Boyfriend Material: Far From Home
Released June 9
Recorded at A basement studio in Chicago
Sounds like Early Waxahatchee, acoustic Zee Avi
Inspiration Angel Olsen, Bright Eyes
Key tracks Coast to Coast, Small Cups of Tea, Scraped Knees
Where to get it Physical copies available at shows; boyfriendmaterialfl.bandcamp.com
Ukulele, vocals Shauna Healey
Amid the turbulent sea of loud, garish figures in popular music, there has always been a significant undercurrent toward soft and simple. Record labels like Orchid Tapes and bands like Girlpool take a stripped down approach to their music, making sure creative power has a home in DIY outfits. Shauna Healey’s project Boyfriend Material swims pleasantly in this current, creating sparse acoustic tunes comprised solely of a strummed ukulele and Healey’s wispy, bright voice.
“I like to go for simplicity,” Healey said. “It doesn’t have to be complicated or tricky. I like to just get it out.”
The straightforward vehicle of her music gives her room to earnestly explore herself and her past on her latest album, “Far From Home.” A sense of catharsis is evident in her creative process, which begins with a free-form, diaristic writing session.
“I rant and write everything down. Usually when I write I’m probably upset about something,” she said. “Once I have a good part, I try to morph it into something that could be lyrical.”
“I went through a lot in the past two years that I sing about in the album,” she said. “People may or may not relate to it, but maybe it can teach a lesson in some way. I decided to get more personal, rather than just catchy or what people want to hear.”
Album opener “Lights” bursts out the gates with a punchy strum that carries through the song, leading up to the line, “I’ve got the wheel / And I’m not giving it back” — a forceful, mischievous declaration that matches the confident pluck of the ukulele.
“The beginning of my album is a little more upbeat with some confessional lyrics,” Healey said. “But as you get closer to the end, it becomes more expressive and real.”
Both the mood of the music and the lyrics follow this arc, teasing out through simple plucks and strums the struggle to feel happiness in the present while contending with the turbulence of the past. Healey said this is contrast is what she finds most compelling about the album, but also the most difficult to swallow.
“At times, recording and releasing this album seemed impossible due to its confessional nature,” she said. “‘Small Cups of Tea’ was the first time I got serious about writing about my own life. It was really hard for me to write — but was also the most fun.”
By Michael Holcomb
Bells and Robes: One Should See Sound Pt. ll
Dial up the volume before pressing play — what’s to come is a wild range of ambient electronic grooves that will make you want to dance. Regardless of the time, these energetic tunes will make you feel as though your day has just begun.
“I would describe it as intelligent dance music,” said Dean Spaniol, half of the two-man outfit. “A lot of it is chilled out, almost psychedelic.”
Tracks like “Leo” start that way, beginning in slow, dreamy movement that shifts to a heavier, atmospheric sound in a whirling, heart-pounding rush.
The rest of “One Should See Sound Pt. II” is filled with electronic drifts that draw you in with serene transitions. If you were to blend sight and sound, listening to Bells and Robes would be like sitting on the shore watching waves kiss your toes until you get swallowed up by a vast current.
Bells and Robes began in Gainesville on the summer solstice of 2012. When the two members began making music, they gave themselves a deadline for their first project. Spaniol and his partner, Luke Sipka, agreed to make and release an EP by the end of the year.
“We signed a contract with ourselves with the penalty of death,” Spaniol said. “By the winter solstice we’ll have our first project released.”
Sipka and Spaniol blend their own styles and aural quirks with musical influences like Flying Lotus to create an ambient melting pot. Sipka is a classically trained jazz musician who is influenced by the jazz greats of the past. Spaniol’s sound stems from musicians and bands like Pete Rocks, Gorillaz and old hip-hop producers.
“We wanted to make something that gives everyone a chance to tell their own story while listening to our music,” Spaniol said. “Each individual listens so they can paint a different picture.”
Since the release of “One Should See Sound Pt. II,” the duo have moved to Atlanta and have some projects in the works.
“Our goal right now is to just release one new piece of music every month,” Spaniol said.
By Ainesey Foira
Julie Karr: Let’s Exchange the Experience
Released July 31, 2015
Recorded at A studio space in Gainesville owned by Ian Bernacett
Sounds like Cat Power, Mazzy Star, Warpaint
Inspiration Neil Young, Stevie Wonder, Jason Molina
Key tracks Take Your Time, Sleep Tight, ACR
Where to get it Arrow’s Aim Records; juliekarr.bandcamp.com
Upcoming shows None currently
Guitar, vocals Julie Karr
At the end of a long and tiresome day, when all you want to do is kick off your shoes and faceplant into a pile of pillows, do yourself a favor and let the delicate and tranquil sounds of Julie Karr relieve your accumulated stresses. The Gainesville-born artist has put a folk twist on alternative indie rock through strong female vocals and cool, melodic acoustics, creating an ethereal ‘90s sound that will lull you into a reflective and peaceful state.
Although Karr is relatively new to making music, everything from the gospel music she listened to as a child to artists such as Neil Young and Stevie Wonder has influenced her life and music.
“I was always drawn to going to shows in Gainesville, but I never actually thought of becoming an active music-maker,” she said. “I’m not sure why I was hesitant to play music. The likely culprit was self-doubt.”
She returned to Gainesville after spending six years in Virginia, where she bought her first guitar at 25 for $30.
“There was no particular catalyst to start playing, except for maybe boredom,” Karr said.
She said she was by no means a good guitarist, but shortly after teaching herself to play the combined four chords of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City,” a friend urged her to perform her first show in Richmond.
“If she hadn’t forced me to play that show,” Karr said, “I probably wouldn’t be making music now.”
Her debut album, “Let’s Exchange the Experience,” was a creative outlet for Karr, who added that she thinks of her songs as conversations about the feelings she can’t say out loud. These conversations, real and imaginary, are mostly directed to her loved ones. For example, “Take Your Time,” one of Karr’s favorite songs, was written for a friend going through a time of hardship.
Karr said creating the album was a long and thoughtful process — and it shows. Karr’s direct but soft-spoken lyrics speak louder than the dreamy instrumentals, digging deep into the listener’s feelings, essentially eavesdropping on Karr’s innermost thoughts.
By Tala El-Ghali