Maddy Cristall

The Worst Genre Titles

Front-6

Chick Rock

Despite the fact that term chick isn’t progressive or politically correct this genre title is also horribly generalizing. Chick rock is the title of both a Last FM channel and very recently the name of a Songza playlist. This term applies to Alanis Morissette, Fiona Apple, Ani Difranco, Liz Phair, Hole, Patti Smith, P.J Harvey and Blondie. If we were to compare and contrast the music of all the women in this category we would find more differences than similarities. Although the initial intention of this genre title was possibly meant to empower women it has certainly lost that objective. The term Chick Rock was generally created in the 80’s and became more prevalent in the 90’s, it essentially refers to women who write their own songs, play their own instruments and contain something of an “edge”. It is  clearly not necessary to put all women who are not typical pop stars into one bananas simplifying category. If we did the same for men then we would put G G Allen in the same category as Chris Martin.

Conscious Rap

Conscious rap refers to a sub genre of rap and hip hop that challenges dominant political, economic, philosophical and cultural issues. This genre is meant to separate the plethora of rappers who refrain from making offensive statements and pertain to the general outdated themes within rap such as the abundance of money and objectifying  women. It is certainly important to differentiate the various forms of rap, especially to educate people who assume all rap sounds the same and is about the same thing because if you love hip hop you know that’s not the case. The problem with this term is that it no longer applies to contemporary rap and is often misused thus generalizing a group of people who are far too often discriminated against. Conscious rap originally applied to artists such Public Enemy (who were also some of the pioneers of hip hop), Immortal Technique and Mos Def to differentiate from “Gangster Rap” such as Dr.Dre, Wu-Tang Clan and Biggy. However,now we have artists such as Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lamar and M. F Doom who sort of fit into the category of conscious rap given its description yet don’t choose to identify this way. Additionally, Macklemore is widely understood as conscious rap mostly because there isn’t really an alternative term to accurately describe his music. In his latest single “ White Privilege” Macklemore states “now I don’t rap about guns, so they label me conscious but I don’t rap about guns cause I wasn’t forced into the projects”. The state of hip hop is so multifaceted and diverse that merely separating conscious rap from the rest of hip hop is not enough. We now have contemporary terms in our society to describe gender, race and sexual orientation; hip hop deserves the same.

Coffee House

Coffee house is an extremely common term in modern music; it’s the name of several satellite radio stations, on air radio stations and online music channels. That stated it’s a relatively new term and is meant to describe music that makes you feel warm and safe inside. Although, that’s all fine and good it is a genre very few musicians strive for and is once again horribly generalizing. Musicians in this category bounce from Van Morrison to Jack Johnson; one wrote Astral Weeks and Into the Mystic, stole the show at the Last Waltz and redefined the use of the organ the other wrote Banana Pancakes. Beck, David Rawlings and Ryan Adams are also featured on these channels alongside Nora Jones, John Mayer and Adele. Let’s truly reflect on this variety of musicians for a moment to really grasp how astounding it is they are categorized in the same genre for a massive international audience everyday.I rest my case.

World Music

World Music has got to take the cake on the most generalizing genre title yet it is still hugely prevalent in North America and the name of several radio channels, album themes and even gets it’s own section at record stores. The idea that music from any foreign country should be stamped simply as “world music” is both vague and racist. In fact, the original description of the term is “non- western musical traditions” which can easily translate to “ music we don’t know how to define”. Secondly, this genre title wasn’t a conclusive decision of any of the musicians contributing to it; one white male in Connecticut named it in the sixties (true story). However, it remains to be a heavily promoted as common musical term. World music is essentially a huge blanket title over a diverse range of music that already has it’s own genre titles such as Bossa Nova, Afrobeat or Klezmer,just to name a few. So, please let’s give this one a rest and people in the future will be amazed we still used this term in 2016.

Advertisements

You Are Not Alone

legends-of-the-mosh-pit-932

Have you ever had a period in your life when you were only able to listen to the same musician in heavily generous amounts to do justice on how your’e feeling? This is a common human experience and usually devoted to a melancholic,confusing or tortured time in a listener’s life.

Although this is a generally shared experience we believe that this music in correlation with our pain is blatantly individualized, that nobody has ever felt quite this way before and that this music has never been able to connect with anybody else quite the same way. During this period it is as if a band has entered a recording studio in your subconscious to create an album based off of your thoughts and feelings. It is as if this album somehow belongs to you more than others and you have a rich and infinite connection with this piece of music and nobody understands the way you do.This is just a symptom of the everlasting narcissism and the addiction to sadness that human beings are made of like water and cells.

Many people experience this with Radiohead (album of your choice) as they are a band able to grasp the wide and bizarre variety of human emotion through sonic expression. Listeners that play music are often inspired by their rare and extraordinary melancholic yet technical approach. Non musicians enjoy the abstract and impalpable connection they have to their unique sound. Another skill Radiohead has is to not only grasp your emotions in a song but also grasp your relationship with something in the world at large such as the apocalypse or the fear of dying but it is still YOUR relationship with this giant subject matter.

I personally went through a time when I felt I could only listen to The Rolling Stone’s song  “No Expectations” over and over and over and over and over. Every time I tried to listen to another song it sounded mediocre and inadequate. This was because I was going through a breakup like everybody else goes through but I, of course felt like somehow the Stones got together, recorded my relationship and decided to make a song about it with the perfect amount of slide guitar 40 years before the relationship. Everything about the song engulfed the tumultuous yet undefinable feelings swimming through me. The song eventually taught me to rationalize the situation and appreciate the natural conclusion of the relationship.

I then went through a phase when I felt all I could physically do was listen to Mazzy stars’ album  ‘So Tonight that I might See” on vinyl and fall into the abyss of my bedroom floor while feeling as if each lyric subtly exuded from Kendra Smith’s mouth was an answer to a question I didn’t know I had. Every time I listened to the album which is approximately 70,000 I felt like I just visited the best psychotherapist in the nation and was able to further my personal clarity by listening to the album again.

