GIRL CRUSH. These are some lovely and talented ladies.
GIRL CRUSH. These are some lovely and talented ladies.
If you’re a 90s kid with an affinity for New Age music and slow jams, Moko is your kryptonite. Enjoy.
Laissez les bons temps rouler,
I wanted to give a s/o to those artists with obviously unfulfilled potential. The early rounds, for these folks, are hopefully just warm-ups.
Jake Bugg: English musician, really compelling for a few seconds at a time, every few seconds. Enough to keep you guessing but also stay a little disappointed. Lots going on, but not enough. Yet.
Lianne Las Havas: Another English artist, beautiful voice and aesthetic. Her sound is wonderful, but her lyrics need a little bit more depth than they have. She will get more confident and her lyrics will get better.
Sky Ferriera: Hard to argue with this beautiful American pop-punk princess. Think Marina and the Diamonds, but she is a touch less refined and maybe more melancholic. While she is a niche artist – that is, I’m not sure she has potential for mainstream longevity – she is doing a great job making a name for herself. I’m interested in seeing how her artistic concepts develop.
It’s a greying day in early May, and I just want to find my way to a slinky, swanky bar and go dancing. Maybe to this one:
Ladino Song – Oi Va Voi
Something about that song, maybe it’s the subtle horns, reminds me of a Wes Anderson movie. The melody is vaguely unsettling, almost sinister, as most of his visuals are. I love that subtle subversion.
It’s a little something, but here’s one of my favorite songs (this one’s actually from a Wes Anderson short film, Hotel Chevalier.):
If that can’t get you where you’re going, then you’re going the wrong places.
A day late and a dollar short, deep in the summer’s inevitable introspections, I had a realization: I’ve allowed my tastes to be not just directed but shaped by others’ opinions. I think in following others’ lead, I lost some of my own sensibilities. While aesthetics, zeitgeists, shift through time I’d experienced more than that. I was looking at different kinds of artists, diving into different kinds of music, criticizing different sorts of things. One hundred thousand adages can tell you things like “Be Yourself” but it takes a preoccupation with trends to feel the need to remind yourself. With that in mind, I’m dissecting some trends and in the process, calling bull on myself where necessary.
As an aside: My friends are interesting and my age is of the inter webs, which I took for granted earlier but feel the need to declare now. The highlighted trends that will be relevant to the discussion, because it is likely common ground and visible, are from the world wide web.
1. Rap/Hip-Hop, depending on what definition you prefer: I do love the music, appreciate the style, the whole nine yards. I’m into it. But let’s be real here, Kitty Pryde is not a high-quality rapper. Whatever arguments you can make for Kitty Pryde, or Lil B, or whoever Twitter’s #rapperoftheweek is, I’ve made them. I’ve listened to them being made, paid attention and if not agreed, at least acknowledged. The fact that, at this stage of her career, she’s anything more than a very minor blip on the radar screen proves the point that it’s a trend. Lil B, whose enthusiasm and general goodwill I am fond of, or Kitty Pride, whose style I despise but cadence/flow I begrudgingly enjoy (look at me still justifying myself), gain a fan base and that’s great. Power to them. I’m not here to take away anything from their accomplishments. But I am here to say that 1. it’s a trend, and 2. this type of music industry doesn’t produce high-quality artists. When every sound can be sold, there’s not value to being good. There’s only value in being different. Which is fine if different and new is all you want, but I’d rather 100 Frank Ocean and early The Weeknds then 1,000 Kreayshawns and Lil Bs. While we’re at it, I like soulful music and I love old-school country. While Taylor Swift makes my ears bleed, sign me up forever for Johnny Cash and Justin Townes Earles and Willy Nelson and the soulful stuff.
2. Internet art: The accessibility of the internet is its greatest asset. But so-called internet art is lazy. By internet art, I mean the images and symbols and compositions that occur so frequently on the interweb. Cosmic cats? Graphic photo-collages? Pixel art? That lacks originality and artistry. If that’s what you want to surround yourself with, by all means, do. But I’m not going to pretend it’s anything other than simplifications, visual representations of pop cultures endless echo chamber. Theorize all you like about what internet art says about our generation- I’m sure it’ll be wonderfully interesting and full of all the usual bull. But don’t call it inspired- that it is not.
As an oblique sort of proof, an emphasis on the medium and method as an intrinsic end is required to justify its artistic value. That necessity on explanation shows that it’s a flattened sort of art, an easy, an unsustainable art. Quirky, funny, clever, accessible, current, yes. Da Vinci didn’t need medium and method to prove his point, and neither did Dali or Miro. Means to an end, but not the end in itself. This emphasis on the medium and method are characteristic of modern art, and even contemporary art. I have a theory that art became sterile and too oblique around the time medium and method became the primary movers of the art world. Jackson Pollack, one of the first to emphasize method, was revolutionary, but method was again a means to an end, not an intrinsic end. Besides the “if you’re not first, you’re last” idea, it’s important to recognize that Pollack’s work, and other revolutionary artists’, struck people and resonated. That being said, I’ll never give up iheartcatgifs.tumblr.com. GIFs are, for now, manipulable enough to be a whole different story. I’m not a fan of so-called “internet art,” though I might have fooled you a year ago.
3. * cRaZy SyMbOls *:
It’s not always bad but it’s not always good, and it’s always indicative. For me, trendy frivolity is nothing to be proud of. If it looks good, roll with it, but if your diamonds and snowflakes and capitals are a desperate internet plea for quote-unquote relevancy, just, no.
The bottom line is this: You Don’t Need Anyone To Tell You What’s Good. You Know.
