Julia Jacklin Crushing
There’s a vacancy for the Queen of Sad Songs Throne™ now that Lykki Li is all sexy and Sharon Van Etten has become a late-period Depeche Mode tribute act and few people are better positioned to ascend to this royal role than Australian singer Julia Jacklin. Wrapped it an efficient alt-pop/country package, the 10 songs on Jacklin’s second album Crushing mine an inconsolability so deep even the act of listening to it could leave one fetal on the floor. Yet to simply call Jacklin a peddler of “sad” songs is a gross disservice. Her obsessing and catastrophizing over heartbreaks and the minutiae of relationships gone awry is filled with observations so pointed and so gut-wrenching they reveal Jacklin as a master observer of the human condition. It all starts with standout slow-burning “Don’t Know How To Keep Loving You,” which circles around and around as Jacklin comes to terms with a love that has reached its end. Jacklin goes deeper from there. “Pressure To Party” may end up being an introvert call to arms with its tale of locking oneself in their room and a promise to “try to to love again soon.” Its companion piece “When The Family Flies In,” meanwhile, captures the rock-bottom of emotional hurt, cinematically evoking listless, shuffling parents hovering around bachelor apartments without a clue what to do. Crushing isn’t just relentlessly self-involved either. Jacklin also points her lens outward to great effect on songs like the character-assessing “Good Guy,” and “Comfort,” the album closer that hopefully makes peace with everything. Taken as a whole, Crushing hurts. It’s heavy, painful and raw stuff of the heart. Mostly though it’ll make you wish only that Jacklin will learn to love again soon.
Watch “Pressure To Party”
Abjects’ Never Give Up
In the endless war against “rock is dead” trendpieces it’s important to secure one’s ammunition wherever one can. Abjects new album Never Give Up is a beautifully nasty weapon to use for the cause. Build around a cutting garage rock base, this international trio — singer/guitarist Noemi from Spain, bassist Yuki from Japan and drummer Alice from Italy — throw down a musical viciousness that’d make the “The” revival bands of the early 00s wilt in fear. Signature song “Fuck Brexit” is as unsubtle in its politics as it is ruthless as a bass-rumbling jam. “The Secret” and “The Storm,” additionally, are the sort of stompers that Little Steven plays on his radio show to ward off death for yet another week. There are some deft stylistic diversions as well. The title track made this reviewer doublecheck to make sure Abjects wasn’t a pumped up version of Lush recording under a different name, “Surf” is an aptly-names San Fran car chase soundtrack waiting to happen, and the dreamscape of “A Long Way To Go” shows there’s a more studied other side to Abjects should they ever want to explore it. In the meantime, we’ll be in the streets hurling bottles for the cause with Never Give Up playing through our headphones.
Watch the “Never Give Up” video
Rustin Man – Drift Code
It’s early yet in 2019 but the arrival of Rustin Man’s Drift Code could very well carry the year as the surprise you didn’t know you needed, but you’re sure glad it’s here. Rustin Man is the long-dormant nom de plume for former Talk Talk bassist Paul Webb. Last seen in 2002 co-authoring Beth Gibbons from Portishead’s Out Of Season album, Webb’s 17 years since then have been spent crafting the wobbly magic of Drift Code. Drift Code manages to nudge up to the edges of numerous rock-pop worlds while maintaining something uniquely all its own. Webb’s vocal delivery is uncannily Bowie… if Bowie had semi-retired to a wilderness preserve after 1976. The music, meticulously pieced together by Webb himself in a converted studio barn, hints of Pink Floyd or Moody Blues stripped of their high drama for something more gently psilocybic. Leadoff track “Vanishing Heart” sets the tone admirably as an anachronistic mediation on mockingbirds and a certain sort of summertime sadness. It’s “Our Tomorrows,” however, which may be the high mark for Drift Code. Punctuated by purposeful horns and threaded with a certain existential angst, it represents all of Drift Code‘s most transportive qualities. More than anything else, these songs take you places and this is Drift Code‘s best asset. Where those place may be is up to the individual listener, but it’s a journey worth pursuing.
Watch Rustin Man’s “Vanishing Heart”
Shadowgraphs’ Another Time
Dig!, the scene-defining documentary that captures the rise and fall and rise and fall of West Coast psych rockers Brian Jonestown Massacre and their frenemies The Dandy Warhols is now officially 15 years old. Perhaps the best gift that film gave us — besides firsthand insight into the madness and smarm that would eventually cause the two bands to plateau — is a whole generation of paisley-shirted crate diggers who figure a trip with both The Byrds and The Creation as well as Cast and The La’s is exactly the kind of magic carpet ride they want to be on.
Portland, Oregon’s Shadowgraphs certainly do their part to let the sound take us away on latest album Another Time. This kaleidoscopic 11-song collection isn’t so much for individual spots, though the particular melancholy “Sun Is Rising” and “Before The Time” shimmer brightest. No, where Another Time is most successful is in capturing the ever-elusive thing known as “vibe.” There’s a sway and swirl here that’s just as effective if you’re dancing under a forest canopy or beneath a wave of laser lights. Or, in a perfect scenario, both.
Watch the “Another Time” video
Danko Jones podcast
One of my favourite thing I worked on this year was helping edit international rock ‘n’ roll star Danko Jones’ new book I’ve Got Something To Say.
To help promote said book Danko had me on his long-running podcast in the fall.
We didn’t actually do much “promotion” of the book, but we sure had a time gossiping and light trash talking all sorts of things music.
To listen to this podcast episode go here.
Roy Orbison In Dreams hologram show
It was with some intense curiosity that Sarah and I recently attended a performance of the Roy Orbison “In Dreams” hologram show.
Would the show be good? Would the music be good? How realistic would the hologram be? These were all obvious questions going into the show.
These were not, however, the questions Sarah ended up pondering at length after watching the whole thing.
She wrote on all these questions in a piece for Medium.
To search for answers go here.
A Tribe Called Red’s Bear Witness
Genre and culture expanding electronic act A Tribe Called Red have been hard at work converting their We Are The Halluci Nation album into an actual nation of a sort.
If not a “nation” in the traditional geo-political sense, it’s certainly taking shape in the art and music world.
I spoke to band member Bear Witness about this evolution in advance of the X Avant festival this fall.
To read the interview head over to Samaritanmag by clicking here.