Skip to main content

Featured Post

Ernest Hood - Neighborhoods Music Album Reviews

A newly reissued private-press curio from 1974 captures the bygone sounds of daily life in Portland, Oregon, in dreamy, proto-ambient form.
In 1975, the Portland, Oregon, musician Ernest Hood pressed his lone solo album, Neighborhoods, in an edition of a few hundred. He passed out copies primarily to friends, and the album, a curious blend of found sounds and proto-ambient, disappeared into the Pacific Northwest mist. Newly reissued by Freedom to Spend (in a much improved pressing, spread across two discs), it’s not the first such rarity to be pulled from the ether in the 21st century, as YouTube’s algorithm accumulates millions of plays for once obscure jazz and new-age records. But it might be the most uncanny, an album that kindles a sensation not unlike watching home videos of your own childhood.

Ads

loading...

Start Earning Money

Translate

Big Thief - Two Hands Music Album Reviews

The second landmark album this year from Big Thief is raw, tactile, and essential. The intimate songs zoom in on a band that feels, at this moment, totally invincible.

Coming from a band who, just five months ago, materialized somewhere deep in a forest with a mystical set of songs wrapped in a vast, alien cosmos—a band who, in order to summon the perfect squall of noise, claimed to have suspended an electric guitar from the ceiling of a barn and batted it around like a piñata in a circle of amplifiers—Two Hands is jarringly earthbound. For their latest album, the Brooklyn quartet Big Thief invites you to join them live and unadorned in the studio for the span of 10 songs. “Hand me that cable/Plug into anything,” Adrianne Lenker sings, moments after issuing a more basic instruction: “Cry with me/Cry with me.”


Nearly every song overflows with tears and blood, bared teeth and broken tongues; living, killing, dying. There are few overdubs, and sometimes you hear the band members instructing each other when to step back or take a solo, like they’re just rehearsing for the actual performance. It makes for a specific kind of rock record: an attempt to capture a band’s imperfect, raw essence, to show what happens when they simply count to four and take off. The approach is best known for accentuating a tough, ragged cohesion, like Neil Young records in the ’70s, but this record goes somewhere different. The more Big Thief zoom in, the more magical they sound.

It’s a trick that these musicians have spent their careers perfecting. Since their 2016 debut, Masterpiece, each successive album has felt like a breakthrough geared for larger spaces. But their own interpersonal dynamic has followed an inverse trajectory. “At this point we’re basically touching each other,” guitarist Buck Meek recently observed about their magnetic live shows, a connection made literal on the new album cover. After the spacious odes to the natural world on U.F.O.F, Two Hands is a record defined by these collisions—a reminder that intimacy isn’t just about the comfort we bring to each other but also the proximity to our sickness and pain, blood and guts.

The record proceeds along a bell-curve, with the heavier moments at the center reverberating through the quieter points on either end. The focus is on the patient interplay between Lenker’s guitar—rhythmic and physical, like a slot machine with infinite outcomes—and James Krivchenia’s drumming, as patient and instinctive as it’s ever sounded. The accompaniment from Meek and bassist Max Oleartchik, who plays a few solos in “Those Girls,” is more understated but just as crucial. In sparer, creeping moments like “The Toy” and “Cut My Hair,” you can sense the band listening to each other, responding with reassuring hums and nods. And when they do cut loose, you feel the thrashing.

Variations on the word “crying” appear in half these songs, and each time Lenker sings it, she tells a different story. Occasionally her lonesome, quivering voice feels like an outsider descendent of country-folk singers like Kath Bloom or Iris DeMent, particularly in “Replaced,” a co-write with Meek. Other times, she sounds like someone clawing at her own skin, trying to escape. In “Forgotten Eyes,” a heartland rocker whose lyrics might be about homelessness, she trembles uneasily toward the final chorus, holding out the “ng” of “tongue” until it makes a phlegmy, growling noise in the back of her throat. Big Thief were built for moments like these, where sound merges with meaning, where the floating voice in your headphones finds its body.

