Saturday, September 30, 2017

Deep Cuts: September '17

Welcome to the fifth installment of Deep Cuts, a new monthly segment highlighting standout tracks that weren't given a spotlight to blossom. All songs listed below have been released in the month of September on albums where they weren't previously released as a single. The only condition I've imposed upon myself is that no artist can have more than one song. 

Alvvays - Saved By A Waif
Antisocialites | Jangle Pop

If you haven't heard Antisocialites, do not use 'Saved By A Waif' as your introduction. Not the type of compliment I'd give a song featured on Deep Cuts, but it's true. Why's that? Well, because Antisocialites has ten songs, and this is but just the fifth best one. It just so happens that the best four, 'Dreams Tonite,' 'In Undertow,' 'Lolipop (Ode To Jim),' and 'Plimsoll Punks' were all released as singles. However, Alvvays' oozing giddiness spills so far into Antisocialites that 'Saved By A Waif' benefits greatly from it, and in the process, completes Alvvays' quintet of Pop appreciation. The four aforementioned cuts borrowing from Indie, Dream, Psychedelic, and Twee Pop, whereas 'Saved By A Waif' scrumptiously honors a summer jam in the 90's with Jangle Pop. With a slight Pop Punk edge, that inadvertently shows a straight and narrow trajectory between 80's R.E.M. and 2000's Good Charlotte, Alvvays' performance here, and especially lead singer Molly Rankin's, drips with giddy carelessness. For a Pop song to achieve atmosphere setting is an incredible feat, as the ambiguity is typically reserved for genres that are ambiguous by nature. And yet with ease, I'm able to put 'Saved By A Waif' on nearly any nostalgia-beckoning theme song or Romcom film montage of the mid-90's.

Open Mike Eagle - My Auntie's Building
Brick Body Kids Still Daydream | Conscious Hip-Hop

There is nothing in the Art Rap scene that I adore more than when their highly-conscious, highly-political, highly-abstract theorizing unites into one provocative beast of epic proportions. Right now, Serengeti is the king of this, with stimulating set pieces like 'I, Testarossa,' 'Alcohol,' or 'All The Time.' Unsurprisingly, these tend to center around his experiences with quelling relationships, whether it's between a suffering marriage, alcoholic and drug-riddled parents, or an abuse ex. Open Mike Eagle has teetered that emotional line for a while now, and on 'My Auntie's Building' he finally reached that plateau. While Brick Body Kids Still Daydream is a concept album about the destruction of his childhood apartment complexes, OME's cleverness positions him inside the crumbling bricks. By doing this, he brings an unadorned structure to life, as we witness it go through the five stages of grief whilst faceless villains tear it down. 'My Auntie's Building' is a powerful artistic piece, and one that showcases the importance of preserving things that don't have a beating heart. That's because, in OME's eyes, there's a thousand beating hearts and a million memories contained within those walls. With an agro-synthetic Industrial production surmounting behind him, OME's trepidation and aggravation begins to grow, until, finally, he succumbs with the closing lines "that's the sound of them tearing my body down to the ground." Heavy stuff. 

The National - Sleep Well Beast
Sleep Well Beast | Indie Rock

I'd call The National's Sleep Well Beast the surprise of 2017 for me, if there wasn't such strict competition to begin with. Of course, the band headed by Matt Berninger has received consistent acclaim throughout the majority of their career, but for me the stories quite different. Previous to Sleep Well Beast, Boxer was the only album I was familiar with, and let me tell you. That thing bored me to tears. And despite 'The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness,' it wasn't until 'Guilty Party' where this new and improved National truly, or finally, resonated with me. Out of Sleep Well Beast's 12 tracks, 'Guilty Party' still reigns supreme, but that's not to discredit the dramatic and dynamic title track that closes the LP out. Funny how art works. I criticize Berninger's vocals for being sleepy and lazy, yet when he reaches even further, becoming sleepier and lazier, I love it. That's what we see on 'Sleep Well Beast,' as if Berninger himself is caught in a half-awoken daydream of relational imperativeness. There's a lot to dissect in his lyrics throughout Sleep Well Beast, and that didn't reveal itself to me until the title track came roaring in. This includes, and is mainly pinpointed at, the final repeated line, which is a doozy. "I'll still destroy you someday, sleep well beast, you as well beast," Berninger mumbles, leaving the line up for interpretation. This goes without mentioning the gorgeous instrumentation that swells in anticipation, carrying steam along with it, providing a supple Electronic backbone that piques ears.

Chelsea Wolfe - Spun
Hiss Spun | Doom Metal

Every so often, my ever-improving musical taste reveals itself to be working. This can best be seen when an album by an artist I've been apathetic towards suddenly floors me. That was the case with Chelsea Wolfe. 2015's Abyss was good, but failed to draw me in. Fast forward two years, with hundreds more albums of eclectic nature under my belt, and here we stand, or sit, when 'Spun' spins on my car's sound system for the first time and my jaw drops. Surprisingly, apart from a robust Swans investigation, Doom and Gothic Rock still aren't familiar to me. Atmosphere and emotion in music, however, is. And that's exactly what 'Spun' represents. In a much different context, 'Spun' sports a similar contradiction I had with Swans' 90's material, in that dread comes face to face with beauty. Am I supposed to be scared of Wolfe's wails, or entangled in her goddess-like web. Here, she cries out like a siren tearing through earth's weakened crust during an apocalyptic hellstorm. The militaristic drums and feedback-drenched guitars compliment Wolfe's weakened vocals brilliantly. And being that this is her project, you can't help but gather the sense that she's in control, regardless of how powerful the instrumentation sounds over her. A paralyzing introduction to one of 2017's best records.

LCD Soundsystem - How Do You Sleep?
American Dream | Dance-Punk

If there's one thing that can never be said about LCD Soundsystem, it's that they lack ambition. American Dream was evidence of that. As is every six-plus minute epic they've conjured up, all with unique oddities, entrancing progression, and distinctive lyrics. 'How Do You Sleep?' was no different. In fact, all nine glorious minutes may have been their most experimental and left field work yet, journeying to a hellish nightmare where dusk never turns back to dawn. The sporadic tribal drums, howling vocals, minimal noise permutations, and darting synths all draw comparisons to The Knife's work, and more specifically their infinitely challenging opus Shaking The Habitual. 'How Do You Sleep?' is more concrete than their various experiments, but the body and life pulse is ever present. This isn't so much a song as it is an art house monument, pacing itself with much more reservation and unease than anything on the overtly danceable American Dream. All this tension, dread, and fright coming in the form of a failed relationship with a former colleague, in James Murphy's case Tim Goldsworthy. His cries across the ocean scaling the relentless synths that cascade behind him, the production one of LCD Soundsystem's best efforts to date. That's saying something considering the group was founded on sonic fidelity. 'How Do You Sleep?' excels not because it's another LCD Soundsystem epic, but because it's an LCD Soundsystem epic that sounds like none other.

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