Monday, February 22, 2010

Efterkland
Magic Chairs
4 AD Records


The band is from Copenhagen, their third album overall, and their 4 AD debut. The band’s name means “remembrance” or “reverberation.”

Musically and lyrically the band combines the soft, soothing wonder of Nursery Crime era Genesis, or Radiohead without the doom and gloom. Lead singer Casper Clausen is a better singer than Peter Gabriel or Thom Yorke. Clausen is not obnoxious or whiny. He and the band are very good, pleasant to listen to, and very relaxing. [
www.myspace.com/efterklang]
Andrea Weiss



Holly Miranda
The Magician’s Private Library
XL Recordings


It is wonderful to hear an album as fresh and unique as Miranda’s debut. By avoiding all the lyrical clich├ęs about how life and love is filled with joy or pain in favor of dreamscapes, especially lucid dreamscapes, she imagines a world where anything is possible.

Musically the sound is soft, lush, and yes, dream-like. It is a magical sound, happily not hackneyed, one that shimmers, and adds texture to the lyrics, especially on “Sweet Dreams.” David Andrew Sitek of TV on the Radio produced the album, and it’s what Miranda gets from that band’s sound that lends weight and power to it, with extra power provided by Kip Malone’s duet with Miranda on “Slow Burn Treason.”

The album’s title comes from her uncle David, who said Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon sounded like “the magician’s private library.” This album is dedicated to him. Miranda says the title could be anything and anywhere, which fits this album just right, and sum up this great album very neatly. [
www.myspace.com/hollymiranda]
Andrea Weiss


Shearwater
The Golden Archipelago
Matador Records

The wonder of nature found in solitude is the theme of The Golden Archipelago. Researcher and singer/songwriter Jonathan Meiburg has lived on various islands, among them the Falklands, the Galapagos, and Madagascar. He found numinous silences, lushness and austerity, and how nature and humans live with these kinds of extremes. The music reflects all of this, quiet one minute, swelling to a roar the next, beautiful and eerie, with Meiburg’s calm, deep voice tying everything together.

While the lyrics put into words his feelings about living in very remote places, after awhile it’s apparent that Meiburg would prefer to live without human contact, and that nature is all he needs. It’s what makes this album so sad to listen to, almost unbearably sad, and in the end annoying. What is so bad about humankind that makes nature preferable? The question is never answered. It is that unanswered question that in the end makes this an album to skip, it is beyond belief that Meiburg would want to be alone like that. People need people, and anything else isn’t creditable. [
www.myspace.com/shearwater]
Andrea Weiss

Monday, February 8, 2010

Gil Scott-Heron
I’m New Here
XL Recordings

The music is barely present. It serves as various grooves, or foundations, and is always shortchanging itself by never sounding as rich or full as it could be. It’s the words that matter.

Most of these lyrics hit home, whether spoken or sung. Scott-Heron looks back on his life. He tells the truth, as he sees it, and it’s sometimes bitter, sometimes sad, and sometimes angry. “On Coming From a Broken Home, Parts 1 and 2,” he expresses love for his grandmother, mother, and all the women who raised him who made him a man. He had no men in his life growing up.

There is one little wrinkle with that two part song though. On “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” his most famous song, he slams feminists as “hairy armed women’s liberationists.” But all the women who raised him do sound like the very feminists he sneers at, so it’s hard to know how seriously to take “On Coming From a Broken Home.” This and the music mars a great album, which is too bad, he still has all his talent intact at 60, and still has plenty to say.
[www.gilscottheron.net]
Andrea Weiss




Pantha Du Prince
Black Noise
Rough Trade

This album is somewhere between ambient tencho and new age music. Prince takes synthesizers, mixes them with acoustic guitars, steel drums on some tracks, marimbas on others, and found sounds such as knocking, ringing, and barking. Noah Lennox of Animal Collective sings on “Stick to My Side” and Tyler Pope of !!! and LCD Soundsystem plays bass on “The Splendour.”

However, for all the ambient noise, the beat is too fast to be much good for meditating, which is what new age music mostly is used for, but not fast enough for danceing. What is left is an album that hums loudly in the background, which is not much fun for chilling out to. But for doing choirs or exercising, for example, it is perfect, and no use for reading, writing or painting. [
www.myspace.com/panthaduprince]
Andrea Weiss

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