30 October 2011

Part Three: The Evening

Dum Dum Girls, Only In Dreams

Heavier and more emotionally engaging than the previous album, Only In Dreams has a more confident, accomplished singing style from Dee Dee than the previous crop of songs that felt less personal and less unique than the ones here. The guitars and drums also make a better showing on the album. The place of the drums is high in the mix, which helps propel the album forward in an exciting fashion. This is one of the best rock albums that I’ve heard this year.

It’s also very romantic. My feeling is that the majority of the songs address her husband, but instead of feeling excluded or indifferent I find this commitment to shared, mature love to be quite poignant. (Wait, does this make the album Adult Contemporary? Oh no!) It’s a celebration of stability, but also longing and companionship. She may not pull out the stops like a Celine Dion ballad, but you can drive all night listening to this album, quite easily in fact. The strong vocals and engaging drumming make the album compulsively listenable. Many of the songs are precise and lovely enough to soundtrack any movie. The showstopper is “Coming Down” but “Bedroom Eyes” and “Wasting Away” are just as equally capable as contenders. This is a love soundtrack to cherish. Be sure and share it.

Cold Cave, Cherish The Light Years

This one is here for the club experience. Any of these songs feel like anthems for (and homages to) ‘80s goth clubs. This isn’t very terrible as the synths, pounding, and melodramatic lyrics work together to make the songs unstoppable. Three that will let you get in their way are “Catacombs”, “Underworld USA” (my favorite), and “Villains of the Moon”. The game of “Is this the Cure or ABC being referenced?” is fun but tiresome if you can’t enjoy the album. Granted, I find it hard to defend “The Great Pan Is Dead” and “Burning Sage” but the rest have enough charm to move anyone onto the floor. Take your pick: catchy, effective synth openings: “Confetti” and “Icons of Summer” or aggressively catchy percussive openings: “Underworld USA” or “Villains of the Moon”. This is an album to be enjoyed whether or not you have any queeny, goth melodrama locked up inside (although it helps).

Zola Jesus, Conatus

After all the excitement of that Cold Cave album, the new Zola Jesus is a good respite. This is a slow burner so get used to the pace and let it slowly change your environment as much as your temperament. The album is less anthemic and aggressive than the past releases, but it still cultivates a studied atmosphere where you can appreciate the vocal accomplishments on their own terms. I love her voice so this album provided an enjoyable, new dimension of her art for me

Scott Walker, Tilt

I’ve heard this album many, many times and it’s still lost none of its mystery for me. From the ghostly lyricism of “Farmer In The City” to the surreal majesty of “The Cockfighter” – well, most of the songs on here can be described as ghostly, surreal, or majestic. It’s a strange album for me to recommend because it can be a slog or a journey depending on the energy and interest that you bring to it. Most of the songs feel like oneiric fragments so maybe the album is best heard one song at a time. I think that the album can be stretched out all night long for one sustained sequence of reveries, but one dream might be another’s nightmare. Walker’s voice works as a guide, but the music is a threatening sky. Who knows when the day will break?

Marissa Nadler, “Distortions”

Listen to this Clinic cover before you go to bed. It’s a simple, stripped rendition of a very strange love song, but it works so well in Nadler’s voice. I want this song played at my funeral.

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