Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Go Ask Aldous

The lucky thing about this new Aldous Harding record is that enough time has passed between the original New Zealand release of her first record and this second album Party, out this month, that half of its songs have been floating around the last year and might already be established favorites. And where the first one might've had you raining tears but also wondering why a New Zealand native sings like an Irishwoman in mourning, Party has all sorts of range and finds her toying with accents as though each song is worthy of its own character.

Her best offerings on this album are also a couple of the ones she had released earlier as intimate videos, "I'm So Sorry" and "What if the Birds Aren't Singing They're Screaming." You know, the stuff that may or may not be inspired by addiction of one sort or another.

"Freedom/balance/so many friends wish that for me"

"I got high/I thought I saw an angel/but it was just a ghost"

There's a great deal of performance in her art, and for a singer-songwriter, she does so much tip-toeing around the line between precious and brilliant, anchoring herself onto the side of brilliant just as you begin to wonder whether or not she's for real. And it's no wonder John Parish opted to work with her this time around -- she's a bit of an odd one, gives the impression that she has no female friends whatsoever, and while her music's nothing like that of PJ Harvey, she's got a similar quality, the one that has you questioning whether she's dead serious or having a long, quiet snicker about all the fun she's having by herself. Both are probably right.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Give 'em yer money!

Hullo there. Still listening to Pile's A Hairshirt of Purpose but digging into a few other things that will pop up around these parts shortly. In the meantime, the Hype Machine folks have begun to ask for money, and sure, there are certainly more worthwhile causes to donate to -- yes, please donate to animal sanctuaries and programs to keep people afloat and temporary housing to accommodate the city with the worst homelessness rate, and for fuck's sake, give all you can to the family of Sonny Vincent. (Really, truly -- his family suffered a terrible fire and have a never-ending pile of medical bills to deal with, as well as a long list of surgeries still ahead.) But if you've put in your share and happen to have something like $3 left at the end of the month, consider putting in a donation to the Hype Machine.

Choir Croak Out Them Goodies joined the Hype Machine nearly a decade ago; if you're not familiar, it collects the music posted by all of its registered blogs, and plops them down in one handy place for free streaming. As a member, you can save your favorite songs to a playlist, follow other members, and search for artists by name. It's free to use! Moreover, it's a great equalizer and doesn't give a damn whether your site is a one-man blog or a proper website with a full staff and a huge following; every site that posts music receives equal space for its posts to be seen. It allows you to discover new music, and to discover new blogs that feature music you enjoy, and it's been a damn godsend in providing a place for music discovery. Donate if you can. Clicky click click.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

When Pile came around

It took a while but the opportunity to see Pile in Los Angeles finally popped up a little over a week ago, which is quite lucky, as west coast visits don't generally happen. The group is made up of individually skilled musicians, including brilliant drummer Kris Kuss, perhaps the band's secret weapon, though what really stood out was the facial range of frontman Rick Maguire, who bore the terrified, deadpan grimace of Alan Huck and left little room to interact until the show was nearly over and he suddenly realized that it'd perhaps be the right thing to say a few words. On record, Maguire's voice projects a great deal of self-loathing, but when watching him, it becomes apparent that his voice simply projects -- flawlessly, effortlessly, out loud, with precise intent -- and it seems like a special treat to see him occasionally share a smile from the side of his face.

A Hairshirt of Purpose might be the easiest Pile album to latch onto thus far, and there are all sorts of marvelous details scattered throughout: the way the guitar riff on "Worms" mimics that on "Texas," the dour lines ("Not happy/not in love/but let's have a baby to save the marriage that we made up" and "So play in traffic/and have a kid/may every good deed be in self-interest" off "Leaning on a Wheel" are standouts). Rhyming "pathetic" with "eremitic," which is something only Fiona Apple could've pulled off up to now. And as has become standard with Pile, it contains no filler whatsoever, with nearly each song on the record being that song, the highlight you come to anticipate. In other cases, it'd be ridiculous to declare this one of the best records of the year, so early on, but there's no doubting that this one will be near the top of the list come December.

Just buy it all. There's not a bad one in the bunch.