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Preview of upcoming indie performers

May 7, 2014

Recent albums from two acts playing a highly recommended show in Providence this Sunday evening occupy the Ear Bliss spotlight this week. Hailing from Chicago, Angel Olsen began as a folkie of sorts before branching out her sound. Her new album Burn Your Fire for No Witness is her debut for reputable indie Jagjaguwar Records and it’s an incendiary beauty of folk rock with Olsen’s simmering voice at its core. Let’s get down to business.

Angel Olsen
“Burn Your Fire for No Witness”
Jagjaguwar Records

On the new release by singer/songwriter Angel Olsen called “Burn Your Fire for No Witness,” the songs come across more as personal moments of the two-to-five minute variety without necessarily having a beginning or an end and left for interpretation. Then based out of Chicago, it was Olsen’s 2011 debut full-length album called “Half Way Home” that created the initial buzz. An absolutely spare affair, she was pure folkie on the record. Olsen’s primary calling card prior to that album was her work as a member of Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s touring band. Towards the end of her run with Billy, Olsen began to dive into her own songwriting the fruits of which found their way onto “Half Way Home.” It was one of those records that sneaks up on you in a quiet way and Olsen slowly, but surely, began to build a following thanks to it. Enter highly respected indie Jagjaguwar Records to take Olsen on the next step of her journey. On her debut for the label called “Burn Your Fire for No Witness,” the sonic palette behind Olsen’s voice and songs expands greatly. Now residing in Asheville, N.C., the album features 11 of those aforementioned “personal moments” moving running the emotional gamut from hurt to happiness. The musical accompaniment is varied and interesting from the driving crunch of “Forgiven/Forgotten” (Olsen handles all the guitar work) to the minimalism of “Dance Slow Decades” and “Enemy” to the full-throttled exuberance of “Hi Five” to the psych-out of “High & Wild” to the country underpinnings of “Lights Out.” Even with beefier instrumentation, never does it overwhelm Olsen’s captivating voice. The sum total is an album which instantly grabs ears. Visit
Angel Olsen and Promised Land Sound play at Club Fete in Providence (103 Dike St.) on Sunday evening. Doors are at 7 p.m. and music starts at 8 p.m.

Promised Land Sound
Paradise of Bachelors Records

Upon hearing the initial strands of Nashville-based band Promised Land Sound’s debut record for Carolina indie Paradise of Bachelors Records, aural flashbacks of the The Jayhawks circa-1989 and the album Blue Earth came rushing back. I couldn’t say if it was the guitars or the harmonies, but twangy rock with a serious side of chooglin’ that the band kicks out on its self-titled debut is certainly old school alt country to these ears. Named for a Chuck Berry classic, Promised Land Sound arose out of Nashville’s highly fertile garage scene, one that has yielded the likes of bands like PUJOL, JEFF the Brotherhood, and Turbo Fruits. Its members dabbled in that scene playing in bands before joining forces in search of something more country and soul. Promised Land Sound was born and it began attracting ears almost immediately. First was Jack White who released a live 7-inch of the band on his Third Man record label. The band would soon after land with North Carolina-based indie Paradise of Bachelors Records who released the band’s self-titled debut last Fall. Groove, twang and soul are all over the nine songs comprising the album. Think everything from Creedence to the Flying Burrito Brothers to “Sweet Virginia”-era Rolling Stones to the folk-soul of Jim Ford. Promised Land Sound on this debut album is in a 1970s Southern timewarp, and a good one, at that. For a band where no member has crested the quarter-century mark as of yet, it’s a pretty impressive feat to tap so convincingly into another era. Visit

Son Volt front man Jay Farrar is on a solo tour that brings him to the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, Mass. (16 Anawan St.) on Friday evening. Show time is 8 p.m.

Hailing from the home of Thurston Moore and Dinosaur Jr., and drawing from the fertile music community that is Western Massachusetts, Northampton-based Potty Mouth are all-parts smart-pop craftswomen, specializing in taut, infectious, C-86 influenced indie pop meets '77 punk perfection. The band comes to Fete in Providence (103 Dike St.) on Saturday night with doors opening at 7:30 p.m. Also on the bill are Fleabite, Littlefoot and Lost Twin.

The music Brazilian/roots powerhouse Matuto is at the crossroads of those lively Brazilian sounds and American roots music. The six-piece returns to the Music at Lilypads (27 North Road, Peace Dale) for an appearance on Saturday night. Doors are at 7 and music begins at 7:30 p.m.

The Rank Strangers with Chris Monti provide the acoustic entertainment at the Wood River Inn (Main Street) in downtown Wyoming, R.I. on Sunday evening. Good food and good drink and the fun begins at 6 p.m.

Dan Ferguson is a freelance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on WRIU-FM 90.3.


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