New to the Library: “Year of the Monkey” Osso & Sufjan Stevens; arr. Michael Atkinson

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/9/90/Run_Rabbit_Run_cover.jpg/220px-Run_Rabbit_Run_cover.jpgI got this track to add to a mix cd for my mom, a year-of-the-monkey herself. I’m not sure that I love it, but it -is- good.

It is stark and bewildering. In many ways, a complete contrast to their “Year of the Dragon” (me : D). Although it begins bright and a bit shy, most of the track is filled with dissonant chords, phrases that start and stop, and seemingly none on repeat. This finally works its way into a huge swelling bridge that overwhelms the senses. It then takes a huge gasp for breath and pushes harder into the swirl of discomfort. After which, the bridge promptly breaks down into jangling that is even more disorienting than the beginning of the song. It is very much the kind of compositional arch you might find in a running-confused-through-the-forest type film scene.

Overall, I find it quite beautiful in a jabbing, dangerous sort of way. Definitely worth a taste.

3.5/5

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New to the Library: “Year of the Monkey” Osso & Sufjan Stevens; arr. Michael Atkinson

On Repeat: “Bury Me With It” Modest Mouse

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CffYry0WsAEpVyG.jpgThis song very rapidly and unexpectedly became my anthem for around the clock–walking to work, working, walking home, showering, and knowing me–singing it in my dreams. I never seek out Modest Mouse songs, they just sort of *find me* when I need them the most.

I think, in part, it was really the only appropriate theme song for my approaching-return-of-saturn apprehension. In general the lyrics are basically like, “if life isn’t gonna be a damn ball, then I’m fucking going down with it” hammered throughout with the “PLEASE bury me with it!” This was clicking really well with my nostalgic review of my 20’s–what was really rad that I don’t want to lose? What do I never want to experience ever, ever again? All underlined by Isaac Brock’s exasperated delivery of “I just don’t need none of that Mad Max bullshit.”

In terms of composition, the track has a lot of “regular visitors” from the Modest Mouse sound–not a bad thing. This quality helps you “feel like home” in many of their songs. I do love the little repeated bass licks in this track. It really helps keep it all moving forward. It’s also really fun to listen to how the drums and bass sort of flow in and out of each other–it’s very subtle, but is cool to focus on through a listen.

All in all, this is a great jam. In the same breath, I don’t know that I’d offer this as a first Modest Mouse song to a new listener. It’s sort of like your rowdy, drunk friend. They are a blast to hang out with, but it might be a little awkward to introduce them to a stranger before they sober up.

4/5

On Repeat: “Bury Me With It” Modest Mouse

New to the Library: “Spanish Death Song” The Builders and the Butchers

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/8Ql4hVJzLB0/maxresdefault.jpgAlthough this is new to my digital library, it is not new to the marriage-merge CD library. But! This creates a nice opportunity to give a shout out to a great little song that helped me through some shit times in Eugene, OR. For whatever reason, the first few tracks of this album (The Builders and the Butchers) became my daily post-Safeway-hell go to. Maybe it’s the nostalgia for the god-awful swine flu that I had in 2009…we’ll never know.

The vocal melody on this track is hypnotic.¬† But I think even more than that, the percussion on this and several other songs on this album is what drives the addiction. They use many different percussive instruments throughout “Spanish Death Song” and it really gives you the feel of being in a live music circle. Which to come full circle, is not that far from the block-surrounding-the-Kiva vibe of downtown Eugene. If you’re into faux-gypsy-indie-clap-alongs, check this one out. : D

4/5

 

 

New to the Library: “Spanish Death Song” The Builders and the Butchers

New to the Library: Not the Actual Events EP-Nine Inch Nails

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/9/9c/Not_the_Actual_Events.jpgBefore I begin to dig into this EP, I would first like to shout out a really great review done on big bad Pfork on The Fragile.

Onwards. I am enjoying the heck out of this record. It is certainly not a groundbreaking NIN album, but if you’ve got a good speaker system or some juicy headphones, treat yourself to the sonic delights of perfectly produced music. Reznor is really good at splitting channels in songs, which doesn’t come to it’s full potential until the listener pops on a headseat and is trapped in an aural teeter-totter. (Side note, this is also a way to hear some lyrics better. On many tracks the wall-of-sound is hard-panned to one side and then the lyrics come out crisp and clear on the other.)

I would also like to take a moment to address some oddities I found on the interwebs before I began: One of his grimiest records since Downward Spiral (wuh-hut??); blas√© reviews on The Slip & Hesitation Marks (is. you. doin??); no one ever talking about Ghosts I-IV (bruh.) So for those in the back who weigh in when they feel like having an opinion on a record they half-assed listened to once: fuck all y’all. To me there are only two reasons to have these dumb ideas: you haven’t gotten over Downward Spiral and expect every album to be more of the same (ew) OR you hopped on the wagon because you thought With Teeth was awesome (double ew). The reason why Ghosts I-IV is so important to the catalog is that it concludes the content of the previous albums and ushers in the new era. Essentially, Year Zero is what With Teeth was supposed to be–the capstone to anger and desolation & in the same moment restored fans faith in Trent Reznor. So, everything that has been made since Ghosts I-IV is the new age of Nine Inch Nails. You will need to accept and enjoy complex electronic rhythms, exploration into new genres (world, jazz, funk), and letting your mind meditate in the atmospheric murk if you want to continue to appreciate their albums.

Now that the emotional vomit is out, let’s move on.

