I know it’s been a couple of weeks since anything has gone up on the site. This has largely been due to the amount of school work I’m having to do right now, and this lack of content will most likely continue for the next couple of weeks. So, in the mean time, here is a list of all the albums that I’ve been enjoying from the last fortnight. Some of them, I found, were more enjoyable than others, and the best ones have gone up on the Top Albums page, here on the site.
Julian Lage – Arclight
Julian Lage is an American, jazz guitarist, who’s work has spanned a broad range of styles. I found him through his more bluegrass oriented work with Punch Brothers guitarist, Chris Elridge. This most recent album is Lage’s first trio release and consists of 11 tracks on which Lage plays electric guitar, exclusively. This was a change in style that I really enjoyed. The album has the aesthetic of a fairly standard jazz guitar album, but there are a considerable amount of influences from Lage’s more folky roots, which I appreciated. Unfortunately, the album’s seven original tracks are largely unexciting. Whilst the performances on all of the tracks are outstanding, particularly on Lage’s part, the writing on the first four tracks is fairly dull. Thankfully, things take a turn for the unexpected on the fifth track, ‘Stop Go Start’, which is full of energy, dissonance and excitement. This is a trend that continues for the remaining two original pieces, as well as the four jazz standards that Lage and his band take a stab at.
Unfortunately, it was all too little to late. If I had not been determined to listen to the record the whole way through, I think I would have given up before anything interesting happened. This is by no means a bad record. The performances are enough to keep one interested if you are a regular, jazz listener, but the writing is a little too hit or miss for this record to be a great one in my eyes.
IGLOOGHOST – Little Grids
There are some record labels from which I try to listen to as much of what they put out as possible. Brainfeeder is one of those labels. IGLOOGHOST is one of Brainfeeder’s weirder artists, but is certainly an interesting and reliably brilliant one. IGLOOGHOST’s brand of electronic composition is powerful due to its dense nature. There are so many layers of sound interacting with one another that it’s a marvel that the sound scape is not more cluttered and disorganised, but IGLOOGHOST is so meticulous in the way he crafts his music that it is immediately apparent that every sound has its place, even in songs where it is impossible to keep track of how many layers there are and what each one is doing. The sonic palate of Little Grids is incredible satisfying, especially when listening through headphones. Some critics have described it as (and I think this is the best description for this brand of electronic music) ear candy. I find that music such as this fits the description due to its ability to completely fill your ears with sound that moves in a very deliberate and intricate way until each track has reached its conclusion.
You can listen to the album (and download it for free [LEGALLY!]) here:
Ytamo – Mi Wo
Much of what I loved about Little Grids applies to Mi Wo. This is an incredibly satisfying full length record from Kyoto based musician, Ryoko Araki (AKA Ytamo). What I found particularly interesting about this record is the variety of sounds that it compiles in order to produce what we ultimately hear. I particularly enjoyed the use of woodwind samples in the first couple of tracks. The influences from different strands of world music are what make this record stand out as one that I can so easily recommend.
Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression
I was never all that interested in rock music. I only really started paying attention to the genre a few years ago. My only point of reference for Iggy Pop was the car insurance ads he was in. I had no expectations whatsoever when approaching this new record, other than the expectation that what ever I heard would surprise me. I was not disappointed. The most striking thing about Post Pop Depression is Iggy’s bizarre vocal delivery. His deep, strangled singing is equal parts endearing and creepy. It was a nice touch that his singing got ever so slightly more aggressive as the album progressed so that by the final track, ‘Paraguay’, the vocals were almost unhinged, especially considering the enraged spoken word section towards the end of the song.
I have read in some commentary on this project that people were disappointed that the production style was gloomier and more held back than previous Iggy Pop records. As someone who has no prior experience with the singer’s material, and someone who enjoyed immensely, the last Queens of the Stone Age record (John Homme, a member of the band, produced Post Pop Depression), I appreciated the similar production style in conjunction with Iggy’s vocals. Too many, I feel, have judged this record based on Iggy Pop’s previous material and I feel that those who do, are missing out on a great experience as a result.
The Drones – Feelin Kinda Free
The latest project from Australian, experimental rock group, The Drones, is heavy, angry and incredibly satisfying. The sound of this record is varied and hard to pin down, whilst still feeling consistent and unique to the group. I very much enjoyed the dissonant melody lines and snarky, almost spoken word in style, vocal delivery. Some of the vocals on Feelin Kinda Free are a little more melodic, particularly on the more ballad-esque tracks, but in these cases, the singing is deep and abraisive, which results in a very satisfying and distinct vocal timbre. The noisy production style gave the record a dark, dingy feel and the snappy, lively drumming provided a visceral element to the record that brought one or two, otherwise tired sounding tracks to life. This is an album that passes quickly, but it’s a thrilling musical journey nonetheless.
I hope these records will be enough to keep you going until I can start writing regular articles again. All of the albums on this list are worth a listen – they’ve certainly kept me enthralled for the last few days.