Posted in Album Reviews

Mitski – Laurel Hell

For a lot of people, it’s not unusual to do some soul searching when reaching a milestone age like 30 as Mitski Miyawaki did in 2020.  That plus a pandemic can certainly make one ponder about their future.  It is interesting to hear a successful artist have those same thoughts as well but several songs on Mitski’s latest release, Laurel Hell, do just that. First single “Working For The Knife” tells of writing while no one is paying attention, but one keeps writing anyway.   “I used to think I’d be done by twenty/Now at twenty-nine, the road ahead appears the same/though maybe at thirty, I’ll see a way to change”.

Like on past albums, Mitski’s songs are short, most lasting less than 3.5 minutes. Many of the tracks here use synths and electronics to create the beds of music such as the classy, “Heat Lightning” and 80s influenced “There’s Nothing Left For You”.  “Stay Soft” adds a danceable beat and asks a lover to “open your heart like the gates of hell”

The penultimate track, “I Guess” is an emotional song that ruminates on a relationship that’s ending and having to reinvent one’s self.  Reinvention and wondering what comes next are themes that run through Laurel Hell.  It’s an album that many will find inspiring as they struggle to try and figure out all the same things that Mitski wonders about as well.

7.5/10

Posted in Listed

Favourite Albums of 2018

51k7S8+kLDL._AA327_QL65_5. Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour: Arguably the biggest country crossover into the indie rock world of 2018. Musgraves’ fourth major album release was as slick as they come but hard not to appreciate the quality of the songs. “Lonely Weekend”, “Space Cowboy” and album standout “High Horse” are the touchstones. But those are accompanied by opener “Slow Burn” and “Velvet Elvis”. While many of these songs could easily be featured in almost every commercial on TV, it doesn’t take away from the fact that virtually every one is a winner.

Mitski4. Mitski – Be The Cowboy : The first vocal on Mitski’s fifth album claims “you’re my number 1” which is fitting as this is topping album polls across the world. Clocking in at just over 33 minutes with most songs around the two-minute mark, it is easy to leave this one on repeat for a few hours. First single “Nobody” provides the longing that is at the heart of this album. The hard rocking “Remember My Name” is followed by the defiant “Me and My Husband”. There is a reason people keep talking about this album, the quick snapshots of music cut across numerous styles but most of all, it does them expertly.

trcy3. Tracyanne & Danny – Tracyanne & Danny : Quietly one of the most welcome returns to music was from Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell. Her voice is like a warm fire on a cold winter night. Here she appears with Danny Coughlan and together they create one of the best runs of music in 2018 from first track “Home & Dry” to infectious single “Alabama”. Second half highlight belongs to Coughlan with his 50s style “Anybody Else”. Overshadowed by bigger releases, this Merge Records release is an easy album to fall in love with.

41M5dXB2SNL._AA327_QL65_2. Courtney Barnett –  Tell Me How You Really Feel: In the disposable world of streaming and downloads, it’s rare that an album is a grower but Tell Me How You Really Feel did just that. Hard to get into at first, it feels disjointed and a bit of a downer album about touring but repeated listens prove that is not true. “City Looks Pretty” and “Nameless, Faceless” are dynamite indie rock songs. “Need A Little Time” features a pretty melody in the chorus and it’s all closed down with the melancholic uplift of “Sunday Roast”. Barnett tore the Winnipeg Folk Fest down on the Friday night this past summer. Too hard rocking for a lot of the crowd but was a glorious racket for the rest of us.

61KEfYl6iVL._AA327_QL65_1. Beach House – 7: When reviewing the latest Beach House on the Celebration Rock Podcast, critic Steve Hyden talked about how 7 does exactly what he wants from a BH album. This is pretty much bang on. “Pay No Mind”, “Lemon Glow and “Dive” standout and the rest of the album does a very good job of being atmospheric and ethereal. “Lose Yourself” is beautiful as is “Woo” but with an 80s synth feel. 7 glides along on its rails and is happy to take the listener to the next station for its duration.

Posted in Album Reviews

Mitski – Be The Cowboy (2018)

Mitski“Me and my husband/we are doing better/it’s always been just him and me together”.  Mitski’s fifth album, Be the Cowboy, is the Japanese/American’s second for Dead Oceans is a dynamic effort. The lyric comes from “Me and My Husband” which like many tracks presents a mature take on love and approaches the topic from one of many different angles.  14 songs appear over 33 concise minutes with songs working like quick snapshots into a particular emotion.

Starting with just an electronic guitar, “A Pearl” ends up euphoric when the horns swell a third of the way through.  Mitski’s vocals are a treat on the swooning country track “Lonesome Love” before the guitar crunch of “Remember My Name” appears. Second single “Nobody” has a 70s disco feel while singing of the loneliness that envelopes a person when on the road whereas “Pink In The Night” is all atmosphere about the confusion of being in love or at least infatuated with someone.  Like others we’ve listened to this year, Mitski varies the music style throughout but the short bursts of songs never outstay their welcome.

8.5/10