Saturday, April 30, 2016

What I'm Listening to: April 2016

Album of the Month: PJ Harvey-The Hope Six Demolition Project

If there’s one person who is pretty much making unparalleled with anyone at the moment, it’s PJ Harvey. Dating back to her 1992 debut album Dry, Harvey has been making albums with such consistency and care as she is someone that continuously pushes her own boundaries and never makes the same record twice. Her ninth (eleventh if you count her work with John Parish) studio release is no different as it is her most socially-conscious record to date as many of the lyrics relate to people who are disenfranchised in places as Washington D.C. Kosovo, and Afghanistan. Musically, Harvey harkens back to earlier ideas while delving into other ideas such as psychedelia, blues and folk as cuts like A Line in the Sand and The Wheel are prime examples of a woman who has no equal. While other female artists like Beyonce and Taylor Swift maybe selling more records and be seen as icons. Neither of those bitches hold a candle to what Polly Jean Harvey is doing.

Song/Single of the Month: Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions-Isn’t It True/She’s in the Wall

Whenever Hope Sandoval is coming out with something new whether it’s in Mazzy Star or in her project the Warm Inventions with My Bloody Valentine drummer Colm O’Ciosoig. It’s always exciting to hear as the leading single from their upcoming third album showcases that amazing voice with some amazing instrumentation. The first single is just upbeat thanks in part to O’Ciosoig’s drumming while the B-side is just this simple folk-ballad as Sandoval’s dreamy and nocturnal vocals are just seductive. There are really no vocalists like her and hearing her again is a joy.

Video of the Month: D’Angelo w/ Princess (Maya Rudolph & Gretchen Lieberbaum)-Sometimes It Snows in April

Every tribute towards Prince has of late has everyone doing the song Purple Rain which is fine and all but Prince fans know there’s so much more to the man. On The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, D’Angelo decided to do something else and what better song to pay tribute to Prince than one of his most beloved ballads with the aid of Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberbaum on backing vocals. It’s just a simple piano ballad that is really one of his most touching songs. Yet, when D’Angelo says Prince’s name is where for anyone that is a fan. Yes, the tears will start flowing as this is just the best tribute to Prince himself from my point of view.

Monthly Mini-Reviews


Though they’re unfortunately lumped into that sub-genre of late 90s/early 2000 metal known as nu-metal, what Korn, Linkin Park, and Limp Bizkit lack isn’t just consistency but also the will to push themselves musically. The band’s eighth studio release isn’t just an album that is very heavy musically and sonically but also has the band just doing so much more while taking risks as they’re pretty much at a point where they don’t need to coast on their past glories. It’s not just the single Prayer/Triangles that is a key example but also cuts like Doomed User, Hearts/Wires, and the title track that show that they can still be heavy but also have a sense of melody as Deftones have now affirmed themselves as one of the premier metal bands like those that had done so much to the genre like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Metallica.

Autolux-Pussy’s Dead

For all of the praise that is lavished on mediocre acts like Maroon 5 and Coldplay, it is clear that the one band the public really need to hear is Autolux as their third album Pussy’s Dead is just incredible. With its mixtures of blues, art-rock, and jazz, the album showcases a sense of musicianship that isn’t heard a lot through the playing of its bassist Eugene Goreshter, guitarist Ken Andrews (from the band Failure), and drummer Carla Azar as they all sing. Songs like the single Soft Scene, Listen to the Order, Junk for Code, and Brainwasher showcase music that is dangerous yet exciting as this is a band more people really should discover.

The Joy Formidable-Hitch

One of the newer and more exciting bands to emerge in the past five years, the Joy Formidable have brought a sound that is a mixture of straight-ahead rock with elements of shoe gaze that made their 2011 debut album The Big Roar one of the year’s finest. While their sophomore release two years later in Wolf’s Law was a good album, it didn’t have the immediacy or strength of the first. The band’s third release doesn’t just mark a newfound maturity in the band musically but also in terms of its production where the band produced the record themselves at the home of vocalist/guitarist Ritzy Bryan outside of Molds in Wales. It’s not just that sound of the band is fuller but also with a sense of confidence in songs like the single The Last Thing on My Mind as well as cuts like Liana, The Brook, and The Gift where it’s not just the band displaying a musicianship in the more rock-based songs. They also dabble with folk and traditional musical genres as it shows a band not just coming into their own but a band that has what it takes to be something important.

King Crimson-Live in Toronto 2015

King Crimson is pretty much one of the definitive bands in the world of progressive rock as there isn’t really thing bad to say about them. In another series of live recordings the band is releasing in their DGM label is from a live show the band in Toronto in 2015. Led by the band’s founder in guitarist Robert Fripp, the line-up includes regular collaborators in bassist Tony Levin, drummer Pat Mastelotto, and saxophonist/flautist Mel Collins along with new members in drummers Gavin Harrison and Bill Rieflin and guitarist/vocalist Jakko Jakszyk. The material features an array of songs and instrumentals from many of the band’s near 50-year history as it very exciting as well as loud while it is really a live record fans of the band need to have.

Pet Shop Boys-Super

Pet Shop Boys are one of those acts from the 80s that should never be considered a nostalgic act as they’ve continued to put out music that is very vital and creative. The band’s thirteenth studio release does have the band not only flirt with current dance trends in the single The Pop Kids. Yet, it is in the middle of the album where tracks like The Dictator Decides, Pazzo!, Inner Sanctum, and Undertow showcase the duo of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe at their strongest. Not only in terms of its production but also in how heavy it sounds. Though it’s a somewhat uneven album, it is one of the group’s worthwhile recording in a 30-year history that shows them still going strong.

Animal Collective-Painting With

Animal Collective are probably one of the great acts of the 2000s in terms of being out there and experimental. Yet, their tenth studio album is kind of a let down considering that there’s not a lot of material that stand out nor does it really have them do anything new. While the single FloriDada is a killer opening track, the rest of the album doesn’t hold up as it’s kind of a dud considering that there’s too much experimentation and not enough work in turning these ideas into songs.

Yeasayer-Amen & Goodbye

The band’s fourth release is once again a very adventurous and weird album as it’s a band creating something that is surreal and enthralling. Though it doesn’t have a lot consistency and can sometimes be weird for its own good. The album does at least have some songs that do stand out like Dead Seas Scroll, Gerson’s Whistle, and I Am Chemistry. Especially as there’s also album cuts that manage to help out with rest of the album despite some of the issues in its sequencing.

© thevoid99 2016

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