Mic Capes’ “Concrete Dreams” mixtape is one of our 11 favorite Portland releases of 2016. The emcee’s sophomore effort “rewards attentive listeners with subtle, but pointed, wordplay and never lets up.”
Texas-based singer/songwriter, Kevin Morby, FKA the bass guitarist for Woods and frontman of The Babies, releases a new album, City Music, via Dead Ocean on June 16. Morby states that this record is a counterpart to last year’s excllent Singing Saw, and, staying true to his statement, City Music is equally as great.
The album kicks off with “Come To Me Now,” a three-minute track comprised of strengthful drumming and shimmering organ, following a stuck Morby in “a godawful town,” as he waits for someone who can abolish the “fortress around [his] heart.” Over the course of his solo career, Morby has mastered breathy, folk-rock, paying homage to singer/songwriters Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen with effortless storytelling highlighted through his deep voice and gentle guitar-picking.
On “1234,” the band picks up the pace with a doo-wop/punk beat and simple Ramones-esque distorted chord changes, before chanting the four New York punk rockers’ names and lamenting that “they were all my friends, and they died.” On City Dreams, Morby muses about mountain ranges, downtown city lights and train rides. In this case, on “Aboard My Train,” the railroads are his bloodlines and the forward motion of the train, bolting on ahead, casually making stops to pick up passengers, is a metaphor for his life.
City Dreams underscores Morby’s strong lyricism and capacity for writing soulful indie-folk / Americana ballads. It’s the perfect record for the long summer days ahead, sitting back and laughing at how tragically beautiful everything is.