May 4, 2016

Bryce's big year, MusicNOW is BBC 6Music's 'compilation of the week'

Think about label co-founder Bryce Dessner's achievements over the past 365 days and it's easy to see he's had what you call 'a banner year': music festivals built around his extended artistic family in Cork, Ireland and Minneapolis, Minnesota - new compositions premiering at the New York City Ballet and LA Philharmonic - his first major Hollywood film score for The Revenant - and, last but not least, the 10th anniversary of MusicNOW, the intimate festival he curates each year in The National's hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Speaking of which, we had a happy & unexpected bit of news this week when BBC Radio 6Music DJ Lauren Laverne picked our MusicNOW album as her "compilation of the week." (We're pretty sure Bryce has stopped keeping track of his wins this year but chalk one up for us.) Every day Lauren Laverne will feature a different song from the release - so far Sufjan Stevens and Sounds of the South. Tune in to hear where she'll go next...

If you missed the compilation when it came out, it's not you, it was us... (As they say.)

The initial release of was intentionally low-key, timed to coincide with the festival's 10th anniversary rather than a well-plotted marketing campaign. (The final master tapes arrived only 10 days before the album went on sale!) Quick turnaround release date notwithstanding (take that Beyonce!), we really stand by this album. It pulls together an hour+ of live recordings from the festival's first decade, presenting a dream line-up of artists we've long-admired but (for the most part) been unable to work with directly: Dirty Projectors, Fleet Foxes' Robin Pecknold, Andrew Bird, Tim Hecker, Grizzly Bear and a pair of songs featuring the velvet voice of Bon Iver's Justin Vernon is just the beginning...

Point being, we've been gratified to see the album get a second wind...and third wind...and fourth wind since its initial, digital-only release.

First came the CD in autumn 2015, which coincided with a special vinyl edition by our friends at the subscription music & food box service Turntable Kitchen. They excerpted 3 of their favorite songs for a limited edition 7". (For the detail-oriented amongst you, it featured Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, a collaboration between The Books and Clogs, and Sounds of the South, a supergroup featuring Justin Vernon & Sharon Van Etten on vocals.) It's a rather attractive circular thing:

Next, in January of this year Pete Ohs, an attendee of MusicNOW's 2010 edition, unearthed some footage he shot of compilation highlight "Love More" - a Sharon Van Etten song covered, here, by Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and backed by Aaron & Bryce Dessner, Colin Stetson & a few members of yMusic. We premiered that on Pitchfork along with the announcement of this year's festival line-up.

And finally (?) the album has been discovered by one of our favorite BBC DJs Lauren Laverne. "Finally?" you ask (if only because we did).

Well, this probably is not the last you've heard of this compilation. It serves not only as a time capsule for '00s indie music, but as a triangulating point in the particular musical universe that's animated the Brassland label to date. Alternative classical? Well-composed folk? Arty indie rock? Feel free to come up with your own label - but we have a feeling this music will be spinning or streaming or mind-melding with your cerebral cortex or otherwise being heard in whatever crazy new format they come up with next.

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