In a conversation with a friend this weekend we agreed that “amazing” and “wonderful” and other superlatives need to dropped from our vocabularies. Even “great” is just too overused; if everything is a high, how do you mark the middles? Does it simply serve to make the good incomprehensible and everything else from ok on down drift into hateful? Is that why everything must either “rule” or “suck” these days?
It’s kinda fucking with our ability to talk about cultural objects, be they cupcakes or codpieces.
Then this shit comes along and, well, it’s great. It’s great as in I’ve been listening to it nonstop since I got the album from Profound Lore this weekend; I picked it up based solely on the strength of “The Inheritance”
There’s only a few small moments which run against the otherwise smooth sixty minutes of No Help for the Mighty One – a few growls and barks on “Beneath the Crown” mar Subrosa‘s 70s permastoned gloss. This short run into more stereotypical trappings is brief and not particularly debilitating. And though at first listen the a capella sea shanty “House Carpenter” is kind of confusing, that feeling passes. Melancholic stoner doom pop held together with extremely strong vocal harmonies should be confident enough to give the geetars a rest for a minute.
Subrosa has produced an exciting album that showcases the best that cultural hybridity offers us; post-rock builds and low end grind, offset by strong songwriting, memorable melodies and an overwhelming sadness. Sounds terrible on paper, but paper ain’t sound.
Special mention should be made of the album art – expanded upon in this Invisible Oranges post.
I will now shut the fuck up about how I don’t seem to enjoy female-lead “heavy music”. Here’s to how wrong I was.
The transfer at 59th Street and Lexington Avenue from the 6 train to the N or W is delightfully multi-cultural. And as rush hour bodies ebb, it becomes a poly-ethnic stew of shoving, heaving jerks.
Now, I can get pushed all damn day long and not go anywhere, as the majority of my fellow passengers are four feet tall and trying to shove someone twice their weight. The material universe is a cruel god of constant consistency and their efforts are for naught. There’s a lot of interesting things to say about cultures with varying understandings of proxemics all being stuck in a similar space, and there’s a lot of prejudicial things to say about tiny people from all over the globe whose approach to proxemics is to just push forward and hope that no one like me knees their wee faces out of spite. Continue reading
This collection of folksy post-rock is something of a paint-by-numbers affair, but well-crafted and engaging enough as a background soundtrack that its more obvious faults can be overlooked. All Is Wild, All Is Silent isn’t a terrible album, but it does put one mind of a distillation of ideas rather than something more fresh. Much like Explosions in the Sky condensed the untamed bombast of Godspeed You Black Emperor into more digestible five minute chunks of crescendo and release, Balmorhea pulls from the currents of instrumental post-rock landscapes and whatever we’re calling this “new folk” thing.
Shorter version: A bit of Appalacian twang via art school driving sedately down the highway built by Slint and everyone else.
Antony has a tear-strained voice that will forever overwhelm anything the rest of his ensemble may do. That’s the nature of vocal-driven music. Even the minor instrumental patters here and there on The Crying Light never actually go beyond setting the stage for the next reappearance of his pained, absurdist melodrama.
Some might complain this is smoother and far more poppy than I Am A Bird Now, but isn’t that the point of personality-driven cabaret music? It’s about setting the scene for a voice and for words, so people can make their own private movies in their heads and be subsumed by that collaborative narrative.
I hope one day they’re really huge, like Leonard Cohen huge. Mr. Cohen is a neat vocalist (with terrible taste in arrangements) but $250 tickets is absolutely absurd. That kind of absurd success would be a tidy ironic fit for this increasingly pop, gender-falutin’ post-cabaret conspiracy.
I see that look upon your face. The one that says “Why not review a perfect snowflake? Why not review your first love?”
Because, Mr./Mrs./Ms. Smarty Pants, snowflakes melt and my first love was a painfully earnest exercise in learning how not to be a complete shit all of the time, and mostly failing at that.
Hence I See A Darkness.
People like to rip on the haystackers* both because they’re the big name in Indietown and because they generally write like smuggy ding-dongs who need a wedgie so badly that the universe cries out for vengeance against their butt cracks, but they’re not wrong about this being one of the best albums of the 1990s. It absolutely is.
Low key, low-fi, and no low end. Quiet, desperate times at 3 a.m.; maudlin with good reason.
* (Ha ha, get it?)