America is in the mouth of madness my friends. No sooner than pundits, experts, philosophers utter “this cannot get any worse,” President Trump keeps demonstrating it can. The album of the month belongs Brian Eno. ‘Reflection’ is an introspective ambient wordless mediation that provides space to catch your breath. Embrace the now. One day at a time. Sometimes that is all we can hope for.
The xx return with an album that recaptures their light. ‘I See You’ combines familiar elements associated with their sound and aesthetic with festival friendly hooks without losing substance. A very “of the moment ” pop record with ambitious musical experimentation that The xx willingly imposed upon themselves. Moving out of their comfort zone has reinvigorated their sound. The have crafted a dance record for all the “wallflowers” to enjoy. The usher in our album of the month series for 2017.
The last album of the month belongs to Leonard Cohen. You Want it Darker, explores the latter part of ones life. After the last dance, the party is over and it is just you and your thoughts. A man who had come to the end of the line but still had unfinished business. You want it Darker deals with death and afterlife. He knew the end was near. One would think an album of such ominous tones would entail a sad journey. Quite the opposite occurs, fans like yours truly will hang on to every note and be thankful our dark prince left us one more album in his wake. The great ones know when to leave the party.
Days away from one of the most important elections, nothing is certain. The whole campaign has left us empty, exhausted and angry. No matter who wins the only guarantee is uncertainty. Bon Iver (Justin Vernon) explores and embraces uncertainty. Completely deconstructing his sound.
Nostalgia flourishes when the present is cloaked with uncertainty. The album of the month soundtracks one of the year’s best new show: Stranger Things. A duo from Austin have crafted a score so enchanting that the finished product can stand on its own and be enjoyed if you have not yet discovered Netflix’s little gem. Both the show and music are fandom ecstasy. The soundtrack smartly sticks to three clear influences: John Carpenter scores, B–Horror movie ambience and glorious cheesy 80s synths. Fans of the show have something to hold them over until season two.
Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On is a spiritual heartbreaking haunting plea for change. America is on fire. Civil conversations have turned into shout fests, nonsense fueled with self-serving agendas. Some politicians seem to blame everyone but themselves. How much unnecessary bloodshed and loss do we need to go through for things to change? Bullet shells and tears are flooding the streets. What’s Going On is more relevant than ever. Sadly the issues being addressed within the record are clear and present in 2016.
After an uncharacteristic misstep in their discography, Radiohead return with an elegant vengeance: A Moon Shaped Pool. Their new album is dark, haunting rock mixed with electronic beats, in other words: classic Radiohead. It is nothing short of thrilling to see masters of their craft producing art. Thom Yorke remains one of Rock’s greatest enigmas. Here is another piece of the puzzle for lifelong fans.
In honor of the this month’s Wild Detectives’ Women Galore initiative, the album of the month belongs to a goddesses that has mastered her craft performing, writing, and creating uncompromising art.
Four young ladies from Spain deliver a three-cord guitar driven throw-back that features elements of garage rock, 60s Velvet Underground lo-fi production, with a punk aesthetic. Hinds’ debut album Leave Me Alone is a propitious, auspicious indie-rock gem. They pen their own tunes, are paying their dues on the road, and are not some manufactured gimmick.
Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo is a harrowing, unfocused, at times thrilling opus. The Life of Pablo is Kanye’s first musical (I emphasize musical) misstep. Kanye recklessly shares it all. America’s biggest rock star is refusing to age gracefully and hell bent on fulfilling his anti-hero manifesto.
Catalonia, a region of northeast Spain with its own culture and language, has had its own music scene since the mid-80s. Beyond the boom of indie-pop music generated around the Catalan capital for the last 15 years, new groups from less populated areas but as culturally engaged as Barcelona are breaking through.
In an age when musical nostalgia is raking in money that would make Wall Street blush, it is endearing to see artists restrain from pillaging their past glories for a quick buck. David Jones invented genres and characters only to abandon them so his vision would not be tainted by the rewards that came calling.
The Velvet Underground’s avoid the sophomore slump, artistically speaking at least, by releasing a cathartic rock and roll masterpiece. 1968’s White Light/ White Heat caught lighting in a bottle that spawned another facet of American rock and roll. The riffs honor Chuck Berry and Lou Reed’s lyrics enhance each song by bravely exploring uncharted territories.
D’Angelo returns from a self imposed exile to deliver a masterful album that questions the madness in the headlines. The music is inspirational and moving. Always one to shun the spotlight, the only aspect he cares to address is his music, a rare trait lacking in todays manufactured superstars.
A quartet by the name of Mourn has released an album that dares the world to listen up. 2015 has a promising band trying to keep the “us against them” sentiment alive. Mourn’s self titled debut showcases a gang of four on the rise. Somewhere Pete Townshend is smiling. He is smiling because “the kids are alright”.
It’s difficult for me to talk about this album. It’s too vast. It never ends. It hijacks you into a sonic roller coaster and it spits you out at the end of the trip, while you still wonder what the f*ck has just happened. With Merriweather Post Pavillion you’re never in control.
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