Mount Eerie Interview

I interviewed Mount Eerie for another publication that I write for, have a read.

http://cultmontreal.com/2017/09/mount-eerie-phil-elverum-interview/

 

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On the Monthly: June 2017

Kelly Lee Owens-Kelly Lee Owens

“taps into ambient and drone traditions while also delivering a constant stream of danceable bass lines and bouncy synth arpeggiations.”

Full Review

Lorde-Melodrama

“Lorde took a while to come back, but the last four years have been all growth and her empire is just beginning.”

Full Review

SZA-Ctrl

“SZA pinpoints relatability while avoiding tired cliché”

Full Review

Clark-Death Peak

“a great deal of variety in the project and the logical march from light to mean makes it digestible and addicting”

Full Review

Vince Staples-Big Fish Theory

“Staples maintains his usual drawl speech and coy attitude as huge, biting electronic-influenced beats explode beneath him and hooks talk up his come up, moving from little pond problems to ‘countin’ up hundreds by the thousands.'”

Full Review

Kara-Lis Coverdale-GRAFTS

“‘Grafts’ is one of her more condensed projects and although works like “A-480” and “Aftertouches” certainly offer blissful sublimity from beginning to end, “Grafts” is certainly her most no-moment-wasted work to date.”

Full Review

 

On the Monthly: May 2017

I swear I’m catching up.

Jaimie Branch-Fly or Die

‘“Fly or Die” didn’t come together in a conventional manner and it owes a little bit to each of the traditions that Branch has experienced over the years.  The record seamlessly incorporates post-production guitar ramblings, live set interpolations, and dubbed over trumpet trios without losing the sense of a single paint stroke.’

Full Review

Jessica Moss-Pools of Light

“Moss doesn’t need much to craft beauty, but her many different songwriting approaches make her debut surprising at every turn.”

Full Review

Perfume Genius-No Shape

“Perfume Genius has been prolific throughout the current decade and never fallen short of staying true to their songwriting footing.  “No Shape,” their latest, isn’t earth shattering and doesn’t mark a dismissal from Hadreas’s glam-baroque pop (with a dash of heartfelt ballad) background, however, it’s a logical step forward and never falters in delivering entertaining, emotionally moving material.”

Full Review

Arca-Arca

“Arca’s video “Reverie” is a good marker for the overall effect of his self-titled work and a true must see of 2017.  Stilted up like a gazelle, Alejandro Ghersi painstakingly inches back and forth on screen, before an animalistic phallic shape emerges out of his groin and takes control of his body, leaving his face in even more pain.  From his rear, the viewer sees blood stains.  It’s confrontational, unsettling, and carries the scars of the queer experience.”

Full Review

Feist-Pleasure

‘“Baby Be Simple” finds breathtaking delicacy at the hook and “I Wish I Didn’t Miss You” rides a cathartic lilt, but the title track finds a bit of punky bounciness and “Century” throws in a collage of punching vocals.  Tackling life’s general ups and downs, her lyrics don’t cut too deep on their own, but the intimate instrumentals make for an impactful emotional experience.’

Full Review

Blanck Mass-World Eater

‘“World Eater,” the latest from UK-based industrial/noise producer Blanck Mass, pummels and jolts.  After the quick, introductory track, “Rhesus Negative” fills itself to the brim with chaotic noise—tapping into some Aphex Twin influenced vocals and a bit of a hardcore punk bluntness in the percussive sounds—for a riveting nine minutes.’

Full Review

On the Monthly: April 2016

lol at this post, here’s 6 albums that I rated highly in somewhat of a linear fashion.

Valeda-Unearth

“On Unearth, she keeps her lyrics and sounds abstract and sparse, but also manages to offer an intimate, moving experience.”

Full Review

Jay Som-Everybody Works

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Matthew Shipp, Whit Dickey, Mat Maneri-Vessel in Orbit

“From beginning to end, the album pulses with life.  These musicians hold blues and swing in everything they do, but they sound ridiculously fresh, unique, and in the moment at all times.  Dickey is a painter at the drums.  He never lays down the rhythm too obviously, yet the allusions to swing can always be heard.  “Space Walk” reads as barren and contrasts the slightly more consistent rhythmic drive of the first track.  Dickey is all over his toms on the track, but he also taps at the ride cymbal with the swell of each miniature musical phrase.”

