With so many releases flying at you, here are recommended vetted listens from Nialler9 for you this week, as collated in the Nialler9 New Releases Spotify playlist, updated weekly.
Californian folk musician Jessica Pratt’s third studio outing is a hushed affair. Quiet Signs is music for the dead of night. For a folk musician, the writing on the album is oddly minimalist. Most tracks, like ‘As The World Turns’ comprise of only a few chords played on piano and guitar and Pratt’s vocals. No busy picking patterns and very little in the way of instrumental embellishment. Yet for all, it’s stillness Quiet Signs finds its expression in Pratt’s vocals and lyrics. It’s hard to distinguish whether Pratt’s voice is pitched or not at times, her delivery is certainly disorienting. Yet, her voice is hypnotic. Drawing the listener further and further into her world of gentle alienation.
Quiet Signs is an aIts that bears repeated listens and further investigation. It’s strangeness is hard to overcome at first, though that inevitably gives way its overwhelming sense of warmth.
Noah Lennox is one of the most important figures in alternative indie and electronica. His material as part of Animal Collective, which he co-founded, shaped a generation of indie electronica following the release of Merriweather Post Pavilion. Historically, his solo material has been a far more inconsistent affair. Bouys is Lennox’s sixth solo effort and I left my expectations are the door when first listening to it.
Bouys isn’t nearly as experimental or unapproachable as Animal Collective’s reputation might lead you to believe. Instead, the album is largely a blend of poppy folk and electronica. There’s actually a fair few genuinely catchy tracks on the album, ‘Cranked’ and ‘I Know I Don’t Know’ come to mind. Lennox tends to keep the really experimental stuff for his own voice, which is usually cloaked in a layer of autotune.
Far Out Dust
Eoin French’s second LP under the moniker of Talos hears the artist successfully develops the framework his debut built. Far Out Dust definitely bears close relationship to its predecessor. French still maintains a heightened drama in his work. There’s always been a high stake, near the end of the world aspect to Talos’s music and Far Out Dust confirms this in its grandiose opener ‘Boy Was I Wrong’.
On his second full length effort, French has done more than enough to push things forward. There’s a distinctly commercial quality to the material on F.O.D, best typified in the single ‘See Me’ and the anthemic ‘To Each His Own’. An easy palatability that Wild Alee lacked. It doesn’t come across as cheap. French has clearly bent his talents to producing quality pop music and largely succeeds in his ambitions. Far Out Dust is better produced and more fully fleshed out than what Talos has made before. If it falls down anywhere, it’s in applying too much polish to certain parts, especially French’s vocals. Such a talented voice deserves more dominant moments. That’s why ‘On & On’ is the best track on Far Out Dust, just French’s voice and a piano for the most part. Bliss.
Everything’s For Sale
Compton native Anthony Dixon, better known as Boogie, released his debut LP Everything’s For Sale on Eminem’s Shady Records. Don’t be put off by the artist’s label head. Boogie’s debut, despite its flaws, contains far more empathy and nuance than anything Shady’s been able to put his name to for well over a decade now.
Everything’s For Sale is an excellent example of the necessary space for superb conscious rap. Highlights include the wonderful ‘Lolsmh’, with its cynical outlook on romance, and ‘Tired/Reflections’. The latter frames the LP’s thematic framework. A series of quips from the frustrated MC ends in the shocking “I’m tired of questioning if God real/ I wanna be murdered already,” interrupted by the sound of a gunshot. It’s brash and dramatic, but keenly self-aware. On his debut, Boogie proves himself a capable and considerate lyricist and MC.
Zach Condon and co’s fifth studio LP with the Beirut project manages to offer plenty of the band’s signature quaint charisma without really pushing the envelope forward. All the usual suspects all present on Gallipoli. Condon’s unique drawl, the band’s off-kilter rhythms and horn lines straight off the back of a postcard. Tracks like Varieties Of Exile and the opener When I Die bring a sense of serenity and motion to the record. A prolonged moment of bated breathing.
Beirut are still capable of producing stunning music and these few tracks prove it. It’s a shame that much of the album manages to stand out at all. In fact, the most interesting thing I’ve heard related to the album is Condon’s account of its writing process, available to hear here.