Album Reviews: Jens Lekman, Dirty Projectors + more
Moon Duo — Occult Architecture Vol. 1
When I think of the band Suicide, I think of a feeling as much as I think of a sound and atmosphere. There was an aural native, you were a part of their world, I feel a similar thing when listening to Moon Duo. Their latest, Occult Architecture Vol. 1, encapsulates darkness and the allure of it, sprinkling a dance vibe with danger, the mysteries beneath, silhouettes against throbbing blue and red lights, rock and roll and leather and motorcycles. “Creepin” drives and writhes the drums, the heartbeat pulsing you through the night. “Cult of Moloch” continues the darkness, synths float around like spirits over the séance, guitar leads snake in and out, dashes of color and spark, illuminating the smoke. The songs here work individually, but as a part of the whole they are a feeling, a mood, a world to inhabit.
Jens Lekman — Life Will See You Now
Pop music is part of the fabric of the everyday, it is the soundtrack to our lives, for better or worse. Jens Lekman understands that within the catchiness and seeming ease of a pop song there is room for discussion, introspection. The first song on the excellent Life Will See You Now album, “To Know Your Mission,” speaks of the routine and mundane interrupted by the idea, what is all of this: “What’s your mission, why are we here, who are you serving?” Taking sounds of pop, soca, disco, and the language of the everyday, and presents an album that is life as life within all its dramas, real and imagined. “How We Met, The Long Version” can and should start the party, a perfect picture of the that moment when two people decide to either enrich or ruin each other’s lives. “What’s That Perfume You Wear” is a love story in a scent, it is the passing of a person in the street or a club evoking the arc of a memory from inception to conclusion. “Dandelion Seed” is the thought as you look into the distance, “blaming the wind and where it carried me.” I kind of dropped the ball on this one, you get albums all the time as a music writer and if they are not something you are automatically aware of per previously piqued interest or familiarity of artist or form, you sometimes get to things slowly, and sometimes those things are excellent and you feel bad. But this album is excellent and I apologize for letting you know so late. My bad.
Dirty Projectors — Dirty Projectors
We all know the Dirty Projectors to be a thing, or at least we assume it to be a thing. Anyone who has followed the band knows that Dave Longstreth goes as his wind blows and they kind of got popular in one of those waves, but Longstreth is still Longstreth and so this is the wave now. Let’s call this an R & B album, it is about a breakup, more as a muse than autobiography, and begins with “Keep Your Name,” which has chopped and screwed vocals, a rap section, and is essentially a slow jam. This is how it’s done, Longstreth taking something and deconstructing it, but leaving in elements of familiarity. The Sign O’ The Times horn part on “Up in the Hudson,” yes, it is sort of a D’Angelo song, but it’s something else, too. I won’t, but I could hear this on urban radio, because it is not a rock record by any stretch of the imagination, but you see reputation colors perception in these things so, you know, but Longstreth did a lot of Solange’s last album, too, so he is kind of there already. “Little Bubble” is quiet storm, Longstreth is a better singer than he’s credited. Not sure how people will perceive the direction or the album, it is not what was Dirty Projectors, but it kind of is, faint colors given more dominant colors, less brushes and more full stroke, but it’s all been in the picture before. I’m into it.
Julian Lage & Chris Eldridge — Mount Royal
Am I a sucker for acoustic guitar-driven albums of the Fahey/Glenn Jones/Elkins and Salsburg tradition? I am. The guitar as an instrument is one of the most expressive, it suggests and testifies to all of the feelings of human emotion. The musical conversation between Julian Lage and Chris Eldridge on their second collaborative effort Mount Royal is one to behold. “Rygar” is masterful in tone and phrase, “Old Grimes” has the all the appeal of bluegrass and folk but a gentle approach to mood and pace, a calm cool breeze on an overcast day, a hum more than whoosh. “Sleeping By Myself” is one of the few pieces with vocals, a sad song about sad things, but tender, a slow tear and exit. “Lion’s Share” is paced beautifully, blues-y, full within its use of space, the emptiness between the notes and the rhythm are all necessary to the whole. A wonderful listen, a voyage, each song a chapter to a beautiful story. A gift.
John Wesley Coleman III — Microwave Dreams
Every now and then you hear an album that restores yor faith in the spirit of man, that imbues in it a sense of pride and victory. Microwave Dreams is that album for me. I was first introduced to Coleman when he opened for NOTS at Rudyard’s. I felt ashamed that such a jewel resided in my state and I was unaware of his light. “Watching my love become a mom and I am a father, too, turn off the TV and hit the bed, waking up at 7 AM, waking up on the couch again…” Who is this wordsmith? He knows my life and my struggle, and his rock and roll is my life. “Jesus Never Went To Junior High” is an instant classic, it is Buddy Holly, it is Credence Clearwater without the privilege: “Jesus never went to junior high, if he did I not notice, I was sitting on the back of the school bus eating all the acid.” It is America, it is youth, it is brilliance: “Everybody’s got some stories.” Fuck the red hats and the class division, we are all out here, living through the day, arguing about lunch choices, mad about our children’s disinterest in extracurricular activities and missed assignments, waiting in traffic, GPS signal lost, coffee stains on our shirts, selectively remembering our youth. John Wesley Coleman III is here, singing your blues, “dance with me, motherfucker.”
Tim Darcy — Saturday Night
Tim Darcy’s album Saturday Night is a aptly titled in that it follows the trajectory of a Saturday night from wild to weird. Let’s start at the beginning. “Tall Glass of Water” is the Velvet Underground rocker, evoking the spirit of improvising while playing, moving with the spirit, that joke just hit me, keep singing. Now, let me preface this next statement, I do not promote the use of psychedelics, live your life as you see fit. With that stated, this album is a lot to me like a trip, but not in the obvious way. As it kicks in, shit gets weird, but not outright, just flurries of weirdness that then become full on hysteria. “You Felt Comfort” is a rocker, a toe tapper, but something is happening in it. By “Saturday Night” it happens, a meditation, a dismantling of the outside from the inside, a slow ascent into the otherworld, “let me out.” “Found My Limit” is space, spinning ceiling and drool, “Saint Germain” is where the magic appears, you are finding your core, the purpose is upon us,“Beyond Me” is flight, full ascension hovering into the sun. Saturday Night is a magical album for wonder and discovery, it begins as a jam it ends as the fulfillment of journey, I offer you my hand, let’s go there.