Showing posts with label hozier. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hozier. Show all posts

Saturday, March 9, 2019

video review: 'wasteland, baby!' by hozier

Ugh, this was exasperating... still has its moments here, though.

And yet on the topic of disappointments...

Thursday, March 7, 2019

album review: 'wasteland, baby!' by hozier

I remember vividly covering Hozier in 2014.

I remember knowing him only for 'Take Me To Church', a swampy soul song with a prominent overwritten gothic streak to match his massive, howling voice, owing obvious debts to blues and soul but also showing an intuitive grasp of the texture to make it stick. In other words, there was no way he wasn't going to become a one-hit wonder, especially in the mid-2010s where the mainstream was caught in transition between garage rock duos and rollicking indie flair and the over-polished pop rock that dominates now, but I had some hope that his self-titled debut would connect, especially as his songwriting had too much unique flair to be discounted. I went in with middling expectations...

And left blown out of the water - and indeed, Hozier set such a high bar for his brand of blues rock and soul that it's not surprising few even tried to follow him. Not only was that self-titled debut one of the best albums of 2014, but it also produced 'Jackie & Wilson', which to this day remains my favourite song of that year. And going back to that album years later I find myself awestruck how well it holds up - the huge low-end smolder balancing terrific melodic hooks, the rich diversity of tones, and that's before you got Hozier's brand of overwritten but understated melodrama, drenched in the iconography of the past but refreshingly modern in its sentiments. I place that self-titled project in the same category as an album like Dolls Of Highland by Kyle Craft in a fusion of textured, old-school rock with contemporary ideas, but where Craft was able to crank out a strong follow-up last year with Full Circle Nightmare, Hozier was more deliberate - mostly because he had the flexibility to rely on a monster hit and the frankly stunning number albums he sold in an era where albums don't sell. So while I was cooler than most on his EP follow-up last year Nina Cried Power - really damn good, just not quite great - I had high hopes for this one. I was a little less enthused to discover that he included a few songs from that EP on this project - and yet not my favourite from that project 'Moment's Silence (Common Tongue)', which was on my short list of songs that nearly made my top 50 songs of 2018 - but hey, we've been waiting five damn years for this, so what did we get from Wasteland, Baby!?

Saturday, December 26, 2015

the top ten best hit songs of 2015 (VIDEO)

Well, this was fun to put together. Yeah, a few minor glitches, but it did come together in a hurry more than I'd otherwise like (mostly because I'm travelling atm and have limited Internet/computer time). Interesting to see all the controversy about my #1 pick, but you always get that sort of thing.

Anyway, now to focus on the Top 50 Songs of 2015, so stay tuned!

the top ten best hit songs of 2015

Of all of the lists that I put together throughout the last weeks of the year, this is probably my favourite, because it's where I feel the most populist. It's the acknowledgement at listing the absolute worst hits that there is good stuff that deserves attention too, and that the mainstream public actually agreed. And 2015 really was a good year. Yeah, hip-hop and country in the mainstream struggled, but there were a lot of great pop songs pulling on rock, synthpop, funk, and even R&B. And while I wouldn't say this year's hits are quite as strong as a year like 2012 or 2011, it handily beats the last two years I've been putting together this list not just in number of great songs, but their quality. And again, the songs had to land on the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 - the deep-cuts and stuff outside the mainstream, that's coming next - but this was the good stuff that got popular.

So let's start with our Honourable Mentions, shall we?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

the top 25 best albums of 2014 (VIDEO)

And that's it for me for 2014! The last of the lists, probably one of the more controversial ones, but hey, it's what you get.

I want to thank all of you for sticking with me this long - if it wasn't for you crazy cats, I wouldn't have gotten this far or I probably would have spent my time elsewhere long ago. As it is, let's keep up the hustle, and I hope to see you all with more album reviews, Billboard BREAKDOWN, and maybe something new in that new year. Stay tuned!

the top 25 best albums of 2014

And now, the final list, the most important and likely the most hotly debated selection, the top 25 albums of 2014. Some of these entries you will recognize as they've been acclaimed by plenty of publications already, but there are a few surprises here that definitely need their due consideration.

