MUSIC PLAYED AND PONDERED UPON
By K.M. Anderson
Marissa Nadler – “July” (Sacred Bones)
To say that Marissa Nadler makes sad songs would be a generalization. It is the music of a somber place; she colors using a particular palate. “July” is an album that exudes beauty, horror, sadness and love. It is the calm before–perhaps during–the storm. “Firecrackers” takes the melodic tune of a love song, “July 4th of last year, we spilled all the blood. How did you spend your summer days?” It is the perfect song for a lovely night, or a perfect song to play after a night that may have gone awry, with witnesses needing to be dispersed. “Nothing In My Heart” is a farewell to a love: a kind but firm exit. I don’t want you anymore, dear, now you run along. Listen to this album, because it is beautiful every time.
Angel Olsen – “Burn Your Fire For No Witness” (Jagjaguwar)
Heartbreak and disappointment have made many a song, perhaps because in those moments we must reflect on ourselves. Though we have allowed ourselves to love, and lose being loved, the resilience of looking forward, of hoping, of wanting, of believing is inherent to the experience. In the album opener “Unfucktheworld”, Olsen begins by telling a lover, “I quit my dreaming the moment that I found you” but less than a minute later, “I am the only one now, you may not be around.” Continually and brilliantly, Olsen constructs songs of love requited and abandoned, discovered and deserted. She stands beside and stands alone, but never gives up. The music is much more energized and amplified than previous efforts (“Forgiven/Forgotten”, “High and Wild”, “Stars”), but there is the also the mellower fare, which is more familiar to her previous works (“White Fire”, “Iota”, “Dance Slow Decades”). In either style, the album is dynamic. Dedicate 40 minutes of your day or night to it.
Dead Rider – “Chills On Glass” (Drag City)
Dead Rider songs can go from bleep to Prince. It is like being attacked by sex. It is these things that make high heels luscious and dangerous. “Chills On Glass” is their third album, but first for Drag City. Led by Todd Rittman (of MOTHERFUCKING US MAPLE), it is the type of music that has all the ingredients of soul, dance and pop music, but executed in a way that is reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s hair setting fire: thrilling. “Blank Screen” goes in 10 directions in four minutes, all while maintaining beat and rhythm. Some songs can be predicted within the first two or three bars–these songs cannot. The album is an adventure. These are the sounds of freedom, and freedom is never easily attained. Break dem chains!