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2016. december 16., péntek

MUSiC iN YOUR EARS #11 - TEN EXCiTiNG TRACKS


TEN EXCITING TRACKS
Deakin, Olga Bell, Cate Le Bon, Frankie Cosmos, Bat for Lashes, Angel Olsen, PJ Harvey, Esperanza Spalding, Kevin Morby, David Bowie



Olga Bell - Randomness 3:26
You might expect a conservatory-trained composer to lack fluency when it comes to electronic music, but Olga Bell makes herself right at home on the dance floor with “Randomness.” Kinetic and catchy, it's among the most straightforwardly clubby tracks on her third album, Tempo, and demonstrates Bell’s ability to flow between dance, R&B, hip-hop, and experimental modes. In fact, you’d never guess that Bell hasn’t spent her entire career as an electronic producer, or that her last record was a Russian-language folk song cycle.
Deakin - Golden Chords 6:29
There’s a beautiful irony in Deakin’s “Golden Chords.” The album it comes from, Sleep Cycle, was born from a controversial Kickstarter project long delayed due to Josh Dibb’s creative doubts and “fatal perfectionism.” That delay upset many, but the final music was worth it—not despite the struggle, but because of it. “Golden Chords” is an honest meditation on uncertainty and self-esteem, an attempt to escape artistic paralysis by, as the Animal Collective co-founder sings, “shak[ing] these broken chords till they turn gold.”
Cate Le Bon - Wonderful 2:36
No song on Cate Le Bon’s Crab Day better exemplifies the album’s curious balance of sweetness and dissonance than “Wonderful,” a song whose seemingly chipper refrain—“Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful”—belies its anxious, caustic mood. Atonal guitar figures skitter like spiders across pumping barroom piano, marimba flourishes, and sour bursts of throaty saxophone skronk.
Frankie Cosmos - On the Lips 1:49
Greta Kline, aka Frankie Cosmos, has a gift for songs that are demonstrably grounded in real life, with arrangements anyone could play, but which still seem like miniature epiphanies. Next Thing highlight “On the Lips” has all the trappings of quintessential indie-pop: keenly observational lyrics, sprightly guitar strums, and a wistful chorus about a kiss that never happens.
Bat for Lashes - Sunday Love 4:13
“Sunday Love” takes place after the bride has raced out of the church, jumped behind the wheel of her car, and sped away to embark on a grief-stricken solo honeymoon. The track’s nervous, pulsing rhythm mimics the paranoia of the lyrics (“I see her in every place I go,” “She's in my bedroom/Now I can't fight”), contrasting with Khan’s lilting vocals and harp melody to conjure a swirling descent into madness.


Angel Olsen - Sister 7:45
“The thing about getting older is that instead of deciding that you’ve figured it out, you get better at realizing you never will,” Angel Olsen told Pitchfork earlier this year. Olsen reaches a similar conclusion at the end of the ambling journey she takes on “Sister,” the Crazy Horse-flecked centerpiece of her third album, My Woman. “All my life I thought had changed,” she pleads again and again throughout the last half, before an eruption of a solo from guitarist Stewart Bronaugh.
PJ Harvey - The Wheel 5:38
PJ Harvey’s “The Wheel” is a song haunted by war and human rights atrocities, but it’s no dirge. Everything is handclaps, saxophone, and momentum leading to a call-and-response singalong chorus. “Watch them fade out,” she sings at the end, repeatedly, about the wall of “sun-bleached” photographs of the disappeared. Then, the song itself abruptly fades. Harvey has written about global conflicts before, but “The Wheel,” about the state of Kosovo, could well be her most vibrant attempt—a potent combination of rock’n’roll gusto and stone-faced reporting.
Esperanza Spalding - Earth to Heaven 3:49
“Earth to Heaven” isn't the most surprising cut on the album—see the plunging vocals of “Good Lava” or the cover from the Willy Wonka soundtrack—but it’s the most indicative. There’s funk and art-rock in the hopper, but also Joni Mitchell and Stephen Sondheim. Spalding’s phrasing is that of an actress, flipping nimbly from coy to blunt in the space of one line.



Kevin Morby - I Have Been to the Mountain 3:14
“I Have Been to the Mountain” is a misleadingly upbeat track that’s actually about the death of Eric Garner, killed by police after repeatedly saying, “I can’t breathe.” The song, built on a tense bass line, guitar skronk, a horn section, and a choir, is also an explicit rejection of cynicism. Kevin Morby’s voice has settled into a curved and pockmarked take on young Bob Dylan, humming with wisdom and, because it’s necessary, some spite too. “I Have Been to the Mountain” is about injustice, and helplessness in the face of injustice, but it’s also about that feeling that when things go inexorably wrong, the only thing anyone can do is work to make them better.
David Bowie - I Can't Give Everything Away 5:47
It was the shortest Bowie or his followers ever reveled in one of his mysteries; two days after Blackstar’s release, he passed away. And so we learned that this beguiling, openhearted performer had created a gracious farewell with his final album, and particularly this song—the last this shepherd of the fringes would ever sing to his flock. It’s a gentle confirmation of what we knew: that he still had worlds within him, and that he would never have time to express them all. Because every time the song ends, Bowie is gone again.


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