Album Review: Jenny Hval & Susanna - Meshes of Voice

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The debut collaboration album between Norwegian artists Jenny Hval and Susanna is one of the most intriguing musical experiences you’ll have all year.

Meshes of Voice, the debut collaboration album between Norwegian art pop musicians Jenny Hval and Susanna, has all of the qualities of a solid collaborative release; It’s a coherent piece that wonderfully showcases the boundary-pushing musical highlights of both artists, but never overshadowing one over the other. This LP, a phenomenal blend of Björk and Fever Ray’s foreign art pop and Current 93’s industrial neofolk, is perfectly described by its title: Two amazing voices coming together to create something extraordinary.

Throughout a tracklisting that naturally progresses in musical nuance, the backing instrumentation on this thing ranges from nightmarish to heavenly, a perfect match for both Hval and Susanna’s haunting vocal performances on this record. It makes for a listening experience that’s both memorable and strangely enjoyable. The opening track, “Droplet,” showcases these hypnotic strings that cohesively lead into the next song, “Black Lake.” Hval’s vocals on this track are especially haunting. They’re dark, but they can also be full of beauty in ways that are impossible to describe.

"I Have Walked This Body," a track that got me very hyped for this album’s release awhile back, stays in this very moody, sort of rhythm-less funk for the first few minutes, but totally turns around and tears itself apart once it reaches an incredibly noisy and orgasmic progression that’ll leave you speechless. During the final minute or so of this track, a once delicate hum of sonic experimentation turns into a thing of sonic intensity, clawing at the very insides of these heavily droning sounds, making for a finish that’s both wild yet masterful.

Throughout the rest of Meshes of Voice, Hval and Susanna deliver track-after-track of astonishing experimental-art-pop. It’s a wonderfully cohesive record full of beautiful and marvelously haunting moments. Because they deliver such a high level of consistency in a whopping 15 tracks, and they do so in a way that makes you appreciate this LP more and more with each listen, Jenny Hval & Susanna is easily one of the best musical pairings I’ve seen in quite awhile. 

This is easily the best thing I’ve seen released from both of these artists. And while they both make similar music, Hval and Susanna manage to offer two sides of the same freak-pop coin on Meshes of Voice. Hval’s vocals are, for the most part, dreamy. While Susanna’s, on the other hand, are wonderfully low-key and moody. When put together, these two vocalists make a blend of experimental music that sounds futuristic yet primitive, in a way.

My rating (score): 4/5

Favorite tracks: “I Have Walked This Body,” “Black Lake,” “O Sun O Medusa,” “I Have a Darkness,” “House of Bones.”

(All reviews published for Marcel’s Music Journal are written by Marcel)

Guided by Voices break up

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(Written by Marcel)

From Guided by Voices:

Guided By Voices has come to an end. With 4 years of great shows and six killer albums, it was a hell of a comeback run. The remaining shows in the next two months are unfortunately canceled. Our sincere apologies to those that have purchased tickets and made travel plans. Thanks to everyone who has supported GBV.

9.26.14 Portland, OR - Crystal Ballroom *
10.4.14 Dayton, OH - Oddbody’s *
10.5.14 Cleveland, OH - The Grog Shop *
10.24.14 Nashville, TN - Mercy Lounge *
10.25.14 Fort Wayne, IN - C2G Music Hall *
11.8.14 Austin, TX - Fun Fun Fun Fest *
11.11.14 Orlando, FL - The Social *
11.12.14 Miami, FL - Grand Central *
11.14.14 Atlanta, GA - Centerstage *
11.15.14 Carrboro, NC - Cat’s Cradle *
11.28.14 Columbus, OH - Skully’s Music Diner *
11.29.14 Detroit, MI - Magic Stick *

* Refunds available at point of purchase

Watch Marcel’s Music Journal's recent interview with GBV guitarist Mitch Mitchell:

Hear previews of every song off of Aphex Twin’s ‘Syro’

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(Written by Marcel)

Update: The previews have since been taken down.

Aphex Twin has already given us the first taste of his forthcoming album, Syro, his first LP since 2001’s Drukqs. "minipops 67 [120.2][source field mix]" was the only thing we’ve heard from Syro— until now.

It appears that online music and clothing store hhv.de has uploaded previews of every track from the album to the page where you can pre-order it. And judging by the previews, it sounds amazing. The final track, “aisatsana [102],” seems to be a solo piano piece, à la "Avril 14th."

Listen to the previews here.

