Angel Olsen

If there is one thing that great musicians have in common, it is the compelling way they combine an admirable fearlessness with something vulnerable, something relatable and truly inviting. It's a tricky cocktail to mix, but it unifies the great singers of virtually every genre, from the the most understated folk singers to the very glitziest pop stars. Angel Olsen is one such artist, and she joins the Jagjaguwar family armed with a voice that is remarkable, evocative and stark, comforting and startling.

Raised in St. Louis and now based in Chicago, Angel Olsen began singing as a young girl. She described to FADER, "when I reached a certain age, when I reached 15 or 16, I started to sound really different, and I don't know where it came from or what exactly inspired it. I felt really comfortable singing loudly and letting my voice go all over the place…experimenting with volume and different types of music. Recording a lot, like when I was a little kid I would record on tapes a lot and listen to the recordings and harmonize with those recordings and then try and experiment with sounds, and then re-record over them. I feel like that's the most natural process of teaching yourself anything. Listening and recording and listening and recording."

That process — of listening and recording and listening and recording — has imbued her music with a confidence and wisdom that extends as much to her arrangements as to the voice that defines her music. What accompanies Angel's voice might be the ambient sigh of a guitar chord, or the somber march of a snare, or a twirling melody met with an itchy little shaker. But it is purposefully subtle, leaving her voice front and center at nearly all times, freeing it to occupy the smallest nook or command a seemingly endless space. Moreso than powerful, Olsen's voice is unforgiving.

And it's little surprise, then, that her work is inspired by what she describes as "being home, feeling home within yourself. Simple things like homes and existence and death and birth." Her music is defined by many of the same signposts by which folk music first defined itself — resonant images, bold voices, deeply human tones. And so Olsen is, to turn a phrase, bringing it all back home.

Pillars and Tongues

Once based entirely in Chicago, and now in near-constant motion, Pillars and Tongues is a formidable force, large and looming. "The Pass and Crossings" is the third full-length offering from the trio, and their second for San Francisco vinyl label Empty Cellar.

Having spent years developing a uniquely textured sound, Pillars and Tongues have now given teeth their creation, and the doom is manifest. Like French experimental chanteuse Catherine Ribeiro's early '70s collaborations with Alpes, Pillars and Tongues brings passion, cohesion, and lyricism to the avant-garde.

When Trecka, Remis, and Hydzik hit it just right, their voices and instruments blend like the reeds of a pipe organ to create something that is altogether far greater than the sum of their parts. This sort of alchemy is just the type of thing they have been honing for the past few years, accepting invitations to tour as support for Bonnie "Prince" Billy and Joan of Arc, opening for Dirty Three with Nick Cave, Bill Callahan, Daniel Higgs, Sir Richard Bishop, Red Red Meat, etc., and performing hundreds of concerts in various other scenarios from basements to cathedrals, from Albuquerque to Lisbon.

Trecka has kept busy in what would otherwise be moments of calm, touring much of the past year, as the drummer for Dark Dark Dark or performing solo; and Remis has loaned her voice and violin to recordings and performances by Elephant Micah.


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