Showing posts with label ariel pink. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ariel pink. Show all posts

Monday, September 25, 2017

video review: 'dedicated to bobby jameson' by ariel pink

Yeah, I wanted to talk about this... and while it's not his best - again - it's still worth hearing, if only because the sound is that out there.

But on that topic... well, stay tuned!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

album review: 'dedicated to bobby jameson' by ariel pink

So nearly every review of this record I've seen starts with a brief story of Bobby Jameson, a singer-songwriter in the mid-60s who was heavily promoted and developed a bit of a cult following before getting eaten alive by the music industry and his own appetites. It's not exactly a pleasant story but it's not a surprising one either, and there's no obvious villain: sure, the music industry didn't make things easy for more protest-minded artists like Jameson, even in the 60s, but drug and alcohol abuse on his part didn't help matters, and he spent chunks of the 70s institutionalized or homeless. He resurfaced in the public eye after his 1965 record Songs of Protest and Anti-Protest was reissued without his knowledge, and from 2007 onwards he put together a combination of blog posts and videos on YouTube detailing his experiences, up until his death in 2015.

Now here's the thing: I actually found his channel and watched a few of his videos, where he had his music, a few vlogs, and some footage from protest events. And a few things struck me: one, you can tell he found the internet as a potent outlet to let off steam at an industry that screwed him, a renegade voice for the void like so many others on this platform, but at the same time he also reminded me a lot of older ex-musicians I've met, particularly out of the indie or punk scene: pretty smart, appreciative of his tiny audience, but also bitterly cynical and not quite as self-aware as he might seem. And a lot of it is pretty tough to watch, especially as it has the homespun quality of a channel that was never going to break a thousand subscribers. And thus it's absolutely no surprise that Ariel Pink found him and wrote an album dedicated to him. Hell, on some level given Pink's own peripheral placement in the music industry as a weird, often misunderstood outcast cribbing from the garbage of pop culture and with a bad habit of antagonizing people - look up his minor feud with Grimes if you want to get a sense of it - he probably viewed Jameson as a kindred spirit, or his career arc as somewhat prophetic. And while I've never been a huge Ariel Pink fan, he does have a lifetime pass for 'Round And Round' that means I'm always going to listen to what he puts out, even if I like and appreciate it more than I love it. So what did we unearth with Dedicated To Bobby Jameson?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

video review: 'pom pom' by ariel pink

And that's the second review of the night. Whew.

Okay, Charli XCX, let's see if you've managed any sort of marginal improvement, so stay tuned!

Monday, December 15, 2014

album review: 'pom pom' by ariel pink

It's time we talk about one of the most artists in the indie scene, and one of the more polarizing ones too. This is an artist that critics and his cult audience absolutely loves, but to most others, even other indie music fans, he's considered either a joke or a disgrace. An artist that manages to fuse elements of the psychedelic and deranged with elements that either can come across as charmingly retro, painfully outdated, or just plain kitsch in the most mundane of ways.

Yep, we're talking about Ariel Pink, outsider pop artist and one of the most intriguing figures in the indie scene for over a decade. Originally a fan of gothic rock, he became enamoured of the lo-fi cassette culture of the 1980s, which combined for his knack for melody and odd vocal percussion led to a runny, smeared-over style of music that I'd call a gimmick if it wasn't so painfully sincere. The best way I can describe it is kitsch, the blend of old cast-off pop culture - bargain barrel long-forgotten disposable pop and rejected music for training videos and PSAs - with lyrics that often get a lot more dark and graphic than one might realize or be able to make out through his lo-fi recordings. It's unsurprising that his material doesn't translate well live, because it's material crafted from rejected and outdated normality, and that doesn't exactly fit well blown up to a stage. 

And yet there's something real to this that I like. I dig the sincerity and the occasional unsettling or surprising elements in the lyrics, I like his focus on melody and the warm texture in the music. And most of all, I like that he takes the forgotten junk of pop culture and tries to cobble together something real. It's pop art, sure, but it's the best kind - pushing rejected junk through a singular artistic lens, and after getting noticed by Animal Collective and signed to their label, a vision that proved surprisingly influential. And suddenly, a guy who never intended to be popular dropped into the spotlight, and he and his band Haunted Graffiti dropped a critically acclaimed record Before Today in 2010. Now that album was pretty damn excellent, probably one of his best efforts to fuse his aesthetic to a record that proved incredibly compelling. It was also probably his most accessible album to date and with the success of songs like 'Round & Round' he drew a bigger fanbase than ever. And thus it almost seemed like this follow-up Mature Themes was designed to push them away, by going harsher, darker, and nastier in its lyrical content. And it wouldn't be hard to believe that - it was a shame the album lost some of the warmer textures and killer melodies along the way which made it a fair bit less compelling. And thus I wasn't exactly sure where Ariel Pink was going to go with his newest record Pom Pom, his first full-length studio record that was not made with his band The Haunted Graffiti, but I definitely made sure to check it out. How is it?