Thursday, December 31, 2015

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Archy Marshall — A New Place 2 Drown

When Archy Marshall releases new music, my world stops. Things become blurry, confused. We share a love of all things jangly, boom-bap and introspective all the same. It's a rare musical stew that makes for a combo that has molded me into the person that I am today. The kinship and connection I feel through his music is inexplicable — and yet, totally genealogical, and therefore, sensible. Because we share such similar musical backgrounds, I feel he speaks volumes about my life that I've just not yet been able to convey. It's like he says it, or plays it and I say, "Yeah, that."

So, the inevitability of him not batting a thousand with me has been in the back of my mind for some time. I knew he would eventually release something that didn't immediately floor me and I was perhaps anticipating it even more than the next thing that would.

A New Place 2 Drown was announced very lowkey, rather uncharacteristically, over his rarely used Instagram profile. And, to be completely clear, it is not new music from King Krule. It is simply the soundtrack to a short film and art book, mainly produced by his older brother Jack Marshall (who has also used the name Mr. Gone). And it does sound the piece of something greater, like it's not quite all there. It's a mishmash of Archy's electronic side. Stuttering, post-dubstep rhythms and dreamy melodic synths and keyboard washes fade in and out of each other for about fourty minutes while Archy spits a few bars here and there (he is my favorite MC, after all) and overall, I'm sure most of it was lots of fun to create. And it makes for a really easy listen. It's Archy being himself, perhaps the most personal work he's yet presented — it has been released under his real name, after all. But the song craft, the heart, the soul, the guitar playing (!!!!), it's missing here.

So, here we are, left with a stopgap album that is just simply very good, instead of monumental. Still, the last third or so of this thing is absolutely ace when he declares that, 'She won't forget me ever' and then goes on to blurt out, 'Something in the water distorted her mind. . . GIRL, this place is evil!' It gives me chills how he's able to do that.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with A New Place 2 Drown, it just feels a little short on elevation. Instead of taking a grand step forward after 6 Feet Beneath the Moon, Archy has modestly let loose a snippet of brilliance. It feels more at home with the freebies he used to give away as DJ JD Sports than it does as a proper album. But still, I awaited those bits and beat tape fragments as much as anything released officially, so to have anything new in any regard is something to rejoice, I guess.

Here's to hoping I get that genre-defying masterpiece next time. But for now, A New Place 2 Drown will hit the spot.

Album's defining quote: "We just smoke and let days roll by. . ."

~Austin

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Carla Morrison — Amor Supremo


Welcome back to the world of heartbreak. . .

Few things can prepare a listener for the kind of emotional ride that Carla Morrison takes on Amor Supremo.  Upon deep listening of her latest album, I have no doubts that she has plenty of experience on both sides of the coin ————

But I should stop there and interrupt with my own dialogue.  It would be no use for me to sit here and type away at how wonderfully gutting this album is without proper context.  I cannot claim the music of Carla Morrison as something I would just know about without someone very intimate initiating it to me in the past.  Now this person has moved on, and yet I'm still here as a big fan of the music.  It moves me like few other contemporary things.  That it just so happens to be of a very confessional, intimate nature is a deeply resonating, partially uncomfortable byproduct of the passing of time and relationships.

Look, it's a tough ride.

We all go through it.

Sometimes we break hearts, sometimes we have our hearts broken.

That this album —this grand, swooping artistic restatement of purpose and overall adjustment of a voice in a more produced, somehow even more emotional context— comes at the time that it does in my life is both perfection and punishment.  This is Carla Morrison recast: not the acoustic guitar strumming, sweet voiced songbird that sang cute little ditties about the ins and outs of relationships; not hardly.

This is the new.  The deeper.  The more complex.  The prettier.  The even more heavily resonating.  The bigger heartbreak.

The commanding, layered production of Alejandro and Demian Jiménez is miles away from the mostly acoustic backdrops which dominated Carla's discography up until this point.  Lush, Disintegration-era Cure synth patches and slow, wave crashing tempos are the main touchstones here.  Where in the past, Morrison's music was direct and easily digestible, the music conjured here has a nearly bottomless, flowing feeling that's traded in the concise for the ethereal and which makes her songs ever more poignant and resonating.  Her lyrics are as direct as ever, but the presentation now makes them reverberate with much more sureness and courage.  If you've experienced love and heartbreak, this album won't simply make sense to you, it will speak to you, for you, with you.