Then there is Nick Drake’s perfectly wistful  album “Fruit Tree” which made me feel less sad as he was always somehow more sad but made it seem so enticing. He makes me want to be sad forever and that any sign of joy is for fools and stoners. I then realized this notion could be detrimental for my lifestyle and eventually put the record at the bottom of my shelf, which I save for those special days when I am well past the blues and into the reds.

A friend of mine listened to Bon Iver’s iconic “For Emma Forever Ago” and went missing for two weeks.His situation was clearly shared amongst other sensitive men that lost the one that got away and without her their facial hair grows with reckless abandon.Then there the classic musician-emotion combinations: Elliot Smith for misery, Cat Power for insecurity, Portishead for intimacy, Bob Dylan for heart-break, Amy Winehouse for heart-ache, Nina Simone for heart-sake.

The point? We are not alone when we are sad and that is OK, music isn’t strategically designed for our personal experience and that is also OK if there is some kind of interplanetary connection all of us share is this tangled world- it is this.

David Bowie- The Man Who Changed The World

 


DavidBowie-portrait-770x470

 

David Robert Jones better known as David Bowie was a walking tapestry of imagination, creativity and human complexity. We lost him this week and the world immediately lost colour and warmth, two things he always encompassed. Bowie was a truly rare marvel of a human being who often didn’t seem human at all. Bowie originally derived from Brixton, London England; he was born in 1947 and musically active for the vast majority of his life. Bowie released 26 successful albums, many of which are considered revolutionary. He was a brilliant actor in several cinematically innovative films, acted on stage  and painted stunning body’s of work. He challenged gender norms way before it was hip and visited various personas he completely committed to. He wasn’t just a brilliant musician, he was a man who inhaled the beauty of life and exhaled works of art.

The Early Stages

Bowie began his musical career at the ripe age of 15, the saxophone is the first instrument he experimented with. He then discovered the guitar and played in a Rock and Roll band called The Konrads, they performed mostly at weddings and social gatherings in and around London. He knew then that he wanted to be a pop star and declared this news liberally to those around him. His mother wasn’t enthused and encouraged him to become a electrician, which was luckily never considered on his behalf. Bowie was omni-presently committed to music and played in various bands throughout the duration of his adolescence.

He eventually went solo and released his debut album titled ‘David Bowie’ in 1967. Although it wasn’t a huge commercial success, it was critically acclaimed and certainly gained him some well deserved attention, especially due to the authenticity of the record. During this time Bowie started dancing and became well acquainted with Lindsey Kemp, an innovative choreographer who truly inspired young Bowie. Bowie described Kemp kindly stating   “he lived on his emotions, he was a wonderful influence. His day-to-day life was the most theatrical thing I had ever seen, ever. It was everything I thought Bohemia probably was”.  During this time Bowie learned miming, expressive satire, acting and wrote the album ‘Space Oddity’ (Also known As David Bowie), which was originally released in 1969. Space Oddity contains the title track which changed his career forever. The album contains mostly acoustic guitar and poetically diplomatic lyrics. Following the release he went on tour with T. Rex that year in and he did both a musical and mime performance (I know, I wish I was there too).

In 1970 he married Angela Barnett who had a huge impact on his success as an artist. This was a profoundly creative time for Bowie and he released the album ‘The Man Who Sold The World’. This album contains powerful lyrics on the subject of schizophrenia and paranoia along with electronic walls of sound. He was now arriving to interviews as a hot commodity in androgynous outfits. The very next year, 1971, Bowie released the album ‘Hunky Dory’ that contains several of his hits and is widely considered one of the most innovative Rock and Roll albums of all time.  However, it wasn’t a commercial success at the time. Later that year Barnett and Bowie gave birth to their son Duncan Jones.

Ziggy Stardust

In  1972 Bowie released the revolutionary album  ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and then Spiders From Mars’. This record is Bowie’s first true concept album that was based on a persona he created. This was the album that made Bowie hugely popular and the base of the his Ziggy Stardust tour in which he always performed in character. Ziggy Stardust is a fictional extraterrestrial character personified by Bowie. This character was clad with short striking red hair, beautiful gender bending suits and feminine makeup. The album and character contains themes of sexual experimentation and social commentary, which was particularly powerful as it was the early 70’s and Bowie’s sexual orientation was unclear. What we need to remember is this was 44 years ago and there is continuing  homophobia and gender binary prejudice in our contemporary age. The track Starman, Moonage Daydream and It Aint Easy are all featured on the album, upon it’s release each song topped the charts and people everywhere went wild for this fresh revival of music. Shortly thereafter Bowie  produced  his close friend Lou Reed’s second solo album ‘Transformer’. In 1973 (again, only  the very next year) Bowie released another iconic album: ‘Aladdin Sane’. This album was completely groundbreaking for both Bowie and the world at large.  Aladdin Sane is another concept album that features nothing but hits and an extension of the Ziggy Stardust persona known as “Ziggy goes to America”. Aladdin Sane is  Bowie’s first album to top charts internationally and contains the notorious look we know as…

3444426201b547963013ddce807e6e48f95c30e6

This look changed the fashion industry, the art world and Halloween forever. During this time Bowie explained “Offstage I’m a robot. Onstage I achieve emotion. It’s probably why I prefer dressing up as Ziggy to being David.” However, with satisfaction came severe personal difficulties with acting the same role over an extended period. Bowie later shared” It became impossible for me to separate from Ziggy Stardust, that’s when it all started to go sour, my whole personality was affected and it became dangerous, I had doubts about my sanity”. During this time Bowie was on an extensive tour, always performing  in the Ziggy Stardust character.  He would simulate oral sex to instruments, strip down nude and wear sumo wresting outfits on stage. In spit of exhaustion, later that year Bowie released the album ‘Pin Ups’ which was another commercial success.

