Showing posts with label perfume genius. Show all posts
Showing posts with label perfume genius. Show all posts

Saturday, January 6, 2018

the top 25 best albums of 2017 (VIDEO)

Well, nearly forgot about this one... but not to worry, it's still here. Enjoy!

Next up, the debut of The Trailing Edge - stay tuned!

the top 25 best albums of 2017

Of all the years I've put together year-end lists for albums, this might be the hardest it's been - and believe it or not, it's for the best possible reason: I covered an abundance of incredible music in 2017, arguably more than I ever have before! Even though I didn't give out any perfect scores, this year showed multiple genres giving us the goods, from a revitalized rock scene to several country gems to underground hip-hop making a major resurgence to pop putting forward its best showing in years - and that's not even getting to the genre-defying oddities that utterly blew my mind!

But what this also meant were cuts... in a year where I could put together a top 50 and still feel like I'm leaving stuff off, this was particularly brutal. Once again, I was very tempted to expand this list, but again, I'm highlighting the best of the best, and that means while these could have made it in a weaker year, for 2017 they didn't cut it. I won't deny that hip-hop got hit hard in this, as I really wanted to include records from Quelle Chris, Jay-Z, milo, Armand Hammer, Tyler the Creator, Rapsody, Yelawolf, and yes, Kendrick Lamar on this list and I can't. And queue the outrage by everyone that DAMN. is not making this list, but considering there are  five hip-hop records that beat him out to get here, there isn't room for complaining. And I don't want to hear anything from the indie set either than Father John Misty, Kirin J. Callinan, Spoon, The xx, St. Vincent, and Alvvays missed the cut too - all great records, to be sure, but not quite good or consistent enough. Honestly, the most painful cuts for me came in rock - where Creeper, Chelsea Wolfe, and Ayreon all missed it - and especially country, where Natalie Hemby, Angaleena Presley, Dori Freeman and Chris Stapleton all didn't make it - again, great albums, but limited slots. Finally, we have three records that would have sparked controversy had they landed on the list so there is a part of me they just missed the cut: Jhene Aiko, Brand New, and Niall Horan - although there is another part of me that would love to see everyone's expression if Niall made my year end list and Kendrick didn't.

But again, those are my Honourable Mentions... and now onto the list proper.

Friday, June 30, 2017

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2017 (VIDEO)

And there is THAT weight off my shoulder. Whew, ton of work to get that out... and yet it's not over, as I've got another special video dropping soon, so stay tuned!

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2017

There have been a lot of people who have said that 2017 has not been a good year for music, on the charts or otherwise... and from a certain point of view I can see it. Hip-hop in particular has had a really rough past few months, and between pop stars flopping, mainstream country continuing to spiral, and entirely too many records from established acts not living up to their potential, indie or mainstream, I can see why people are calling 2017 a disappointment.

I can also say that I don't buy it for a second, because for me, 2017 has been awesome. I already have plenty of songs to line my list of the best hits, and going into this point at the midyear, I have more records that I've scored 9/10 than ever before. Granted, it also seems like one of those years where the critical darlings aren't quite crossing over in the same way, and if you haven't heard of most of my favourites, that would be why - and that's not even counting the stuff I had to cut, and man, there were a few rough choices there. I think part of this comes from Patreon helping to shape my requests - once the scheduling got figured out as part of this experiment, things began to click and I started covering a lot of stuff I really loved. 

So you all know the drill by this point: twelve albums in order - an order that could shuffle by the end of 2017 - twenty-four songs in chronological order of my reviewing them (yes, I'm expanding the list, it's that kind of year), and keep in mind that if they don't make this list they've still got a real shot for the list at the end of the year, so let's get this started with...

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

video review: 'no shape' by perfume genius

Man alive, I enjoyed the hell out of this record, and I really do think this is one of my better reviews too. So thrilled I finally got to it, definitely will land on year-end lists.

