Reviews I May Have Missed - May
I missed quite a few albums in May (as I do every month), so here are three of them. Yes, only three. Don't want to overload you. Well, not in one post at least.
Kimbra – ‘Vows'
Kimbra is the less-than-happy guest vocalist on Gotye’s massive “Somebody That I Used To Know”, so you knew her and you didn’t even know it! The New Zealand native actually released her debut last August in her homeland (where it made it to #3) and has had two songs (out of four singles) chart from it. The album hasn’t done well in terms of radio play because it is extremely…out there. Alternative pop knows no better contemporary friend than Kimbra, and she does the genre well. It seems that in Roisin Murphy’s absence we have Kimbra, and that’s just fine by me. The pop album plays around with different instruments, feelings, sounds – the lady experiments with just about everything you can think of, and she does it well every time.
Basically, the album is weird, and wonderfully so.
‘Vows’ is available on Amazon for only $5.99.
Listen to: “Settle Down” (lead single and my favorite on the CD), “Cameo Lover”, “Come Into My Head”, “Sally I Can See You”, “Home”, and “Warrior (ft. Mark Foster of Foster The People and A-Trak)”
Regina Spektor – ‘What We Saw From The Cheap Seats’
Regina has never been my favorite, but she deserves her moment. I think my problem with her is that you can hear her pretention in her music. Her music and lyrics may be critically acclaimed, and yes they are rather original (she has a style completely her own that’s for sure), but at times they can be really offputting. Little Spektor has put out is very friendly or welcoming to the ear. Instead, her compositions and her words really make you think. I think that’s great, but it just doesn’t really do it for me. ‘What We Saw…’ is more of the same from Regina, which will make her hardcore fans really happy. They are sure to love “Ballad of a Politician” for its content, “Oh Marcello” for her reinterpretation of the classic Nina Simone “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”, and “The Party” for bringing the tune up a bit. I can’t totally put the album down, as I know it is “good”, but I just don’t really care for it. Matter of personal taste is all.
‘What We Saw From The Cheap Seats’ is available now (and at the time of my writing this it is only $5 on Amazon, but something tells me that won’t last).
Listen to: “Don’t Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)” and “All The Rowboats”
Sigur Rós - 'Valtari'
Valtari, the Icelandic alternative groups’ sixth album, may be their most ambient and atmospheric yet. The group has always been known for pushing the boundaries of sound, but this is something else entirely. It seems that frontman and lead singer Jonsi got all that talking out of his system on his solo debut ‘Go’ two years back, because ‘Valtari’ is very quiet, but the silence speaks volumes. The group creates entire soundscapes; stories emerge from the simplest of piano pieces. Sigur Rós evoke more emotion by striking one key than many artists could do in an entire song.
The eight tracks on the album aren’t afraid to take their time – the shortest song being 5:06 and the longest 8:19 – with the entire collection clocking in at just under an hour. ‘Valtari’ is the kind of album you sit back, put your headphones on, and let yourself go to. The CD will take you places and do powerful things to you, and you are completely powerless to stop it. Everything on the album belongs in a movie score – the kind of song you use to accompany the climax of your film when you want everyone to cry. You know what I mean.
If you don’t know Sigur Rós, try it. Don’t be scared that all the song titles and the lyrics are in Icelandic, it doesn’t matter.
Listen to: the entire album, especially “Ég Anda” and “Fjögur Píanó”
‘Valtari’ is available now (and for only $5.99 from Amazon for a little while).