Lucky number 7 and we have a lot of albums for you this week that are all over the map. Hope you enjoy!
One of the best at what he does is back and in fine form. David Byrne is just one of those artists that oozes cool. He always has and always will. He takes chances and doesn't care whether you enjoy his work or about your wanting of a Talking Heads reunion, which I would die for. He is back working with Brian Eno, along with many many other collaborators from various reaches of the music world for American Utopia.He began working with Brian Eno, but it turned into a collaboration with many others, most notably Mattis With who pushed the album forward. "I Dance Like This" has weird robotic voices come in and out of it and signals how we are all becoming the same thing over and over and is quite the opener for the album. David's voice sounds fantastic during the entirety of the record. This "utopia" that he looks for over the record is not ideal, but what America is today. There is obviously hope littered in the record, but this is not a cheerful record in terms of what each song is talking about. We have a constant barrage of bullets ("Bullet"), advertisements ("Gasoline And Dirty Sheets"), and general pessimism in today's society and he tackles them all. But as David has done for his whole career he tries out various musical stylings and gives us a groove to enjoy while speaking of all of these topics of the day and still give us a bit of hope. At a certain age, an artist isn't expected to be relevant and come out with something new, but David has never, and probably will never, rest on what he has done before. He is always searching for what is next, and maybe on the next one we'll all be closer to a real utopia and we'll see what he has to say about that.
Lucius is significant for me as they were the first band I covered and I have followed their career since as it has become quite a big deal and of course Holly and Jess have performed with so many amazing musicians and have been touring with Roger Waters. They wanted to recreate on an album what they have done at a show around one mic or in the middle of an audience and make it bare bones, hence the title of their latest Nudes. From the opening chords of "Woman" it is clear that though this is going to be an acoustic record, it's going to be something special. Many of these are re-imaginings of songs from their short career so far. While some of them don't sound different from their originals, "Tempest" and "Something About You " work best. Nels Cline, one of the best guitarists today, helps out on "Million Dollar Secret" and the band covered Gerry Rafferty's "Right Down the Line", Tame Impala's "Eventually" and did a duet with Roger Waters on "Goodnight Irene" that is incredibly low-fi and gives the song an extra punch. "Neighbors" is a brand new one that fits perfectly in with the rest of the discography. This album was done with a lot of love and if this is what is to come next for Lucius, color me excited!
I love all of the female driven music that has been coming out in the world lately. Women are angry, tired, pissed off, and are just not going to take it anymore. The three ladies the comprise Camp Cope, Kelly-Sawn Hellmrich, Georgia "Maq" McDonald, and Sarah Thompson have made How to Socialise & Make Friends, and album that lets all of that anger out. The one-two punch of "The Opener" and "How to Socialise & Make Friends" have all of the energy to get you right into the album and want to stay there. "The Opener" talks about all of the barriers they have faced trying to make it in the music industry as women and tells the listener that while this happening to them too probably, they are not alone and we can change things. "How to..." goes into how they are expected to act being women in the industry and life in general and how this is not ok anymore. The record as a whole is filled with rage, trying to bring to light all of the problems for women in today's world and how things might be slowly changing, while doing it under the guise of indie and punk rock. There is nothing wild about the music they are making, which isn't to say it's bad, it's just that it works as a palette for the lyrics to come to life and are very important in today's world. This album can easily reach the masses due to the music, but it's the lyrics that are going to resonate with people for years to come.
There isn't much left to say about Jimi Hendrix. We all know he was one of the greatest guitar players to ever play and that he was cut down too soon by drugs and alcohol. We also know that there is a treasure trove of material in the vaults because he was obsessive in recording music. This is the last in a trilogy of albums of what Eddie Kramer called the best of what was left in the vault. Kramer of course worked very closely with Hendrix during his time in the spotlight and is the one of the most trusted in bringing new material to the light for everyone to enjoy. Hendrix on this release is loose and clearly enjoying his time in the studio. Recordings span from 1968 to 1970 on Both Sides of the Sky and have him working with a number of players, including Johnny Winter and Stephen Stills, as well as the Experience and Band of Gypsies. What is still amazing after all of these years is listening to how Jimi could attack the guitar ferociously one moment with all of his might and then quietly go in the background to let the drums and bass do their thing like on the astounding version of "Hear My Train A-Comin". The version of "Stepping Stone" on here is almost a punk version of Hendrix the way the song is moving at such a breakneck pace. He was always looking for new interesting sounds, and this record has so many of those including a glorious blues duo with Winter on "Things I Used to Do", a blues twinged saxaphone on "Georgia Blues", "Sweet Angel" and it's early stage "Little Wing", and "Woodstock" with Stills that is driving and raw. The last song on the album "Cherokee Mist" is one of the wildest Hendrix songs I have heard. It's a beautiful instrumental that brings in so many different instruments and sounds I listened to it on repeat after going through the album. It's like nothing else that I've ever heard from him. If this was a direction he was taking, I can't even imagine where he would have wound up. It will always be a shame that he wasn't long for this planet, but we will always have these recordings, and I'm sure even more down the road, to be wowed and blown away by a man who was way ahead of his time.
Women's voices are being amplified to a whole new level this year and this album is about so many of the issues that women have faced and are still facing. Georgia Nott, from Broods, takes the world to task and especially her industry through her new project: The Venus Project. All through Vol 1 she is angry that there aren't more women in the industry and those that are here aren't being listened to. They are being skipped over and she is completely done with it, especially after speaking with many women in the industry and realizing that many of them shared the same feelings. She knows she and other women are worth everyone's time and should not be dismissed if they are the only ones in the room with a bunch of male contemporaries. There is an anxiety, and self doubtfulness that settles, that is shared by women for always having to deal with this. It's a quiet album, but it is full of plenty of anger and rage to fill a stadium. On "Need a Man", she states " You say I need a man to protect me from other men can't you see the irony?" and really that says everything. Georgia only worked with women to bring the project to life, from the art work to production to the instrumentation. It's great to see things like this happen and hopefully they happen more regularly in the music industry.