What would happen if your computer started making music all by itself? Well, maybe something like Dan Deacon’s new album, America.
Looking for some upbeat Christmas music to help get you through these hectic holidays? Check out Rosie Thomas’s happy shiny Christmas pop gem “Why Can’t It Be Christmastime All Year” from her 2008 Christmas album A Very Rosie Christmas. Rosie Thomas has released several solo albums and has also worked with Sufjan Stevens and toured as a member of Iron & Wine.
Check out her website for a new Christmas song from her as well, “Remember When It Snowed.” Her new album “With Love” is due out February 14, 2012.
Merry Christmas to all the Musichord fans out there and thanks for visiting our site! Be safe, have fun, and enjoy this holiday season!
St. Vincent is Annie Clark, a talented multi-instrumentalist from Texas. Prior to St. Vincent, she has performed as a member of the Polyphonic Spree, and contributed guitar to Sufjan Stephens touring band. Strange Mercy is her third album, and it’s a remarkable, curious, unclassifiable collection of songs, that are fractured, structured and flustered with ambiguity, energy and direction.
I don’t know what the genre Art-Rock is exactly, but maybe this is it. Each song on Strange Mercy is lovingly crafted, and unique, and like a good piece of artwork, leaves an awful lot up to the listener to find precisely where the meaning of the piece lies. This happens through her curious and revealing lyrics, and through the musical structure of the songs themselves.
On Surgeon, she opens with the refrain “I spent the summer on my back…” What does that convey – Depression? Hopelessness? Promiscuity? Loneliness? What you choose to take away from these tracks is entirely up to you. The answers aren’t defined, and the music deftly weaves a similar story of smooth, inviting warm string pads and sweet vocals, struck against pulsing synthetic bass lines, and a genre-hopping fusion of Annie’s formidable angular guitar playing.
As I said before, this album is open to interpretation, but to me, this record seems incredibly sexy in its energy. There’s something both strong and vulnerable in Annie’s delivery and the stark honesty that she exposes herself to the listener – in the candour and smoke of the album, that raw energy comes through pretty clear. From the opening track – Chloë in the Afternoon, that details an encounter with a dominatrix for a busy white shirted businessman (or woman), perhaps real, perhaps nothing more than an over-active imagination stemming from a scrawled appointment in a journal…
And there are beautiful, intriguing love songs, such as the title track, Strange Mercy, with its 80′s throwback synth tones, and heartfelt lyrics, or Dilettante, a vignette of a relationship that again, I don’t really understand, but absolutely oozes style:
Slow down, dilettante
So I can limp beside you
And follow in your house too
Hang on, street savant
My bank in my back pocket
How far you think you’ll take us?
Oh, Elijah, don’t make me wait
What is so pressing?
You can’t undress me anyway
Listening to the record, I thought to myself – this is what music in the future should sound like. The album has a modern unique sound, and yet somehow manages to keep a kind of timeless class about it. But of course, that’s just my opinion. Chances are that yours will differ – and I think for Strange Mercy, that’s the way that the artist wants it.
Musichord Rating: 8/10
[Warner Bros] 2011
I’m not sure how you see it, but when people use the term “folk” to describe music, it conjours up to me visions of down-home troubadours with guitars and plaintive lyrical storytelling. (There may or may not be a lute involved.) Think Nick Drake, Woody Guthrie or Pre-electric Dylan. Kiss Each Other Clean is not that kind of muisc. And yet, as I was casting around for some kind of pigeonhole to put this into, I felt that I kept coming back to “folk”.
Iron & Wine is the nom de plume of Sam Beam, a South Carolinian singer and songwriter,now based in Austin. Kiss Each Other Clean is his fourth studio album, and it’s a richly detailed tapestry of carefully crafted songs with considerable lyrical depth.
It’s not always easy to explain – it’s probably better if you experience it for yourself.
Here’s a link to listen to the first song on the record, Walking Far From Home:
Click play, close your eyes for a moment, and as you listen, let your mind conjour up each of the things Sam saw on his travels, and share the fast-edited strangeness and curiousness that the musical landscape has to offer.
Did you do that? No, you didn’t. Go on, I’ll wait right here. Don’t worry about looking silly. Close your eyes, it’s important.
This review will be much better once we’ve both been through the experience…
Now, wasn’t that a weird adventure? (My favourite bit was the strippers and the little white dog.)
And that is just the vestibule of what turns out to be a thoroughly intriguing record. Sam Beam’s dense lyrics, lilting voice and the whole production of the record serve as pallete, paint and easel to some unique and engaging artwork. Kiss Each Other Clean always has something tasty to offer your ears – be it jazz flute, marimba, Hammond organ, ska-like horns and dense pulsing electro basslines.
The entire collection of songs sports a musical diversity that transcends genres and influences in a way that seems effortless. If you are a fan of Sufjan Stevens’ Illinois, I think you will also like this record – both artists have a delicate, intelligent and almost fragile view of the world, and a deep, swooping melodic skill when it comes to songcraft.
And like Illinois, this record seems to be about individuals, about society, about faith and behaviour and love and time. And so, we’re back to that notion of “folk” music. At it’s roots, the word folk means “the people”. All of these elements are things that define people, and so for me, this is a folk record – an electric, clever, delicately crafted and well produced piece of art for people who love music, and love people.
Musichord Rating: 7.5/10