A surprising amount of music has released since the start of 2019, far too much for me to write about at length or even listen to. So, I’ve compiled some albums I did listen to and a single I thought was notable.
“Girl With Basket Of Fruit”- Xiu Xiu
Experimental noise group Xiu Xiu released the eleventh album of their career, “Girl With Basket Of Fruit,” in early February. Like much of their past work, the album intends to represent the tension, anxiety and fear of modern life and it comes so frustratingly close. While the instrumentals all dig their way into your skin and crawl throughout your body without remorse, their effect is almost completely eviscerated by hysterical vocal deliveries and sometimes laughable lyrics. “Amargi ve Moo” contains some of the most haunting instrumentals of recent memory, but they’re undercut by Jamie Stewart’s silly baby noises and mispronunciation of “bananas.” With noise rock band Daughters succeeding in this exact mission with last year’s triumphant “You Won’t Get What You Want” still fresh in the mind, it’s hard to take “Girl With Basket Of Fruit” all that seriously.
Favorite Track: “Girl With Basket Of Fruit”
“VOL. 4: SLAVES OF FEAR”- HEALTH
Electronic noise group HEALTH streamlines things this time around with their fifth album. The glitchy electronics the group is known for are restricted to certain moments, in favor of a more rhythmic focus. The title track is a perfect representation of the record as a whole, with its desolate build up, apocalyptic lyrics and crunchy, machine gun-like riff. This album is very one-note, so there honestly isn’t much more to be said, other than it’s a fantastic inclusion to HEALTH’s discography and their best record since the groundbreaking soundtrack to 2012’s “Max Payne 3.” More so than their other records, “VOL. 4” feels like it could appeal to both noise and metal fans, hopefully resulting in even greater exposure for the group.
Favorite Track: “FEEL NOTHING”
“A Fool At Forty Is A Fool Indeed”- Datarock
Admittedly, there isn’t much to say about Datarock’s newest EP. The group has always put out excellent electronic and dance rock, and “A Fool at Forty…” is no different. It’s infectious and could fill a dance floor within its first twenty seconds. On a personal note, I was hesitant to even include the EP here, but “The One” has been my go-to feel good song for the past two months. I found myself dancing to it while cooking more times than I’m willing to admit.
Favorite Track: “The One”
“Bird Box (Original Score)”- Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
When it comes to original Netflix content, “Bird Box” is close to the bottom of the barrel. It’s a slog and rids itself of any tension it might’ve had within twenty minutes. However, the soundtrack by the legendary Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is fantastic. They have proved themselves to be the 21st century masters of film music, thanks to their work with David Fincher. Within the context of the film, the soundtrack is overbearing, and somewhat repetitive, but after hearing the tracks isolated, and as intended, they’re just as tense as one would expect from Reznor and Ross. It’s an excellent listen if paired with some good headphones and the focused imagination of the listener.
Favorite Track: “Undercurrents”
“Ill Wind”- Radiohead
Recorded during the group’s “A Moon Shaped Pool” sessions, “Ill Wind” was originally only released physically as a B-side to “Spectre.” While it’s easy to see why it was cut from “A Moon Shaped Pool,” the song easily holds its own. The song sounds cold, in only a way Radiohead could pull off. The soft guitar, crooning vocals and groovy drums work well with the synth lines that enter halfway through the track, mimicking the guitar line, and providing comforting arpeggios in both headphone channels, guarding you from the chill.
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