As a lyricist, Lenker has become newly adept at telling stories through her absences. She’s written songs in the past that dazzle with poetry (“Mary”) and others that are memoiristic in their precision (“Mythological Beauty”), but these are pared down to just the most crucial bits of dialogue and wisdom. “Everybody needs a home and deserves protection,” she sings in “Forgotten Eyes,” her voice breaking at the word “needs.” “Talk to the boy in me/He’s there,” she begs in the closing “Cut My Hair” as the music cuts out from underneath her. Best of all is “Not,” a fiery exorcism that merges some of her most explosive imagery with a climactic guitar solo; the desperation in her playing feels like a string of cries interrupted by shallow, gasping breaths.

loading...
“Not” sits at the heart of the record with “Shoulders,” a stunner that’s been in the band’s live repertoire for years. Like a dark analog to Bruce Springsteen’s “The Promised Land” or the Mountain Goats’ “This Year,” it gains power from its folk simplicity: a plaintive melody and a chorus that snowballs with a momentum that seems physical—part promise, part prayer. Lenker, who once noted that she is often both the attacker and prey in her own songwriting, finds its gospel not by rising above her circumstances but through succumbing to her complicity. “The blood of the man who’s killing our mother with his hands is in me,” she sings. “It’s in me/In my veins.” Her voice sounds genuinely desperate, anguished, like she would rid herself of it if she could.

The version of “Shoulders” on Two Hands is the definitive take, though you can see its spirit in every live performance. During one particularly great video from Philadelphia’s Johnny Brenda’s in 2017, Lenker’s guitar cuts out during the first chorus. She takes it off and, for the rest of the song, is just a singer: pulling the microphone from the stand, closing her eyes, and doubling over as if in pain to deliver the second verse. Instead of picking up her guitar part, Lenker’s bandmates only highlight her absence, drawing your attention to the new void at the song’s core. By the end, all that’s left is Krivchenia’s steady drumbeat and Lenker front and center, sort of jogging in place, as everyone in the room holds their breath. It’s a random technical issue but it’s also a chance for Big Thief to pose their favorite kinds of challenges. How much can we strip away without losing our essence? What happens when our most basic modes of expression fail us? How will we carry on together? On Two Hands, they are unstoppable.


View my Flipboard Magazine.

View the original article here

Comments

Ads

loading...

Ads

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Popular posts from this blog

Danger Close 2019 Sinhala Subtitles

Synopsis
South Vietnam, late afternoon on August 18, 1966 - for three and a half hours, in the pouring rain, amid the mud and shattered trees of a rubber plantation called Long Tan, Major Harry Smith and his dispersed company of 108 young and mostly inexperienced Australian and New Zealand soldiers are fighting for their lives, holding off an overwhelming enemy force of 2,500 battle hardened Main Force Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army soldiers. With their ammunition running out, their casualties mounting and the enemy massing for a final assault each man begins to search for his own answer - and the strength to triumph over an uncertain future with honor, decency and courage. The Battle of Long Tan is one of the most savage and decisive engagements in ANZAC history, earning both the United States and South Vietnamese Presidential Unit Citations for gallantry along with many individual awards. But not before 18 Australians and more than 245 Vietnamese are killed.

Transit 17 2019 Sinhala Subtitles

Transit 17 2019 Sinhala Subtitles Synopsis After a virus infected France, Belgium and the Netherlands a team of resistance soldiers trying to safe a young girl who seems to be their last hope for a cure.

Robert the Bruce 2019 Sinhala Subtitles

Robert the Bruce 2019 Sinhala Subtitles Synopsis The story of nobleman-turned-outlaw hero who was crowned king of Scots in the 14th century.

Primal 2019 Sinhala Subtitles

Synopsis A big-game hunter for zoos has booked passage on a Greek shipping freighter with a fresh haul of exotic and deadly animals from the Amazon, including a rare white Jaguar - along with a political assassin being extradited to the U.S in secret. Two days into the journey, the assassin escapes and releases the captive animals, throwing the ship into chaos.

OnePlus 7T Pro Review

The OnePlus 7T Pro is official, and while we love it, we can't wholeheartedly recommend it. Find out why in our full review.
Should I Buy The OnePlus 7T Pro?
The OnePlus 7T Pro boasts an excellent 90Hz display, a powerful chipset capable of a high-end gaming experience and a great triple-camera setup that performs well in most conditions. But, with such a similar offering to the cheaper OnePlus 7T, the 7T Pro is amongst the best smartphones that we can't wholeheartedly recommend.