Joanna Newsom’s first album in five years finds the musician lending her ornate songcraft and magical imagery to an album that at its plainest, examines relationships and the effects of the passage of time. “Anecdotes” begins the album with woodland noise and shortly reintroduces Newsom’s piano, harp and uncommon croon, her lyrics painting slices of life of a soldier laying land mines and returning home, summing up the sentiment it portrays with the line, “Anecdotes cannot say what Time may do.” Newsom’s lyrics are as inscrutable as ever—“Sapokanikan” refers to a Native American village that once stood where Greenwich Village now lies and references Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem about a fallen Egyptian pharaoh, “Ozymandias”—but they’re in service of her central theme, as she sings, “the records they left are cryptic at best, lost in obsolescence.” The arrangements by Newsom, Nico Muhly, Ryan Francesconi and Dave Longstreth (Dirty Projectors) tickle the songs with orchestral brushes and lend rock pulse to songs like “Leaving the City.” Shorter songs appear, like “The Things I Say,” a downtrodden, countrified piano ditty with lyrics both direct (“I’m ashamed of half the things I say”) and fanciful (“When the sky goes thinkin’ Paris, France, do you think of the girl who used to dance when you’d frame the movement within your hands”) that ends in a rain of beaming guitars. These serve to as breathers before sinking into epics like “Divers,” which gives Newsom’s harp and malleable voice room to roam as she intones, “How do you choose your life? How do you choose the time you must exhale and kick and writhe?” Like Newsom’s previous work, Divers demands close attention. Her albums are the antithesis of instant gratification, which is perversely likely why she’s become so popular as an out-of-time balladeer despite sounding more medieval than millennial—her songs beg that you drop what you’re doing, lest you miss one of her witticisms or whimsies. It’s a strangely soothing effect, harkening back to the time of following lyric sheets and sitting to listen to music as a solitary activity. Despite being seeped in melancholia, Divers ends on the somewhat positive note of “Time As a Symptom.” Newsom cries about the “joy of life” as owls hoot and birds chirp in the background, declaring, “the moment of your greatest joys sustains.” Divers may be concerned with the fleeting nature of time, but it’s a convincing bid at artistic permanence.
W-X – “Brazilian Worm Band”
Like his onetime bandmate in Hair, Ty Segall, Tim Presley doesn’t seem to sleep. Between his loads of great albums as White Fence, who released a new album last year, and his new collaboration with Cate Le Bon, DRINKS, which released an album earlier this year, you’d think he wouldn’t have time for another project. But here we have W-X, a new solo project from Presley. From the sounds of this first song, he’s interested here in making outsider noise pop. “Brazilian Worm Band” sounds like a demented toy factory on the fritz, as broken-down vintage moogs run amok. Great stuff. W-X is due Nov. 6 on Castle Face.
Mick Rock’s massive tome of a photo book on David Bowie is now for sale at Amoeba Music.
The tall,16-pound book features a hologram cover and more than 300 pages of photographs. It's limited to only 1,972 copies, signed by Rock and Bowie. Look for the book in the display case next to the counters at Amoeba Hollywood!
Rock famously shot many musicians during the 1970s, from Lou Reed to Queen and Blondie’s Debbie Harry. Between 1972 and 1973, Rock was Bowie’s official photographer, while Bowie was taking the world by storm with his celebrated album Hunky Dory and his emerging Ziggy Stardust persona.
The book includes pictures for press and album jackets along with intimate backstage photos, around 50 percent of which are said to be unseen by the public.
The book sale coincides with the exhibition “Mick Rock: Shooting for Stardust. The Rise of David Bowie & Co.” at TASCHEN Gallery, which is located at 8070 Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles. The exhibit runs through Oct. 30.
Our childhoods are littered with films that, for whatever reason, were in many ways equally as terrifying as their R-rated counterparts. Around Halloween, it’s always fun to revisit these movies and think about the times when Disney took a dark turn and parents were a lot more lax about what they let their kids watch. Here are 10 creepy cult movies, box office bombs and genuine hits that were probably a lot scarier than they needed to be.
The Adventures of Mark Twain (1985)
Claymation already is and always has been disturbing to me. I couldn’t figure out what was going on with Gumby, and I didn’t want to know. The Adventures of Mark Twain doesn’t seem that creepy on the surface, telling the story of such beloved characters as Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn as they meet Twain himself, who’s on an airship to meet up with Halley’s Comet (which was a big deal in 1985 when this was released, as the comet became visible to the naked eye the following year in a once-in-a-lifetime event). So far, so good. But anyone who saw the film as a child knows there’s a disturbing scene based in part on Twain’s story “The Chronicle of Young Satan” in which a headless suit of armor carrying a mask claims to be the devil himself and capable of easily wiping out humans (“People are of no value,” is his existential response to smooshing some clay people). It’s always good to make sure that children learn life is futile early on. Read an interview with director Will Vinton here.
Right at the turn of the aughts, the nebulous genre known as “chillwave” was all the rage, and Neon Indian’s Alan Palomo was its poster boy. On the excellent Psychic Chasms, he took chintzy beats and funky lo-fi synths to psychedelically chilled out heights, while the underrated follow-up, Era Extrana, looked further into the underbelly of ’80s pop for a nighttime pop album worthy of Donnie Darko. Now years later, Palomo has his work cut out for him as EDM rules the summer fest circuit. Somehow, Vega Intl. Night School manages to remind you of the bets bits of chillwave while successfully moving forward. For those in the know, “Annie” was the banger of the summer, flowing new agey flutes into a digi reggae bounce that sounds like a reconfigured synth-funk memory. The old school hip hop vibe of “Street Level” and synth R&B smear “Smut!” seem to drip acid, coming at you and receding simultaneously. “Slumlord” and “Techno Clique” really let Palomo venture into his classic house fetish, naturally extending the sound he’s cultivated thus far into a rewarding new direction. By far his longest and most complete album, Vega ends on a few lightly tossed off tracks—“C’est La Vie” is an italo disco-inspired splatter of color, “61 Cygni Ave” sounds like two Men at Work and Cameo tapes were left in the sun and melted together, and “News From the Sun” ends things on a straight up Prince homage. Detractors might still find fuel since Palomo primarily mines well-worn ’80s pop influences. However, his ability to render those inspirations as alien forms makes him as relevant as ever, bleeding tracks into one another in a perfectly packaged, post-Internet free-for-all that sets your pleasure sensors on overdrive.