Published on August 8th, 2014 | by Matt Wolsfeld0
The Feedback Society’s Week in Music
Matt tells us what earworms are running around in his brain, from St. Vincent to the odd Japanese cutesy pop stylings of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.
St. Vincent – Marry Me
Annie Clark’s mind-bending performance at this year’s Sasktel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival has had me keeping her on heavy rotation for the entire summer. While most of the buzz surrounding her as of late has been focused on her recently released eponymous album, I still spend a good amount of time diving into the deep waters of her back albums and coming up captivated with gold. Her debut album ‘Marry Me’ opts for much more of a downplayed vibe than the heavier and more electronic turns Ms. Clark has since taken with her music; however, the album misses none of the myriad instrumentation, rhythmic creativity, or virtuosic guitar badassery she’s known for. From the lilting chorus of the introductory ‘Now Now,’ the strikingly chaotic riffs on ‘Your Lips Are Red,’ to the hauntingly beautiful transition between ‘We Put A Pearl In The Ground’ and ‘Land Mines,’ Marry Me is a consistent reminder that Annie Clark and St. Vincent have been cooler than you for a very long time.
Little Dragon – Nabuma Rubberband
Have you ever wanted to take an interstellar journey on the sexiest spaceship in the galaxy? I didn’t know I wanted to either, but I’m having a hard time getting off this ride. I’ll confess that I’m new to the Little Dragon bandwagon, but that doesn’t take any of the enjoyment out of the trippy cosmic electro-R&B stylings of this album. The constant presence of dreamy synths and 8-bit melodies almost made me feel like I was playing a game of FTL on repeat. If silky Prince-like vocals are your thing and you don’t mind riding extra heavy on reverbed drum kits from time to time, ‘Nabuma Rubberband’ will make love to your brain and stick around to cook it breakfast in the morning.
Crooked Still – Still Crooked
I came across this album by way of a cover of Ola Belle Reed’s classic ‘Undone in Sorrow’ that popped up on an 8tracks playlist. The hauntingly beautiful vocals of lead singer Aoife O’Donovan, backed by breathtakingly skillful bluegrass instrumentals, made picking up the rest of this album a necessity. Artists like Crooked Still are important for someone like me. They remind listeners that before your local country radio station became a non-stop advert for American trucks, beer, and 4-chord progressions, there was a soulful sound that came out of the rural areas of the continent. A sound that reached out like a storyteller on a rickety porch that wasn’t afraid to show vulnerability or weakness in their musings. When combined with the expertly manipulated strings which adorn this album, it proves that sometimes a return to form is all that’s require to restore life to a tired genre.
Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap
While I’m waiting for a new album from the young Chicago phenom, 2013’s ‘Acid Rap’ has been a mainstay in my car’s stereo system. Chance is a part of a younger generation of up-and-coming MCs who revel in the tenets of classic hip-hop while making room for the need to apply to a new generation of youth waiting to be shaped by its insight into everyday life. While technically a mixtape, ‘Acid Rap’ is Chance’s most cohesive project to date and presents a collection of insights which feel much older and more nuanced than the silliness of the voice that’s spouting them. Chance proves he can master the catchy summer record, comment on love and important family relationships, and get serious about crime and the reality of life for many of the people his age still living in Chicago’s streets (lines like, “down here it’s easier to find a gun than a f***** parking spot,” echo through my mind after the track ends). If you haven’t given Chance the Rapper a try yet, do yourself a favor and lend an ear to a young voice begging to be heard.
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu – Pika Pika Fantajin
OK, I’m probably going to take some flak for this one. I’ve always maintained that J-Pop is to Western pop music as crack is to cocaine. Japan seems to have been able to take the sweetest, catchiest, and most enjoyment producing aspects of American pop and boil them down into a flashy and accessible form waiting to be freebased without thought. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is no exception to this. Her simultaneous celebration and destruction of Kawaii culture has created an aesthetic all its own that reverberates through her music, her fashion style, and the general insanity that pours forth out of her head. What I’m trying to say is that I can’t explain why I love Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, and that this is the exact reason why she is currently the most fascinating and innovative pop artist alive today. Producer Yasutaka Nakata brings Kyary closer to his house and electronic roots with Capsule on many of the album’s tracks while also offering unexpected experiences such as the bafflingly entertaining ‘Serious Hitomi,’ a madcap baby-punk track which sees Kyary channeling her inner B52 (that is if The B52’s found themselves on an acid trip in Shibuya). All of this is not to say ‘Pika Pika Fantajin’ is flawless; it follows in its predecessors footsteps by offering a few highly skippable tracks which angle a little too far towards the cutesy and, frankly, creepy calliope sound which Kyary occasionally dips her feet into. The end result, however, is another confident entry in her discography, which states that Kyary makes no apologies for her outlandish style and her desire to innovate a rather stagnant industry.