Album Reviews: Feist, Cold Beat + more
Cold Beat — Chaos By Invitiation
“In Motion” begins the Cold Beat album Chaos By Invitation. It is a slow jam, an ’80s style electro rocker with a fly assist by Phil Manley who also manned the boards. Lighters swaying the air, heart sleeves and strobe lights. “Black Licorice” is another highlight, a Kraftwerk-ish skirmish, it will invoke the robot, possibly a top rock. “62 Moons” is another gem, a rocker with metallic sheen. “Strawberry Moon” has an early Cure vibe, the dance beat, the keyboard vamp, and the Robert Smith guitar. This album is full of moments and new favorites abound. While I’m sure some vintage gear was used, this is no trip down memory lane. Though it may tug at thoughts of past greatness, the album is still an individual statement.
CFM — Dichotomy Desaturated
Charles Moothart is the catalyst of CFM. These sounds are representative of the school of rock that birthed things such as Ty Segall and Mikal Cronin (both of whom Moothart has played with). It is T Rex, it is Love, it is early Pink Floyd, or maybe it is none of those things. Maybe those are just the closest sound markers. These are not certainly not covers, but they are informed. “Pinch the Dream” is at one time melancholic and then moves into something more sinister. “Saline / The Man / Kind to You” drips of psychedelic rhythm and blues, heavy bassline and kaleidescopic atmosphere. “Dead Weight” is another voyage, fuzz guitar and drum magnificence, it is your living room alive in a green hued light. Rock and roll, pure to the vein, you might bleed a little from the nose as you ascend. Rise you sweet beast.
Feist — Pleasure
One thing that is part of the idea of pleasure is pain. Pleasure is seeped in the ecstatic and the ecstatic often has a dark side. Feist didn’t make a dark album, maybe influenced by stints of darkness, but she did make songs colored by love and life, and they are ultimately triumphant. “So when I get it I make sense of a mysterious thing” begins a lyric on the first song “Pleasure,” a Rid of Me style rocker that talks about pleasure as what it is, desired and dangerous. But let’s talk about “I Wish I Didn’t Miss You,” it’s softness and rage is the thing of pondered love, longing and disengaging, reaching out and then retreating: “I felt with some certainty that you must have died, because how I could I live if you’re still alive.” This album does a masterful job of balancing serenity and madness, instruments lightly strummed and then attacked, faint to aggressive, but Feist always maintains a cool. “Any Party” is a grand of example, a sort Dylan flow is employed, but then it gets gentle, like those moments at a party when you run into that person, and the ruckus and the bombast disappears into the scheme of two people planning the rendezvous. The duck out, maybe forbidden, maybe we have someone else, but the memories, the idea of you: “You know, I’d leave any party for you.” This album is adventure, it moans and whispers and then crackles and pops. It’s pretty music, but not pretty in that way, there are moles and scars, they’re is broken furniture and uncomfortableness. But then it ends with “Young Up” and leaves us with “even if you don’t have your own back and everything that needs to fall has fallen.” This love, these relationships, these hard times, this happiness and sadness. Oh, the memories of fireworks and the falls, it was a pleasure.
Deathlist — S/T
Deathlist is the project of multi-instrumentalist Jenny Hogan who has put in work with Summer Cannibals, World Atlas, Mortals, and My Teenage Stride, to name a few. This album is many things, it shows many faces. The opener “Wait” is slow rocker, reminiscent of the better Hole songs or better grunge, but that is only the first flash of lightning. “Dream Of” ups the ante by combining a groove and a rugged guitar with a tremolo keyboard giving the song a sort of black magic blues. “Stay There” is a pop rocker from a mystic land; “It seems this being has heard Red Red Meat.” The great thing of all of these songs is the subtle color Hogan adds throughout the album, mood shifts are abundant, singular possibly in performance, but the faces put forth continually accentuate each song’s personality. I am feeling it, yo.
The New Year — Snow
Music from The New Year is that folding and unfolding, the close and the wide shot, seeing the inside and the outside. The New Year believe in patience and pace. Take “Homebody,” it seems like a basic acoustic ballad that then expands, allowing the thought to fully form and establish itself: “My body wants to be resting, my mind wants to wander.” “Recent History” has a little more tempo, but it also shares the quality of space and color, each shade appearing the right time. The band sings of progress and selfhood, the life as it is, aspirations and disappointments. “Myths” is great example of this, it builds and grows: “There’s no reason to celebrate, the best things we’ve done won’t live on,” a sobering but definite truth that appears and dissipates. Like the best New Year songs, wisdom is espoused as ordinary. These are not solipsistic platitudes, they are realities of existence in all its glory. “The Beast” is another beauty, grand and then small, it appears, stalks, and disappears. To those indoctrinated in the meticulous magic of the Kadanes, we are prepared for the faint guitar lines, the locked rhythms, the shades of grey within the color grey and that ultimately the whole is always magnificent and always gratifying.
Tara Jane O’Neil - Tara Jane O’Neil
I am, have been, and will continue to be a fan of Tara Jane O’Neil. Songs can evoke and represent emotion, but what is emotion, what is the moment in the moment, what did the napkins on the table look like blowing from the table at the time you decided that this… That is Tara Jane O’Neil, the album, the many textures, the story: history, myth, science. “Blow” is a perfect song, it feels good to hear, it moves through you like a Carole King/Barry Gibb thing. “Joshua” swells and subsides, it flashes and rumbles, but it floats. “Laugh” is pure gold, it resists the ideas, promoting a simple adage: “Laugh.” We must be more alive than our philosophies. Not sure it is about that, but it’s that good. Recorded with many of the greats, James Elkington, Gerald Dowd, Nick Macari and Jim James arranging strings, it’s still an amazing and essential Tara Jane O’Neil album. “Purple” is a college course, “Pink” is a rippling river, it is just before sunset, stillness and glow. Yes, you should.