Date Posted: October 15, 2011
Print Edition: October 12, 2011
After seven years and three soncially distinct albums, Feist has slowly changed from singing whimsical and mournful songs into straight up singing the blues. Metals is more dynamic and consists of low-tempo jazz and melancholic songs recorded in a self-built studio on the coastline of California’s Big Sur. Metals remains as wonderfully unrefined and distinctive as it’s predecessors, however the sound she settles on is less sunny than her 2007 album The Reminder, which went double platinum in Canada. The new record has an earthy feel and the easiest comparison is to “Train Song” (her contribution to the Dark Was the Night compilation released in 2009) as she treads lightly on the subjects of the beauty of existence and nature. Feist has obviously spent the time necessary to improve on the delicate and textural features of her songs, creating a good amount of subtlety, revealing the intricacy of her most potent weapon: songwriting.
Some people are only ever known by association to someone more famous. Joe Henry is the brother-in-law of popular music singer Madonna. Henry will be releasing his twelfth studio album this fall. Henry is known for mixing together alternative country and jazz. In this new album he would appear to be doing the same thing once again, but with no great success. The album is composed of long-winded tracks which would seem to be intended to further explore Henry’s experimental style; however alternative country and jazz don’t seem to come together well when fused with Henry’s whiny voice. In addition, the album has been advertised as an acoustic album, but synthesized sounds feature prevalently in many of the songs so it’s unclear exactly which parts of the album are acoustic. As you listen to the album you will be able to hear all the background noises of his neighbourhood because he recorded the album in his basement. Henry’s music style has evolved into a confused dishevelled mess in his album Reverie.
Brutal Truth falls into the category of grindcore, which is pretty much exactly how it sounds. In general, the genre is devoted to fast, loud, growly music with repeated riffs and insane drumming. However, the best metal bands know that it’s not just about speed and noise, but also use melodic themes as hooks. This is where Brutal Truth shines: they’re pro at creating a unique riff for each track that builds and builds with repetition. In this album especially, they’ve begun fooling around with more distortion effects (see “Warm Embrace of Poverty” which begins with creepily melodic feedback) but they use it like a chef uses chilli powder – judiciously. Any more would be overwhelming, but as is, End Time will give you just the spice you’re looking for. It’s a solid album, and maybe nothing says this better than their 58 second track, “Fuck Cancer.” If that doesn’t appeal to you, one of their songs is a solid minute-and-a-half rage about small talk. Who doesn’t want to get on board with that?
Eclecticism and eccentricity are no stranger to Björk’s music and, indeed, her latest album Biophilia is no exception. Four years since the release of her last album Volta in 2007, Björk’s latest work does not disappoint. Throughout the album, she explores the tentative, sometimes placid, but often cacophonous relationship between nature and technology, the organic and the mechanical. The Biophilia project transcends its musical confinements, however; Björk’s ambitious vision has married the album’s natural inspiration with technology, creating interactive iPad applications for each of the songs. Each of her songs include a range of obscure instruments — from the staccato strings in “Moons” to the oriental inspired bells of “Crystalline.” The instrumentals at times are chaotic, even overwhelming. Combined however with organic synth beats and Björk’s animalistic yet visceral vocals, the album offers a soothing, yet stirring experience.