Removing myself from the equation, this has to be viewed as a masterful artistic move and all around creative upgrade in Carla Morrison's career.  It can be a jarring listen at first.  I mean, even the songs that aren't necessarily sad are dark, minor key affairs.  The twelve string buzz of the lead off tune 'Un Beso' seems to set the bar for an evenly paced album, but things soon settle into a sauntering mood soon thereafter.  The lighter, happier tones of 'Tú Atacas' and 'Cercanía' (which begs for a house remix) will stick out immediately, but deeper listens will reveal lumbering, towering highlights like 'No Vuelvo Jamas' and the closer 'Todo Pasa' (with an especially Cure-esque guitar tone in the coda).  It isn't until the third or fourth listen that the album fully reveals itself.  To be what, exactly?  I could say something stupid like "a masterpiece", "an emotional triumph" or some other thing along those lines —which would absolutely be applicable.

But, no.  I'll just resign myself to being in a place too closely aligned with the subject matter to properly assess and assign such accolades.  I can only share my experience.  And that is one of happiness, heartbreak, isolation and pure exhilaration —whether from sadness or joy— that this music brings about.  It makes me want to experience everything —the good and the bad— all over again, without question.

Incredibly tough to get through, Amor Supremo is not only the most resonating album I've heard in years, it is ultimately simply beautiful.

Album of the year(s).

~Austin

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Hiatus

I'll be away for a while...

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

What's New?: 8.11.2015

Indies!

La Luz — It's Alive (2013) YouTube Spotify

Surf pop sounds from Seattle.  Very B-52's.  Except with more harmonies.  Pretty good stuff, actually.  It's very easy to get distracted by the twangy reverb and surf organ sounds of the band, but those sounds wouldn't get very far without great song craft to back them up.  And it's there among the fantastic drumming and precise harmonies that you will find something worth going back to every single time.  The band's shtick never runs dry, and instead, these ladies seem to find genuine and unique inspiration in a style once deemed kitschy and throwaway.  Wonderful stuff.  And the new album is even better.  Key tracks: opener 'Sure as Spring' and the otherworldly 'Call Me in the Day', which bends and melds the surf sound into something modern and altogether new

Lilys — Selected (2000) YouTube Spotify

Shoegazey sounds from Washington DC.  If I've read a thing or two about these guys it's that they've changed sounds as often as they've changed band members — which is to say, very often.  This EP collects up some recordings of "old" songs from the band's past catalogue that never found their way onto any proper album.  It's decent.  Not sure if it's that great of a first impression, but it's not awful, that's for sure.  Key tracks: the twelve string lead on the opener 'The Any Several Sundays' and the seven minute epic 'Won't Make You (Sleepy)'

Cruel Summer — self-titled (2013) Spotify BandCamp

Kind of a jangly shoegaze sound from San Francisco.  Modern dream pop done right, basically.  All of the songs kind of fire on the same cylinder, so it may come off as a bit samey at first.  But, listen deeper and there's layers to these tunes which allow for something like the emotional centerpiece 'Venetian Blinds' to come to the forefront.  Really great stuff; wish they would release something new.  Key tracks: the wonderfully affecting 'Venetian Blinds' and the noisy 'Skinwalker'

Monster Treasure — self-titled (2014) Spotify BandCamp

Wouldn't this album have kicked major ass in 1994?  It's aloof, lowly mixed in vocals, recorded live sound and one size fits all guitar distortion would have been real crowd pleasers twenty years ago.  Now, it sounds like a deeply nostalgic trip back to a time when something could simultaneously be noisy as hell and melodically accessible without there being any problems with such a thing.  The rapid fire nature of the sequencing and similar production are kind of to its detriment, but it does make the really good songs stick out with relative ease.  Of course it doesn't hurt that the album's highlight is the melancholy 'Bill Evans', which name drops one of Bill's best ever tunes.  Good one, ladies (and fella) — certainly didn't see that coming.  Key tracks: 'Bill Evans' is really the one that sticks out

Lorelle Meets the Obsolete — Chambers (2014) Spotify BandCamp

Hailing from Guadalajara, Mexico, this is more on the noise rock end of the spectrum, but it's also got a definitely trippy shoegaze quality to it as well.  Songs, too!  Riffy songs for days.  It kind of has a fuzzy, 60's garage sound to it in spots that really ups the trippiness.  Vocals with lots of a echo and reverb on them and warmly distorted basslines are the order of the day here.  It is kind of one-dimensional, but that dimension is a rather intriguing place, so I can dig it.  Key tracks: the opening manifesto 'What's Holding You?' and the slow burning 'Grieving'

Ganglians — self-titled (2009) Spotify

Lo-fi pranksters from Sacramento.  Some of these guys went on to form Fine Steps, and then later Tiaras, so I thought I'd get a little history on where some of my favorite recent finds came from.  Some good songs, some free for all nonsense.  When something is this lo-fi, it becomes an issue of not actually being able to hear everything because there's so much distortion.  So, bummer.  But, the quieter moments offer some peculiar tunes.  Key tracks: 'Hair' and the most tuneful the album gets on the closer 'Stuck Under Town'

~Austin