Published on September 19th, 2017 | by Craig Silliphant0
The Feedback Society’s Week in Music
Some albums we’ve been discussing over drinks this week at The Feedback Society, like Lil B, Depeche Mode, Faith Healer, The Black Angels, and more.
Lil B – Black Ken
The Bay Area’s Lil B is a decidedly self-made rapper, in that he used social media and word of mouth instead of major label representation to earn a following. He also produced all of the beats on his latest album, ‘Black Ken,’ creating a rollicking tour through funk and 80s Bay Area gangsta rap. Lil B often pushes a positive outlook in his music (and on Twitter), a whole philosophy, but there are at least a couple of tracks on this record where he’s leaning into angrier, gangsta territory (which is the stuff I like best). This album/mixtape was announced in 2010, so it took a while to get here, but it was worth the wait. With its sparse classical hip hop production and flurry of 808s, this is one of my favourite albums of the year.
Depeche Mode – Spirit
I picked this up because we’re going to see Depeche Mode in October, so I figured I better get familiar with some of the newer tracks they’re bound to lean on live. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much, and while they aren’t bringing anything new, sound-wise, to the table, ‘Spirit’ is a pretty good album. The world being in the state it is in has lit a fire under the group. I don’t know that I’ve seen Depeche Mode as the biggest purveyor of resistance rock over the years, but ‘Spirit’ has them in full protest mode.
Drab Majesty – The Demonstration
Deb DeMure is the multi-instrumentalist that composes all of Drab Majesty’s material. However, DeMure, the androgynous alter ego of LA musician Andrew Clinco, insists that Deb “is merely a vessel” and the songs come from “an otherworldly source.” I like acts that have a myth or a gimmick, but I don’t know if things needs to be that silly, literal, or pretentious. Especially considering that DeMure isn’t doing anything that hasn’t been done before, funneling 80s new wave through a sometimes more modern execution. However, I don’t want to sound negative — ‘The Demonstration’ is solid as hell. It’s an excellent record, twisting and curling with ethereal echoes, drum machines, reverbed out guitar, and some swaggering balladeering.
The Black Angels – Death Song
Texas purveyors of psych rock, The Black Angels, hand in another solid effort with ‘Death Song.’ You’d think the schtick would start getting old by now, but ‘Death Song’ is just as good as their previous records, even if they’re treading over a lot of the same ground. There are probably less big hooks on here than on the last two records, so it functions well as a play through album, creating a mood and textures rather than anthems.
Holy shit though, I don’t know if singer (Grace Slick impersonator) Alex Maas writes the lyrics himself, but he has written some real clunkers in the past and he manages to continue that trend on ‘Death Songs.’ Here’s a blurb from the song ‘I Dreamt:’
Oh I dreamt that you dreamt that I dreamt with you
I dreamt that you dreamt that I dreamt with you
I slept where you slept so I slept with you…
We’re getting really Inceptiony there with the dreaming inside each other’s dreams, but what gets me is the line, “I slept where you slept so I slept with you.” Cringe-worthy. I think sometimes lyrics like this are just meant to be repetitive to fit with the music, which totally makes sense, but yeesh. Maybe the vocals need to be buried in the mix or obscured somehow so we can’t make out what he’s saying. Silly lyrics don’t help the songs achieve depth, not even when he sings them which such conviction. In fact, it sounds even sillier when he’s desperately trying to sell the bit.
Anyway, apparently I’m also as predictable, and I bitch about something I’m enjoying, followed by praising it in the end. I dig The Black Angels and ‘Death Note’ is another strong album in their discography. So there.
Faith Healer – Try 😉
Faith Healer started out as a name for the solo act of Edmonton native Jessica Jalbert and turned into a full band affair, with Renny Wilson recently joining as a full on partner. There’s everything from country and rock to soul and electronics in here, and while the album is more straight ahead than 2015’s ‘Cosmic Troubles,’ it’s still a unique soundscape of songs whose era might be hard to pin down for someone hearing it with no context. It sounds like it could have come from the 60s or 70s, or it could have been made in the now. It’s serious while also being playful. It contains excellent musicianship while also being loose and jammy. It’s a helluva fun listen.