MoNM 2011 month-end catch-up: Days 14 to 20
Seven albums, 50 words each:
The “neo-soul” progenitor’s second album is as silky smooth as you’d expect, locking into effortless grooves throughout and riding them for absolutely everything they’re worth. ?uestlove, Raphael Saadiq, Method & Redman, Roy Hargrove and more flesh out the sparse setting, but D’Angelo’s falsetto is what lifts this to heavenly.
Morgan Greenwood – Winter, (2011, independent) (free download)
Greenwood’s greatest skill as a composer is his ability to blend electronic and organic elements. Winter is no exception. Glitchy, unpredictable percussion flits around washed-out synths and unorthodox melodies, with only the occasional spoken-word sample to provide context. Despite the chilly title and crystalline production, it isn’t bleak, it’s beautiful.
No question, the reputation is justified. One or two listens is hardly enough to decipher Ghost’s crazy-dense verses – hell, I still can’t even get over the bizarre dissonance of “Buck 50,” let alone pick out lyrics. It hardly needs saying, but just in case: it’s an undisputed classic.
Born Gold – Bodysongs (2011, independent) (Pay-what-you-want download)
It’d be impossible to capture the pure feel-good power of Born Gold’s live show in a few MP3s, but Bodysongs is a valiant effort. The heavily processed vocal hooks, huge drums, overpowered synths, and consistent “more is more” approach put a brilliantly bizarre spin on modern pop’s giddy excesses.
A thoroughly lovely folk record, Lakes doesn’t often break from fairly traditional instrumentation and arrangements, but it doesn’t need too. Corwin Fox and Miss Emily Brown’s vocals blend elegantly throughout, and the playing is tastefully restrained, though the sombre moments (especially the title track) work better than the bouncier bits.
The only Chilly Gonzales tracks I tend to like are his instrumentals, and The Unspeakable doesn’t have any of those. The man obviously has talent, but lyrics come across over- and under-thought, even repeating lacklustre punchlines. The last track’s title says enough: “Shut Up and Play the Piano.”
Varied indie-pop with enough soaring melodies and inherent sweetness to play well on Radio 3, although it doesn’t immediately stand out from the crowd. There’s the potential to be a grower, though – the songs feel sturdy enough to hold up to repeated listens. Ask me again in a month.