Syro arrives September 22 via Warp.

Sun Kil Moon’s Mark Kozelek calls the War on Drugs “beer commercial lead-guitar shit”

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(Written by Marcel)

Mark Kozelek recently called the crowd at one of his festival appearances “fucking hillbillies,” and that they should “shut the fuck up” (t-shirt, anyone?). Harsh. But this doesn’t seem to be the last of the Sun Kil Moon musician’s endless live rants.

According to Exclaim’s review of the Ottawa Folk Festival, The War on Drugs' set at the main stage overlapped with Kozelek’s, with noise from their set spilling over to his stage. “Who the fuck is that?”, he asked the audience. After the crowd responded, Kozelek said, "I hate that beer commercial lead-guitar shit." He continued; "This next song is called ‘The War on Drugs Can Suck My Fucking Dick’."

Throughout the rest of his set, he continued trash talking the band, at one point even referring to them as "John Cougar Mellencamp".

The War on Drugs tweeted about it earlier today:

The War on Drugs recently released the 5-star-worthy LP Lost in the Dream, which is currently ranked as the Best Album of 2014 So Far

Album Review: Ty Segall - Manipulator

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Ty Segall’s latest record is the garage rock veteran’s most refined and consistent release to date.

No other Ty Segall album has ever showcased the musician’s eclectic range of sound quite like Manipulator, the artist’s seventh LP. Throughout 17 glowing tracks, Ty brings together some great musicianship and ear-pleasing melodies that are all expertly arranged and produced. Manipulator is probably Segall’s greatest achievement yet. The production is absolutely stunning and treats the songs with a warm and fuzzy sound. The songwriting is always on-point and, overall, this is one of Segall’s more consistent records to date. Instead of being a complete mixed bag of tracks, Ty finally delivers something that’s solid from front to back.

This is definitely his most refined album, taking a turn to the slightly more accessible side of his sound but in no means losing his likability. The opening title-track as a killer guitar riff that fits the song’s throwback vibe perfectly. And most songs like “Tall Man, Skinny Lady” and “The Singer” transition pretty smoothly into one another. Some tracks on Manipulator take notes from classic ’60s psych-rock, while others simmer in ballads that are drenched in mid-’70s folk and glam. Even though Segall’s influences are apparent on this new record of his, he is in no means a knock-off of these legendary sounds. Instead, he once again manages to tie together something that’s both near and dear to his heart while simultaneously crafting his own unique sound, crashing into a new and refined style that he absolutely nails on his most professional record to date.

Manipulator is a big improvement from Segall’s 2013 set of sleepy folk songs on the enjoyable but never truly astonishing Sleeper. It’s also a step-up from everything he’s done in the past, with a wonderful presentation of sonic variety, with songs such as "Don’t You Want To Know? (Sue)" being one of the tender moments on the album. Other songs just nail that classic garage rock sound, completely shredding it and ripping through fuzzy basslines and wailing vocals. One of the greatest examples of the latter, perhaps, is the noisy "The Crawler", in which Segall ignites a furious guitar storm.

Overall, Ty Segall’s latest record is a pleasurable one. What he proves on this record is that he can do what he does best except a million times better. In Segall’s overall discography, Manipulator absolutely shines. The production is glistening with fuzz and refinement, the instrumentation absolutely rocks, and Segall manages to deliver an album that’s incredibly consistent in quality from front to back. If Ty keeps delivering records such as Manipulator, then we have a lot of promising things to look forward to from the California musician in the near, near future.

My rating (score): 4/5

Favorite tracks: “Manipulator,” "Tall Man Skinny Lady," "The Singer," "Feel," "Don’t You Want To Know? (Sue)."  

(All reviews published for Marcel’s Music Journal are written by Marcel)

Death Grips song featured in Adidas commercial

(Written by Marcel)

Photo by Tom Spray

Adidas has come out with a new commercial advertising their new Intersport line of Predator shoes. And if the song they play during the ad sounds familiar, well, you’re not too far off: It’s Death Grips' Government Plates track “You Might Think He Loves You For You Money But I Know What He Really Loves You For And It’s Your Brand New Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat.” (try saying that three times fast!)

Well, so much for being an anti-establishment rap group. Check out the ad below, via Consequence of Sound.

Earlier this summer, Death Grips shared a new album featuring Bjork called niggas on the moon - the first half of a (supposedly?) upcoming double LP called the powers that b. Shortly after the sudden release of the album, the band broke up, posting a note on their Facebook page that said “we are now at our best and so Death Grips is over. we have officially stopped.”