Thin White Duke

 Bowie left the Ziggy Stardust persona behind an he started experimenting  with new sounds and released the album ‘Diamond Dogs’ which featured more Soul and Funk elements and the  infamous song  Rebel Rebel. The album was inspired by Orwell’s book 1984 and referenced a post apocalyptic city derived from the novel.  The Diamond Dog tour was high budget and international. During this time Bowie struggled with heavy cocaine use and became  temporarily mentally paranoid and emotionally disrupted.Bowie then moved to the U.S and recorded Young Americans , which contained even more funk and soul. It was explained rather eloquently  by author Christopher Sandford as such  explaining that “Over the years, most British rockers had tried, one way or another, to become black-by-extension. Few had succeeded as Bowie did now. The album’s sound, which the singer identified as “plastic soul”, constituted a radical shift in style that initially alienated many of his UK devotees” The album contains the track Fame which was co written with John Lennon,and became Bowie’s first number one single in the U.S. Lennon shared that “Bowie’s music is great but it’s just Rock and Roll with lipstick on”.  In 1976  Bowie released the album ‘Station to Station’ which was also the  official release of his new persona Thin White Duke. This is the fresh, slick, and inspiring look we know as…

Thin-White-Duke-1975

 

Thin White Duke was another fictional extraterrestrial character. He is an extension of character Thomas Jerome Newton that Bowie portrayed in the film The Man Who Fell to Earth which was released that same year. This album introduced Bowie’s heavier use of synthesizer and “Krautrock” style of music. Simultaneously Bowie’s drug use was becoming more public and  the media often called him  incoherent. Bowie later admitted he had become “twisted by cocaine” and overdosed frequently before performing.  Later that year, Bowie performed at Rock against Racism which was a benefit inspired by social justice.  This was a cause he was  committed to aiding. Bowie then went on an extensive tour across Europe and the US promoting station to station dressed as the Thin White Duke.  During these sessions he would  conduct intimate theatrical performances that highlighted his personal internal struggle at the time. Although the tour was highly successful it also led to legal issues, especially when Bowie shared the belief that  “Britain could benefit from a fascist leader” and was detained at the Russian border for possessing assumed nazi paraphernalia. Shortly after this,  he waved to a crowd in London which was interpreted by the paparazzi as giving a Nazi salute. Although Bowie had no intention of expressing Nazi ideologies, he recognized he was running into this trouble based from his statement about fascism and current troubles with  addiction and mental difficulties. Bowie equates this dark period of his life to drugs and his personification of Thin White Duke  so he decided to again change. Bowie later reflected on this time in saying”I was out of my mind, totally crazed. The main thing I was functioning on was mythology , that whole thing about Hitler and rightism, I’d discovered King Arthur”

The Berlin Trilogy

After getting  cleaner and seeking emotional assistance Bowie moved to a chalet on Lake Geneva in Switzerland. He discovered his love for painting there and produced a series of post modern pieces. He brought his sketch pad on tour and found this outlet quite healing. Bowie then decided to move to Berlin, Germany and completely cleaned up his drug use. He lived in an apartment with Iggy Pop and started collaborating  with Brian Eno and began experimenting with ambient and minimalist music.  During this time he collaborated with  Iggy Pop on The Idiot and Lust for Life.

In 1977 Bowie released the album ‘Low’ which was inspired by the likes of the band “Neu!” The album Low was much more abstract than his previous work and features far less lyrics. The album initially had low commercial success but was considered “genius” by Phillip Glass and gained Bowie a different demographic of fans. The album eventually became the basis of Glass’ Symphony No. 1.  Low and Glass shared that the album contains “complex pieces of music, masquerading as simple music.” Low was the beginning of a trilogy and was followed by Heroes released the same year. The album Heroes is  different again than anything Bowie had previously done. Heroes was inspired by the 1977 divide of Berlin and the zeitgeist of Cold War. The album is quite accessible and contains title track which is one of Bowie’s most successful songs of all time. Bowie was touring incessantly at this point and had completely beat his drug addition. A live recording from this tour was released in 1978 and titled Stage. The final piece of this trilogy is titled Lodger and was released in 1979. Lodger is a minimalist approach to music and features ambient new wave sounds. The album contains many collaborations from Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt.

The 80’s

 “The Scary Monster and Super Creeps” album  was released in 1980 and contains the hit Ashes to Ashes. The album features guitar synthesist Chuck Hammer and revisits the character Major Tom from Space Oddity. This album helped give birth to the New Romantic Movement in the UK. Later this same year Bowie starred in the  Broadway production of the The Elephant Man. This performance garnered huge acclaim for his acting.

 In 1981 Bowie collaborated with the band Queen and released the smash hit Under Pressure. In 1983 Bowie reached a new level of popularity with the album  ‘Let’s Dance’ which went platinum in both the U.S and the U.K. This album contains title track, China Girl and Modern Love which were all massive singles paired with avant-garde music videos. In 1984 Bowie released another dance album titled Tonight which involves collaborations from Tina Turner and Iggy Pop. The album features a cover of The Beach Boy’s God Only Knows and the song Blue Jean paired with an excellent music video which earned him a grammy that year.

In 1985 Bowie performed in the benefit concert Live Aid which involved a duet of him and Mick Jagger performing Dancing in the Street which quickly became a massive hit. In 1986 Bowie portrayed his most successful film character-the Goblin King in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. Bowie wrote the majority of the film score and starred in the film. Labyrinth is still  one of the most popular cult classics of all time. That same year Bowie went on the Glass Spider tour which featured Peter Frampton on guitar.

Tin Machine, Iman and further experimentation

Bowie decided to retreat from his solo career and started a band with Reeves Gabrels, Tony Sales and Hunt Sales called the Tin Machine. Although the band released a relatively successful album and tour most people were interested in just hearing Bowie including Bowie himself. This  disrupted the democracy of the band. Bowie then decided to go solo again before they recorded their second album. He then went on the Sound and Vision Tour as a solo performer and it was was a  brilliant success.