One thing to preface this list: while I have seen many year-end lists, these are all my personal choices based upon what stuck with me the most this year. And to qualify, they have to be one of the 210 albums I reviewed in full this year. And believe me, this list had a few painful cuts, but I'd prefer to keep this list smaller and respect the cream of the crop rather than reward albums that might not deserve the same acclaim.

But enough, wasting time, let's get this started!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

the top 50 best songs of 2014 (part ii: 25-1) (VIDEO)

And there's part two. One last list to come, stay tuned!

the top 50 best songs of 2014

And now onto the third list, and by far one of the hardest to make. This year I discussed 210 albums and from there I had just under 700 songs that I considered eligible for this list. From there, the task of narrowing it down and ranking them was excruciatingly difficult, because I want to make sure this list was of the best of the best, and even with that I had to make some painful cuts. And once again, keep in mind these are not the hits. We have singles and deep cuts here, from artists who are defiantly mainstream to those lodged deep in the underground. And one more thing: for a song to land on this list, it has to have been released from an album I reviewed this year. If it was just a single, it doesn't cut it - but on a contrary note, if the single dropped last year or even the year before and the album was only released now... well, it qualifies in my books.

But enough wasting time, let's get this started with...

Saturday, October 11, 2014

video review: 'hozier' by hozier

Wow, I did not expect this album to be this good. Seriously, get it, it's fucking amazing.

Okay, Tinashe is probably next, but I've got Iceage and Aphex Twin (finally) to cover too, so stay tuned!

Friday, October 10, 2014

album review: 'hozier' by hozier

Let's talk about religion. As I've mentioned in the past, I'm Catholic, mostly practicing but to say my faith gets complicated from there is understating it. One thing I'm quite certain of is that my faith is my business, and nobody else's, and if religion operated on that level on a broader scale, we as a society would be much better off. 

And yet unsurprisingly, there's a whole subsection of the music industry devoted to music with strong Christian themes, a subsection of the industry that tends to get relentlessly snubbed, panned, or outright ignored by critics. And to some extent that's not a good thing - when you shut down the critical discourse and artistic conversation, art developed in that environment tends to develop insular tendencies without the slightest element of quality control. But to be fair to myself and other critics, it's not like we don't have good reasons for ignoring that particular subsection of music - putting aside the issue that elements of the fandom immediately perceive criticism of the music as criticism of not just the artist, but the religion as well, the production and instrumentation is often substandard, or in some cases outright derivative of other non-religious acts. And lyrically... look, religion has inspired some fantastic artists to write classic songs - Johnny Cash, Tom Waits, Nick Cave, the list could go on - but in that particular subgenre can fall into two distinctive traps. The first is that much of the material is not willing to directly comment or criticize the faith that underlies it, which can lead to a serious lack of drama - after all, if the answer always can be provided by deus ex machina, you really undercut the tension, which tends to lead to the music coming across at best placid and at worst self-satisfied. And the second problem is evangelicalism - for a critic, it can get exasperating when the music's sole purpose is to preach or go political in a way that lacks nuance, especially when their answers loop back to a holy book that should be read allegorically and metaphorically rather than literally.

What this also means is that, with rare exception, most Christian music never gets play on mainstream radio or the charts, and everyone tends to be okay with that. But at the same time, it's been a generally accepted rule that songs that are outright anti-religion don't tend to get a lot of airplay either - because let's face it, spitting in the face of people's faith without a certain degree of nuance is just as exasperating. So you can believe that I was surprised to see a song titled 'Take Me To Church' creeping up the lower half of the charts, a song fairly blunt in its 'losing my religion' metaphors when linking back to his complicated relationship. Now let me stress that this is a strong way to immediately grab my attention - strong single, intriguing content, doing something new - so I decided to check out his self-titled album. What did I find?