Watch: The War on Drugs’ video for “Under the Pressure”

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(Written by Marcel)

The War on Drugs have shared a new music video for “Under the Pressure,” one of the many highlights from their 5-star album, Lost in the Dream. It’s a hazy, psychedelic clip that fits the track’s mood perfectly without overdoing its cinematic aesthetic. Watch below.

Watch: Trash Talk’s violent animated video for “The Great Escape”

(Written by Marcel)

Trash Talk have shared their video for “The Great Escape,” taken from their recent album No Peace. The hellish, violent animated clip was directed by Sanjay and Craig artist Jay Howell and Jim DirschbergerWatch it below (via Noisey).

Aphex Twin announces new album, ‘SYRO’, on the Deep Web

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(Written by Marcel)

A green blimp appeared over the Oval Space in London this weekend. One side of it featured Aphex Twin’s trademark logo, and the other had “2014” written on it, with the logo in place of the zero. The logo then appeared outside New York’s Radio City Music Hall.

We weren’t quite sure what Richard D. James was teasing us, but now it has all come together. The electronic musician has announced a new album called SYRO, his first Aphex Twin LP since 2001’s Drukqs. It was revealed via a .onion Deep Web domain on none other than his birthday (August 18).

Just this morning, James Tweeted out a link that only works with the Tor browser. The link revealed the very creepy above image, in addition to a 12-song tracklist. You can check out a screenshot of that page below.

For people with regular browsers, the site can be accessed here, but that particular link contains everything but the title and tracklist.

Earlier this year, Aphex released the long lost Caustic Window LP that was (sort of) released via Kickstarter. His last string of live appearances were in 2012.

SYRO Tracklist?:
01. minipops 67 (source field mix)
02. XMAS_Eve10 (thanaton3 mix)
03. produk 29
04. 4 bit 9d epi+e+6
05. 180db_
06. CIRCLONT6A (syrobonkus mix)
07. fz pseudotimestrech+e+3
08. CIRCLONT14 (shrymoming mix)
09. syro u473t8+e (piezoluminescence mix)
10. PAPAT4 (pineal mix)
11. s950tx16wasr10 (earth portal mix)
12. aisatsana

Album Review: FKA twigs - LP1

From art pop princess to hipster-R&B throwaway; FKA twigs’ debut LP is a disappointment in every aspect.

Much like her alt-R&B contemporary James Blake, FKA twigs absolutely shined on her set of debut EPs. However, it seems as though she’s having trouble making the big transition from EP to full-length album with her aptly-titled debut, LP1.

Unfortunately, she just doesn’t have a wide enough range of ideas to make up for a full-length LP. A lot of the songs on here pale in comparison to the tracks that appeared on her first two EPs. The production is definitely a step-up and this release features some of twigs’ best vocal performances yet, but none of these tracks are truly engaging or diverse enough to be fully appreciated.

I feel like most of the tracks on LP1 would work better as stand-alone singles. Because, in such a muddled album such as this one, everything gets lost in the mix way too easily. It seems as though twigs’ once unique sound is completely stripped back and reinvented with a twist that makes this album feel like a typical indiesphere-generated art pop mess that’s built out of tedious slowed-down background vocals and unoriginal instrumentals.

There is so much diversity and originality lacking in these songs that it’s hard to see why this is any different from every other over-hyped alt-R&B album to come out of the last few years. twigs suffers from so few fresh ideas that she resorts to redundant beats and lyrics that make a lot of these songs go on longer than they should.

While FKA twigs does bring in more producers and backing musicians than ever before on LP1, there’s just something about this album’s derivative, stripped-back sound that feels so empty and lifeless. Most of these songs lack deep, emotional textures to keep them afloat. Tracks like “Lights On” and “Hours” sorely suffer from this, while others like “Preface” and “Pendulum” sound like poor re-hashing of older twigs songs.

It truly makes me sad that one of the few talented and inspiring PBR&B artists out there has rapidly turned into every stereotypical artist that fits under this toxic genre umbrella. Maybe I’m reading too deeply into this. Or maybe I’m just the only one who realizes that the majority of LP1 is nothing but bare-bones thin, cheaply-made filler. Either way, I’m still not sure.

My rating (score): 2/5

Favorite tracks: N/A

Least favorite tracks: “Lights On,” “Hours,” “Closer.”

(All reviews published for Marcel’s Music Journal are written by Marcel)