Album Review: Joseph & Maia ‘Sorrento’

Sometimes magic just happens.

At the height of the folk-indie movement of the early 90s there were bands that became legends within the the genre. These bands, including The Jayhawks, Uncle Tupelo and Golden Smog, created the Americana or Alt-country movement. These were artists that paved the way for the likes of Counting Crows, The Gin Blossoms and Blues Traveller. It was an era of great music with great melody, great heart and singability without the cheesy sub-pop that often ruins a good tune.

I have been listening to ‘Sorrento’ by Joseph and Maia, and these songs could have been a part of this great music era in the indie scene. This duo have a freedom in their music that could turn into something big. They have split from their label and are now doing it as independents.

‘Sorrento’ starts off with the title track and you’re immediately confronted with the beat up front before a dirty guitar strums over top. It gives no clue to the wonderful harmonies that introduce the lyrics to us. It’s a perfect alt-folk pop tune that builds nicely into the chorus, and leads nicely to the next track ‘On my way.’ This picks up on the Alt-country vein and it’s done with near perfection.

Part of the new found freedom is a real sincere honesty. This is shown as ‘Will I Ever’ begins with a solitary single acoustic guitar before Joseph sings “I don’t know what I believe in, no not anymore”. This beautiful song starts off tenderly before the full band come in with a great organ pad underneath and a slide guitar adding colour over top. Often with songs like this the artist is tempted to keep it low and slow and I’m glad this duo didn’t with this song.

“Sleep while you can babe… it’s cold outside and I can hear the rain”  could be the perfect start to a night in with someone you love by a warm open fire. It’s when your mind wanders to places like this it makes you realise that this is no longer about just a song but how the song has connected with a time and place. The music has connected with you and ironically ‘Sleep’ is the perfect way to finish off a busy day. It’s a beautiful song with a lullaby quality that just works well.

I love it when independent albums punch above their weight. There is no marketing and fanfare… only good music and good performance to draw you in. It’s the word of mouth that draws the crowd.
‘Sorrento’ is a beautifully crafted album that is well thought out. It’s Alt-country that is perfectly packaged in a way that highlights the song as something that fits in with life. It fills the gaps in our lives like a warm coffee, you realise how much you need it when you smell the wonderful scent wafting through the house.

Music has a way of connecting and ‘Sorrento’ does this is a wonderfully refreshing way.

Music Review: Terrible Sons ‘Neptune’

Christchurch husband and wife duo Lauren (L.A. Mitchell) and Matt Barus come together as the wonderful blend called Terrible sons with their first single ‘Neptune.’ It’s a magical dreamlike single that gently plummets you into the ghostly depths of an underwater world soaked in metaphor.
Neptune showcases the tension that Lauren and Matt demand from each other as creative partners in the songwriting process. Matt is in search of new sounds that would enhance the music in a way that unsettles or brings attention to the song sonically, or as Lauren calls it ‘weird.’ Lauren herself pushes for the beauty in the music and the melody. In a relationship that isn’t as collaborative this tension just wouldn’t work, however for Terrible Sons this is where the magic begins as they each pull and push each other into a new and greater sound.
The simplicity of the song is deceptive as simple piano chords gently crash moments before the melodic lull of the constant loop of an acoustic guitar keep each wave of the song pushing forward… back and forth. The tension of the sea is broken when Matt and Lauren’s vocals float in like a gentle breeze in harmony. It’s the simple touches and the fact that something is only added when it is going to enhance the song that is where the real genius lies. There is a real ‘kiwiness’ to the approach which is both artistic and refreshing, as we are caught up in the wave of the beauty of what we hear and are constantly lured in deeper by the quirkiness of the surrounding sea of sound.

It’s in the listening to such songs that you realise how cinematic music can be and the accompanying music video that sits along side this single is just as magical as you would expect. The video adds an extra visual layer to what Terrible Sons have teased you with musically and lyrically… it’s dark and intriguing, it’s both dark and welcoming.

Welcome to the world Terrible Sons… we look forward with baited breath for the album that will support such a great introduction to the sublime world you have created.