North Carolina's The Ox Magnolia posted its new album up as a free download over on the band's MySpace page on Wednesday. And, I'll be damned if I haven't plopped down $14.95, or more, for albums that were no where near as good as the stunningly, breathtakingly beautiful Only Some Place.
Dreamlike and atmospheric, with songs echoing the minimalist sounds of other whispery, indie-folk acts ranging from South San Gabriel to Phosphorescent, the album sounds like it could've been recorded in a remote, ice-covered woodshed only two-snow covered hills away from of Bon Iver's hovel.
So why should you care? Well, because The Ox Magnolia happens to be the solo-outlet for Caleb Gray who, until relocating to High Rock Lake, N.C. in December, sang and played guitar with his brother, Matthew Gray, in a little Denton-based band you may have heard of: Matthew and the Arrogant Sea. But he's also still in Verülf along with Gavin Guthrie of Florene.
In the past, Gray's musical output has leaned more in the direction of ambient and experimental. So, what brought about the sea change in sound?
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"I feel like the ambient music I've made will always what I'll be consistent with," he says. "But lately, since being in Matthew and the Arrogant Sea and taking a part in the song writing process, I've felt like I'm being pulled in a different direction. And it's allowing me to open myself up in a sense. These songs are very personal."
In the three months since Gray left town, he's recorded and uploaded two free albums under The Ox Magnolia moniker. But why's he just giving these albums away?
"I feel like a lot of the art in music gets lost in the production and then availability of the music," Gray explains. "In my experience with Matthew and the Arrogant Sea, we spent five months recording and then spent five months or so waiting for the album. But I don't feel personally that I want to have to do that, I just want to create it and know that it's being heard. To me, it's an important time for musicians to make their work available to people that want to listen. So, the fastest way that I can make it available is to put it up there on MySpace."
At this rate, it's looking like we'll probably have another album by April.