Bell Gardens – Slow Dawns For Lost Conclusions

Rocket Girl, 2014

Members of Furry Things and Stars Of The Lid join for this slow, ambient and textured variation of Americana where psyche-rock and folk ideas are blurred in against hazy, experimental and whispered harmonies. Certainly surreal enough to appeal to dream-pop fans, but also with an aching pedal steel, it’s an organic and beautifully languid sophomore effort.

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Ben Howard – I Forget Where We Were

Republic, 2014

The British sensation’s sophomore album expands on his skilled guitar playing with much emphasis on atmospheric, cosmic, and darker textures, where his long, complicated songs showcase a contemplative man. Sure, at its core it’s a folk/Americana-inspired album, but Howard’s cathartic experimentalism ensures that, even if it’s not as likely to be commercially successful, he will certainly gain respect for taking a risk.

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Eliot Bronson – Eliot Bronson

Saturn 5, 2014

Formerly one half of The Brilliant Inventions, Bronson’s third solo album encapsulates the warmest, most accessible ideas of rootsy rock with poetic, heartfelt singing that seems older than his years. Sure, there’s blues, folk and country moments, but ultimately it’s a soulful Americana album in the purest sense – elegant and eloquent, with much rustic beauty. Possibly this decade’s version of Ryan Adams’ Demolition.

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Christian Lopez Band – Pilot

Blaster, 2014

At just 19, Lopez is a product of his surroundings and influences, as he channels the warm folksy Americana sounds of his mountainous region with the rootsy rock infiltration of indie-rock today. Primarily using banjos, guitars and pretty vocal melodies, Lopez and company can navigate their way around a raw, rustic, alt-country tune, resulting in a glowing debut. This is a great EP, and the future LP should be fantastic.

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Dálava – Dálava

Sanasar, 2014

Dálava is Julia Ulehla and Aram Bajakian, whose Moravian folk songs were transcribed by Dr. Vladimr Ulehla for this extremely stirring, avant garde and ambient look into global sounds. Though matching violins and glockenspiels with distorted guitars may seem like two opposing ideas, the pair not only make that seem graceful but place blues and surf-rock ideas amid traditional Eastern Europe sounds that are 100 years old.

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Rich Hopkins And The Luminarios – Tombstone

San Jacinto, 2014

The always prolific Hopkins returns with a career highlight of contagious hooks and driving guitar work that fits equally between classic rock, folk rock and the sort of power pop that would make anyone want to pick up a guitar and start wailing. Though his arid, dusty Southwestern roots are all over this, the fuzzy guitars, soaring harmonies and powerful anthems will appeal to anyone impressed with the Tom Petty/Neil Young influence in today’s music.

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