We get a lot of records sent to us here at The A.V. Club. Fortunately, we end up liking some of them. In Playlisted, we share our latest recommendations.
Album: Stay Awake by Mike Scheidt (out now on Thrill Jockey)
Press play if you like: David Crosby’s If I Could Only Remember My Name, Gary Higgins’ Red Hash, metal dudes settling down
Some background: Starting out as a bassist in various Oregon hardcore bands, Mike Scheidt switched to guitar in 2000 in order to front the sludge-metal titan Yob. Since then, Yob has had its ups and down, culminating in the group’s high-water mark, 2011’s massive, masterful Atma. Beneath all that volume, though, Scheidt has a hushed side. Distilling Yob’s doom-ridden meditation into an even more contemplative vessel, he’s released a heart-halting solo debut, Stay Awake. It’s not your typical, metal-dude-gone-folk record. Lush and wreathed in haze, the disc swims in a solution of acoustic shimmer and sylvan mysticism. Tracks like “When Time Forgets Time” and “Breathe” evoke everything from Willamette Valley splendor to medieval mournfulness, with Scheidt’s quivering timbre filling out his stark take on the darker fringes of ’70s folk-rock. Stay Awake isn’t all acoustic, though; on “Until The End Of Everything,” black clouds of distorted guitar hang over finger-picked barrenness, angelic chorusing, and Scheidt’s imposing, spoken-word testimony.
Try this: Lifted by ghostly harmonies and a backbone of classic songwriting, “In Your Light” is the centerpiece of Stay Awake, grounding the album in a somber vulnerability that’s all the more arresting when contrasted with Scheidt’s other projects. It also showcases the aching delicacy of his playing—and the startling beauty of his voice.