In 1990, after Bowie has been divorced from Angela Barnett for a decade he met supermodel Iman and they were  married in 1992. Later in 1992 Bowie decided to re establish the band Tin Machine, the tour was titled Oy Vey Baby.  Unfortunately the tour   was not a commercial successful. Later in 1992 Bowie performed at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert and sang Under Pressure with Annie Lennox. in 1993 Bowie released another solo album titled ‘Black Tie -White Noise’ which was Jazz and Hip-Hop influenced and became another commercial success.  Later in 1993 Bowie wrote the Soundtrack for  The Buddha of Suburbia which is an album of incidental music composed for the television adaptation of the Hanif Kereishi novel. Bowie and Eno started working together again and in 1995 released the album ‘Outside’. This record  features industrial noise rock and is based on the premise from a short story written by Bowie about murder. The Outside Tour took place shortly after and Bowie selected Nine Inch Nails to share the bill with him across Europe and North America.

In 1996 Bowie was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of fame.   The next year, he released the  album  Earthling which explores the likes of Drum and bass and jungle music. Earthling was another commercial success,  the single from the album  I’m afraid of Americans  was featured in the film Showgirls and later remixed by Trent Reznor. In 1999 Bowie created the soundtrack for the popular computer game Omikron. Later that year he released the heavily electronic album Hours.

The Millennium

 In 2000 Bowie and Iman had their daughter Alexandria Zahra Jones. In 2002 Bowie had a huge comeback album titled ‘Heathen’ which was his most successful since Tonight released in 1984. In 2003 Bowie  released the album Reality and  went on a extensive international tour. During this tour he had his first heart attack in Germany and  the rest of his tour was cancelled. In the following year he spent time recuperating and working more on film scores, including an updated version of Changes for Shrek.

In 2005 he performed with  the phenomenal upcoming bands Arcade Fire and  TV On The Radio and also worked on the film score for the film Stealth. Later that year he did a commercial for XM radio with Snoop Dog then worked on the Danish band’s  Kashmir’s album along with his friend Lou Reed.

In 2006 Bowie was given The Grammy Lifetime Achievement award  where he announced he was taking the year off  with no music releases and no touring. This was truly the only year in his entire career that Bowie stopped producing music.  He did however make a surprise appearance at David Gilmour’s concert in London. In 2007 Bowie curated the High Line Festival which took Place in New York. In 2008 he sang on Scarlett Johansson’s tribute album to Tom Waits.

The Late Years

On the 40th anniversary of the US Moon landing in 1969 and  Bowie’s commercial breakthrough with Space Oddity, EMI Records released the individual tracks from the original eight-track studio recording of the song.  This included  a contest inviting members of the public to create a remix. 

Reality Tour’, a double album of live material from the 2003 concert tour, was released in January 2010. In late March 2011, Toy, Bowie’s previously unreleased album from 2001, was leaked onto the internet. This album  contains  material used for  the studio album Heathen and most of the  single B-sides as well as unheard new versions of his early back catalogue. This was followed in 2013 with another album titled ‘The Next Day’ which was a surprise release.  The surprise was intentional on Bowies part. The album is a powerful body of work and is considered one of the most successful Rock and Roll comeback albums in history. It is  an innovative, bold and dark album that gained almost exclusively positive reception. This same year Bowie worked with Arcade Fire again and provided vocals  on their song Reflektor. Simultaneously, the BBC officially garnered Bowie the title of  The  Best Dressed Man Ever.

On Jan 8, 2016 Bowie Released the album ‘Blackstar’ which also celebrated the mark of his 69th birthday. Two days later we lost  Bowie to a battle he had against cancer.  He kept this   18 month battle  intentionally private and out of the media. Bowie died peacefully in his New York apartment. Blackstar is a powerful body of work that is produced by Bowie’s longtime collaborator Tony Visconti. The single from the album Lazarus  is a sonic masterpiece and features a chilling video of Bowie on a deathbed. Bowie never stopped dripping with genius, not for a moment and now he is truly stardust.

The Love Song Bob Dylan Never Wrote

bob-dylan-hd-wallpapers-free-download-6-2(Photo Courtesy of The Odyssey)

Bob Dylan, one of the best song writers of all time has this undeniable ability to string words together that are drenched in pain, humour and poetry, he leaves them up to dry and we watch them in awe. He does this while somehow integrating political statements and odes to Woody Guthrie. He grasps entire lifespans of curricula in four-minute songs with his guitar gently wailing alongside. He doesn’t expose himself either, he remains strong and invulnerable which is arguably the opposite of popular contemporary music. He paints visuals of characters that resemble somebody we all know, he breaks your heart and then sews it back together. However, there is one thing Bob Dylan never did which only came to my attention one distinct evening shared amongst some hyper aware musical masterminds. He never wrote a love song. Yes, he wrote songs about women, heartache and closure but never a ballad about eternal devotion and unmanageable pain without it. Let us tread through examples, shall we?

It Ain’t Me Babe –An explanation of what one may be looking for in an ideal relationship “Someone to die for you and more but it ain’t me babe you’re looking for” Romantic? Not really, self-aware? Absolutely

Don’t think twice it’s all right- A reflection of a relationship that ended poorly, particularly as a result of her actions. “ I ain’t saying you treated me unkind, you could of done better but I don’t mind” This is a single sentence that grasps years of unnecessary vengeful thinking.

Just like a woman- “ And she aches just like a woman but she breaks just like a little girl” An unflattering yet blatantly honest portrayal of a woman deluded she is more mature than she is.

Boots Of Spanish Leather- “ I’m sure your love is not with me but the country to where you’re going”. A story about his true love that explains his understanding of her need to be intangible to him and fonder of leather than love.

All I Really Wanna Do- “  I ain’t looking to fight with you, frighten you or tighten you. Drag you down or drain you down, chain you down or bring you down, all I really wanna do is baby be friends with you”. A ballad that decompresses common yet unfortunate behaviour in romantic relationships that Dylan declares he will never perform, as he is solely interested in partaking in a meaningful friendship.

Lay Lady Lay- This beautiful lullaby has all the qualities of a good ol fashioned love song despite the fact that it’s about his dog.

