the important and the not-so-important, horribly conflated.

while i was listening to “merriweather post pavilion” for the 20th time…

In music on June 11, 2009 at 12:23 pm

… these albums were released, and are quite wonderful in their own ways:

actor / st. vincent: annie clark supposedly wrote the music for this album with garageband’s little composing tool, and then had her friends perform the parts live. the result is something uniquely and completely imagined, whole–perfect, until you notice how odd some of the compositions are. “laughing with a mouthful of blood” and “marrow,” coming back-to-back on the LP’s second side are perhaps the best (and strangest) of the bunch–clark’s guitars (clean on “laughing” and distorted on “marrow”) weave in and out with lush orchestration on these songs, yet her voice pierces through everything, never raising in volume while getting the point across, like a professor who knows she’s right. a taste: “actor out of work”

face control / handsome furs: dan boeckner, one half of wolf parade’s writing team, is often self-referential–if not outright self-plagiarizing: a lot of these tunes have similar riffs to WP’s at mount zoomer; still, they have more breathing room on face control. boeckner tends to carry a single chord progression throughout his songs, letting layers of keyboard and muffled guitar add complexity, and on this album, he builds tension by withholding or burying certain melodic lines. their eventual reemergence providing the thrill of face control‘s somewhat understated songs. the 3 short interludes on the album are completely self-indulgent on boeckner’s part, but are tiny gems–bringing sparkle to the precise, utilitarian goodness that is the rest of the album.  the best of the set: “radio kaliningrad”

little hells / marissa nadler: though hopelessly front-loaded, nadler’s latest actually deserves the often heavy-handed adjective attached to her music–‘haunting’: not quite a song-cycle, little hells is populated with repeated themes and lyrics that, like the ghosts in nadler’s songs, are both familiar and eerily distant. this phenomenon is not limited to the album as a whole, though–within songs like “the hole is wide,” you struggle sometimes to differentiate between perceived and actual distortions of repeated piano or guitar lines. chalk it up as great production, maybe, but echos have a strange vitality in nadler’s songs. exhibit a: the title song

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