of his writing process. Though he initially started out learning clarinet, he’s been collecting instruments from a young age, often being gifted a new one for birthday and christmas or seeking out cheap and used rarities from local stores.
The result of this lifelong process of collecting and playing instruments means ‘Cheyenne’ is a record that’s rich in atmospheric, organic sound. Sitting somewhere between the more low-key elements of The Band (who Youngblood wrote a thesis on while studying at Yale), the beautiful melodics of Moses Sumney and the Grammy nominated songwriter Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, this latest collection of songs feel embedded in the fabric of life – Youngblood examines what makes us human, the earth, translating his findings back into music.
For those who may not already be aware, the release of ‘Cheyenne’ comes off the back of an already illustrative career for Youngblood. Born and raised in Dallas – a city he describes as “a lot of concrete” – Youngblood spent his formative years switching between skateboarding (he had built a half pipe in his backyard), wrestling and playing in local coffee houses. His first few releases – ‘Monsters’, ‘Australia’ and ‘A Summer Song’ – shot immediately to the top end of the Hype Machine chart and clocked up hundreds of thousands of plays and attracted offers from labels in the process.
Though the 13 songs on ‘Cheyenne’ all have their own story, they each centre around a familiar theme. The record was written over a two year period, during which Youngblood travelled extensively. Lead track, ‘The Birds of Finland’, is a perfect example of these expeditions, touching on the tonality of these places scattered across the globe. “Travel might be a response to not feeling comfortable to stay in one place too long. I love meeting new people and seeing new terrains,” he explains. “With that being said, I do feel like the idea of a home is very important. Otherwise traveling ends up feeling more like drifting.”
The response is a record that involves travel, but also the grounding aspects of the people Youngblood has encountered along the way, in particular the women in his life. In essence, ‘Cheyenne’ – which follows 2016’s ‘The Generation of Lift’ EP – is Youngblood having introspective conversations with himself about the relationships he holds and tying them together with specific places. That doesn’t mean these songs are specifically focused around love stories, instead the tracks on this record are about people that “have come and gone, stayed; family and friends; exes; people I like and don’t like.”
“I’ve never consciously written about women, but for some reason I felt inclined all of a sudden. And one song led to the next with this album. I usually enjoy writing about places, but this time it was nice to put different people into places,” says Youngblood of the writing process. Since he has five siblings, all of whom are sisters, one of these tracks in particular stands out – ‘My Brother’s Brother’ – which was written by Youngblood after a break-up and “wishing I had a brother to talk to about it.”
Ultimately, positioned happily between the sincere folk-like melodies of Bob Dylan, the pure sonics of Benjamin Clementine and instrument switching ethos that’s reminiscent of Jamie Woon, ‘Cheyenne’ presents Youngblood an accomplished songwriter. While there are a few distant key figures grounding his sound Conner’s music carves out a future narrative that is very much his own with unexpected instrumental parts and obscure melodies a step outside the current landscape.
Tim Carr is a Los Angeles based singer, composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist. His music is a stunning mix of instrumental interludes, and minimal folkesque songs inspired by African rhythms, melodies of the French Romantics and 60s pop.
Raised in Marin County, Northern California, Carr was surrounded by a family of musicians. At an early age he immersed himself into music and studied Jazz drums at the prestigious California Institute of the Arts. After graduating with a BFA, Carr soon began working with notable acts including HAIM, Julian Casablancas and Nick Cave, to name a few. His time with the band The Americans saw him performing on Letterman, recording with T Bone Burnett, as well as being featured in the Emmy-nominated documentary ‘American Epic’, which was produced by T Bone Burnett, Jack White and Robert Redford.
Carr’s highly anticipated upcoming EP Swing & Turn, is the follow up to his 2016 release The Last Day of Fighting, which found success being featured on Robert Redford’s ‘Watershed’ soundtrack, alongside the likes of Beck and Thom Yorke. Swing & Turn is titled after the feeling of movement, like a dance between intimacy and independence, which is also a common theme in the music. Having mixed, produced and engineered the five track release himself, Swing & Turn is the perfect balance of dissonance and consonance, with unexpected swelling harmonies, lilting rhythms and minimalistic pop.
Leading single 'Take Me There’ is a compelling tale touching on the desire to escape apathy, highlighting the need to either let go and fully love or let go of a love. Carr expresses this poetic melancholy through his raw and understated tones, emitting the purest of expressions. His use of delicate instrumentation, ethereal vocal harmonies and graceful melodies, succeeds in crafting a poignant yet beautiful song.
‘Long Enough Along For The Ride’ showcases Carr’s complex arrangements and variety of unique tones. Focusing on the emotions of anxiety when making a decision and the fear of commitment and separation, the song narrates a feeling that is entirely relatable. This track highlights Carr’s conscious decision to leave imperfections during the recording process, adding a looseness and raw energy to the music. “I like when there is a brokenness mixed with a sweet melody”, reveals Carr.
With his desire to inspire creativity, experimentation and individuality, Carr is delivering audiences with moments of escapism. Swing & Turn is set for release summer 2018.
$15.00 - $17.00