Album of the Fortnight
Artist: Joan as Police Woman
Album: The Deep Field
While she may be best known for her work with Antony and the Johnsons and her ill-fated romance with iconic singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley, there is far more to Joan Wasser, aka Joan as Police Woman.
Her fourth album The Deep Field is a sensual treat for your ears. The transition from track to track is seamless, creating a fluid, soulful and incredibly beautiful experience that ponders love, longing and humanity.
Wasser’s beautiful vocals combine with a number of instruments, most notably an incredible saxophone and blues guitar, to create something that sounds like sweet longing.
Highlights are the first single ‘The Magic’ and the delicious ‘Run For Love’. However, the album feels like one long piece as each song flows beautifully into the next to create a sweetly fluid aural experience. Wasser has created a treat that stands out from the music being produced at the moment and marks her as a real talent on the indie/soul scene.
In a nutshell: Arresting.
Album: The King is Dead
In this latest offering from The Decemberists, they have upped the peasanty folksiness that was always their signature style to near-ludicrous levels. They have really brought music back to the roots of American folk – one song even has a crackly overlay to make it sound like it was played on a gramophone. It pleasantly plods along for ten songs, reeking of iconic folk-rock singers like Simon and Garfunkel or early Bob Dylan, the latter particularly brought to mind with the near-constant harmonica accompaniment.
However, the album feels slightly samey and could use a flash of inspiration. While perfectly inoffensive, it’s unlikely to be remembered as anything highly innovative.
In a Nutshell: Perfectly nice music, but if I had wanted to listen to early-60s era Dylan, then I would have bought his records.
Album: Deerhoof vs. Evil
I suspect Deerhoof are very few people’s cup of tea. Outsider music naïveté and clumsiness is paradoxically paired with an eccentric skill. Songs are dragged from genre to genre.
Take ‘Super Duper Rescue Dudes’: any normal band would take the excellent hook and run with it until they get a great pop song. Deerhoof shove two chaotic, cacophonic bridges in there too, because that’s what they do. They take doses of heavy metal, dissonant punk, twee pop and a million other sounds and force them together. Deerhoof vs. Evil is bizarre, but if that’s what you’re into, pick up this album and enjoy.
In a Nutshell: Either genius or madness. Either original or a novelty. Inarguably strange.
Album: Valhalla Dancehall
Chilled out and the perfect accompaniment to a pint in the Student Bar or a Sunday afternoon stroll. This fifth studio album from the vastly underrated British Sea Power is one that offers some catchy melodies and relaxing rhythms to help you through any hard day.
The stand-out track ‘Living Is So Easy’ aptly sums up the mood of the album itself; easy listening with a bit of an indie twist, so as not to be confused with your Dad’s CD collection of this type. With some great anthemic choruses, it would sit perfectly in an evening set at Glastonbury.
In a Nutshell: A potential soundtrack to your summer.
Album: Rolling Blackouts
The Go! Team are one of the few cases where this cliché ‘unique’ actually applies. The everything-but-kitchen-sink approach to genre, as heard on their aptly-titled debut album, Thunder, Lightning Strike, was a genuine musical bolt from the blue.
Rolling Blackouts, however, serves as a continuation rather than an expansion of their trademark sound. The one exception is the disconcertingly threadbare instrumental, ‘Lazy Poltergeist’, a piano ballad which is easily the most understated song the band have ever recorded.
The collaborations, such as ‘Buy Nothing Day’ (with Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast) and ‘Secretary Song’ (featuring Deerhoof’s Satomi Matsuzaki) are oddly more reminiscent of the collaborators’ bands rather than The Go! Team, causing the record to slightly lack cohesion.
The effervescent horns of ‘Voice Yr Choice’ and ‘Yosemite Theme’ give the record’s midpoint a sturdier sound and thus constitutes its highlight.
Album closer ‘Back Like 8 Track’, meanwhile, demonstrates a Pixies-esque ability to incorporate loud-quite-loud dynamics and represents another of the album’s choice cuts.
In a nutshell: A fun record, despite being a little too similar to their previous releases.