As always, and especially now, laissez les bon temps rouler,
Running headfirst into the deep middle of summer, I’m feeling a little swamped in this casual bedlam and controlled abandon. My to-do and to-don’t lists are both miles long; they’re not getting any shorter and tomorrow is still coming on strong, but I think there’s still time for a brief detour. With that spirit, I’m diving into a couple songs that I just can’t get enough of. Get ready for the short sonic vacation, boat departing now:
A slinky, shimmering cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me To The End Of Love,” by Girl Crisis. Girl Crisis is the kind of supergroup you’d dream about if you dreamt of Brooklyn’s female musicians banding together and recording haunting tracks in that dewy Super 8mm film. Their version of this song loses some of Cohen’s charm in favor of seduction:
Every few months, the band releases another cover track. And though the women involved have changed slightly since the first videos in 2008, the aesthetic is cohesive. If you like this one, scoot through the other tracks on their YouTube account. I liked most of them, but like the tracks better individually more than back-to-back.
“Bashful” by Kwes. The only original song on the list, unintentionally.
Their EP came out late April of this year, and I’m pretty fond of it so far. Kwes is a producer and musician from London, and it’s no surprise that he’s worked with Ghostpoet, as they’re tonally similar. Kwes is a synesthete, which is that fantastic thing where senses are linked differently than they are in other people. For Kwes, who has color synesthesia, particular notes correspond to specific colors in his brain. How loverly.
The fantastic Seu Jorge’s cover of Bowie’s “Changes,” filmed for Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, just never loses it’s perfection:
Every performance of his I’ve ever heard has this trademark gorgeous treatment and delicacy.
For those late nights:
Finally, Nina Simone’s rendition of “House of the Rising Sun” :
And on and on.
Laissez les bon temps rouler,
Hello all. Today is a day for music, maybe.
Shouts out to Ms. Amy Winehouse! Missing you every day. Here is Valerie, one of her best:
Next, the sweetest heartbreak from JTE:
A while ago I was lucky enough to see Beirut. I’ve been blessed with the ability and driven with the desire to see many great artists in many great venues, but this one was one of the most gorgeous. Not because I was a die-hard Beirut fan- I wasn’t and am not sure if they illicit that kind of fandom- but because the performance and the artistry of it was unforgettable and exquisite.
Strings of fat-bulbed lights, starting at the stage and dipping low over the heads of the audience, twinkled and burst in time to the rhythms. Beirut’s brass instrumentation, already legendary, flirted shamelessly with the crowd and I’m not the only one who fell in love. If you have the chance to see them, take it. You won’t need to know every song, the musicianship doesn’t rely on that. Wherever you’re going, they can take you there.
Switching gears, but here’s another great song-
Everything To Me, by Lips
And a series of songs by Butterclock. Peep especially this song featuring Rozay:
laissez les bon temps rouler,
In the sound scene, new artists need to be innovative/creative/boundary-breaking. This has always been true; this edge is where the excitement is.
If you’re looking for a unifying theme for today’s music choices, it’s only the feeling of being deep in fog and dense static. These are the artists that I can’t get enough of right now.
The following artists are making wavves:
Everything about them is filthy. Formally known as OFWGKTA, or Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, this rap collective is exploding. They’ve been most active in the past year, but each member has been working for a while longer than that. Tyler, The Creator is the “leader,” if there can be such a figure in a superficially radical, mostly anarchical, seemingly nihilistic group. If those modifiers tell you nothing else, it’s that this group is nearly impossible to define and understand. OF is releasing conflicting information and the press doesn’t seem to know how to deal with them, making for a difficult analysis and even more fraught consumer experience. Anyhow, this is Tyler’s most popular solo song, “Yonkers”:
And a video of them being interviewed that embodies their approach:
Odd Future is outspoken, offensive, insensitive and makes something that is either shock-art, aimless, destructive fun or trash. As a listener, you’re never really sure whether they’re having a go at you, at themselves, at everything or at nothing. Whatever it is, it’s compelling. Here are some links to articles about them, and images:
Maybe the best thing from britain since the british invasion, James Blake is a young, fresh, impressionist musician. To describe his work would be to over-describe it, but you better believe it’s an experience. “Limit To Your Love” is his most well known song/landscape:
Here’s the version of the song that Feist did a few years ago, apologies for the junk video quality; Youtube is a terrible mistress:
And here he sounds quite like Antony Hegarty of Antony and The Johnsons. I’m a lonely painter, and I live in a box of paints:
Perhaps the most interesting of his songs is the interpretation of the wilhelm scream. The wilhelm scream is, according to the oracle, the scream equivalent of a laugh track. Need a sound effect for being shot in an old western film? Time for the wilhelm scream. And now, time for James Blake to make a sweet and inventive track:
It’s neat, subtle and delicate. Porcelain Raft’s music could break your heart. Clean and soft like rain, here it is, take a listen:[vimeo http://vimeo.com/16889978]
While looking at THE FADER about OFWGKTA, I ran across a tender little article about Porcelain Raft. Looks like he’s got a little buzz.
I can’t get enough of Bill Callahan. His music falls right into my sweet spot of elegant alternative country, and this song has been my soundtrack for the past month. With a new album out, it’s worth the mention:
I leave you with this, the fifth:
Grimy, depraved, intimate, The Weeknd dives deep into the lusty sonic swamp. The romance of the songs spiral into a beautiful kind of broken. Toronto R&B sensation Abel Tesfaye is the notoriously unknown mastermind behind the music. For now, I’ll leave you in this house of balloons:
Bring your love baby, I can bring the shame.
Thanks for hanging in there, and as always,
laissez le bon temps rouler,