Showing posts with label st. vincent. Show all posts
Showing posts with label st. vincent. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

video review: 'MASSEDUCTION' by st. vincent

And then there is this. You know, I thought this might be a little more contentious than I expected, until Fantano put out his review and honestly echoed many of my criticisms. Huh.

In any case, Billboard BREAKDOWN is coming up next!

Monday, October 16, 2017

album review: 'MASSEDUCTION' by st. vincent

I often feel like using the word 'evolution' to describe Annie Clark's ongoing career under the name St. Vincent isn't quite accurate. I think 'mutation' is the better word - and believe it or not, that's a compliment! She may have started in the more poised and polished realm of baroque pop with tasteful strings accenting her admittedly unorthodox style of guitar work, but as early as Actor things started to shift. The guitars got more processed and blocky that somehow still managed to support potent melodic grooves, the strings began giving way for synthesizers and tones that felt all the more alien, and while her voice kept its same ethereal quality - for the most part - the content and its connection to the human experience was contorting into something more primal, for lack of a better word. Oh, the empathy, complex framing, and willingness to bend taboos was always there, but its mode of expression was warping into something less and less recognizable, with the compositions and framing maybe losing a bit of their populism but opening up new depths of sound for her to explore.

And I'm a fan of it - a pretty big fan, actually. I'd still slot Strange Mercy as a shade stronger than the self-titled release just in terms of overall consistency, but with songs like 'Psychopath', 'Severed Crossed Fingers', 'Digital Witness' and the absolutely mind-blowing 'Bring Me Your Loves' St. Vincent was making a case for the more twisted sonic adventures having potential that was just as rich and promising. And considering that her newest record MASSEDUCTION was looking to be going even deeper in a thematically dense direction, I was most certainly curious where the hell she'd take this. So what did I find on MASSEDUCTION?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

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...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2014

Holy shit, this video took hours. Really happy with it... except for some of the volume levels on the music, but that was such a pain in the ass to get right that I'm fine with where they are.

Next up, Mastodon. Stay tuned!

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2014

I've been debating with myself pretty consistently over the past few weeks whether or not to make this. It's a pretty common thing with critics to take stock of their favourites at this point of the year, and considering I've covered 108 albums thus far this year, in terms of sheer volume it'd make sense for me to go back and take stock of what I've heard and what deserves consideration going into the second half of the year. And while I'm leery about spoiling my year-end list, long-time fans will probably be able to figure that out anyways, so why not go the extra mile and draw a spotlight to some acts that are definitely worth the consideration. 

So without further ado:

Sunday, March 9, 2014

video review: 'st. vincent' by st. vincent

Well, this was an intellectual adventure, and one I enjoyed the entire way.

Next up will be the Eli Young Band... and then Young Money and David Nail. Hold on, folks, this might not be pretty.

album review: 'st. vincent' by st. vincent

The term 'indie pop' has always got on my nerves. Not the music (for the most part), but the genre term itself. Springing up in the mid-80s, it describes music that was too weird or off-beat for the mainstream, but had a more melodic focus and was less characterized by angst. What always got on my nerves was the connotation associated with the genre: that simply being an indie act gave them music critic credibility they didn't always deserve. Furthermore, it denigrated pop music as corporate and derivative - and yeah, that's often true, but it's hard to deny that musical trends started in the indie scene often cross over into pop music or mainstream culture at large, and sometimes mainstream acts can do it just as well. And let's not forget, there was a point in the 90s where big chunks of the indie pop scene was enthusiastically embraced by adult alternative, shoegaze, emo, and even mainstream pop music (the 90s were weird like that).

And honestly, a lot of it really sucked. Sure, there were gems in the rough, but a large reason I don't love 90s alternative music like most critics is because the twee explosion of indie pop often fell into gutless bland garbage that didn't have the brains or deeper insight to back up the pretentiousness. And look, while I get everyone has different tastes, the 'revolt into childhood' (the embrace of twee innocence and focusing on living little ordinary lives) attitude has never ever been something I've liked. And since most of it involved fitting with a very white, middle-class, mostly educated ideal, it always felt trite, small, and in the end not exactly progressive or all that intellectual. And if you embraced the 'twee' attitudes ironically, that was even worse, because not only were you promoting by association, you lost the best element of good indie pop which was the heartfelt earnestness. 

And with the growth of 90s nostalgia, the revival of the 'hipster ideal', and the increased mainstream success of the indie scene, I feel that some of these trends are going to be coming back. And from a cultural standpoint, it makes a lot of sense - my generation is less cynical than Gen X, we're a lot less embarrassed of liking the sillier elements of our past, and many of the 'revolt to childhood' ideals aren't far from the truth when people my age can't get jobs and are stuck living with their parents. But to some extent, these trends aren't exactly healthy for long term mature cultural development, just as Gen X cynicism wasn't precisely healthy either. It's because of these trends, for instance, that tropes like the Manic Pixie Dream Girl exist and have widespread popularity.

Enter St. Vincent, the stage name of Annie Clark, singer-songwriter and guitar virtuoso. Her name was originally taken from a Nick Cave song, and honestly, it's kind of a perfect fit because St. Vincent has a very similar brand of subversive darkness to her material. Starting with her debut album Marry Me, she's made a point of taking twee indie pop elements and tropes and then undercutting them with a seething, disturbing madness, and it's incredibly effective in a very baroque sense. It also helps matters that she's an incredibly inventive and talented songwriter, and all of her work has been pretty damn close to great. And thus, I was looking forward to delving into her new self-titled album, which early buzz was suggesting was even more weird and twisted than previous releases. And thus, I took some time to really delve into this record, try to dig deep and parse it out - what did I find?