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Marissa Nadler


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Dream folk/pop

Status:

Most recent release, Before July: Demos and Unreleased Songs (compilation EP, 2014); most recent release of new material, Strangers (2016)

See also:

Marissa Nadler's site

Wikipedia's Marissa Nadler entry

Comparisons:

Azure Ray, The Battle of Land and Sea, Faith & Disease, Heather Woods Broderick (lasherboy@gmail.com)

Covers/own material:

Mostly own

General comments:

Marissa Nadler is a singer from an alternate universe. In this world, laurel-wreathed maidens sit on the wooden porches of their mountain cabins, weaving their colorful tapestry and humming tales of doomed love. Nadler's second album is sparse, but the two main instruments—her delicate, yet intricate guitar and her crystalline soprano fill it up. The songs she writes are part Appalachian murder ballads, part the musings of a young girl who's absorbed the works of Poe. This dark, dreamy album is an artifact from the Brontë sibling's imagined world, full of ghastly beauty and tragic romance. (ethereal_lad@livejournal.com)

She's pretty good...breathy, exotic, dreamy, even eerie, and more. Just how I like my music. "Daisy and Violet" is a favorite of mine already. (dbailey4117@gmail.com)

Comments about live performance:

The poor thing was trying not to talk in-between songs because she'd had harsh reviews mocking her for spoiling the atmosphere of her music. She's young and says "like, totally" which apparently is incorrect for a singer of melancholy folk and death at sea. "I'm only 26! I was born in the age of neon!" Marissa protested. A reviewer griped that she should have ridden on stage on a unicorn, which gets her genre, like, totally wrong. Carried onstage in the arms of a drowned lover or the beak of a giant black bird perhaps.
     When Marissa's personality broke through in youthful chatter it added to the music, to me, because it gave contrast to songs with similar tempos, similar delicate guitar picking, and similar echoing voices. Songs blended into one another, like a 100 verse 'Boots of Spanish leather'. She slipped Townes Van Zandt's 'Tecumseh Valley' into the middle of one song without altering the meandering pacing.
     Marissa's consistency is a strength too—she discovered early that reverb is gorgeous and ghostly with her crystal voice. With just her guitar, voice and microphone effects Marissa creates a full ethereal sound. Samey, but beautiful samey so that's ok :) And when one knows more of the songs, they start to distinguish themselves.
     Looking forward to seeing her again. (9/07, k_hester_k@yahoo.co.nz)

Recommended first album:

Songs III: Bird on the Water, Little Hells, and Marissa Nadler are all beautiful. Any would provide a good introduction. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Recordings:


Songs III: Bird on the Water

Release info:

2007—Kemado Records—CD KEM055

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Marissa Nadler—vocals, guitar, background vocals

Guest artists:

Greg Weeks—synthesizer, acid leads, vocals
Helena Espvall—cello
Orion Rigel Dommisse—synthesizer
Jesse Sparhawk—mandolin, harp
Otto Hauser—percussion

Produced by:

Greg Weeks and Marissa Nadler

Comments:

A lovely album. Includes one of the most original takes on Leonard Cohen's "Famous Blue Raincoat" that I've ever heard. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Little Hells

Release info:

2009—Kemado—1 84923 00085 6

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Marissa Nadler

Guest artists:

Myles Baer
Simone Pace
Dave Scher

Produced by:

Chris Coady

Comments:

If Emily Brontë were reincarnated as an American singer-songwriter, she'd be Marissa Nadler. Doomed lovers, ghosts, haunted landscapes all are featured in these dark tunes, which feature Nadler's lovely soprano and spare guitar playing. This time, the backdrop is updated with a few synths and retro-drum machines. Some of the tunes drift toward the Mazzy Star and Low territory, but all Nadler's compositions retain their dark, timeless quality. (ethereal_lad@livejournal.com)

I've been mesmerized by Marissa Nadler's music for a few years now. She's a young artist with an old soul. Little Hells continues her exploration of all things sad and dark (or as one music critic called it: "existential despair")—but she does this in such an ethereal and haunting way. I love getting lost in the worlds she creates. Little Hells shows growth and maturity in both her songwriting and music. (lasherboy@gmail.com)