I believe this is significant as so many other songwriters, particularly active in the sixties and seventies belt lyrics suggesting love is ceaseless, life is rotten without it and there are no exceptions to this. Examples of this style include: Any Kind of Love by Otis Redding- “Any kind of love you want and I’ll be with you”, You Don’t Need A Million Dollars by  Joe Cocker “You’re everything that I need” and Ain’t too Proud to Beg by the Temptations ” I know you want to leave me but I refuse to let you go”. Although these lyrics are sweet they also suggest we are dependent, unyielding and rather plaintive in regards to romance. This way of saccharine songwriting suggests we don’t require further effort, skills or other relationships in our lives once we find love. As people we have inevitably been heartbroken, disenchanted by the often-monotonous nature of relationships or simply just fall out love. These experiences help us become people of texture and maturity. To this day, no one tells the truth in the form of powerful and genuine poetry quite like Dylan, and that’s the real love song.

Best of 2015- The Return of the Record

 

00a91e37Courtney Barnett

Please allow me to start this article with the confession that I don’t completely love list articles. The reason for that is because I find ranking art slightly artless and more importantly it’s rather presumptuous of me to assume that the music that resonates with me should in turn resonate with you. Now that I have that out of my system I will proceed to merely explain why I think this year was particularly musically important. 2015 had a great deal of album releases, which hasn’t necessarily been the case in the previous years of this wayward decade. Additionally there is something to be said about certain years that were particularly generous with strong albums.

Examples of this are…

1969-The Beatles- Abby Road, Led Zeppelin-Zeppelin 2, The Who-Tommy

1972-Rolling stone-Exile on Main St, Neil Young Harvest, Lou Reed-Transformer 1

1990- Nirvana- Nevermind, Tribe Called Quest- The Low End Theory, My Bloody Valentine-Loveless

2000- Radiohead- Kid A, Ryan Adams-Heartbreaker and D’Angelo’s- Voodoo .

These albums were well received at the time but unpredictably iconic and at the risk of sounding over zealous I believe 2015 has this potential. The following is a list of my absolute favourite albums of this very year…

Courtney Barnett-Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Courtney Barnett hails from Melbourne, Australia and is in the crux of an illustrious career with the release of her first full-length album. Barnett has been widely recognized as a refreshing, innovative and authentic singer songwriter throughout her young career that consists mostly of playing charming and moderately sized music festivals. Common responses of people hearing her music for the first time is “who is this, why don’t I know about her, this is amazing”. Her sound is completely refreshing-it’s bold and fearless yet fun and inviting. Barnett’s music is  relatively reminiscent of other powerful female songwriters such as P. J Harvey and early Liz Phair and resembles Bob Dylan’s stream of consciousness songwriting  yet something new altogether. This album is a deadpan collection of affectionate realizations, groggy reflections and amiable rebellion. Her songs are certainly intelligent and well written but free of isolating those who haven’t experienced the same feelings. Additionally the girl can wail guitar like a machine and is outfitted with an intuitive band that understands her idiosyncratic style. This record is well suited to a diverse mosaic of emotions yet provides a sense that everything is going be all right due to her sense of humor and inviting sound. Barnett certainly isn’t pretentious, angry or esoteric. As John Cage put it “ Barnett has nothing to prove and she’s proving it”. Her music is truly a refreshing cleanse in the sea of other singer songwriters who take everything a touch too seriously and their music and soul consequently suffers for it. She is the voice of an otherwise silent archetype that enjoys being transparent, honest and void of self-importance.

Deerhunter- Fading Frontier

The unmistakable Deerhunter release their sixth studio album, which is like a ticket to further explore a really spectacular part of yourself. Front man, Bradford Cox who is arguably better known for his solo project Atlas Sound is quite possibly the most unique man in contemporary Indie music. Cox was born with a rare disorder called Marfan disease, which accounts for his strikingly long and thin limbs. His childhood was unusually isolated in that he lived in his infantile home alone in the suburbs after the divorce of his parents and he eventually dropped out of High School. He found salvation through both listening to and making experimental music, which is understandably packed with a tapestry of human emotion. Additionally, Cox was recently in a life threatening car accident and just shortly after released this album, so as you can imagine there is a significant emotional backbone to this record.

Although, Deerhunter’s music typically bleeds with the requirement to visit internal despondence it is also incredibly consoling and always musically gratifying. Deerhunter’s music is a combination of Shoe-Gaze, Ambient- Punk and Art-Rock. Their sound is entirely specific to them and each album explores different areas of their sonic mosaic. That stated, Fading Frontier is different from Deerhunter’s previous work in that it is purposefully more normal”. Cox drew an “influence map” in the making of this record, which included the works of R.E.M and Tom Petty. These artists make “agreeable music” according to Cox, which he was ironically daring to explore. The result is an album that is certainly more Pop infused than their previous work, each song could be a single and it is void of the band’s notorious long-winded feedback solos. Although this album is presumably more “mainstream” and could even be interpreted as the band “selling out” it’s really just proof that Deerhunter can do it all.

Cox calls Fading Frontier their “domestic album” although each song tells a heartbreaking story; it comes in an accessible package. The seemingly blissful nature of this album is actually meant to be sarcastic and perpetually more morose than their previous work. Each song explores a different theme of mortality from a songwriting perspective, most notably on “Snakeskin” (“ I was born already nailed to the cross”) or in “All the Same” ( “Take your handicaps/channel them and feed them back/until they become your strengths”). From a musical perspective, Deerhunter has created another brilliant album that bravely explores an experimental soundscape that truly belongs to them.

