Look out, look out, for the man who came in with little fanfare and left just as unassumingly not too long after. For that brief hour or less, Mike Hadreas – performing as Perfume Genius – was laid bare for all, his music an intimate, knotted struggle. As in their recorded versions in his debut album Learning, the songs all sounded too short and ended too abruptly, drawing out each time an awkward pause before the applause. But Hadreas knows awkwardness well enough to let those moments linger, keeping the tension going with an audience probably more nervious than he.
As the opener, “Perry” was an apt introduction to the tormented world of Perfume Genius, of memories haunted and still raw. Captivatingly, Hadreas worked hard in each of the subsequent songs to present the dark as beautiful, with the deeply personal “Learning” and “Mr. Peterson” garnering the most unanimous response from a 100-strong crowd that was mostly appreciative but at times dumbstruck. For me, it was the brittle cry and grippingly bare piano of “Look Out, Look Out” that struck hardest, that unsettled wariness remaining even as the bar started to clear and the evening to close. - Dan.
mp3: Perfume Genius – Look Out, Look Out
The Perfume Genius gig at Blujaz was made possible by 4imaginaryboys. Learning is out now on Matador Records.
Sea Change was the album that sounded least like Beck, but ironically remains the most gorgeous work he’s ever produced. Now as producer, he seems to have convinced Thurston Moore to attempt his own sea change. Titled Demolished Thoughts, Moore’s new album finally embraces the aesthetic of beauty that he’s spent an entire career subverting through strains of dissonance and alternate tunings, while effortlessly managing to sound every bit like himself. “In Silver Rain with a Paper Key” is a perfect example of this, a song complete with instantly recognisable SY-esque lyrical imagery, set surprisingly to a sea of evocatively textured strings. - Dan.
mp3: Thurston Moore – In Silver Rain With A Paper Key
Demolished Thoughts is out now on Matador.
there’s always a certain celebratory immediacy in the music of the new pornographers. in their latest album together, the songs keep rolling on untiringly, as they have in their previous efforts, from one melody, hook or chorus to the next. while supergroups like theirs are supposed to collapse under the weight of individual stars, carl newman, neko case and dan bejar have, like their songs, stuck together and remained unashamedly pop, album after album.
by the closing song of the together, it’s no surprise that we still find them dwelling on the themes of chance and serendipity. titled “we end up together”, the song wastes no time introducing its protagonist, “little brother” and his mid-life crisis of sorts. “when are you going to do some damage?“, newman asks, before ruefully contemplating this “damage, sweet damage” which ushers in the cello riff that drives the rest of the song in soundtracking little brother’s life. with its wry, poignant lyrics, the band has clearly chosen to end the album on a bittersweet note, but with its stubbornly uplifting strings, it emerges as one that’s equally triumphant against the odds. - dan.
mp3: the new pornographers – we end up together
together is out now on matador records. do also check out newman’s guest post in rolling stone for more on the inspiration behind this song.
for one trained in ornithology, jonathan meiburg’s choice of naming his band after a bird is hardly surprising. but settling on shearwater – a variety of seabirds – couldn’t be more apt, especially in the golden archipelago. like its namesake, the band delves into the album’s singular but expansive theme of island exploration from a bird’s eye view, unafraid to be guided by the winds, and content to stay as long as the magic of discovery remains. it’s a perspective that takes us “over the ocean/winging low” as narrated in album opener “meridian”, which unveils the new horizons by bringing us to that “first wave/and the flares that fall/like fireflies/on the islands“. utterly absorbing. - dan.
mp3: shearwater – meridian
the golden archipelago was released earlier this year on matador.
i woke up this morning with this incessant racket reverberating in my head. i just couldn’t pin it down, except for this dissonant, off-kilter alarm going back and forth, sometimes going a key up, sometimes just getting hazier and noisier than before. well i’m a little more awake now, and i’m pleased to say problem solved. it’s lovely how times new viking‘s “born again revisited”, the title track from their album released earlier this year, just found its way into my waking subconscious, its unabashedly lo-fi vocals hollering in my face, driven by that stubborn riff that stays so stubbornly out of orbit. good morning, noisy world. - dan.
mp3: times new viking – born again revisited
born again revisited is now out on matador records.
bobby pyn was the earlier name of darby crash, who fronted the germs in the late 70s. the punk band disbanded in 1980 when darby overdosed on heroin as part of a suicide pact, days after performing his last gig with the band during which he delivered his farewell to the sold-out crowd: “we did this show so you new people could see what it was like when we were around. you’re not going to see it again”. explosive but shortlived, the legacy of the germs is resuscitated ironically by one of the longest lasting post-punk bands living today – sonic youth with their inevitably titled 16th studio album the eternal. “thunderclap for bobby pyn” is a tribute to this memorably fleeting moment in noise meditation, delivered curiously late but with all the urgency typical of SY’s more punkish fare. teenagers they no longer are, but kim, thurston, lee and steve show they still have what it takes to start a riot, even if they’re riding on the shoulders of past revolutions. - dan.
mp3: sonic youth – thunderclap for bobby pyn
the eternal is now out on matador. get it!
sometimes things are best said plain, without the ambiguities of metaphor or the constraining structures of poetry, without even the obligation to be subtle about things or to understate how we really feel. so let me try and say things as plain as i can: i really do like this song. i like how the words say everything. i like its pace, which puts me at ease. i feel it understands me quite well. i think it knows and cares how i feel.
mp3: girls – hellhole ratrace
album by girls is out today on matador and true panther. get it!