The next record, though, is even more critically acclaimed... well, stay tuned!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

album review: 'no shape' by perfume genius

So there's a critical preconception about singer-songwriters that the more layers of instrumentation they add, the less intimate their music is perceived. Now this is more observed on the flipside - that when artists strip things down they're working to intensify the closeness of their music - but I've always found it to be a bit of a misconception, and not really taking into account the music as a whole. Sure, when you strip things back to place all the emphasis on the singer, you can get that intimacy for sure, but just because the instrumentation becomes lush or more expansive doesn't mean the focus has to necessarily change - you just need a performer who can captivate with bigger emotions.

Enter Mike Hadreas, who sings under the moniker Perfume Genius. If you remember when I covered his absolutely incredible third record Too Bright back in 2014, I highlighted that despite being his most expansive record to date, he still managed to leverage his incredible intensity and charisma into a powerfully intimate experience - which is stunning considering how much that album held a mirror to the audience to confront discomfort with Hadreas' open sexuality while actively confronting the insecurities projected upon him. It was a powerful step that might have eschewed the direct storytelling of his previous records, but the combination of rich themes, potent vulnerability, and an incredible lead performance certainly won me over.

But what fascinated me was that instead of returning to raw, quieter material, Hadreas was going bigger. Buzz was suggesting that it was a more baroque record, with grander opulence in its tones and aiming for high decadence in its romance, and the second I started hearing comparisons to Kate Bush I knew I had to find some way to muscle this up the schedule so I could talk about it. So no more wasting time, considering this review is late already, what did we get with No Shape?

Friday, October 3, 2014

video review: 'too bright' by perfume genius

Man, this was something special. Seriously, listen to this, it's damn near unearthly.

Okay, next up will probably be Blake Shelton, but you never know. Stay tuned!

album review: 'too bright' by perfume genius

Okay, when you become a music critic, you eventually realize that outside of the generally accepted musical acts that everyone is expected to know, there's also a list of critically acclaimed independent singer-songwriters that are beloved by huge chunks of the critical public, and yet your average music fan will never have heard of the majority of these acts. And in this case, there's a reason why they have never received the slightest bit of mainstream airplay - they're weird, they write uncomfortable songs with offbeat subject matter, they opt for eclectic instrumentation or production that is used to enhance the song's atmosphere over what many would deem traditionally accessible. 

In other words, they fall into a category I like to call Pitchfork Approved Singer-Songwriters, or PASS for short, indicative of the common and frequently unfair response from everyone else. It might be hard for most to understand why critics love these acts, especially when they frequently display less polish, cohesion, or even visible talent in comparison with most, and thus it becomes a bit of a balancing act to sort out those who who might deserve said acclaim and those who can just play to that critical audience's sensibilities exceptionally well. 

Perfume Genius definitely falls into that category. The stage name for Seattle-based singer-songwriter and baroque pop artist Mike Hadreas, Perfume Genius broke into the indie scene with Learning in 2010, a gorgeously melodic record full of lo-fi fuzz, rattling pianos, and uncomfortably explicit songs that didn't shy away from controversial subject matter. And I get why he got the critical acclaim he did: despite the fact he wasn't a stellar pianist or singer, Hadreas brought a warmth and raw honesty to his material that felt authentic and real and balanced the real darkness in his songs quite well, filled with little details that really set a vivid scene and left plenty unspoken in the subtext. Now the risk with this sort of material is that the quickest way to raise the stakes is to go darker which can be an even trickier tonal balance, but Perfume Genius went in a different direction, instead exposing more vulnerability and more complicated portraits on his second album Put Your Back N 2 It, an album that wouldn't be out-of-place in today's indie scene with its cleaner production, focus on reverb, and heavier percussion - and like Lykke Li who would follow him, he made it work because of a continued focus on melody above all else even as the instrumentation got slightly more diverse. And with songs like the damn near transcendent title track, it's no surprise the album got the acclaim - it deserved it.

And so now he's back with his third album Too Bright - would Perfume Genius be able to sustain his streak and sound, even as the indie scene has gotten more crowded with artists in his vein?