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Marissa Nadler "Strangers"

Gothic folk-singer Marissa Nadler's release "July" was one of my favorite albums of 2014. Eerie, soaked in existential dread, the album still sounds like the soundtrack to a nightmare guest-directed by David Lynch. That's meant as a compliment, by the way. As a big fan of weird fiction as written by Laird Barron, John Langan, Gwendolyn Kiste, and Jeff VanderMeer, this is as close to the unsettling power of cosmic dread as I can imagine outside of electronica or ambient tracks.

Broken Fence by Morgan Crooks 2014

In retrospect, "July" is also one of the most straight-forward of her works, a strange thing to say about music so subtle and understated. But yeah, I'll say it - songs like "Drive" and "Dead City Emily," had the force of quiet manifestoes, assertions of haunted misery.

"Strangers" is nowhere near as bleak as her 2014 album but also not nearly as accessible. It's great stuff and recommended for lovers of folk, goth, and alternative music but the tone has shifted. The music sounds freer, looser than before - almost as if the singer is carrying a secret smile she's only now considering revealing. Some of the songs reference heartbreak or solitude, but the experience seems distant, the singer's attitude toward it more reflective and abstract.

In particular, give "Divers in the Dust," "Waking," and "Shadow Show Diane," a listen for their slow atmospheric beauty.

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