MP3: Sam Billen – “Saltine”

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Sam Billen has rightfully earned a solid reputation the past few years for his inventive covers of tracks by Sufjan Stevens, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Postal Service, and many others. Some artists specializing in covers struggle to write their own material, but it’s certainly not an issue for Billen. His new full-length, Places, offers ten original tracks that show Billen advancing from melancholic synth-pop to more organic soundscapes, like the build-up of trickling acoustics and gentle piano on the album’s opener “Saltine”. His striking vocals are at the forefront, mirrored by layers of guitars, keys, and serene ambient effects that build up for a stunning conclusion. Initial bareness expands to grandiose heights, resulting in an intricate composition that doesn’t overwhelm due to its sheer beauty.

Thanks to Knox Road for the heads up. Check out Billen’s covers below:

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Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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