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.
I was going to write about another song but I just couldn’t get this one out of my head. Perhaps the most talked about song in the past week, “This Is America” was created by Childish Gambino, Donald Glover‘s musical alter ego, and Ludwig Göransson, a Swedish composer who produced music for Black Panther and all three of Glover’s studio releases. The non-single, and its accompanying music video, blatantly demonstrates how black people are being treated in America right now. It’s less a response, and more of a clarification to anyone who does not totally understand the turmoil black people continue to face in American society, especially after a shooting.
Janelle Monáe, you glorious pansexual goddess, I don’t know what to do with you. For two albums, I’ve been following Cindi Mayweather’s funky journey of black queerness and now, you’ve dropped all pretense and revealed your true self. I won’t lie, the change threw me off completely. I was listening to the promotional singles wondering “What the hell’s going on?” I was getting really worried because nothing really sticked. All of the songs sounded a little too beyond my tastes, mixing hip hop, rap, and R&B in a style unfamiliar to the classy stylings of Monáe’s previous albums. Also, I hated “Pynk,” a song featuring the lovely Grimes, who seemed to not use her best capabilities, and I was positive nothing would change my mind on that. It wasn’t until I listened to the album that I realized that all these songs were part of one giant message of loving yourself and fighting the powers that be. This album kept me smiling from beginning to end and even though I was listening to this at work, I couldn’t pay attention to anything else until the dramatic finale. In short, Janelle Monáe’s latest album Dirty Computer is nothing short of amazing, giving the most complete package of her artistry yet. Also, yes, my mind has changed completely on “Pynk” and it is one of the highlights of the album.
Sofi Tukker is comprised of Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern (get how they got their name?). They’ve been around, at least to our attention, since the release of their first EP back in 2016 called Soft Animals, which spawned the Grammy nominee for Best Dance Recording, “Drinkee.” They’ve just now released their debut LP, Treehouse, which is one of the better electronic dance pop albums that I’ve heard in a while. If you’re not familiar with the duo, you probably already know a few of their songs. Turns out, Apple loves them. The tech giant has utilized not one but three of their songs–the aforementioned “Drinkee,” and two from this album, “Best Friend” and “Batshit”–in their iPhone commercials. But enough about that. We’re here to discuss “Benadryl,” the as-of-now non-single from their remarkable debut.
There are times in my life where my fellow Colorful Monsters correspondents tell me I should listen to an album, leading me to listening to the first song from it and then doing something else. Whether or not the artist is any good is beyond my comprehension as I am a very picky listener. If this blog was Look At This And Why I Hate It, I would talk to you about songs from those occurrences. Instead, we have a rare example where an album is so gosh darn catchy that I wake up to the music in my head.
I think 4 months has been quite enough. While Ellis had already starting throwing his thoughts into the digital vacuum with some really good tunes, I’m just now bursting with songs and albums that I can’t wait to share with anyone who would listen. And there’s really no better way to start my first Colorful Monsters article of the year than with a heavy, noisy, absolutely-catastrophic, loud electronic beast of a song, “This World Is Sick,” by IC3PEAK.
So today, we’re not just coming out of left field as we’re talking about a completely different sport, altogether. I think it’s racquetball, but your mileage may vary. Yes, my tastes in music go beyond indie rock/pop and you’re correct in realizing the song I’m recommending isn’t English. K-Pop, for me, started as an interesting genre that was “too foreign” or “too flashy” for me to enjoy. The music is obnoxious, everyone is in a group of beautiful men and women, and there’s a shallowness to all of it.
It always really sucks to hear about someone passing away long before it made any sense. This past Friday, Avicii died at the age of 28. While I may not have known him at all, his passing stuck with me as both a complete shock and a retrospect over his work. I feel like I’ve never really appreciated what he’s done. So for today, I’m going to temporarily break my rules and look back on the Avicii work that I’m familiar with and how important it was then and now.
It is unbelievably easy to be a fan of CHVRCHES (pronounced cha-ver-chiz) partly because they’ve spent the past decade making the same song over and over again. Was this a very rude statement? Yes, but it was said out of pure love. I think CHVRCHES has a very specific style of synth-pop that they’ve perfected to such an extent that they’ve made a career out of it. Once again, this isn’t a criticism. I am personally amazed at their consistency and how each song is so subtly different that you can’t fully replace one with the other. And to their credit, rather than stagnating, I think they’ve been getting better.
…Now, you may be asking yourselves why wasn’t there a post on Friday. Well, this is Friday’s post. Why is it on a Monday?
Let’s talk about U.S. Girls!
U.S. Girls made nine albums. NINE ALBUMS! I’ve just heard about Meg Remy, the head of the project, a couple of months ago, how long was she around? The answer is 2008. It took ten years to even listen to a single thing she has done. I just started high school in 2008! She doesn’t even live in the U.S. anymore, but if you’ve been using the band name for that long, you might as well keep it. In all seriousness, there are quite a few people who have made many albums before they reached any sort of attention outside of their respective niches, and I will possibly talk about one of them in the near future. In any case, I do hope she gets more attention as her latest album, In a Poem Unlimited, is fantastic. It’s a combination of a lot of different sounds ranging from noise-pop, art rock, art pop, art art, I don’t know. It’s a fascinating style that she uses…it’s a shame that the song that I fell in love with is not actually all that drastically unusual.