All posts tagged: Album Review

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Album Review: “Semper Femina”, Laura Marling

On Semper Femina, Laura Marling explores the lives of the exceptional women in her orbit as protagonists of their own stories, separate from the Male Gaze. It is tempting – perhaps even unavoidable – to decipher works of art based on title tracks. After all, why would the artist name their work after a single line or lyric? It must be meaningful – it’s the musical equivalent of when an actor will break the 4th wall, look straight into the camera, and say the name of a film. It drops like a hammer-blow, when we pick up on it. On Semper Femina’s second-to-last and standout track “Nouel”, British folksinger Laura Marling sings, “Semper Femina, so am I,” paraphrasing a line from a Virgil poem, translating roughly to “always a woman”. For her sixth LP, Marling initially sought to explore the lives of exceptional women from the vantage point of a man, but had to abandon the quest. She simply couldn’t get out of herself, and didn’t think it would be wise to do so. Instead, …

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February 2017’s Most Essential Albums

February tends to be kind of a hard, dark month for much of the United States – it’s cold, days are short, and things can get lonely if you don’t have love in your life, around V-Day. To commemorate it is almost over, we’ve got some hard and dark sounds – like Amnesia Scanner’s As Truth mixtape; some cold and lonely sounds, with Ryan Adams’ excellent new breakup record Prisoner, and some enumerations on love, romance, and desire – both for and against – with The Last Artful, Dodgr and Neill Von Tally; Future; Bebe Rexha; and Anna Wise. There’s some warmth to be had, as well, via the analog ambiance of Noveller and Bing & Ruth. So settle in and take a listen to some of February’s top albums! February 2017’s Most Essential Albums 10. Last Artful, Dodgr & Neill Von Tally – Bone Music Referencing both Charles Dickens, a Los Angeles baseball team, and ducking drive-bys, the Last Artful, Dodgr is as West Coast as it comes – particularly her adopted home of …

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Isolationist Pop: The Body – No One Deserves Happiness (Thrill Jockey)

Pop music is designed to be a salve for modern living – a way to blow off some steam after our 80-hour a week jobs, letting us lose ourselves in some escapist fantasy for a bit as we listen to Top 40 hip-hop artists talk about booze we can’t afford to drink, clothes we can’t afford to wear, trips we can’t afford to take, in a simulacrum of pleasure and desire. Pop Music can be both necessary AND dangerous. Pop music also brings us a sense of community, of belonging, in the increasingly atomized world we live in. It’s all too easy to feel like you’re living on one of the jigsaw puzzles in the background of Salvador Dali’s The Disintegration Of The Persistence Of Memory, as any sense of familiarity or normalcy plummets into the void of unknowing, right below our feet. It can be comforting to find some like minds and kindred spirits in the freefall, either dishing up real connections or the illusion of intimacy. Either one will suffice, in the Long …

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When Are We Not Who We Are? Dalhous – “The Composite Moods Vol. 1: House Number 44”

Much has been made, of late, as to the malleable, fluid nature of identity. Daily, we discuss the ramifications of systemic bias; of The Other and our reluctance towards, or embracing of, another point of view. The boundaries of “the self” are not concrete – we are not walled off like some isolationist state. We are open, porous, to all manner of environmental stimuli. We are what we eat, so to speak. So what effect does the environment have on us? What influence, other people? And what happens when that influence goes sour? The Composite Moods Vol. 1: House Number 44 is an exploration of interacting psyches, from London’s Dalhous, on the ever exquisite Blackest Ever Black. The Composite Moods volume 1 posits some hypothetical house, House Number 44, occupied by two random personalities on the hinterlands of society. One of the roommates views themselves as perfectly fine and healthy – a sane, well-adjusted human being. The other is seemingly a mess, “detached, isolated, often feeling helpless and unable to influence the world around them; …

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Sunlight through deadened skies, Sia – “This Is Acting” album review

Today’s pop star – no matter what genre they’re working in – exists in a strange, contradictory limbo of expectations. In a world rife with Celebrity Instagrams, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, blogs, vlogs, and Tumblrs, fans have come to expect a 24-hour voyeuristic glimpse into a star’s lives. High profile celebrity antics, broadcast across the world thanks to Social Media, and endless beefs seem to keep these big names permanently trending, and the cycle continues. The message seems to be that a certain amount of authenticity is expected of our pop stars. Those that step out of line, or toy with ideas of persona ala Lady Gaga or Lana Del Rey, can bring down a fiery rain of outrage and derision. Oddly enough, female musicians seem to suffer from this more than anybody. While somebody like The Weeknd can be almost applauded for “playing a character”, in a way pioneered and popularized by David Bowie in the ’70s, people seem to expect every single song written by a woman to be 100% autobiographical, that she …

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Christmas Gets Weird And Messy With Cassie Ramone’s ‘Christmas In Reno’

Coming of age in 2015 is a weird and complicated thing. I avoid the phrase “becoming an adult”, as no one’s really sure where adulthood begins, or ends. For most people in their 20s, 30s, and probably 40s, “adulthood” is exactly the same as adolescence, full of libidinal angst, existential confusion, social insecurity, and a weird mixture of egotism and self-loathing. This is never more apparent than during the Christmas season. For many/most 20- and 30-somethings fortunate enough to be living in the First World, Christmas-time finds most people doing whatever is the modern version of circling your wishlist in the Sears Catalog in Crayola Marker. We’re overgrown children, with outsized pocketbooks and desires. But adulthood will not be deterred, even if we don’t know what it is. Obligations begin to sneak in, as we begin to have extended families, friends, office parties. Our friends start having kids, and, oh so gradually, it stops being about OUR wish list, as the torch is passed to the next generation (lucky, ungrateful ducklings!). Cassie Ramone, formerly of …

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Well That Was Metal: Grimes – “Art Angels” album review

Claire Boucher, aka Grimes, is the spokesperson for a certain type of sad girl/boy. They probably have a Tumblr and/or Instagram. They may or may not have non-organic colored hair. They are creative, and don’t feel like they fit in anywhere. Except, at this point, there are a lot of us. Grimes’ shot-heard-round-the-world, 2012’s Visions, trickled from the underground like a demon-possessed river of bubbling crude. You can practically hear the obsession, feel the strain of late nights half-bent over a Macbook screwing beats into corkscrews of twisted metal and regret. Visions came out of nowhere, and went everywhere. How does Claire Boucher follow-up, with 3 years absence and a million expectations to fulfill? What happens when the World’s Most Misunderstood Artist is also the world’s most popular? “California”, the first song on Art Angels with discernible lyrics, tackles this paradox head-on. “California, you only like me when I’m sad,” she sings. It’s a properly miserablist sentiment, but the music is bright, bold, powerful, and direct. art angels: album cover. music & video next week …