Dirty Projectors, Xiu Xiu & Thundercat Lead Albums Of The Week - February 24
Thu, 23 Feb 2017 13:05:31
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This week in album releases has produced an atmosphere of hard work overcoming adversity, and of creativity overcoming heartbreak. All of the albums here are the result of incredible focus, and the endurance of artists who have battled personal uncertainties, or built communities around a vision that they've been developing for some time, and which are now offering rewards bigger than we could have imagined.
David Longstreth documents heartbreak and restoration on a Dirty Projectors self-titled release, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah return with a statement that secures their name at the top of the Indie game, and Xiu Xiu deliver a paradoxically dark yet highly accessible album. Thundercat brings almost everyone together to produce a singular vision of sonic experiments and discovery, while Peter Silberman of the Antlers delivers an album of such delicate honesty you won't get out with a dry eye.
A refreshing week that will give you something to point toward when miserablists bemoan that lack of quality in modern music… here is the ARTISTdirect list of most interesting albums of the week.
Dirty Projectors — "Dirty Projectors" — Domino Records
The self-titled album, Dirty Projectors, is a masterful release. A signal of determination that has David Longstreth addressing heartbreak, the failing of his relationship with former bandmate Amber Coffman, and his reclaiming of purpose from the chaos. It's emotional, it's fascinating, it's quirky and it's strong. There's a sense that lyrically Longstreth is adding weight to his focus, and this album is a pivotal moment in a band as it transitions not only in personnel but in focus too. Featuring a string of highly engaging ‘oddities' like "Cool Your Heart", which features the ever-excellent Dawn Richards, this is an album that pulls expertly at the boundaries of what a ‘guitar band' is. For fans it's essential, for newcomers it's a solid introduction to how things are going to be.
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah — "The Tourist" — Wichita
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are back with their first record since 2014's Only Run. The band have been quiet over the last few years, with lineup changes galore, and recalibrations of members. The band have reduced considerably in size, leaving singer/ guitarist, Alec Ounsworth, solely responsible for the band's output. This album is an article of devotion, hard work and determination from Ounsworth — and while it may be possible to measure this album against other CYHSY releases and feel a sense of sameness, there is a tangible energy that reminds the ear that this is the best of indie rock, and it continues to move and be moving.
Xiu Xiu — "Forget" — Polyvinyl
Forget is a stunning album. The most accessible album from the experimental band, with tracks like "Jenny GoGo" and "Wondering" being more focused and more shaped than pretty much any other release. This is also a collection that deals most readily with death, darkness, loss and all kinds of dizzying toughness. Balancing this kind of content with these kind of forms takes awareness of a higher level. Jamie Stewart founder of the band — has delivered a stroke of genius.
Peter Silberman — "Impermanence" — Antirecords
A few years ago, Antlers' leader Peter Silberman developed a condition that resulted in a temporary loss of hearing in one ear, and a painful sensitivity to everyday sounds — including his own voice. His new album, Impermanence, echos the sensitivity to sound, and to delivering only what is necessary. The songs are hushed, beautiful, intimate and inclusive. The material here was written on a nylon string guitar during Silberman's recuperation in upstate New York, the quietude he captures, and the slow burning need to create is conveyed in a manner, which, perhaps ironically, leaves you speechless. Put this in your headphones — turn it up loud and head into the quiet.
Thundercat — "Drunk" — Brainfeeder
Stephen Bruner, aka Thundercat, is a man who has contributed to the success of almost countless artists in recent years. The result of his unwavering generosity is a huge fanbase of peers — some of which turn up on his fourth studio album, Drunk. Kendrick Lamar turns in well on "Walk on By", Kenny Loggins (of all people) shares some of the workload on "Show You The Way". The omnipresent Pharrell brings a spaced-out and very special vocal performance on "The Turn Down" and Wiz Khalifa is there too, rapping about the pitfalls of success on "Drink Dat", Kamasi Washington comes around, and long time collaborator Flying Lotus offers support too. The album is a tapestry of all the energy you can imagine from a disparate collection of creative souls… and the result is, quite frankly, as colorful as you could hope. It's like a patchwork quilt, so you're bound to have preferred moments that sit outside the theme, or belong in it's center… but the overall effect is comforting — displaying the power of a focused community effort.
—The ARTISTdirect Staff