It’s going to be a tough stretch for fans of live music and especially musicians, with the coronavirus all but erasing major public gatherings for the foreseeable future.
But there are still plenty of outlets to hear your favorite Alaska artists, and a number of them have recent releases. And don’t forget the ones that haven’t released anything in the last few months, but still have some of your favorite songs on the various streaming services, or even on a good old-fashioned CD.
Here’s a sample of what’s new from Alaska musicians over the past few months.
Termination Dust, “Growing Down”
The Alaska band fronted by Jaybird Parkhurst and Stefanie Vigoren have a new, full-length album with “Growing Down,” their second release with Glacial Pace Recordings. The album features the band’s trademark dreamy harmonies and fuzzy guitars with a few surprises. “Still Sleeping” features subtle picking and sweet harmonies, and the album’s title track includes a spoken portion that releases into an instrumental bridge and the refrain “where did our love go?” to close the record.
Martin Budde, “Aperture”
Houston native and Seattle-based guitarist Martin Budde studied at the New England Conservatory and Cornish College of the Arts. He shows off those chops in “Aperture,” a jazz EP recorded at SophiaHat studios by Chris Spencer. The title track is a winding exploration with Budde leading the way, Xavier Lecouturier on drums and Paul Gabrielson taking the reins on bass.
The Anchorage power trio continues their evolution with “Biam,” a haunting and heavy track with elements of classic rock riffing and grunge-era wailing. The song was recorded by Chad Reynvaan at his Wattage Studios and is the band’s first release under Soundchest Records, an independent label out of Norway.
Emily Anderson, “Sarah” and “Gold”
Fairbanks songstress Emily Anderson released a pair of singles late last year, “Sarah” and “Gold.” Piano-driven and featuring Anderson’s bright voice, “Gold” has all the elements of a pop hit.
“Sarah" is a tribute to Fairbanks musician Sarah Mitchell, who died in 2018. It’s more plaintive and isolated, with the repeated plea, “Sarah, we need you / don’t leave us behind.”
Forest Wilson, “Wires Away”
Anchorage guitar ace Forest Wilson of the Jangle Bees has released an instrumental album, which he also describes as a concept album. The album, which includes finger-picking rag, a waltz and some electric guitar work, was inspired by this photo of a riveter working on the Empire State Building in 1931.
“Each track is meant to be a snap shot of the people working on the building and set the mood,” he said.
Paul Jacks, “Shy Boy”
Anchorage synth-pop artist Paul Jacks has been releasing new music at a breathtaking pace. In late 2019, he released “Drama Club," and has followed up with three singles complete with B-sides for 2020.
“Shy Boy” has a definite 1980s pop flavor, with richly layered vocals to close the track. Another 2020 release, “All the Rage,” adds in a little more of a club beat while maintaining ’80s pop sensibilities.
Anna Lynch, “Apples in the Fall”
Singer-songwriter Anna Lynch has relocated from Alaska to North Carolina, but she’s still producing music that garnered her audiences in the 49th state. “Apples in the Fall" is a five-track EP. The title track leads the way with Lynch’s sharp songwriting and easy vocals and features some excellent dobro playing.
Hannah Yoter Band, “Say Goodbye”
Hannah Yoter developed a template with her debut album “Something Good” — write good songs and bolster them with her seemingly effortless vocals, tight harmonies and excellent instrumentation. She’s brought those elements back for “Say Goodbye,” her sophomore effort released earlier this month. “What Do I Look Like To You?” sounds like a Nashville hit from a bygone era, when songs relied on craftsmanship and not bloated production to garner interest.
Gus Englehorn, “Death & Transfiguration”
Homer native Gus Englehorn has produced a quintessential indie album, simultaneously freaky, fun and foreboding. Now relocated to Quebec City, Englehorn’s website reports the songs are “sometimes sung from the perspective of his autistic brother, span topics from broken collarbones to hellish walks in the Okavango Dyke Swarm to out of body experiences.”
Lupyn, “Let Me Fall”
Two Rivers singer Bre Valdez may only be 20, but she’s starting to make a name for herself in the East Coast pop music scene. Valdez, who performs under the Lupyn, is studying opera at the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam in upstate New York. She’s also been working with Clive Farrington of When in Rome and others on pop music releases.
Her vocal training is apparent in her most recent single, “Let Me Fall” which is reminiscent of the work of pop songstresses of the past like Celine Dion.
Roland Roberts, “All About the Timing”
Roland Roberts has been writing songs for a decade, but never had the time to get into the studio. But the recent Hatcher Pass resident found his way to Old Crow Recording in Whitehorse last year to cut his debut album "All About the Timing."
The record features Roberts’ country songwriting, catchy but not too campy, and some solid backing instrumentation.
“Picture on the Wall,” with syncopated picking, wailing harmonica and some hot electric guitar licks, sounds like it could be right out of Willie Nelson’s songbook.
Vapor Vespers, “One Act Sonix”
Mark Muro’s collaboration with Sal Cataldi is something to behold. Muro, the Anchorage based writer and performer, puts his words together with a soundtrack written by Cataldi to create “One Act Sonix” a spoken word album under the moniker Vapor Vespers.
Muro sets the tracks ablaze with his rapidly moving scene setters and surveys of everything from life "In the Lap of the "Drooling Buddha” to a jet-setting penis (as intrepid as Magellan reading magazines between connecting flights). Cataldi’s music gives Muro’s narrative even more urgency, veering between funk-jazz acid trip and graphic novel accompaniment.
Most of the music featured in this story are available on Spotify and on other streaming services. Roland Roberts’ album is available through his Facebook page and Vapor Vespers is available on CD Baby. Remember to follow ADN on Spotify for the latest and best in Alaska music.