Album Reviews 6.13.16: Whitney, Paul Simon + more
Whitney — Light Upon the Lake
There is a place where Stax soul and Joni Mitchell meet and is on Whitney’s song “No Woman” on their magnificent release, Light Upon the Lake. There was a period in music maybe the late 60s or early 70s when cultures collided the sounds followed suit and this album is representative of that time. “Golden Days” is as much The Commodores as it is Doobie Brothers. This album is steeped in that type of beauty, bright melodies, melancholy subject matter, but groove throughout, each instrument immaculately showcased. This album should get the highest amount of stars that quality albums garner on the commonly used scale of judgement.
Rhyton — Redshift
Redshift is an embodiment of many styles funneled through the lens of Rhyton. Their albums are truly the stuff of adventure. “Concentric Village” is basically a country/blues rocker until the acid kicks in at the 5-minute mark and when it becomes something else. Rhyton excels in creating albums that unfold throughout the duration. “Turn to Stone” sounds like Pink Floyd doing Black Sabbath on a country station until it morphs into the groove breakdown of the Shaft soundtrack. That all of this happens within one song is even more reason to compliment the release. Redshift is, as all Rhyton albums are, a fine example of album excellence.
Kino Kimino — Bait for Sissies
Kimo Kimino is the band of Kim Talon, who at one time performed under the moniker JAN. Bait for Sissies features two big press release points: Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth are the band and John Agnello, who records Kurt Vile’s albums, served as producer. While Ranaldo and Shelley bring their usual magic, it doesn’t sound like Sonic Youth, but contains many of the aural markers that made those songs amazing (“Pale Calico,” “Chalk Like“). Kimino’s songs benefit from melody, they are hummable without knowledge of lyrical intricacy, though, in places, the album does seem to lag. Still, I think album is satisfying and in terms of recognition this album is one that qualifies as one I would mention favorably.
Paul Simon — Stranger to Stranger
How is Paul Simon making music this good at 74? Stranger to Stranger is an excellent album, sonically and lyrically, mainly based in its perspective scope. “Wristband” ponders the idea at first of the importance of the wrist band as a means of access at shows and to then be used symbolically as metaphor for the access/or lack of in the inner city as some of the anger is “short hand” for a lack of access. “Stranger to Stranger” uses love as its signifier of motivation and interest, “In A Parade” details the constant barrage of activity in an ER, corresponding symptoms and diagnosis, “I can’t talk now I’m in a parade” trying to remedy the problems of the day within its madness and distraction. Musically, it is an organic piece, almost an absence of instrumentation in away, but also multi-rhythmic percussively not unlike the African music he so often taps as a muse for sound. You must own this album it is an exceptional piece of work.
William Tyler — Modern Country
William Tyler’s Modern Country doesn’t really evoke country as it correlates with Nashville or its current incarnation. However, let’s think of frontier and space and the unknown, undiscovered terrain, these ideas may have to suffice. Modern Country reminds me most of the Jim O’ Rourke, Glen Kotche, who has played on a many of those albums, is present here, so there is that connection. Selling instrumental guitar music is difficult in its own right, but Tyler should not concern himself with that as these are fine pieces. “Kingdom of Jones” manages to join Fahey-ishness with country and bluegrass, “Albion Moonlight” is a wonderful use of tremolo and slide guitar. Modern Country would be a great traveling, landscape album, an album to allow the scenes of changing architecture and daylight to be the impetus of an inner discovery like quitting smoking or using a different app for your grocery list.
Dan Lissvik — Midnight
Tribe Called Quest has a song called “Midnight,” which encompasses the various encounters we experience while “the night is on your mind.” Midnight is sort of a conceptual album in that each song’s title is a letter of the word midnight which is effective in the way that each of these sound pieces encapsulates a different part of midnight. “M” is probably the most immediate of those feelings, a great dance song, simple and direct. “N” hits that part of midnight that is mysterious, possibility abound, pensive and introspective, where might the night lead? “G” is kind of raunchy, swanky, maybe your midnight activities will need to be proceeded by a bath or possibly some sort of shot. Whatever the case, this album has an anthem for your 12 AM, and whether listening to whole or individual songs it magnifies the beauty and necessity of midnight in all its wonderment.
Gordi — Clever Disguise
“With the darkness comes a harsher light” goes on lyric in the excellent EP from Gordi, Clever Disguise. It kind of reminds of Bon Iver in the way that the songs are addictively hummable, but musically there is something wonderful happening. It is a pleasant listen, I will not say pop because that is presumptive, but it definitely can and may be appreciated by an audience of the common more than the informed. “Taken Blame” is gold, “So Here We Are” is the reflective ballad, “Wanting” is a sweet but reluctant breakup “Once again I am found wanting you” which is basically acknowledgement and acceptance. This is the type of music that grows as you hear it, even as it is immediately great, but as some music only exists at surface, there is so much more to be discovered.