February 12, 2015

Björk: "Vulnicura".


The past few years have been quite productive for Björk, seeing the release of her 2011 album/iPad app Biophilia, her recent MoMA retrospective, and even contributing vocals to the first half of Death Grips' double album The Powers That B. Björk has been on a roll, and it seems that her 30 plus year career isn’t going to slow down anytime soon. Vulnicura delivers what has come to be considered "textbook Björk" glitchy sequencing, sparse multi-instrumentation, and a powerfully-frail vocal aesthetic – only, this time through the eyes of a broken heart. She even goes so far as to document the months leading up to and after her break-up in the liner notes for each song. 

The instrumentation on Vulnicura is reminiscent of Homogenic and Vespertine, but never truly feels like she is retreading old ground. The strings are lush and bright, the drum beats hit with maddening precision and Björk’s vocals soar and are clearly emotionally charged. Tracks like “Stonemilker” and “Lionsong” are great examples of all these elements working together in harmony. The skittering synthesizers on “History of Touches” are a welcome change of pace from the orchestral driven openers, and constant collaborator Antony Hegarty contributes his soulful croon, adding extra emotional depth to “Atom Dance.” 

For all its love-lost charm and art pop sensibility, it unfortunately sinks with the aptly-titled closing track “Quicksand” – the weakest of the bunch, interrupting the overall cohesiveness and hindering the record from becoming a front-to-back masterpiece. 

In the past, I’ve always considered Björk to be a little outside of my listening bracket (is it the swan dress?), but after hearing this record, I feel a change upon the horizon. All eyes on Iceland. 

✭✭✩✩  |  8/10

February 9, 2015

Panda Bear: "Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper".


Yawn.

But not necessarily because it's awful (which it is); Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper is so intellectually impotent and sonically barren, it sets one's mind adrift amidst the clouds, which at once become makeshift trampolines that ping-pong the astral body to and fro, giggling with glee like a tickled toddler. The music contained within the record's fifty-one minute span could be adequately described as some surferesque attempt at marrying Surf's Up with New Age Of Earth, for reasons unknown or unknowable.

However, maybe that's the whole point - in which case, even the concept itself is awful. Should something be said of PB meeting the grim reaper? Does this offering constitute Noah's dying dirge? Is death totally into experimental muzak? Are any of these questions even worth pondering?

Cue the nightmares.

✭✭✩✩  |  2/10

August 28, 2014

Waiting For October: Polaris at Lincoln Hall.

http://www.lincolnhallchicago.com/Shows/10-26-2014+Polaris

Any nineties kid will remember the snarky brothers Pete from the Nickelodeon television series The Adventures of Pete and Pete; this was a time before cell phones and email, before iTunes libraries full of pirated music. These were the days when digital meant compact disc; when combat boots and flannel were cool amongst the counter-culture (for the first time). This was also when indie rock first entered into the mainstream adolescent consciousness, aided and abetted by indie rockers Miracle Legion - renamed Polaris for the show, and serving up the soundtrack to the Petes' many (mis)adventures.

Polaris - comprised of Miracle Legion's Mark "Muggy" Mulcahy, Dave "Jersey" McCaffrey, and Scott "Harris Polaris" Boutier - have ensnared many more fans throughout the years following the show's air than the younger Pete could have ever dreamed as he stood paralyzed by the hypnotic, jangly, three-chorded power-pop riffage of "Summerbaby"; undoubtedly, they have captured a sizable niche of echo boomers who - much like young Pete - just happened to be in the right place at the right time (in front of their television sets as those legendary opening words, "Hey smilin' strange / you're lookin' happily deranged," smashed through the windshield of the pop-culture bandwagon). The proof is here at last, after nearly two decades: Polaris - the band that once only lived in your TV - is coming to a concert hall near you.

Muggy, Jersey, and Harris Polaris will be performing live for the first time...well, ever (outside Wellsville, that is)...at Lincoln Hall in Chicago on Sunday, October 26th at 8 PM. We hear an EP featuring new Polaris tunes will appear soon, as well. I, for one, will be "Waiting for October" like "nobody knows, nobody knows..."

April 26, 2014

Joel Mattern: The Wrecker.



A summery new release for the impending season. This two-song single's title track is up for inclusion on TuneCore's Choose Independence compilation, so be hopeful and on the lookout! The new single is currently available for $2 on my BandCamp page. Give it a listen (through a good set of speakers or phones - LOUD).

April 24, 2014

Deerhoof @ Langlab.

San Francisco art rock four-piece Deerhoof take over South Bend's Langlab! Don't be a dog on the sidewalk - come out and see this amazing band in action! Show starts at 7 PM, featuring Awkwafina and Celestial Shore, as well as South Bend natives The Rutabega. Visit www.langlabsb.com for details/tickets.
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