Painted Palms return. With an enhanced sound. They rightly believe--as many do--that the early part of the millennium was a wonderful time for music. Their second album, Horizons, celebrates that moment. I like the fact that Painted Palms are not afraid to poke around in not-too-distant trends and examine what might be worthwhile to revisit, revise, and modify. "Disintegrate" is good and bodes well for the rest of their new album.
A letter on cicadas: Dear ---, on the train ride back from D.C., I began to be afraid. The news had spoken of a dangerous brood that was due to emerge from their underground holes that very night. The normal 4-hour train ride became, for some reason, a 7-hour train ride. We circled around Richmond for what felt like several days. The territory of this brood extended all through the Mid-Atlantic, i.e., all the states I love and travel through. All I could picture was roads covered in carpets of cicada bodies, their red eyes blaring--making noise somehow--in the lights of oncoming cars. I imagined them lined up at my door, waiting to pounce on me. I had heard they would be aggressive. Not actively attacking, I guess, but actively being aggressively dumb, flying blindly into whatever, which would include me and my own personal, screaming head. Trees would become coated in cicadas. The noise would be deafening, like a million petulant toddlers detonating at full whininess at once. I did not relish the idea of going for a walk in the park unprotected. But it all turned out to be an exaggeration. The only one I saw that summer was a dead carcass on the trunk of a friend's parents' tree.
This is as summer as it gets. Or at least the peaceful side of summer. The tranquil parts. The Clientele’s first album is like a bottle of beer (or wine), a blanket, a grassy hill, and a beautiful sunset—it is the distillation of the best of those experiences, the highlight reel. This album just about made me swoon when I was 20 and it does the same things to me today, 14 years later. What it did then and still does is make me think of the miraculous nature of life, the freakish and hard otherworldly beauty of nature, rain, bicycles, beer, night, and twilight. This album is a monument.
A dream: you can go back and re-do your own birth. A new draft. No hospitals. This will be a home birth, for sure. A midwife will attend. Everyone knows a baby born in a hospital is basically a corporate baby already, robbed of vitality and humanity. Hospital babies might as well be born with sponsorship decals on their backs from Pfizer, etc. Though there is a new sense, you have heard, that home births even have been compromised. By Big Midwifery. How can your birth be real if other people are involved? If you’re ever going to be real, like, real as shit, it needs to be just you, your mom, and your pop. Scratch that, just you and your mom. Scratch that, just you. Floating out of the ether. An accretion of phlogiston made human. That’s how things should be.
An empire of Lik-M-Aid. The snack bar was the locus of everything: fun, drama, sugar, soda, and gestural flirting. You pay $5 for a small adventure. Rent tennis rackets for the dried-up courts. Rent ping-pong paddles for the broken tables. Inquire about the rules for tetherball. Settle, in the end, for shuffleboard. There is a hill of grass that makes you dream of past picnics. Three pools: standard, lap, and kiddie. High-dive and low-dive right next to each other. Swim underwater in pursuit of rings at the bottom. No pool toys in pool 1, fine in pool 3, kids don't go in pool 2. They sold it because the inheritors couldn't agree what to do with it.
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin has been featured here a couple times in the past few years, and I wrote about them even more on the old, lost version of the site. To say that I love this band is an understatement. They're a model of a certain kind of artistry to me, and their music has been in my life for about a decade now. So it's pretty sweet to say that their new album, "The High Country," is probably the best thing they've ever done. I love their debut pretty hard, and that was what got them any attention in the first place, but this album is a total doozy. Just 11 tracks of ruthlessly catchy songs. I'll go so far as to say it reminds me of Weezer's "Blue Album" a whole lot, even though that comparison is both hyperbolic and inadequate and (definitely) overused at this point, it still gives you an idea of how enjoyable these songs are. Trevor Forever represents the album well: pace, distortion, urgency, concision, and beauty.
Dude. Dude. If there’s an album for the mists of a verdurous green jungle, it’s Creature Comforts. This is the music for neon-pink gorillas idly eating polka-dotted fruit. Flamingos, oddly, live in this jungle, and they keep an eye on their heart rates with their Apple watches. It rains from clouds that live four feet off the forest floor. The jungle jungles, the fauna hoots and hollers, the leaves and vines stretch and tingle and suspire.
The Avalanches have been out of the spotlight for much, much longer than they were ever in the spotlight. But let's try to remember that they were capable of creating moments of magic, on a pretty consistent basis, and that they can still do so, when they want to. This is an edit they released two years ago that I only just discovered, and it's disgustingly good. Whatever talents they have, the passage of time and an unwillingness to exhibit them in public has not dulled them at all.
Other Lives are kind of like a rustic little Radiohead Jr. (this is especially evident in their arrangements--just the way their songs flow is reminiscent of calmer/statelier RH), but that's merely what's on the surface. Imitation of a certain form, well, that's one of the ways to build your own thing. Rituals as an album ebbs and flows, one minute a slantwise companion to something like All Tiny Creatures' Harbors and another a continuation of Midlake's "Young Bride" (amazing song). Not really music that comforts or soothes, but music that you put on for a specific feeling: low-key drama, solving a case for household internal affairs (why are the towels in the bathroom still wet?), etc.
It might be true that Jacco Gardner was present for the filming of Zabriskie Point, but maybe only in spirit--he was not a second assistant grip on the film, nor a production assistant, and he did not fetch coffee for Antonioni or anyone else while filming long scenes in the desert. Perhaps Gardner was observing the shoot from his place in the ether, as a -18 year-old soul. Gardner's music has that feeling, that yearning for a different era, one that's way gone. "Find Yourself" is like the scene in Blow-Up when the Yardbirds are playing in a secret little backroom and David Hemmings wanders through on his search. Gardner's made an album that's like that--a hidden thing that you stumble upon and become enchanted by.