  • “Branches / Bones” really showcases the industrial-wall-of-sound that Reznor has been cultivating at least since The Fragile‘s “Starfuckers, Inc.”, if not much earlier. It’s sort of like screaming into a pillow before having a hard conversation and it works as a nice wake-the-fuck-up track.
  • “Dear World,” is so drum heavy it makes it hard to breath. When all the sounds are combined there is no pause, no rest. So when it breaks out into thinner layers it feels like a relief. And right when it stops and you can hear yourself think for a second, in pumps the 2-channel voice layers. It’s very The Slip and very tasty.
  • “She Gone Away” is so rad. I love nothing more than the gravelly bottom of Reznor’s range, yum yum yum. On a more serious note, both the music and vocal arrangements are very reminiscent of Puscifer songs; and I can’t help but wonder if this is what the never-materialized Reznor-Maynard album would have sounded like. The bassline is basic and mesmerizing. If Not the Actual Events is some sort of nostalgia tour then the drum and bass interplay on this track definitely reeks of The Fragile‘s “I’m Looking Forward to Joining You, Finally.”
  • The chanty/yelly vocal parts on “The Idea of You,” oddly enough, remind me a lot of Faith No More. And if Trent whispering in the background ala “Closer” and “I Do Not Want This” is your heaven, then welcome to your next favorite track. AND, for those of you who have been bellyaching about “too much electronic,” here is your bleedin’ rock track.
  • It’s very possible that “Burning Bright (Field on Fire)” is my favorite song of the bunch. The opening stanza “I’m goin’ back/ Of course I am/ As if I ever had a choice/ Back to what I always knew I was/ On the inside/ Back to what I really am” feels like a lyrical home. And on a much more personal note, is really resonating with my ever closer return-of-Saturn. The music is grimey, crunchy and electric. There are also moments where the bass guitar and bass drum drop at the same moment and give that endlessly deep sound I most often associate with the most soul ripping Korn drops (I know, I know, who makes Korn references–but. it. applies.) I always feel a little blah about rock artists imitating fascist rallies ala NIN, Manson, Pink Floyd, etc. Mostly because I have a deep concern about/experience with this being turned by some less critically-analyzing fans into these bands condoning Nazism, which as far as I can tell is the exact opposite of what the artists are doing. But in this case, it’s faint enough that I can kind of stop and enjoy the journey instead of being worried about Reznor acci-encouraging neo-Nazi assholes.

Overall this EP is good. It does have a lot of compositional overlap with previous albums, but it’s enjoyable, not a drag. It feels kinda like a B-sides collection. Who doesn’t love B-sides? My bigger hope is that…does that mean we’re gonna get another tour?? Because man, oh man, does Reznor put on amazing. fucking. shows. *sigh* I guess I’ll just have to cross my fingers, hold my breath, and wish upon a star.

4/5

 

New to the Library: Not the Actual Events EP-Nine Inch Nails

New to the Library: “Grindin’ (Selector Remix)” Clipse

https://verzweigung.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/e77c2-1gbtpfyd1fqoedhbshdt2_w.gif?w=416&h=234I came visiting Clipse in iTunes for the old times, I stayed for the Sean-uh Paul, Bless & Kardinal Offishall sprinkled remix.

In case you were living under a rock in 2002, this was a hot track. But to my dismay, in trying to make a mix I discovered that it was not in my collection. *gasp* So although it is new to my library, it is definitely not new to my heart.

If you’ve never heard it and want to dabble in some turn-of-the-century hip-hop, this is a good one to hit. AND if you haven’t had the pleasure of checking out this Caribbea-licious remix, give it a whirl.

3.5/5

New to the Library: “Grindin’ (Selector Remix)” Clipse

New to the Library: “Jasmine (Demo)” Jai Paul

https://images.genius.com/1e65022a89546a09baad6a2354aa3659.1000x1000x1.jpgI really feel weird doing a “New to the Library” on a track that I got over a year ago…but! life is wild and I am majorly ?blog-logged? Not sure if that’s gonna fly, but either way I have a lot of old shit to sift through…Which brings us to the beloved “Jasmine (Demo)” by Jai Paul.

This song has grown near and dear to my heart, first but not least, because I got it just a wee bit before our larger-than-life Prince passed away. During those first few months I really clung to this song in a “the spirit of Prince will live on” sort of way. At first I thought it was because of Jai Paul’s lean towards breathy falsetto, but I’m realizing that there are a lot more elements that scream Purple Rain & 1999 era Prince. In an interview with Pitchfork, Caribou describes how there are sounds that sort of fly at you out of nowhere and how those sonic surprises make the track invigorating and singular. I also think there is a sort of melancholy that winds through the thumpy bass, noodly guitar, and lilted journey of Jai Paul’s vocal range. If you’re on the fence at first, give it another five listens–trust me you’ll be hooked.

5/5

Saudade Slayage: 9.5/10

New to the Library: “Jasmine (Demo)” Jai Paul

New to the Library: “Bullet Proof Soul” Iron & Wine

https://i2.wp.com/static.stereogum.com/uploads/2015/11/ironwine-gwar.png

I spent a night at work listening to Iron & Wine’s Sing Into My Mouth album on YouTube (sorry Sam, but long gone are the days when my record collection was small enough to add what the fuck ever without listening first & frankly after Ghost on Ghost I’ve become a Iron & Wine skeptic) and really loved it is a whole album, which is pretty rare these days.

The song that really stood out the most was the “Bullet Proof Soul” cover (original by Sade). I stumbled across this album and song not long after diving into a emotional longing that may well turn out to be lifelong. *sigh* Hilariously, the lyrics don’t really speak to that longing–but the music, including the vocal melody, hits that sweet spot of my soul. Sam Beam’s vocal delivery is plaintive and contemplative. And those damn brushes! Gets me every time. Normally I hate twangy shit, but it’s a nice touch here. If you want to feel good and sorry for yourself for five minutes, this track is a nice place to stop and have a beer.

4.5/5

New to the Library: “Bullet Proof Soul” Iron & Wine