Destroyer-Poison Season

 

Destroyer is the creator of one of my absolute favourite albums of all time “Kaputt” (2011) like many other fans of the incomparable Dan Bejar who is also a member of the New Pornographers. That stated, this album was highly anticipated and a great deal of pressure was submitted to Bejar as Poison Season is his first album since the iconic Kaputt. However, Bejar is a storm of talent and Poison Season is an excellent body of work that differs greatly and strongly from his previous. The album is more “radio friendly” than his earlier material but that works for Bejar. His voice is an appeasing stream of melodies that carefully belt poetic and tragic words straight from his bleeding heart. His lyrics are intelligent, tragic and hilarious which is a wonderfully rare tripod. As Pitchfork so accurately put “You listen to Destroyer to hear the smartest person at a party mutter funny and erudite things in your ear”. Bejar practices a different style of singing on this album, which is a tad more accessible and a tad less emotional. Each song could easily be a successful single, a symphony of sound is generously present throughout the record and his voice is flawless. Some fans have critiqued this album for being “too perfect” this is not the worst disapproval one can receive and it was likely intentional for Bejar to make a consistently solid record.

Most importantly, the album contains those heartbreaking and mind blowing lyrics we tend to long for such such as “ I’ve been sifting through these remains for years, bitter tears bitter pills, Oh it sucks when there’s nothing gold in those hills, girl, I know what you’re going through, I’m going there too” (Track: Girl in the Sling) Or, as “ You looked OK with others, you looked great on your own” (Track: Painter in your Pocket). The song “Times Square”  is a smash single from the album and is a exemplary masterpiece;emotional but not corny, lyrically exceptional and musically jazz infused but not limited to. Poison Season will exceed the harsh test of sonic time.

Wilco-Star Wars

Star Wars is Wilco’s ninth studio album, it was offered globally as a free download and released the same year of a tremendously popular film sequel of sorts you may have heard of . That stated, this album clearly wasn’t a money grabber for the six piece, wildly successful 21 years strong band. Wilco simply wanted to make an album void of media and financial pressure so that’s exactly what they did. Star Wars is an extension of Wilco’s array of solid brilliance. The album is explained by Tweedy as “Wilco being Wilco” and meant to offer “something for everyone”. This may exempt new listeners as many of the songs from this record make references to their early work such as A.M and Being There. Alternatively, It may be the most suitable album for new  listeners as it is their most accessible album to date yet concentrates every element of their previous work in a powerfully skillful manor. The opening track “EKG” draws poignant comparisons to Sonic Youth, however it is a charming lullaby verses a trembling 15-minute reverb and noise parade such as many songs from my personal fave A Ghost is Born. Star Wars is  Wilco’s first album in 4 years, which is the band’s longest gap between records. Star wars is playful, charming and genuine, each song is about 3 and a half minutes of pure gratification. Star Wars is ethnography of musical confidence and interpersonal trust between band members. The result is friendly as appose to aggressive and lacks obscure conceit that has historically been projected on Wilco by some. The sound of the album coincides accurately with the free download, lawsuit luring title and family friendly feline cover. Star Wars is an accurate sonic portrayal of the band’s contemporary maturity and refreshing withdrawal from the high pressure and sometimes hostile music industry.

New Badu Review- But You Caint Use My Phone

 

6eabbd08
Something supernatural happens to our society when Erykah Badu releases a new album. There seems to be an increased level of consciousness and general human sex appeal, it’s the magic of Budizm. If I subscribed to any religion it would be to the likes of the sultry, soulful and powerful queen of Neo-Soul. Every fan of Badu seems to also put her on this rather outrageous pedestal and I am one of them. It is indefinable and unavoidable so it’s just best to succumb to the allure and be a bleeding and loyal fan. That stated, it is difficult to conduct an objective review on her latest album but dammit I will try.

The album, title “But you Caint Use My Phone” alludes to something sillier than her previous work such as “Badizum” or “New Amerykah”, however that certainly isn’t the case with this refined album. While making this record Badu travelled extensively including a trip to West Africa for both spiritual and practical music research influences. The album has been brewing for two years and involves collaborations with Flying Lotus, Drake and the father of her child Andre 3000. The album itself certainly considers a common telephone theme. This is consistent with other massive hits of 2015 such as Drake’s Hotline Bling and Adele’s Hello. Is there some kind of intrinsic connection between this music or do these three artists just reflect our phone-obsessed society like prisms? Unlike Drake and Adele Badu is providing an important perspective that we are far too reliant on these millennial devices but she does so in a delightfully playful  fashion. Badu recorded the album in her hometown of Dallas, Texas in an intimate recording studio she often calls home. A fraction of Badu’s intention for this album is to coin a new genre she likes to call ‘Trap and B’. Additionally and more importantly, Badu intended to provide a sense of ‘sympathetic vibration’ a poetic term she has also coined to aptly describe the harmony of music’s natural vibration and the frequency of  sounds waves. To punctuate this effect, the album contains Tibetan singing bowls and tuning forks to achieve musical precision, this is a serious album. At age 44 Badu has made her most hip and young sounding body of work to date. Each song is a banger that comes marinated in intelligence and the soulful molasses of her capable voice. “But You Caint Use My Phone” is genre crossing but certainly more hip hop than her previous work and even involves terms she rarely uses such as “bitch and hoe” which is nothing for Hip Hop but something for Badu. This new cavalier vocabulary may be an extension of third wave feminism given the progression and evolution of music since her previous work and the changing view of women and rap lyrics in our contemporary society.Alternatively, this could be a celebration of freedom of speech or it could mean something entirely different, or simply nothing at all. The album’s most paramount strength is the consistent message about the importance of putting your damn phone down. This is an example of Badu’s ongoing and ever present wisdom that always comes in an incredibly appealing package and contributes to her other worldly ways. Speaking of those ways, Badu’s ultimate goal for this album was to create “ a sound that brings peace and tranquilly to the listener”. This certainly happens in the most fun and sexy way imaginable, and that’s why Badu is the reigning queen. But You Caint Use My phone is officially released December 4th, and it will keep you warm all winter.

