There is always going to be room for bands who write brief, quiet, and catchy guitar songs. I posit that, after most of civilization has collapsed, people cowering in rafts on the surface of underground lakes will still hold close to their hearts the memories of sweet and simple songs like the ones made by the Proper Ornaments. I’ve written about the band a few times before, and their new album is just as good and listenable as their previous ones—though I think there’s also a pretty remarkable bleakness in the lyrics on Foxhole that wasn’t as present on the old albums (bleakness seems, to my mind, an entirely appropriate tone right now). Proper Ornaments are, like the Clientele, talented makers of consistently good music that is delicate and pretty but also possesses depth and feeling. Consider letting them into your life.
Who can resist the charm of Kingsbury Manx? Many people, as it turns out. They are not a famous band (this seems like a fair assessment). I know of only one other person in real life who likes the band’s music as much as I do. But they were (are?) a talented band, and they released some stone-cold classic records. I don’t know if they would have had more or less success if they’d existed in an earlier or later time, though their music, to my ears, has an undeniable appeal. All their songs have an essential quality of calm companionship, I think, in the full sense of the “sharing bread together” origin of the word ‘companion.’ Their music has always given off the vibe of a visit to a friend’s or relative’s comfortable house—a place where you know you’ll be received with hospitality and good cheer. Silver Trees is a little bit different, in some ways, since it’s more of a self-examination song, a retrospective look—though the music here, still, is so warm and inviting. A music-box tumble of guitars, a whispering organ/synth, a hint of percussion, and forthright declarations. It’s all so good. Their first three albums are pretty much unassailably great (start with one of those three if you’re interested), and everything else has been pretty fantastic too.