Marissa Nadler

Release info:

2011—Box of Cedar—6 56605 78602 5

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Marissa Nadler

Guest artists:

Carter Tanton

Produced by:

Brian McTear

Comments:

After being dropped by her unsupportive record label, Marissa Nadler picked herself up, opened a Kickstarter campaign, and raised enough funds to release her own album—her 5th since 2004. For those unfamiliar with her work, Marissa has a ghostly, ethereal, lilting, clear voice—backed with lots of reverb. She seems to be not-of-this-era, always looking back and reflecting on her life, and the lives of others. This new self-titled album is a little more personal, and a little more "pop," than her previous work. The result is pretty successful. Songs like "Puppet Master" and "The Sun Always Reminds Me Of You" are sunnier and more accessible to a mainstream audience, while songs like "Wedding" and "Mr. John Lee" still hint at that spectral voice, forever reflecting on a past life. (lasherboy@gmail.com)

I was kind of disappointed with Marissa Nadler's latest release. It had a few decent songs but not what I expect from her in terms of quality. (onyx@vianet.ca)

Someone here on ecto didn't like this album as much as Little Hells, but I find this album so much more accomplished. Finally I am getting what Marissa Nadler is all about. I love the Gothic universe she's creating, I love the texture of her sound, and her songwriting has definitely improved. I have listened to this a hundred times the last couple of months.
     Favourite tracks: "Baby I Will Leave You in the Morning," "Wedding," "In Your Lair, Bear". (christina_skov@hotmail.com)

Another beautiful album. This one is more energetic (check out "The Sun Always Reminds Me of You") I hear the Mazzy Star comparisons more clearly (on songs like "Alabaster Queen," and I also hear Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter (on songs like "Mr. John Lee Revisited"). (JoAnn Whetsell)


July

Release info:

2014—Sacred Bones Records—SBR-103CD

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Marissa Nadler—vocals, acoustic guitar, 12-string guitar

Guest artists:

Steve Moore—piano, synthesizers
Eyvind Kang—string arrangements and performance
Jonas Haskins—bass, synth bass
Phil Wandscher—electric guitar
Randall P. Schowe—drums
Jay Kardong—pedal steel

Produced by:

Randall Dunn

Comments:

Marissa's sound doesn't change much on albums. This is another beauty. The song "Anyone Else" is a bit of a jolt, darker and with an insistent beat underneath. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Lovely moments, but where are the memorable hooks and choruses? It feels very rambly and meandering. (raschee@gmail.com)


Further info:

Songs on compilations include:

  • "Blue #1 (August Rose Gently Over This Town)" and "Blue #3 (Hyacinth)" on Electronic/Acoustic: A Compilation of RISD Musicians, Vol. I (2002)
  • "Bottles" on Step Up to be Tall Sit Down to be Small: A Compilation of RISD Musicians, Vol. II (2003)
  • "Ballad to an Amber Lady " on the Tom Rapp & Pearls Before Swine tribute album For the Dead in Space Volumes II & III (2003)
  • "Days of Rum" on Whiskey and Apples (2005)
  • "Lily, Henry, and the Willow Tree " on Gold Leaf Branches (2005)
  • "Ms. John Lee" on New Skin for the Old Ceremony (2005)
  • "Famous Blue Raincoat" on Folk Off: New Folk & Psychedelia from The British Isles & North America (2006)
  • "Judgment Day" on the benefit album Not Alone: Médicins Sans Frontières (2006)
  • "Your Dreary Days Are Dead" on Talitres is 5 (2006)
  • "No Surprises" on Stereogum's OKX: A Tribute to OK Computer (2007)
  • "Conjuring Spirit Worlds" on Nonpop #1 (2007)
  • "Goodbye Heartache" on Songs in the Kiosk of Life Three (2007)
  • "Clowne Towne" on Xiu Xiu Remixed & Covered (2007)
  • "The Kiss" (with Black Hole Infinity) on Crayon Angel: A Tribute To The Music of Judee Sill (2009)


Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2016-07-20 20:57:40.
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