Full Review

Kendrick Lamar-DAMN.

“Damn isn’t a concept album, it isn’t a huge, sweeping narrative, and, truthfully, it isn’t packed with as much depth and nuance as To Pimp a Butterfly and Good Kid Maad City.  However, it features the best rapper of the current moment doing exactly what he needed to after an 80-minute cinematic ploy.  Damn features Kendrick contemplating his position and humility, it features his right-of-passage radio hit with Rihanna, and it features him plain old rapping his ass off.  It doesn’t feature the hyper-organization of To Pimp a Butterfly, nor does it feature the linear story telling of Good Kid, but what Kendrick has done is he’s just exploded all his usual forms and simply delivered song after song with incredible production, mind-blowing beat changes, and catchy hooks.”

Full Review

Slowdive-Slowdive

“All too often, comeback albums are a product of some combination of a popular middle-aged band needing retirement funds, labels at a loss for sales with young folks, and the human condition’s constant desperation for the past.  The formerly critically-shunned shoegazers missed all of that.”

Full Review

Mount Eerie-A Crow Looked at Me

A Crow Looked at Me is a glance at the stream of consciousness ramblings of Phil Elverum as he mourns the loss of his wife Genvieve Castree to cancer in July of 2016.  Besides the final song where Elverum makes eye contact with a crow, later hears his daughter talking about a crow in her dreams, and finally finds peace in the fact that the crow is the reincarnation of his wife, the album doesn’t dabble in a whole lot of symbolism or poetic devices, and the music consists of matching simplicity.  It’s a piece without answers or goals—it’s simply a man trying to find catharsis in speaking his day-to-day truth.”

Full Review

On the Monthly: March 2017

No particular order, best albums I reviewed last month (lol so late to the Migos game)

Migos-Culture

“As many a rap crew have been over the course of the art form’s history, Migos are for the youth.  “We ain’t really never had no old money/We got a whole lotta new money though” they spit on “Bad and Boujee,” an early contender for the year’s most iconic single.  Roughly two years after showing the world the dab, Migos present “Culture” to claim a bit of their undeniable influence.  The album isn’t a work that will shatter your world view or wow you with intricacy, but it is one that will keep you entertained with witty, fun lyrics, full-proof chemistry, and the occasional sober moment about how the trio’s dangerous lifestyle wasn’t necessarily a result of choice.”

Full Review

Jessica Ackerley Trio-Coalesce

“Jessica Ackerley is a Canadian-born jazz guitarist who has since relocated to New York City.  On Coalesce, she seems to have completely accomplished her goals.  To quote her liner notes: “Coalesce is an exploration of the guitar trio. The compositions have been a three-year process of honing the perfect balance between compositional form and complete free improvisation.”  It’s clear that the songs on this record are structured and planned, but the group’s flexibility is impeccable.  Melodies melt into open sections of improvisation with ease; solos flip-flop between individual focus and collective conversation effortlessly; and the group finds room to embrace space and silence between their primal noisy jam sessions making for a record that offers constant surprises and a perfect balance between not only improvisation and composition, but anticipation and stimulation.”

Full Review

Parlor Walls-Opposites

Armed with konked-out free jazz saxophone and no-wave punk sensibilities, Parlor Walls paint an emotionless, futuristic void to speak about modern mundanities, societal constructs, and relationship tensions.  Self-described trash-jazz musicians, the walls pit Alyse Lamb’s raucous vocal deliveries and scrapping guitar musings against Kate Mohanty’s screeching horn over open-faced drum grooves from Chris Mulligan in a number of different aesthetic realms.  Crime Engine Failure opens with a straightforward distorted landscape, but tunes like Me Me My and Cover Me jump into a more industrial realm, leaving the tumultuous jam session Teach Me Where to Roam out in left field as an outlier.  At this point in time, the lines between free jazz horns and punk-induced yelps have been drawn before, but Mohanty’s lyrics leave room for interpretation and the dynamic songwriting approach makes for a riveting experience.

