Written for The Famous Company 09/03/2017
We are really getting stuck into 2017; three months in and new music is coming at us from every conceivable angle. Here I have put together some of my thoughts and first Impressions on just a few of the tracks that are coming in thick and fast:
Father John Misty – Total Entertainment Forever
This new single from FJM which opens with the fantastic line, “Bedding Taylor Swift every night inside the Occulus Rift” straight away displaying the wit and social commentary that I’ve come to expect from him. I really love the lyrics on this track which are accompanied by his big clean production style and jubilant saxophones on the chorus which exaggerate the ironic tone of the song- “Can you believe how far we’ve come, Freedom to have what you want, in the New Age we’ll all be entertained”. I can’t wait to hear the album Pure Comedy, which releases on 7th April 2017.
Mount Eerie – Ravens
Anacortes’s Phil Elverum, a musician who holds a lot of personal meaning for me, released Ravens in February ahead of the release of his album A Crow Looked at Me, on 24th March. The album comes after the loss of Elverum’s wife, Genevieve in 2016 after her battle with cancer. Ravens features hauntingly beautiful, bare acoustic guitar accompanied by Elverum’s soft transparent voice. Mount Eerie lyrics in the past have used analogies of the natural surroundings to express meaning, but here the words are plain and descriptive, as if to decorate the experiences through metaphors is to lessen their painful truth. In one line Elverum recounts camping out in the forest with his young daughter, “sand still in the blankets from the beach where we released you from the jar”. If you’re prepared for it Ravens is an emotionally crushing and intense listen depicting a candid image of death that .
Julia Holter– Silhouette – live at RAK
Silhouette is a cut from Holter’s 2015 album ‘Have you in my Wilderness’ and has been re-imagined over the course of Julia and the band touring set to feature later in March on a live album ‘In the Same Room’. The result is a raw, spacious mix which really emphasises the epic dynamics of Holter’s music from solitary, smooth vocals accompanied only by piano chords to huge swelling instrumentals that break out into wild cacophonies of crashing cymbals, singing strings and improvised vocals. Julia’s live vocal improvisations can sometimes be hit or miss but it is part of the playful carefree experimentation in her music that keeps her songs feeling fresh in every performance.
Animal Collective– Kinda Bonkers
I was really looking forward to Animal Collective’s 2016 album Painting With after hearing the single FloriDada which sounded like some wacked out, futuristic take on the Beach Boys but was disappointed that the album didn’t really feature much of the tight song structuring of the single and often felt like it wore its glitchy aesthetic for the sake of being weird rather than serving the songs in a meaningful way. This new track off the bands EP, The Painters, is actually pretty nice. The band play a bhangra style drum beat which is gradually layered over with this thick plodding beat and sprinkled over with the groups staple cut up vocal samples. The vocals in the verse dance around jauntily with group harmonies dropping in at the end of phrases which progress into an extended call and response section. I think this track, and this EP as a whole, are going in a good direction so I’d recommend this to anybody wanting to explore a group on the experimental side that still maintain their reference points to pop music.
This is Lorde’s second single since the massive success of her 2013 debut album Pure Heroine. I really dug Lorde’s relatable down to earth attitude portrayed in her lyrics as well as the clean uncluttered production in the music but I felt like maybe her labelling as an ‘art-pop’ musician at the time might have been a bit of a push. In contrast to the dance leaning lead single Green Light, Liability is a solemn spotlight piano ballad. In the verse we get this sense that Lorde feels unable to maintain her relationships, perhaps due to the hectic nature of line of work. One line depicts her visiting a friend for comfort, slow dancing in the living room “but all a stranger would see is one girl swaying alone stroking her cheek”. The lyrics on this track are heart-breaking and really evoke a sense of isolation that probably comes with becoming a teenage star. This a strong emotional return for Lorde however it is a little by the numbers as ballads go, with the piano really only serving as a vehicle for the singers smooth delivery.
Sleaford Mods– B.H.S
The Sleaford Mods, if you haven’t listened to them before, are a unique Nottingham duo whose sound is characterized by singer and chief rant writer, Jason Williamson’s cutting satirical verses drenched in shouted midlands dialect and slang backed by basic Post Punk inspired beats and basslines. On their last few releases they certainly stood out from the crowd but personally I felt musically the duo were a little too minimalist to really draw me in. With B.H.S the single from English Tapas, we see Williamson bringing his topical refrains which I’m interpreting as an appeal against blaming the working class in the wake of Brexit as the UK goes “down like BHS”. Although I really like these lyrical ideas I’ve always appreciated it when the duo put effort into their hooks and rare sung verses that diversify their sound, which I appreciated on tracks like, No One’s Bothered, from their 2015 release, Key Markets. This track isn’t bad, but it hasn’t brought anything new to the table to draw me in to their simplistic sound, however I’m sure this will appeal to existing fans or those who might not have listened to much of the duo’s previous material.
It’s been a smooth start to the year so far and personally I’m filled with anticipation for many more of the releases coming up over the next few months of our sonic adventure. I’d love to hear what tracks have got you pumped with excitement so do feel free leave a response in the comments section below the article!
Until Next time music fanatics….