I mentioned Aubrie Sellers last week, and her album is now out. The “garage country” description might suggest an abrasive sound, but it’s more attractively scuzzy – in places it reminds me of REM’s accidental glam album, Monster. Aside from “Loveless Rolling Stone,” which I mentioned last week (and which is perhaps the apex of the “attractively scuzzy” aesthetic), other standouts are “Dreaming in the Day” (a prettier take on the sound) and “Losing Ground,” which seems like an admirably honest take on depression.
I found out last week that Willow Smith’s Ardipithecus is finally out in the UK, and it’s fantastic. The ambition and the diversity (of musical styles, of Willow’s vocal approaches, of lyrical themes) is so impressive; most impressive is how successful it is. It varies from the post-apocalyptic wilderness of “Drugz,” which kind of reminds me of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, to the simultaneously humble and swaggering R&B of “IDK,” to “Wait a Minute,” sunny indie-pop about leaving your consciousness in the sixth dimension (while wearing dreadlocks), to dance-pop “Waves of Nature.”
When Spotify played me Emily King’s “Sleepwalker,” I excitedly rushed off to check out the rest of her recent album. What a disappointment! Wikipedia says she toured with Emili Sandi, which is all too believable from her boring, thoughtlessly retro album. But “Sleepwalker” remains great, a kind of laid-back electronic funk which at first reminded me of Stevie Wonder, although now I’m hearing hints of Genesis.
Literally a year late to this incredible soca anthem by Destra Garcia https://t.co/vYFeaR9HxC
— Alex Macpherson (@alex_macpherson) January 4, 2016
I don’t know very much about soca, but I do remember Destra Garcia from her fantastic track “Bonnie & Clyde” from ten years ago, so when I saw Alex Macpherson tweet about a song of hers from last year, I made sure to check it out. This led to a bit of a soca spiral on Youtube, where I found a slightly more a recent (and more EDM) track from Destra, as well as a song by Skinny Fabulous from 2014 with an absolutely gorgeous, ringing melody.
Be tormented by me babe.
Album of the Year: Carly Rae Jepsen’s Emotion. Probably my favourite thing about pop music is how it takes emotions and painstakingly reconstructs them as artifice, like a jeweller cutting a lump of feelings into a sparkling gem, or a surgeon dissecting you and building you a more glorious body. That’s what Emotion does. When I first heard the album, although I liked it well enough I wouldn’t have thought it would end up being being my favourite album of the year. But it’s put together with such machine-tooled precision, I’ve come back to it again and again. The lyrics are full of gems: “who gave you eyes like that / said you could keep them” (the tumblr structure of feeling in two lines); “I still love you / I’m sorry / I’m sorry / I love you“; “I don’t want to work it out / I’m not going to work it out.” There are millions of brilliant production choices; one I particularly like is how the fuzzy multitracking of Jepsen’s voice in the verses of “Favourite Colour” snaps into focus in the chorus. And Jepsen’s vocals aren’t showy but are precise: that little catch as she stretches “revelation” over an extra syllable in “I Really Like You,” or the flip from slightly forced flirtatiousness to slightly too open insecurity in the gap between the two lines “if you know what I mean / do you know what I mean.”