Full Review

Dirty Projectors-Dirty Projectors

“Now essentially a solo project of David Longstreth, the “Dirty Projectors” as an art project are in a state quite similar to Longstreth’s personal life.  Having just gone through a break-up with former band member Amber Coffman, both Longstreth and his “band” are feeling lonely and torn apart.  As a result, Dirty Projectors is a breakup album.  The very first lyrics evoke those initial thoughts when part of your being has been ripped out: “I don’t know why you abandoned me/You were my soul and my partner.”  Later, Longstreth reminisces on the beginning of their relationship, talks about the pointless fights, and victoriously finds some sense of moving on by the end.  Sonically, the record almost sounds like a Bon Iver cover version of Kanye’s 808s and Heartbreaks; or perhaps just a glitchy pop aura with some fake rapping and funk riffage questioning whether or not Longstreth is worthy of the alternative R&B tag.  It’s a beautifully displaced piece that finds a unique, but sensible place in the contemporary musical moment.”

Full Review

Fog Lake-Dragonchaser

Largely crafted by songwriter Aaron Powell, Montreal’s Fog Lake surround poetic takes on nostalgia, suffering, and lost connections with a mass of bleak rock aestheticism, the entire instrumental pallet mixed into one grim soup.  Dragonchaser isn’t necessarily a concept work, but many of the songs speak about the destruction that results from being stuck in a rut of unhealthy habits.  The opener pulses at a sluggish tempo with Powell repeating “I’ll just wait for Novocain,” his only solace from “such easily forgotten days.”

Full Review

On The Monthly: February 2017

Best of February. No Particular Order.

Sampha-Process

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Sampha has been lurking in the shadows for years as a songwriter and collaborator; Kanye, Frank, and Solange look good on a resume, but this album was Sampha’s chance to jump out into the spotlight.  On all accounts, Process is a victory.  Perfect instrumentals fill every corner of the work from modest piano/voice tracks to risky drum charts and sweeping backing vocals.  Sampha’s words are heartfelt throughout, addressing everything from the importance of his mother, to the tough aspects of relating to one’s family members and a few tunes about overcoming heartbreak.  It’s an emotional journey that also happens to include some early contenders for best single of the year.

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Priests-Nothing Feels Natural

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Stormzy-Gang Signs & Prayer

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Stormzy will tell you himself that this debut record was a long time coming.  Since gaining recognition as best grime act in the 2014 MOBO awards, he’s been a bit aloof, releasing only singles, mixtapes and music videos.  The air gets cleared quickly on Gang Signs & Prayer as each of the first three tracks hit hard and emphasize—convincingly—that there’s nothing to worry about—Stormzy is clocked in a ready to go.  He also quickly convinces us that he’s not one dimensional with a gospel number and later features offered by Kehlani and Nao.  Perhaps the album is a bit of a mixed bag and perhaps a few too many tunes gush with excess, but this record showcases a dynamic songwriter who commands each and every minute with his striking personality.

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Julie Byrne-Not Even Happiness

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There are certain formulas that have stood the test of time and the folk singer/songwriter equipped with acoustic guitar is clearly one of them.  Although the pillars of the 1960s and 70s—Dylan and Mitchell—might still be the ones truly at the tip of your tongue when the topic is brought up, Chapman, Elliot, and Sufjan have carried us on to modern day.  Aided by some blissfully subtle decisions from producer Eric Littman, Julie Byrne has carved out a nice niche for herself on Not Even Happiness.  The album’s transient landscape effortlessly maintains a natural sensibility, while also tapping into some gorgeous electro-acoustic findings.  Byrne’s lyrics are beautifully introspective and focused so the album reads as a personal journey with words of wisdom for all people.

Full Review

Lisa Mezzacappa-avantNOIR

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On AvantNOIR, Lisa Mezzacappa showcases a knack for achieving a great overall ensemble sound in an aesthetic that strikes a balance between noisy avant-garde jazz and more straight-ahead materials.  Beginning with a quirky three-minute tune, diving into some ambient realms in the middle, and ending with a floating, back-beat jolt, this album truly offers seven contrasting tunes, yet there’s a moody quality that connects each number.  Mezzacappa has been around the bay-area jazz scene for quite some time now, but this is my personal introduction to her music and it’s clear that she will become a staple of my jazz listening for years to come.

Review