Flotation Devices, Part 2: Ross Hammond/Poly Varghese, Ryan Dugre, Elkhorn, Stein Urheim & J.R. Bohannon

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Ross Hammond/Poly Varghese: Across Oceans

Have you come down to terra firma from last week’s lighter-than-air crop yet? Here’s the second half of our seasonal-ready musical relaxation kit, this bunch focused on some lovely float-away guitar playing. Ross Hammond is a regular around the recs here, partly because he puts out a ton of music at a regular clip, singles and full albums both, but mostly because it’s almost all something you should be listening to. Of his several releases this year, this duet with Indian musician Poly Varghese is one to highlight. Appropriately called Across Oceans, Hammond and Varghese combine their resonating slide guitar prowess into a genre-defying hypnosis. The tracks here are 100% improvised and you can just feel the music oozing out through the two masters. Dig it.

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Ryan Dugre: The Humors

Ryan Dugre is one of those guitarists that spends a lot of his time making other people’s music sound better. He’s toured with Eleanor Friedberger and Rubblebucket and I most recently seeing him hold down the lead guitar role in Landlady. He makes music on his own, too, and The Humors, which came out way back in late winter, is a perfect fit for this week’s set. Dugre delivers contemplative, head-in-the-clouds guitar pieces that have a soothing simplicity. This is some beautiful stuff, check it out.

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Elkhorn: Sun Cycle/Elk Jam

When you’re talking about transportive guitar music, you really don’t have to look much further than Elkhorn, the guitar duo of Jesse Sheppard and Drew Gardner. Sheppard plays an acoustic 12-string, a sonic magic carpet that Gardner steers with mind travel on the electric. The pair actually have two releases out, two EP’s that yin and yang the Elkhorn sound. Sun Cycle is the duo on their own, at their most float-away hypnotic; Elk Jam is just that, a psychedelic jam session with a full band that allows for some deep-space exploration. Both are gotta-hear’s, so get on that.

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Stein Urheim: Simple Pieces & Paper Cut-Outs

Let’s get a little European flavor in here, eh? Over in Norway, Stein Urheim, makes inventive, challenging and beautiful guitar music of all types. Simple Pieces & Paper Cut-Outs is his latest solo effort, filled with floating ideas, etudes and plenty of his characteristic beauty. The album starts with a track that’s barely a minute long and not much more than a single chord, played just right. The album is not all quite so simple, Urheim finding that pretty spot between folk, jazz and more, covering quite a bit of ground in wonderfully small doses. I hope you enjoy it!

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J.R. Bohannon: Dusk

Last, but not least, is perhaps my favorite guitar album of the year. Dusk came out just a couple weeks ago, and is a rather stunning full-length debut from New York City-based guitarist J.R. Bohannon. At any given moment, in any track on the record, each string on Bohannon’s guitar seems to be telling its own story, a story that stands on its own, but weaves together in sublime ways with the other five. A couple tracks feature accompaniment, drums or bass to fill the sound, but it’s that guitar that you’ll float away to parts unknown with. This is a must-listen for any guitar lover or really anyone that loves gorgeous music. Enjoy!

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