Aimee Mann, Mastodon & Bob Dylan Lead Albums Of The Week - March 31
Thu, 30 Mar 2017 14:03:06
Things like stars are lining up in this week's album releases, as iconic artists, stylized band leaders, songwriters of note, and saviors of hard metal all offer their latest sounds.
Aimee Mann moves into her fourth decade of songwriting with an album that develops her inward-facing field of vision. Mastodon confront the pains felt by familial loss to cancer on an album that sounds like it may just have enough volume to save all of metal, while British Sea Power stumble into the throne of indie-insight with an album that shifts mood from previous releases.
Goldfrapp comes back with an album that continues in a canon of peerless pop precision which feels darker and shinier than ever — but it's Bob Dylan, Nobel Laureate, who steals the show with his 38th studio album — the three-disc Triplicate that celebrates the great American songwriters on an album that he produced, himself.
So, without further ado, here are ARTISTdirect's choice cuts for album of the week...
Aimee Mann — "Mental Illness" — Super Ego Records
Aimee Mann returns with her ninth full length studio album, rounding up almost four decades sharing her craft with smarter-than-average pop fans. Her approach to songwriting remains here as it always has been; gentle, well-measured, and focused on the personal trials of people in a landscape that is often confusing, and always hard to navigate. Here, Mann shifts focus a little from her usual subjects, and while her totemic themes continue she asks more of herself as a writer, and as a questioner of her own lovability. It's strong stuff, it's good stuff and it reminds you of her best material.
Mastodon — "Emperor Of Sand" — Reprise Records
Mastodon return with an album that sounds like it's intent on saving the world, and it might just do that. At least, it might just restore balance in the world of metal. Brann Dailor, the band's vocalist spoke about the album's concept — in which it deals with cancer, time and loss: "Sand represents time. If you or anyone you know has ever received a terminal diagnosis, the first thought is about time. Invariably you ask, ‘How much time is left?' We tend to draw inspiration from very real things in our lives." The resulting album deals with pain, the passing of time, and the restoration of faith and perseverance. For metal fans it gets no better than this.
British Sea Power — "Let The Dancers Inherit The Party" — Juno Records
The post-punk pop auteurs, British Sea Power, bring an album that is as good and surprising as anything they've ever released. There is a shift of gear here, however. The sadder passages that fans have come to expect, and in most cases love, make way for the kind of optimism that can only be experienced from the bottom of a well. There is melancholy, of course… there's always melancholy — but songs like "Bad Bohemian" bring enough odd, punk disco, and stick the tongue far enough into the cheek that smiles are more easily accessed here than on previous releases.
Bob Dylan — "Triplicate" — Columbia Records
When he's not busy accepting, not accepting, accepting and apparently avoiding the Nobel Committee who awarded him the Laureate Award, Bob Dylan has been more than typically occupied in recording, arranging and producing a three-disc album that celebrate the great American canon of songwriters. Like his previous album of Sinatra covers, Triplicate explored the sounds and shapes of words that influenced the landscape which we all share. Inarguably one of the most important lyricists of his generation Dylan also shines in the producer's chair, and arranges the instrumentation around these songs with a clarity of vision that is simply remarkable. It's expansive, it's enthralling, and an essential listener for fans of Dylan and songcraft alike.
Goldfrapp — "Silver Eye" — Mute Records
Alison Goldfrapp and her band return with Silver Eye and it's an unsurprising shift in direction. The artist appears to loathe repetition, and takes pains with each release to alter course, shift focus and occupy a shift in sonic patterns. This new album continues her quality of tone, but dims the light — so themes are darker, in places shinier, and music — whilst danceable, of course — is almost bleaker in tone. Hold this album up next to "Black Cherry" and you'll believe you're listening to different, but equal bands who encourage you to think, dance, and create for yourselves.
—The ARTISTdirect Staff