(Monotastic blanket hiding.)
It’s time for me to put on my best music reviewer voice and look through of the CD’s I’ve become obsessed with over my monotastic residency.
Feist: “The Reminder”- There are few voices as joyous or as soothing to me in all of pop music as Leslie Feist. The past few months have brought a handful of inspired music videos from this Canadian performer in anticipation of her second full-length album release, “ The Reminder.” When I first became familiar with her two years ago I was amazed at how ethereal her voice seemed yet it still contains enough power to pack a punch. Her newest album balances the up-tempo numbers with the more reflectively sparse productions, which grow on you with repeated listenings. When she pumps things up, as on “I Feel It All,” or “Past In Present” her music has a completely infectious quality and a truly original sound. I find that when she indulges this jazzier edge the disc succeeds more but even the slower numbers hold a lot of beauty.
"I Feel It All"
(This is what I've been wearing around in my apartment. She doesn't want you to know, but it's a "Mondo Mono Healing Unit," available for $19.99 at Target.)
Bjork: “Volta”- It’s amazing to me that we can exist in a world with someone as original as Bjork making music next to someone as canned as Britney Spears. Before I got this newest release I had only listened to a handful of Bjork albums sporadically over the past 5 years. Immediately after I started listening to her newest brass-infused eclecticism I knew I had to have more. In the days following my re-exposure I searched out some of her most popular hits from the past, which led to some interesting observations. There is no doubt that whatever Bjork makes will be original and worth investing time in but this CD doesn’t hold up as well compared to some of her others. The disc looses a bit of steam 5 songs in and where it at first has the unpredictability of volcanic eruption’s free flowing lava, it quickly begins to harden and come to a halt. That being said, the first four songs (“Earth Intruders,” “Wanderlust,” “Dull Flame of Desire,” and “Innocence”) are some of the most original I have heard all year. Nothing in recent music rivals the transition from the “Dull Flame of Desire” to “Innocence.” The song begins to build from an entrancing conversational refrain to an elated tribal drumming which then jarringly changes to the grunting percussion of Timbaland’s production of “Innocence.” It is extremely powerful and the two songs become intricately tied to each other; listening to one without the other now is like eating an Oreo with no cream filling. At first with Bjork, I have a hard time processing her pronunciation of words but the lyrics of her songs hold such beauty. “Innocence” in particular has some of my favorite lyrics off the entire album. “Neurosis/ only attaches itself to/ fertile ground/ where it can flourish.”
Rufus Wainwright: “Release the Stars”- From the time I first discovered Rufus (with “Want One”) I have been increasingly obsessed with him. Until then (in 2001) the only openly gay musicians I was familiar with, other than Elton John, were of the “thumpa-thumpa” club music variety. Suddenly I had someone who composed luscious pop-music full of complicated introspection and spoke openly about being a gay man in the 21st century. Each previous album of his has been a thoroughly selfish affair dealing with the perils of his love life, his drug habits, and his process of going through rehab. With this new album Wainwright seems to be looking a little more openly at society as a whole and the place of gay men within it. From the very beginning of the album (“Do I Disappoint You”) he looks at the country which judges people solely for their sexual preference and turns the mirror on religion asking:
“Do I disappoint you in just being lonely?
And not one of the elements that you can call your one and only
Why does it always have to be water?
Why does it always have to be holy wine?
Of all mankind.”
While the album as a whole is not as good as “Poses” or “Want One” it has its moments of greatness. “Between My Legs,” is easily the catchiest song Rufus has ever written while “Not Ready To Love” is a pleadingly slow and beautiful admittance of ones own fears in the face of change. The subject of the song “Slideshow” seems to be a bit disconnected from it’s bombastic arrangements which are exciting despite Rufus’ wailing about wanting to be “prominently featured in your next slideshow.” Many people find his voice to be irritatingly whiney but there is no denying the soaring tonal wonders of it. If you’ve ever been hesitant I still recommend starting with “Want One” but for any Rufus fan this is a welcome return to form after the fairly inaccessible “Want Two.”
"Between My Legs"
The Go Find: “Stars On The Wall”- Daniel Keene was the first person to alert me to this great group’s debut album a few years ago and I’ve been awaiting this sophomore disc ever since. Similar to Postal Service, The Go Find have a relaxing indie/ electronic sound that I find perfect for emo walks around the village and as background music for dynamic conversations. I think I just created a personal ad for The Go Find. You should date them.
LCD Soundsystem: “Sound of Silver”- Being the music whore that I am, it always makes me happy to have a new recommendation from a friend. When David came into my hotel room in Chicago and played “Time To Get Away”, I thought it was fun but in no way could foresee what would quickly become an obsession. LCD Soundsystem is an electronic indie band with a sly sense of humor and catchy beats that engrain themselves in your head for days at a time. I’m not usually a fan of electronic “dance” music but this CD becomes so much more than that on top of being enough to make you want to start exploding with movement in the middle of church. Lyrically, they tackle more than a usual dance band and talk about their frustration with the way Americans are viewed by the rest of the world (“North American Scum”) and the quickly diminishing originality of New York (“New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down.”) With the one, two punch of “Someone Great” and “All My Friends,” smacked in the middle of the album, it cements its place in my library.
A COUPLE OF RANDOMS:
Maroon 5 “It Won’t Be Soon Before Long”- I feel bad for the other four members of the band when Adam Levine is so gorgeous. On top of being so good looking, he certainly knows how to write killer hook for a song. The whole album is catchy although it almost feels like it's the work of the devil writing songs that engrain themselves in your head like theirs.
"If I Never See Your Face Again"
Corrine Bailey Rae and James Morrison- Two more British imports with great albums recommended by Marcelo and Benton, respectively. What’s up with American pop right now? To throw one more in for good measure, here is an incredible version of "Valerie" by Amy Winehouse.