Amoeblog

Album Picks: Grimes, Floating Points, Carla Morrison, W-X

Posted by Billy Gil, November 6, 2015 12:05pm | Post a Comment

Grimes Art Angels

grimes art angels downloadAfter three years and a false start, Grimes aka Claire Boucher has returned with the follow-up to her breakthrough, Visions, and it’s a brightly colored collection of artpop magical realism. The drumline beats and sunny guitars and melodies of “California” and the title track could almost pass for something on mainstream radio, if not for Boucher’s clarion voice cutting through. Similarly, the nimble “Flesh Without Blood” might not be the most original song Grimes has put to tape, but it’s the catchiest and is damn near irresistible. Yet in between those songs we get “Scream,” which has none of the safety of her more accessible tunes, between Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes’ twisting flow and Boucher’s curdled screech. The previously released “REALiTi” throws fans of her more straightforward electro-pop a bone, though it continues with the posi vibes and influences of K-pop and early ’90s house that flow through the rest of the album. Meanwhile, “Venus Fly,” her spacey hip hop duet with Janelle Monae, is a pure delight, coming off like a futuristic art-school version of the Spice Girls, and “Kill vs. Maim” has the feel of the drama kids taking over a pep rally with Boucher’s yelp simultaneously spirited and demented. Boucher has no use for genre boundaries and is seemingly allergic to negativity, all of which gives Art Angels an unbeatable all-embracing energy. The biggest change from Visions is that Boucher’s personality is more front-and-center; whereas that album could be more cold and cerebral in its in-between tracks, Art Angels is entirely engaging, and even its most digitized moments are stained with blood. (Art Angels will be released on LP and CD Dec. 11.)

Continue reading...

Album Picks: Ryan Adams, Car Seat Headrest, Martin Courtney, Cheatahs, Wolf Eyes, Boogarins, GEMS

Posted by Billy Gil, October 30, 2015 12:34pm | Post a Comment

Ryan Adams1989

ryan adams 1989 lpRyan Adams’ full-album cover of Taylor Swift’s blockbuster album 1989 is easily derided in concept. What benefit would Adams fans get from the cultish, prolific artist seeking inspiration from a pop singer as young and ubiquitous as Swift? Plenty, it turns out. Adams hasn’t sounded this directed in ages. “Welcome to New York” is perfectly suited to Adams’ Springsteen-ish heartland rock tendencies (think of it as a cousin to his own “New York, New York”). Musically, 1989 is gorgeous; the reverb-rock take on “Style,” mandolins as strings in “Out of the Woods,” chiming Smiths guitars in “Wildest Dreams” and ’80s rock pulse of “All You Had to Do Was Stay” give 1989 an immaculate sheen worthy of its pop predecessor. Some of Swift’s lines and singsongy melodies sound a little silly coming through Adams’ world-weary lips (“Shake It Off’s” “Haters gonna hate”), but he also has a way of revealing not only the darkness underneath most pop lyrics (“you look like my next mistake” sound sad rather than impulsive in “Blank Space”), but the universality of the emotion behind them. Part of the record’s success can be attributed to Adams’ chutzpah; the rest comes from the fact that these were solid hooks and entertaining lyrics to begin with. It’s clear from listening that 1989 is no cash-in; Adams may have been 15 in 1989, when Swift was born, but he uses that to his advantage. The youthful emotion present in these songs still courses through him, and the tinges of regret and nostalgia he adds makes the material all the stronger.

Continue reading...

Album Picks: Joanna Newsom, Fuzz, Pure Bathing Culture

Posted by Billy Gil, October 23, 2015 12:07pm | Post a Comment

Joanna NewsomDivers

joanna newsom divers lpJoanna 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.

Continue reading...

Album Picks: Neon Indian, Deerhunter, Beach House, The Mantles, Gun Outfit

Posted by Billy Gil, October 16, 2015 01:08pm | Post a Comment

Neon Indian - Vega Intl. Night School

neon indian vega intl. night school lpRight 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. 

Continue reading...

Album Picks: Kisses, Protomartyr, Alex G

Posted by Billy Gil, October 9, 2015 12:02pm | Post a Comment

KissesRest in Paradise

kisses rest in paradise lpKisses continue to make smart, chilled-out disco-pop on their third album, stripping back some of the atmospherics of previous releases and upping the grooves. Spareness reveals how lovely Jesse Kivel’s voice and melodies are on a song like “Sun,” as Kivel moves from singing over a solo beat into a falsetto over romantic synth touches. Freestyle and ’80s synth R&B inform tracks like “Control” without them being mere homages. Most of Rest in Paradise sits comfortably as headphone-friendly electro pop, but a track like “A Groove” also gets your blood pumping with its high-hats, rubbery bassline and pure disco strings and guitars. Rest in Paradise is perhaps the L.A. duo’s best and boldest album yet, building on their easy appeal while delivering the disco jammers in spades.

 

Protomartyr The Agent Intellect

protomartyr the agent intellect lpProtomartyr make no-bullshit indie rock. Guitars are as in-tune as when they pick them up. Joe Casey’s vocals are declarative and fierce, eschewing melody in favor of direct emotion, spitting “I will make them feel the way I do” on surging opener “The Devil in His Youth.” This isn’t to say Protomartyr are sloppy. Everything on The Agent Intellect feels finely honed, drawing from bands like Husker Du, R.E.M. and Guided By Voices to distill bile-ridden diatribes into taut, nihilistic post-punk. Protomartyr’s tunneling rhythms and mangled notes aren’t particularly pretty, but The Agent Intellect feels true and cathartic. “Tell me how you really feel” might be one of the most annoying phrases in the English language. Protomartyr answer in kind.

Continue reading...
BACK  <<  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  >>  NEXT