Albums of the Month February 2018
Holly Miranda – Mutual Horse
‘Mutual Horse’ is American singer-songwriter and musician Holly Miranda’s latest album and arguably it’s her finest and most consistent work to date. Her voice has always been incredible and on this collection of songs, it soars, seduces, consoles and uplifts. “It doesn’t feel like just mine,” Miranda says of the album, “it feels like it belongs to everybody who worked on it. I opened myself to collaborating this time around, which made me really vulnerable.” If that’s the case then it proves that artistic vulnerability can actually be incredibly empowering as it’s an album infused with raw emotion, with heart and soul and one which packs a real punch. From the sombrely beautiful to the joyously uplifting, this is a remarkable collection of songs that rewards with each fresh listen. Opening with the sublime ‘Wherever You Are’ Miranda’s remarkable timeless vocal hypnotises the listener and the spell remains unbroken for the duration of the album.
Her voice carries the sort of emotional authenticity that just can’t be faked, this is an artist deeply allied to her craft and as such she is able to effortlessly make a profound emotional connection with the listener. There are many highlights , the sleazy blues sprawl of ‘Golden Spiral’, the reflective wistful undulating ‘To Be Loved’ , the hypnotic ‘ On The Radio’ the electronic throb of the cinematic ‘ Mr Fong’s’ whilst ‘Exquisite’ co-written with TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone who also shares vocals on the track more than lives up to its name and is incredibly moving. ‘Mutual Horse’ is a stunning album that embraces a range of styles and yet works as a cohesive ‘whole.’ It’s one of the finest albums we’ve heard in quite some time and it should be riding high on many ‘best of’ album lists when 2018 concludes. It’s an album that once again proves what an incredible artist Holly Miranda is and it’s about bloody time the world finally woke up to that talent.
Songs To Learn and Sing ‘Wherever You Are’, ‘Golden Spiral’, ‘Exquisite’ ‘On The Radio’
Insecure Men – Insecure Men
It might initially sound like it’s a far cry from the often confrontational music and performances of the Fat White Family, but their guitarist and founding member Saul Adamczewski ‘s new project Insecure Men still manages to unsettle and provoke. Beneath the woozy faded glamour and jaunty melodies there often resides a study in the disturbing and the surreal.
The project alongside Childhood frontman Ben Romans-Hopcraft has an agreeable laid back sleazy loucheness and an ability to unnerve albeit wrapped up in some rather perfect off-kilter pop tunes. Insecure Men are perhaps the most disreputable lounge-pop act you’ll ever meet, even their most upbeat sounding tracks such as the glorious ‘Teenage Toy’ and ‘I Don’t Wanna Dance (With My Baby’) have a slightly warped, twisted undertone. And they sit alongside songs involving subject matter which many artists wouldn’t have the nerve to tackle. The topics may seem initially ghoulish but these songs weren’t written to shock (something the FWF were latterly accused of .) For example ‘Cliff Has Left The Building’ focuses on Operation Yew Tree’s biggest and most enduring urban myth; ‘Whitney Houston & I’ looks at two tragic and horribly similar deaths from the perspective of the ghost of Whitney’s daughter, Bobbi, as Saul explains “It is a provocative song but I genuinely found the story unbearably sad.”; ‘Mekong Glitter’ with its faux glam rock stomp and chant of “Why don’t you ever ask why?” chorus is an unsettling look at disgraced be-wigged pervert Gary Glitter – “I don’t think he should be let off the hook, I just want to ask why?” says Saul referring to the double standards applied to a lot of musicians who rose to fame during the 1970s.
It’s an album that demonstrates Insecure Men’s ability to craft some beautiful pop music, although the darkness is never far away, and Saul sums it up best when he describes the album as ‘pretty music with a dark underbelly to it. Part lift music, part exotica and part Penge”
Song To Learn and Sing: ‘Teenage Toy’, ‘I Don’t Wanna Dance (With My Baby)’,’ The Saddest Man In Penge,’
Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy
Car Seat Headrest is the solo-project–turned- band of Will Toledo who originally self-released a sketch of ‘Twin Fantasy’ back in 2011 via Bandcamp. It became something of an underground lo-fi cult classic, but Toledo was never completely satisfied with how the album sounded due in no small part to budgetary restraints. It felt like an echo of what he wanted to achieve rather than the fully finished version and as such it was an album he regarded as not something fully realised. The 2018 version is the album Toledo heard in his head, re-imagined, and meticulously re-recorded, it’s also an ambitious album one that takes risks and one that ultimately delivers. He recently told Rolling Stone “The old one (album) is by a different artist that I don’t necessarily like as much as the one I’ve turned into.”
It’s a conceptual album of sorts, about amongst other things growing pains, visceral emotion, love, pain, sex, fuck ups and finding yourself. The 16-minute epic ‘Famous Prophets,’ is remarkable as is ‘Bodies’ but rather than picking out individual tracks* it’s an album to be enjoyed as a whole. Toledo has an innate talent for mixing killer pop hooks, soaring melody with spoken word poetry and deadpan wit. It’s an album that’s honest, uplifting and often quite brilliant.
Songs To Learn And Sing : *See above and listen in one sitting. However for the sake of argument ‘Bodies’ ‘Nervous Inhumans’ ‘Famous Prophets(Stars)’
Lowtide – Southern Mind
Australian shoegazers Lowtide began life back in 2008, originally called Three Month Sunset which was an outlet for the solo work of guitarist Gabriel Lewis. It was when Gabriel started experimenting with textured guitar sounds that Lowtide started to crystallise as a band. The addition of bassist/vocalist Lucy Buckeridge, former member Giles Fielke, who departed the band following the completion of the new record and drummer Anton Jakovljevic gave Lowtide the impetus to move forward and they’ve since garnered huge critical acclaim in their homeland and beyond.
‘Southern Mind’ is the band’s second album and it contains a plethora of glorious moments. Their evocative compelling take on shoegaze is often ferocious but always considered and thoughtful. Drifting melancholy and driving restless rhythms, ethereal vocals above complex textured layers of guitar mean that this is so-called ‘shoegaze’ in its most cinematic widescreen form, indeed rather than an obsession with gazing at pedals this is an outward-looking album, one that embraces new horizons and change. The theme of the album is about things ‘going south’ whether that’s emotional, geographically or politically. As singer and bass player Lucy Buckeridge explains, “South can be a positive thing, a change.”
Songs To Learn and Sing – ‘Southern Mind’ ‘Alibi’ ‘Elizabeth Tower’ ‘Fault Lines’
This Is Eggland By The LovelyEggs