Emerging Folk – Kristian Phillip Valentino, Sonja Midtune, almost sex, Prints of Monaco

Kristian Phillip Valentino writes with an unparalleled sensitivity.  His songs are gentle, heartfelt compositions full of character and personality.  Valentino has a voice and style all his own.  It takes a little of all that inspires him and all that he is and projects itself through his works.  From his suburban Chicago roots, to his new home in the Blue Ridge mountains of Asheville, to the sentimental folk of Gregory Alan Isakov, to the vibey productions of Iron and Wine.  

His soft vocal delivery is rich with depth and strong in its affect.  Kristian must have experienced some pain in his past life to conjure emotions this sincere.  Wind, Hail, and Snow is the last single of a four part series that results in a full album release next month.  The album is based on a true love story from his past, that moves with the four seasons. In Spring the relationship starts, in Summer love grows, in Fall it starts to break apart and in Winter, the relationship ends.  Being from Chicago, Kristian knows a bit about drastic seasonal changes.  From bitter colds to hot summers, the Windy City brings all of it.  A Northerner would know what emotional changes winters’ brings and how to fight the doldrums, so much so that it has influenced Valentino’s work.  Like Love, it is relentless, those impending winter nights.  You have to work through it, adjust, give away a piece of yourself.  

  With that in mind it’s not surprising that Wind, Hail, and Snow is his most captivating single yet.  We have selfishly been waiting to see Valentino’s dark side, and not surprised to find more layers and complexities than his other version.  The once hopelessly romantic crooner is now full of mystery and depth.  It’s a curious anecdote to his other personas, as we willingly admire his sadness, revel in how he bears it with melodic wisdom.  

  Fans of early Bon Iver will enjoy Valentino’s penchant for falsetto and dreamy productions that cultivate in epic fashion.  The music is full of atmosphere like a morning Blue Ridge mist, cool and calming, something you can get lost in.  

  Enjoy Wind, Hail and Snow now on our Emerging Folk playlist

Sonja Midtune

Sonja Midtune floored us with her live version of her single October.  Featuring producer Justin Glasco on keys and Brandon Walters (Lord Huron) on electric guitar, the trio provides an atmospheric arrangement in contrast to Midtune’s hometown feel.  The alt-country leanings of Brandi Carlise, blue collar feel of acoustic Springsteen, and indie folk leanings of Phoebe Bridgers are all fair starting points to track Midtune’s sound. October has the studied feel of an indie troubadour who embraces her country roots. She has all the vocal ability to flaunt every piece of real estate in the melodic rainbow but instead chooses to haunt us with dynamic precision, in complete control of her ability and how she delivers it, bending her natural instrument in sweeping subtle accents full of feeling and emotion.  It’s what makes this live rendition so special, Sonja gets right to the heart of the matter, a combination of talent and feeling, meant for the realest part of Friday night, when you need something sincere to get that free feeling back.  

  “I’m tired of giving my best to a city that lost my trust, made me a diamond then turned me into rust.”  You likely won’t get this real without a heavy dose of tribulation.  Quite possibly everything made sense for Sonja;  to attend La Schola Cantorum her talent was likely undeniable, and then, excelling in music school before packing up for LA by way of Minnesota to stake her claim in the industry.  She moonlights as a performer, teaching songwriting at two schools while she fights to break.  October has all the truth and jade of someone who sees right through it, but Sonja is the real deal, songwriting is the fabric of her existence, and she does it well.  We’re so glad she hasn’t given up, because her talent is powerful and her story is important.  She’s been paying it forward, and the pay off is en route.  This live version is a calling card to attend her concert in person. We’ll be there, you should join us.  Hear the live version of October now on our Emerging Folk playlist. 

almost sex

  Brooklyn based Songwriters Nick Louis and Warren LaSota found lockdown love and then created almost sex, a new collaborative project that mirrors their creative inception with the careful attention of modern lovers.  

  Is there anything more romantic than internet lovers dedicated to the sanctity of analog?  And so it is that the pair commits to an all analog production on their new EP.  With their single Lucille we get a taste of what to expect from the new collection.  A vintage 1979 drum machine sits beneath a warm acoustic and Warren’s crackly voice.  It has the spirit of Monsters of Folk, the raw touch of Phosphorescent, and the catchy cadence of Modest Mouse.  The vibey production is accentuated by crisp lively textures.  The magic of analog is felt.  Paraphrased from the words of Neil Young, analog is like a living breathing entity, when you hear it it makes you feel something different that you can’t get from digital, an organic stimulation transmitted through our ears and felt throughout our body.  Lucille is very much of that place, a recording that goes beyond the song itself, wraps you like a warm blanket.  Fond, nostalgic, familiar feeling made new by the artist’s signature touch.  

  Lyrically, the pair makes light of their romantic setbacks leading up to finding each other.  They both likely experienced a Lucille along the way.  .  “After all these conversations I really should be thankful it’s the end.  Cause all I want is someone easy to laugh with.”  Lucille gets under your skin and reminds you to cut out the BS in your life, you’re better off without it.  

  A tight arrangement complete with a revelatory bridge that brings the story full circle, almost sex can invert their way around a melodic idea with ingenuity and indie sensibility.  This is a vibe you can hold on to, fit for a sit down sing along or a reflective subway commute.    

  Enjoy Lucille now on our Emerging Folk playlist 

Prints of Monaco

Brooklyn based band Prints of Monaco combine Oliver Monaco’s sad boy vibes with thoughtful orchestral arrangements.  They bring something different to the cliche atmospheric textures of indie folk, most notably in how they utilize drums and percussion to create moving movements and emotion within the composition.  In the vein of Brooklyn cult icons Grizzly Bear, the influence of that artistic place can be heard in the harmonies and progressive movements.  

  Only their fourth release, an abundance of versatility and potential seeps through their recent single, New Ways. Every stroke, every progression is cultivated with careful consideration as the band shows an attention to detail lost on most modern Indies. 

  “New ways to measure the miles, new ways to try and force a smile, new ways to phrase I hadn’t seen you in a while.”  It’s important to have works that catalog unfamiliar realities about our new experience.  On New Ways, songwriter Monaco chronicles those unexpected nuances of how this time has trivialized routine circumstance.  It’s hard to revert to our old patterns having been ripped away from them for so long, it hurts to have to be fake in the face of revelation.  Oliver reminds us that we’re all just figuring it out, and future generations will be looking to the art of our day to imagine how we might have felt during these tribulant times.  New York got the worst of it, how could he ignore it.  

  Enjoy New Ways by Prints of Monaco now on our Emerging Folk playlist


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