Amanda Palmer, The Afghan Whigs & Nite Jewel Lead Albums Of The Week - May 5
Thu, 04 May 2017 20:27:31
This week in the world of album releases it feels like we're overlooking more great albums than we're able to discuss. The spectrum of artists releasing new work is broad and unbridled. To pay respect to everyone of note would simply take another month, so what we have here are the most interesting albums from artists working within their own styles.
Amanda Palmer teams up with Edward Ka-Spel for a colorful album of stories and poetic insights. Afghan Whigs return to remind audiences why they're still so loved. Mac DeMarco produces an album that shares some of his best lyrics to date whilst Nite Jewel puts beats on her own feminist manifesto and Perfume Genius produces an amorphous, and highly danceable album.
So, without further ado, let's look at who's doing what in the ARTISTdirect albums of the week...
Amanda Palmer & Edward Ka-Spel - "I Can Spin A Rainbow" - Cooking Vinyl
Amanda Palmer is famed for doing her own thing. Her new collaborator Edward Ka-Spel from iconic psychedelic outfit the Legendary Pink Dots also has a reputation for bending rules to dance his will into shifting shapes of things. This album then is a playful yet weighty ‘written from scratch' collection of tunes that explore moods like a spectrum. Palmer has described the collection as like hearing ‘thunder in the livingroom' and while that may suggest high and uncontrollable volume it's a speaks more to the elemental, the energy and the juxtaposition of extraordinary forces that pass through the two artists. For fans of either artist this collection, and the upcoming live dates, will lend weight to their faith that music and performance can continually surprise.
The Afghan Whigs - "In Spades" - Sub Pop
You'd be forgiven for thinking that The Afghan Whigs have been around since the dawn of time. It's twenty-five years since the band released their genre-defining fourth album, Congregation, and they have long represented something quintessential about indie, punk, and alternative rock. This new album adds another layer of history to a band who have a momentum that is, by now, unstoppable. However, for all the confidence of a band who could simply relax and cruise on autopilot In Spades distinguishes itself, sonically at least, in a twisted version of what the band is known for. Lyrically issues echo former releases and concerns, but instrumentally this is a low-burning collection, facing in a new and more experimental direction for the band. It's heartening then, that a band that could simply revisit former sounds and remind fans of previous glory, have elected to continue the spirit of pushing back on expectation. This album provides a new direction, a new sense of exploration, and sense that the band have no beginning and no end.
Mac DeMarco - "This Old Dog" - Captured Tracks
Mac DeMarco, as famed for his Canadian humor and sometimes whacky lyricism returns with an album that's as typically sharp as we'd expect, but with a new tone of seriousness, and a kind of explicit soul-searching that we may have come to expect, but not experienced in this quantity before. It's evident that the artist made a concerted effort to put former silliness to one side, but he doesn't risk over-seriousness either. For all the more honest deliveries and non-ironic tributes to people and places the artist loves, he doesn't ever wallow or overburden listeners with dry-solemnity. This is a fresh album, a fresh approach and it's hard not to love the areas that Mac DeMarco is exploring here.
Nite Jewel - "Real High" - Gloriette Records
Ramona Gonzalez, aka Nite Jewel has long been a fan of the lo-fi end of electronica - she's been a fan of esoteric artists whose work has colored her more mainstream songwriting tone. The results of previous work have offered a human scale to tracks that peers often overlook - and here Night Jewel retains that measure of the personal but unifies it with a larger vision. Real High is an album that polishes sound production, so feelings are more expansive, and at times intentionally disorienting. Lyrically Gonzalez addresses her own struggles, insights and experiences with the vulnerable shrewdness of a practiced singer-songwriter who knows that the personal is also the universal. The result of the artist's new approach is an album that offers a new watermark from the artist - and a signal for new avenues and braver, and equally innovative work. Good stuff.
Perfume Genius - "No Shape" - Matador RecordsMike Hadreas returns with one of the most warmly anticipated albums of the week, and he does not disappoint. An artist known for producing infectious and highly accessible pop tunes extends himself here with his most warm, and interestingly experimental collection to date. Oftentimes the word ‘experimental' conjures self-conscious obscurity or the pursuit of the far reaches in an artist's abilities. Hadreas is too smart and well-measured to force any issues, instead he serves a magical set of tracks that toy with expectations, both in the construction of melodies and the range of vocal performances her shares here, which are amongst the best of his career.
Download Amanda Palmer & Edward Ka-Spel music from iTunes
Download The Afghan Whigs music from iTunes
Download Mac DeMarco music from iTunes
Download Nite Jewel music from iTunes
Download Perfume Genius music from iTunes
—The ARTISTdirect Staff