Why Your Lifestyle Doesn’t Come In A Mason Jar

 

Kinfolk_3

Thanks for this entirely new concept Kinfolk

There is a popular magazine titled “Kinfolk” which is available online and on print, it is based out of Portland, Oregon. Kinfolk, is a successful and aesthetically pleasing publication that reaches an audience that is typically against standard magazines. It appeals to a young, hip, smart, authentic and fresh crowd who would normally scoff at being told what to do by a magazine. Kinfolk’s slogan is “Slow Living” and includes photographs, articles and interviews that celebrate the notion of a quiet, artistic and poetic lifestyle. The photographs involved normally focus on subjects such as: rustic brunch, women wearing linen, rosemary sprigs in apothecary jars, helmetless babes on one speed bicycles, whisks and spoons, postmodern haircuts, people spending time outdoors in their best wool… you get the idea. These images are inexplicably beautiful, they’re both inviting and isolating. They create a similar feeling of talking to someone who both you think and they think is too cool for you. The reason behind this could be that this magazine is advertising a lifestyle that doesn’t exist. It represents an unobtainable minimalism that is only possible to capture in staged photographs.

 

Kinfolk_A-Brief-History-Of-Breakfast_v6-11-27-12_03_gallery

“Because people ruin brunch”

tumblr_mkl8em6szH1r5onv5o9_1280

“Obviously this is my dinner table”

kinfolk-fall-camping-autumn-pnw-sarah-rhoads-scout-vintage-seattle-scout-blog-1

“Yah, this designer sweater looks kind of canoey”

The magazine ambiguously celebrates food, home, and lifestyle, which is certainly not a new concept for magazines that make you feel bad about your life. However, Kinfolk is aimed at a more “artistic” audience and therefore features homes with vintage yet void of character furniture, blank walls and borderline plastic plants in perfectly clean jars. The people in these magazines are often graphic designers or coffee shop owners, they look impossibly stylish yet explain they put very little effort into their look. The food they suggest is normally squash or asparagus and they make these rather boring vegetables sound like they can offer us the sense of purity we are deeply missing in our lives. Kinfolk magazine come in hard copy tiny book shaped publications and go for about 25 bucks a pop. All that being said, I like Kinfolk, it is a magazine that is excellent at what they do, just like Time Magazine or Cosmopolitan. However, I will be damned if I think this is a realistic or even desirable representation of how people actually live. Life is messy, chaotic, colourful, busy and dazzlingly beautiful. Happy homes have paint stains on the carpet, furniture found at garage sales, plants that are vital in dirty pots (because they are filled with mud dammit), inexpensive hairstyles and messy kitchens insinuating that courageous culinary adventures happen there. Like this…

5877841906e605044369dc07f24fef97

My friend’s studio who makes amazing paintings and always has messy hands

elitedaily-Beatrix-Boros-messy-room-800x400

A \sincerely happy kid 

messy play in the sink and bath 3

Potentially frustrating for parents, still awesome

Kinfolk, along with countless Instagram accounts and various storefronts in hip neighbourhoods are representing attractive snapshots of a concept but not a lifestyle. Life doesn’t fit into tiny little boxes and that’s part of what makes it so wonderful. Don’t let anyone capitalize on the “life of an artist” because real artists have dirt under their fingernails, messy studios and relics of their lives scrambled throughout their homes. Your lifestyle shouldn’t be advertised, it’s up to you how it looks and that is the best part of it.

Daniel Romano-The Ultimate Southern Gentleman

 

img_987

Daniel Romano is the distinctive Ontario based Country singer songwriter. Romano makes classic Country music in a contemporary fashion and doesn’t necessarily do that on purpose. His music encompasses everything that is right about Country music; it’s unabashed and both heartbreaking yet hilarious. However, Romano is by no means practicing some kind of gimmick. Although, his clothing choices may suggest the complete opposite of my previous notion, he is just truly Country and southern gentlemen need to represent accordingly. Romano is often clad in tailor made western cowboy suits and both a guitar and guitar strap celebrating his name in a style that is custom designed by Romano himself. Romano’s creativity doesn’t end there, he has a whole franchise of leather and hand crafted music accessories and designs impressive album art work (Including that of for M. Ward and the Weather Station). Additionally, Romano started his own record label titled “ You’ve Changed Records” alongside Steve Lambke (The Constantines) who opened for Romano this tour. Needless to say, Romano is a creative mastermind who hones a particularly impressive skill set.

Romano’s performance was well situated at the Fox Cabaret in Vancouver, a venue that is a recently refurnished erotic vintage theatre. It is a exquisite place that seems to cater to a more refined crowd during weekday performances in our fair city. Everyone at the show was certainly a fan, many even traveled from the island for the event. Other’s stalked up on beer at the bar before the performance so they could stand front-row and get faced for the duration of the generous set (true story). Romano plays with a intuitive band who give each of his well crafted songs the respect they deserve. He plays guitar with pure elegance while his illustrious voice orchestrate his poignant lyrics. His body of work is filled with sorrow, heartache and wisdom. He never borderlines feeling sorry for himself yet points out the sheer sadness of love and loneliness and it isn’t dramatic, it’s just honest. Very few words were shared on behalf of the audience that crisp Vancouver weeknight. Fans simply observed in a solitary fashion trying to avoid blinking in that they didn’t want to miss a mere moment.This tour celebrates the release of his latest and sixth album “ If I’ve Only One Time Askin’ ”. Although Romano’s music has always been honest and void of distraction this is certainly the most sophisticated body of work yet and it works brilliantly for him. Romano continues to evolve as an astute musician and is certainly one of Canada’s finest renaissance men.

Deerhunter- Fading Frontier Album Review

Deerhunter Fading Frontier

1035x1035-unnamed-(1)

The unmistakable Deerhunter release their sixth studio album, which is like a ticket to further explore a really spectacular part of your self. Front man, Bradford Cox who is arguably better known for his solo project Atlas Sound is quite possibly the most unique man in contemporary Indie music. Cox was born with a rare disorder called Marfan disease, which accounts for his strikingly long and thin limbs. His childhood was unusually isolated in that he lived in his infantile home alone in the suburbs after the divorce of his parents and he eventually dropped out of High School. He found salvation through both listening to and making experimental music, which is understandably packed with a tapestry of human emotion. Additionally, Cox was recently in a life threatening car accident and just shortly after released this album, so as you can imagine there is a significant emotional backbone to this record.

