Alright, back to chipping away at the monolith that is MODERN MUSIC. I read some tweets that said that the only people who should be writing about that new Beyonce thing are black women, and I’m inclined to be fine with that. So don’t come to me being like “HEY, U DIDN’T DO THE BIGGEST MUSIC THING”. I’m not supposed to. And that’s okay!
Rufus Wainwright – Take All My Loves
Things like this are why people want to punch wealthy, educated white people. But it’s elaborately arranged! I’ll give it that.
I have a notorious under-appreciation of Shakespeare, so it would probably be appropriate to recuse myself from judgements of the lyrical content. The music is pleasant and dorky. It has the almost creepily upbeat bop of 90s-era Leonard Cohen, but none of the perverse grime that made that stuff compelling. Totally competent and totally limp. I don’t need to hear this again.
Guided By Voices – Please Be Honest
GBV are mostly a musical blind spot for me, but they’re legendary. Centaurs are also legendary. I’d rather write about one than the other. Can you guess which?
This sounds like it was intentionally recorded on a broken reel-to-reel four-track. Also the four-track is sitting next to a great big magnet. The vibe of the track is fine by me, and I like the guitar pattern. Some bizarrely off-key vocals muddy it all up, and I’m sure that it was done on purpose, the way that a real indie provocateur would do it.
I am not inspired to take a deep dive into the GBV back-catalogue based on this.
Andy Stott – Too Many Voices
This is actually fairly interesting, and the use of a bizarre choir pad as a percussive & rhythmic force is sort of inspired. There are too many voices, though, and the ones I would cut are the organic ones coming out of the breathy lead singer. She’s doing her best bored Björk impersonation and it’s easily the least interesting thing going on. This is a weird song and I think I might simultaneously hate it and love it.
A$AP Ferg – Always Strive and Prosper
I think that sing-song delivery might have a place in hip hop music. But maybe there should be a barrier of entry where you can only get away with it if you’ve got either a great singing voice or a very talented producer tweaking your performance. This has neither and it sounds like some dudes warbling in the shower about ambition. A$AP Ferg? More like I wanna FERG-ET that I ever heard this. A$AP!
Wire – Nocturnal Koreans
Another group of revered old-school alt heroes with new music? Two in one week!
Unlike the GBV track, this makes me semi-curious about what may have come before. The spiralling chord progression and British-guy vocals are charming me. This band has been around since the 1970s. Good for them. I may need to investigate further.
Candlebox – Disappearing In Airports
CANDLEBOX IS STILL A BAND? HAHAHA. Amazing. I wonder what Jars Of Clay are up to?
This is some pretty bad Three Doors Down-level alt-rock, and I’m not sure that anyone could have expected better. Pretty amazing Scrabble score on that song title, though. I don’t think I even remember what Candlebox’s big song was. Help me out on this.
Greys – Outer Heaven
I’ve actually listened to more than just one track on this record, so this isn’t the standard New Music Monday treatment (which I acknowledge doesn’t give a fair shake to anything). I really enjoyed Grey’s last record, which seemed – to me – a solid and occasionally inspired pile of Nirvana-descended post-punk.
On Outer Heaven, it seems that Greys have decided to move in a substantially more restrained and surprisingly “pop” direction. It doesn’t work for me. The unhinged noise rock elements on the previous disc have been dialed back and replaced by… some punk-pop and strangely off-key mellow vocal passages? I’m disappointed. There may be tracks near the back half of the record that change my mind, but this album isn’t the fun time that I had hoped for.
Also, I think the production on this record is kind of lousy, which is happening so often lately that I’m fearing that there may be some sort of ear-plague affecting North American audio engineers that we need to get to the bottom of immediately. Save our rock ‘n’ roll!
ENDNOTE – I just realized that by skipping Beyonce, this NMM post is 100% dudes. That’s bad. Here’s hoping that next week has at least a few releases from ladies (who aren’t Beyonce).