Mitski was a name that kept floating around in various podcast discussions and indie underground circles. Though she released 4 albums already, I didn’t really understand her damage until Puberty 2, her 2016 album. And even then, I didn’t exactly get it. She’s one of those artists that, at least for me, took a while to figure out. I had to listen to Puberty 2 a couple of times to finally acknowledge it as a collection of music. She sounded good. She had a point of view. But I wasn’t terribly in love with it. And seeing her perform at Coachella didn’t exactly change my mind–however it was funny to see her get a bit peeved at a band mate. She didn’t exactly seem to be in a bright mood for most of the set (though I don’t know how she usually happens to act in front of a crowd). Nevertheless, she released the first single for her upcoming 5th album, Be The Cowboy, called “Geyser.” It is a departure from her previous work in an assortment of ways; but I can’t help to get goosebumps every time I hear it.
Why am I saying LUMP? Why am I yelling at you? These questions shouldn’t have answers and I would rather they didn’t, but sadly we mustn’t all get what we want.
I’ve discovered Elza Soares back in 2016 when she released her experimental Afro-Brazilian album, A Mulher do Fim do Mundo (The Woman at the End of the World). Soares is considered a Brazilian hero, having amassed more than 5 decades of music (I gave up trying to count how many albums she actually produced) after exploding onto the MPB (música popular brasileira) scene by winning in a talent show. It’s hard to realize that Soares was in her late 70’s when she came out with A Mulher do Fim do Mundo; an album that mixes one of the coolest genre fusions of all time, samba and electronic punk. Her follow-up, Deus é Mulher (God is a Woman), continues the experiment, albeit a more political one, with the help of producer Guilherme Kastrup, who also worked on her previous album and is known for popularizing Brazilian’s avant-garde perspective, or “Samba Dirty.”
Kacey Musgraves‘ latest album Golden Hour is probably the worst album that she’s made since garnering widespread acclaim in 2013 with Same Trailer Different Park. It is also a fantastic mix of country and pop that is produced wonderfully and leaves you in a positive love-filled mood…if you’re already in a positive love-filled mood. Clearly, I am a fantastic salesman.
The song I’m talking about came out as a single last year, but the video came out this year and I’ve only heard about it through the video. By my initial rules, this very much counts.
Michelle Zauner’s solo project, Japanese Breakfast, is an act that I keep thinking is not my thing, yet I keep getting attracted by the singles. I tried listening to Soft Sounds From Another Planet when it first came out and left it feeling like it was TOO soft. Yet, “Machinist”, the song that got me interested in listening to the album, was one of my favorite songs of last year and was on my jogging playlist for almost half of a year. “Machinist” is soft, but in an electric space auto-tune kind of way. It also has a saxophone. It’s a great song, you should try it.
It wasn’t until The Vaccines released their 4th album, Combat Sports, have I begun to acknowledge their existence. That would’ve almost disappointed me if it wasn’t for music critics explicating this album as their best; meaning, I didn’t miss out from taking in their peak performance directly, and didn’t need to be there when they were still trying to figure purpose into the equation and distance themselves from people comparing them to rock legends. Of course somebody would’ve been disappointed. It’s probably the worst thing critics could do to rising talent (see Viva Brother for details). But it seems as if the English band have reset their musical strategy and are finally having fun. Combat Sports’ noisy synth-y dreaminess is a totally cohesive blast.
Right, I keep meaning to bring up Wye Oak. They are a duo consisting of Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack, having formed in 2006 and made six albums to date. Wasner had done previous and parallel work as part of Dungeonesse and as a solo act called Flock of Dimes, respectively. Stack had done smaller projects mostly related to being a touring drummer and remixing tracks for Sylvan Esso and other artists. They’ve garnered a lot of critical attention and a strong following, but it wasn’t until their latest album, The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs, that I’ve ever listened to their music. They’re described as indie rock/folk, which is true, if a little vague. From my sphere of music, they remind me a lot of the album Hairless Toys by Roisin Murphy. Though Murphy is clearly an electronic act, and Wye Oak isn’t, they both share this airy atmospheric direction in their songwriting and music. It’s laid back but layered, giving a lot of breathing room when listening to their music and understanding the mood Wye Oak is setting.