Although, Deerhunter’s music typically bleeds with the requirement to visit internal despondence it is also incredibly consoling and always musically gratifying. Deerhunter’s music is a combination of Shoe-Gaze, Ambient- Punk and Art-Rock. Their sound is entirely specific to them and each album explores different areas of their sonic mosaic. That stated, Fading Frontier is different from Deerhunter’s previous work in that it is purposefully more normal”. Cox drew an “influence map” in the making of this record, which included the works of R.E.M and Tom Petty. These artists make “agreeable music” according to Cox, which he was ironically daring to explore. The result is an album that is certainly more Pop infused than their previous work, each song could be a single and it is void of the band’s notorious long-winded feedback solos. Although this album is presumably more “mainstream” and could even be interpreted as the band “selling out” it’s really just proof that Deerhunter can do it all.

Cox calls Fading Frontier their “domestic album” although each song tells a heartbreaking story; it comes in an accessible package. The seemingly blissful nature of this album is actually meant to be sarcastic and perpetually more morose than their previous work. Each song explores a different theme of mortality from a songwriting perspective, most notably on “Snakeskin” (“ I was born already nailed to the cross”) or in “All the Same” ( “Take your handicaps/channel them and feed them back/until they become your strengths”). From a musical perspective, Deerhunter has created another brilliant album that bravely explores an experimental soundscape that truly belongs to them. Fading Frontier will be released on Oct 16th, the single “Snakeskin” is available now with a music video directed by Renaissance Man Bradford Cox himself.

 

 

 

 

Where To Be Amongst The Fallen Leaves-Upcoming Shows In Vancouver That Will Reheat You This Fall

peaches_max_watts_house_of_music_0515_clare_hawley_2.dc6b2ea84b4de4c2ef7d2d9d6d81a421Peaches

 

Summer was an intoxicating explosion of musical brilliance but I’m somehow relieved its over. Summer seems to be so fleeting that’s it’s difficult to fully believe, maybe this means I have commitment issues. German philosopher Immanuel Kant described this feeling as the “ Terrifying Sublime” which explains when something is so incredible that it’s frightening, like love…or summer. We now find ourselves once again in the season of moody weather and abrupt routine; with a hint of nutmeg. It is a time to be introspective, creative and reflective; each of which are vague emotions we use to deal with the fact that the days are getting shorter. However, amongst this unsettling time there is an abundant array of live music that will warm you right up. Here, are my humble suggestions…

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats at the Commodore Ballroom September 23

Uncle Acid is a Heavy Psych Rock band from Cambridge, England. Their music is packed generously with thick guitar riffs, eccentric reverb and wonderfully twisted lyrics. Their music contains a certain frequency that swallows listener’s whole, especially in a live setting. Uncle Acid uses vintage equipment to pay homage to the music that inspires them such as early Black Sabbath and The Stooges. Their music embodies a refreshing blend of tormented lullabies and inducing sludge. This upcoming performance will melt your face and your body will follow, don’t miss it.

Chelsea Wolfe at the Rickshaw September 30

Chelsea Wolfe is the unmistakable singer-songwriter from LA, California. Wolfe is a gothic angel who combines complex layers of genres such as Folk and Drone Metal. She creates ballads that both haunt and elevate the spirit; she imprints you with the exotic whisper of death yet screams with vitality. Her songs are rich and complicated; she sings her sinister heart out, wails on the guitar and moves with complete grace. Her performance will paralyze the audience, leaving us in the dust of our own beautifully melancholic humanity.

Peaches at the Commodore October 6

There is no person, let alone musician in the world quite like Peaches. Merril Disker A.K.A Peaches is actually originally from Canada but comfortably resides in Berlin, Germany. She is a one-woman enterprise as she plays her own instruments, produces all of her albums and programs her own electronic beats. Previous albums of Peaches include “Impeach my Bush” and “ I Feel Cream and Other Work”. She challenges social norms, musical structure, and gender binaries all while belting excellent tunes while clad entirely in glitter. Her performances are like going to an innovative women’s studies lecture and a thrilling Eastern European after-hours warehouse party.

 Black Lips and Ariel Pink at the Rickshaw October 10

I cannot imagine a stronger-suited double bill in a more suitable venue, I simply can’t imagine it.The Black Lips are a vibrant and zany Psych Rock band from Atlanta,Georgia. They have made 7 strong studio albums yet they are arguably best known for their wild live performances that normally involve at least PG 13 nudity and flaming guitars. They do exactly what they desire and fans all over the world enjoy the result abundantly. Touring with Ariel Pink was a genius career move for the Black Lips because he is as uniquely uninhabited as they are. Ariel Pink is an unconventional singer songwriter from L.A, California and has truly crafted his own unique sound. His music combines 80’s cassette culture, Synth Pop and Post Punk. Kurt Cobain and Cher inspire his fashion style; he is unapologetic, has 10 successful albums behind him and continues to evolve. He makes Lo-Fi lullabies; heart felt ballads and good ol Rock and Roll. People tend to love him or hate him, you may as well love him. This concert is certainly  unpredictable but it’s guaranteed to be memorable.

Destroyer at the Commodore Ballroom October 17

Destroyer is a personal favourite and like many people that reside in Vancouver we are often perplexed when we see this sonic genius modestly walking around the neighbourhood when our lives have truly been changed by his music. Needless to say, I’m a big fan and perversely excited for this performance.

Dan Bejar is the man behind Destroyer; he is multi-instrumentalist, singer songwriter and also a member of The New Pornographers. Destroyer creates music that is unconventional, poetic, genre bending and rare yet accessible. This tour celebrates the recent release of another powerful album titled “Poison Season” which is his first since the instant classic “Kaputt” released in 2011 and widely recognized as one of the best indie records ever made.Destroyer is a walking music revolution and this performance will likely tattoo you with veneration . Additionally, Victoria based Frog Eyes and Psych Rock band Dada Plan will be suitably and enjoyably opening.

Let’s take back the season, no fun city only applies to no fun people. These concerts will keep you going all year long.