The Year. 15-11

15. Of Montreal – False Priest [US]

People don’t want the kind of Kevin Barnes that gambols around in frilly clothes doing little falsetto squeals just for the hell of it. They want the kind of Kevin Barnes that does that to hide his crippling depression, which peeks out occasionally to remind them that this is knowing pastiche. It’s getting a lot harder to tell. So, past Skeletal Lamping’s Georgie Fruit and on to the rebuilt Barnes, we have False Priest. The key to oM and the reason post-Satanic Panic stuff is so much more engaging than the stuff before it is this (and no points for guessing): mythology. So False Priest’s highlights aren’t the Barnes-Brion high watermarks of production wizardry, which can actually get pretty cloying. They’re the bits where he pops out to say, ignoring meter, that after his uncle’s suicide, everyone was looking at him to succeed him as the family’s golden myth, but that all of his identity mutations were dosed in books. Or Janelle Monae cutting across his half-spoken synth funk story about an ex-girlfriend throwing his fish out the window to say that she can’t peel the flowers of the psychic disturbance. If you’re not into of Montreal, this album is probably as much use as an intro as a World of Warcraft expansion. But so what.
Four part interview I did and a session.

Of Montreal feat. Janelle Monáe – Our Riotous Defects

14. Beach House – Teen Dream [US]

Forget who Victoria Legrand is. Okay. Now, imagine who someone called Victoria Legrand is. If the word ‘regal’ doesn’t leap into your mind, you’re probably dangerously republican. Because, despite the record-breaking number of times the word lush is used in connection with Beach House, it’s her that makes this any different from twenty other bands with vintage electric organs they got off eBay. These are, after all, songs built mostly off sedentary, unchanging drum machine beats. The organ chords are slathered on. They’re pillowy as all hell and for the first time, with Teen Dream, the vaseline’s off the lens. But what makes this the thing that demands to be put on in empty afternoons is that regal voice, more than just some slacker dude mumbling obscure lyrics (not that there isn’t merit in that) is Victoria Legrand. Name like a Disney character, she’s offering to take care of you, that she doesn’t want to know, that Norway is important for some reason. That’s a powerful thing.
Lovely cloudy session, and interview, from here.

Beach House – Take Care

13. Future Islands – In Evening Air [US]

For a long time I thought the guy from Future Islands was genuinely some sort of older man. People described him as ‘a fat, bald guy’ and I presumed from that that the other two had decided to ask an eccentric guy from their community theatre class to try singing with them. Seriously, that specific. I listened to this album for months, talked about them with Double Dagger and even decided to go see them without fully realising that this wasn’t the case. Then I saw them, and he’s fat, old and bald for the indie-sphere, but not in the grand scheme. Still, that’s how I experienced In Evening Air, and it influenced it in a much more heavily surreal direction. This amateur actor, telling first person kitchen sink, almost soap-level stories of love with full on growls of emotion, sonic shirt-rending. Things like Long Flight, long and repetitive, breaking into screams and back down again, took on a bizarre theatricality, one that’s there no matter how you hear it, but somehow different. The steel drum riff in Tin Man, combined with this incredibly plaintive Orson Welles voice, is a force of nature. The album’s still great, re-listening, but you could try imagining what I imagined too if you want.
Future Islands at the eventual haj location, Whartscape, and from the Dublin gig.

Future Islands – Tin Man

12. Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma [US]

Post-Dilla is a term I first head from Meljoann, as part of a string of genres I’d never heard of – aquacrunk, skweeee, etc – in an interview for Totally Dublin. In retrospect, though, it makes all kinds of sense for FlyLo. Dragged out drum hits, sad soul hewn out of the simplest bites of repeating vinyl wobble, an offer to side-nod that’s impossible to refuse. A lot of the critical writing on Cosmogramma decided to focus on the fact that it moved Flying Lotus past the term post-Dilla just by virtue of being really good at what it does, but I think that maybe misses a point. It is really good, and it’s different, but it is J Dilla on Saturn. There’s no shame in that. Twanging guru-searcher string hits on Computer Face interact with deteriorated conscious rap-esque soul piano on Arkestry and Tarantino soundtrack bigness on Satelllliiiiiteee, but it’s all tied together by that slovenly attitude to actually hitting the snare. Cosmogramma is its own mood.
Sputnikmusic review and some of the BBC session with a live band.

Flying Lotus – Computer Face

11. Porn On Vinyl – Old Folks’ Home

Having a recording that sounds a little like all of your too-many-kids jumping the back of your hatchback has a tendency to create its own fullness, its own atmosphere. There’s not much on Old Folks’ Home. The light harmonies or solo voice over struck guitar strings sit in, like an instrument, providing all the melodies, popping out on the first few listens only for those lines that read like slogans – “all things must die and all fires burn out” or “if we never die, our kids will never cry”. Weird chords keep it from ever being hokey, and the tape-clicks and imperfections keep your head in the game. There are obvious comparisons. Mountain Goats, Microphones, Neutral Milk Hotel. But to me it’s more like the first Sunset Rubdown or Why? albums, a home-written, home-recorded, home-layered, home-looking set of songs about home emotions, told through stories. That’s how to relate to them, and that’s why they’re so beautiful.
Drop-D review calling it “easily the best budget home recording I’ve ever heard” and the Lo-Fi Friday post from here with The Bonfire and Her Husband.

Porn On Vinyl – Song For A Dead Poet


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