Airhead is Rob McAndrews, a childhood friend of James Blake who has jammed in the studio with James and Brian Eno. In other words, yes, he is a musician. And he’s putting out a debut album, For Years on June 11 with R&S Records. Take a listen to the winsome first single, “Autumn,” below.
Matching all the pretty melancholia of the season, “Autumn” is composed of cloudy picked guitar and coy, childlike vocals. Its success is in how it sounds like something recorded outside, with the sun coming through red and golden leaves.
Airhead’s roots, however, as discussed, go far beyond the pastoral lilt and Nick Drake naturalism. Here, for example, is an old fifteen-minute mix for BBC Radio1 he put together with long-time collaborator James Blake, who is forging a new strange path through dubstep.
Tauntingly named, The Amazing is something of an indie supergroup in their native Sweden. Lead by singer/songwriter Christoffer Gunrup and Dungen’s Reine Fiske, the group doesn’t stray too far from the latter’s slightly more trippy sound with his full time gig. Though a little less dappled with psychedelia their latest release, “Gentle Stream,” hews closely to the formula displayed on their 2009 self-titled debut and 2010’s six-song mini album Wait For a Light to Come.
Obvious touchstones reveal themselves quickly through fragile, sotto voce vocals and a languorous flow that instantly recalls Nick Drake and Red House Painters/Sun Kil Moon anchor Mark Kozelek on tracks like “Flashlight” and “The Fog.” There’s also a bit of Bread’s more rollicking soft rock side on tracks like “Gone” and “Dogs,” and a more recent antecedent would certainly be Toronto’s Great Lake Swimmers. (I also thought immediately of the fantastic, but lesser-known Chicago band, Pinetop Seven.)
Though their music may not be as puffed-up as their name would suggest, The Amazing does largely live up to it. Now that I think about it perhaps their name isn’t so much braggadocio as it is a suggestion that slowing down allows you to encounter the surprising and wonderful in the world around you. And that is a bit amazing.