Monday, October 6, 2014

Popular Music - September 2014

Tori Amos
  • To Venus and Back (Venus Orbiting disc)
  • Strange Little Girls
  • Unrepentant Geraldines
Bat for Lashes - The Haunted Man
Beyonce - Beyonce
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - No More Shall We Part
Toni Childs - Union
Toni Childs - House of Hope
Paula Cole - This Fire
Sheryl Crow - Tuesday Night Music Club
Gotye - Making Mirrors
Moloko - I Am Not A Doctor
Radiohead
  • The Bends
  • Amnesiac
  • Hail to the Thief
Seal - Human Being
Sixpence None the Richer - This Beautiful Mess
Sons of Korah - Shelter
Washington - Insomnia

A couple of years ago,  I wrote about Washington's debut album and expressed my disappointment. I also mentioned that I had bought Insomnia at the same time. And now I've finally listened to it.

That gives you some idea about just how long things can sit in the listening pile, if they're not my primary focus for some reason at the time of acquisition.

The silly thing is that I suspected, even then, that it would be better than I Believe You Liar, and yet that apparently didn't induce me to open up the CD and confirm that suspicion. Well, the suspicion is finally confirmed. Insomnia is considerably better because it showcases Washington's finest weapon - her voice - in a way that the first album never did. Double-tracked vocals and thickening of texture is now the exception, not the norm. The arrangements get the hell out of the way and let you listen to the bittersweet sound of a voice that sounds a little sad even when it's upbeat.

I've in fact left listening to Insomnia so long that Megan Washington (now with first name intact) released her next album about the same time, and from first samples THAT sounds like it might be even better. But please, don't wait for the reviews from me...

This month was also the first time in a surprisingly long while that I listened to Moloko's I Am Not A Doctor. An absolutely fascinating album, this. It seems to have been the band's least commercially successful album. In many ways it's also the one that I would expect to like the least, as it's full of music that Wikipedia tells me is called "trip hop" and "drum and bass" and other things that I wouldn't head towards in a store.

It's also a really consistent album that's a fantastic listening experience.

I think one of the reasons it's so excellent is that it's thematically pretty consistent. From the opening track and single 'The Flipside', it's an album that openly acknowledges how weird and strange it is by including references to bending the mind. Hypnosis and possession come up in the lyrics on multiple occasions. This is an album that is intentionally taking you on a 'trippy' experience and tells you that you're powerless to resist.

 

Now, I might not be in the mood all the time for being told how my will is going to be overridden by a bunch of skittering beats, but if it's going to be done it should at least be done with flair and imagination. And Moloko delivers.

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