Published on December 20th, 2014 | by Craig Silliphant0
The Feedback Society’s Week in Music
Albums we’ve been discussing over drinks this week at The Feedback Society, from Buddy Rich and D’Angelo to Angel Olsen and perennial weirdo Ariel Pink.
TV on the Radio – Seeds
One of the first bands from that early 2000s’ Brooklyn scene to crack through to public perception, I first glommed onto TV on the Radio with their ‘Young Liars EP,’ which sounded like nothing I’d heard before. I was equally thrilled when ‘Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes,’ proved that they could recreate that sound with sustained quality on a full-length album. And capping off this trio of awesomeness was ‘Return to Cookie Mountain,’ which was also where I feel they peaked. Some might also add ‘Dear Science’ to that rundown, but as much as I liked that album, the stripping down of the songs was enough change to throw me. Don’t get me wrong — bands need to grow and change or you’re just AC/DC putting out the same album again and again. But the new directions, and perhaps growing accustomed to what was once such a unique sound, meant that TV on the Radio just didn’t pack the same wallop for me. Their new album, ‘Seeds,’ is as good as any of those post-‘Cookie Mountain’ albums. There are some great songs that can’t help but be heard through a veil of sadness because of the passing of bassist Gerard Smith in 2011. That said, as nice of a listen as the album is, it sags on the back half, and as I’ve said a lot of times in this column, when I’m in the mood to hear a band, but the latest album is just ‘okay,’ I usually tend to go back to the classics instead.
Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness
When I was writing my best albums of 2014 for Planet S Magazine (which won’t be published for a couple of weeks yet), I did some research to make sure there were no amazing records that I had missed out on this year. I kept noticing Angel Olsen’s new one on a bunch of lists, so I gave it a go. I’m glad I did. It’s as simple as it is complex, exploring a few different musical caves and crevasses, whether she’s channeling Roy Orbison, PJ Harvey, or Leonard Cohen. Her voice sounds amazing as she navigates between ballads and louder, and sometimes more psychedelic songs and structures. I’m glad I tripped over this one in my research, because I’m adding it to my list of favourites for 2014.
Ariel Pink – Pom Pom
Though he’d been prowling around with weird, lo-fi songs since around 2002, it was his 2010 effort, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti’s ‘Born Today’ that put him on the indie music map. More than a few of us got to see them open for The Flaming Lips in Edmonton a few years back, which was cool. Following in Mark Kozelek’s footsteps, Pink has been in the spotlight in the last few months for talking shit about Madonna and getting into it with Grimes on Twitter. ‘Pom Pom’ is his latest release, and it’s all the good, strange lo-fi stuff you’ve come to expect from him, you know, goofy-ass catchy songs about Jello and the like. Sometimes it feels a bit precious, but it’s still weird enough, and fun enough to dodge that bullet. In an alternate universe, he’s hailed as a pop hook king.
Buddy Rich – Mercy, Mercy
After watching the film Whiplash, I went home and dug out a bunch of albums from jazz drummers like Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, and Max Roach. There were a few I was listening to, but to focus on one, let’s choose Buddy Rich’s ‘Mercy, Mercy,’ which was recorded live in 1968 at Caesar’s Palace. Big band music had gone quiet for a few decades, declining in popularity, but Rich was at the forefront of a resurgence. It’s a big band of forceful talent, both young and old, backed by Rich’s insane drumming and some crazy-jazz-eyes-Carrie Mathison improvisation. Legendary sax player Art Pepper is on a couple of tracks, this being right around the time he was getting out of the clink in one of many prison stints for drug related offences and before his hot streak in the 70s. There’s a wealth of great Buddy Rich stuff out there, but this is largely considered one of his strongest late career releases, so it’s worth checking out.
D’Angelo and The Vanguard – Black Messiah
D’Angelo was an R&B/souls revivalist that had some success in the 90s into the early 2000s. And while long waits between albums were common with him, after his last album he descended into troubled territory, getting in trouble with the law. More than one music writer has compared him to Marvin Gaye or Sly Stone over the years, sometimes for the music, sometimes for the antics. ‘Black Messiah’ is his first album in 14 years, a ride through soul history while sounding ever in the present, punctuated by murky, narcotic funk and rolling around in a breading made of nuggets of stuff like Funkadelic and Prince. Thematically, it was made for these times, a reflection of an America that’s growing sick, wrapped in the sweat-soaked fever blanket of racial issues.