Tori Amos, The National, & Death From Above Dig Deep In Top Albums Of The Week - September 8
Thu, 07 Sep 2017 15:47:54
School is back in session, and music lovers received a ton of homework this first week. Few Fridays in recent memory have delivered so many must-hear albums as this one.
Tori Amos returned with a new album, which finds the singer delivering one of her most affective records in years. After a four year wait, The National furnished listeners with a roaring beast of new material that already has critics putting it in their album of the year lists.
Zola Jesus dug deep into her own experiences, unveiling an LP as brave as it is breathtaking. Jack Johnson released more of the catchy earworms he's known for, while also taking a new step into politics. And that was only the beginning for a week stacked to the gills with impressive new albums.
Here are ARTISTdirect's top albums of the week:
Tori Amos — Native Invader
It has been a little over three years since Tori Amos released Unrepentant Geraldines, which doesn't seem absurdly long, until you realize it's the longest break between albums since the artist's 1992 debut. The time off seems to have done Amos well, as Native Invader finds her mellower and more reflective than on earlier releases. The result is a compelling and inspired record that continues a bold focus on gender, sexuality, and politics, this time with an even stronger voice for the discourse.
The National — Sleep Well Beast
There is beauty in the crumbling darkness that is Sleep Well Beast. The album finds vocalist Matt Berninger grappling with a failing marriage and the distance that grows when there's nothing left to say. The Dessner brothers deliver cutting guitar riffs ranging from car alarms to hair raisers, while Bryan Devendorf steadily drums us through each passing day. This may be the band's finest work since Boxer — or even Alligator, for that matter. The knife here couldn't hit closer to home, delivering masculine melancholy with a swagger only The National could hope to inhabit. From literary references to cathartic screams, the Cincinnati-born, New York-bred quintet scores again with a sincere, staggering release sure to have you clinging to the nearest bottle, swimming through the ups and downs of the American subconscious.
We caught up with the Matt Berninger to discuss Sleep Well Beast.
Zola Jesus — Okovi
On Okovi, Nika Danilova's intimate goth-pop gives listeners a peek into the world that is Zola Jesus. The album possesses a plethora of personal experiences delivered with urgency, creating a space filled with shattered edges and dirtied bones. The sound features everything from light cello strings to industrial beats, all accompanying the singer's operatic voice as she carries us through the darkness of her surrounding world. This is the artist's most confident and impressive work yet, and leaves us clamouring for more.
Death From Above — Outrage! Is Now
"We are committed to evolution. This record is the sound of the two us pushing at the walls. We want there to be space, surprises, and action!" says Sebastien Grainger in a press release about Death From Above's new album, Outrage! Is Now. Jesse Keeler adds, "We both wanted to see how far we could take our sound as Death From Above. In a way, that has always been our objective." Outrage! Is Now plows fresh pastures, but manages not to alienate longterm listeners. It's more contemplative than past releases, showing that the band continues to grow in both sound and head space.
Jack Johnson — All The Light Above It Too
You don't often think of Jack Johnson as a particularly political guy. His music has always been more focused on fun in the sun and "Bubble Toes". But on All The Light Above It Too's track "My Mind Is For Sale", it seems the former professional surfer has something to say about our current President and the kind of ‘walls' he is building, real or metaphorical. Those of you who didn't turn to Johnson for political statements shouldn't be worried, however. Much of the album still features the surfer jams that catapulted the musician to stardom. Overall, this is light, breezy fare best suited for hammocks and daydreams, exactly what we want from the Hawaiian artist.
—The ARTISTdirect Staff