Daily Archives: September 14, 2016

angelolsenmywoman

Album Review: Angel Olsen- My Woman

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My Woman, Angel Olsen’s latest album release, has left me in pieces with its mix of distantly dreamy and direct, full-bodied sounds. Kicking off the album with Intern, Olsen leads with resonating vocals that set the tone of the somber, matter-of-fact message. Olsen oscillates between asserting realities of existing to defying them in vain, moving from a “it doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done/ you still gotta wake up and be someone”, to the void optimism, “I’m gonna fall in love and run away”.  The synth, reminiscent of the intersessing, hypnotic synth in 80’s dream pop ballads, molds Olsen’s lyrics into statements with uncanny repetition.

“Never Be Mine” greets the listener with sweet vocals narrating the interior workings of an infatuated individual, asserting “heaven hits me when I see your face/ I go blind every time” only to turn the hopeless romantic tone on its side with the sorrowful, “I’m still trying/but you’ll never be mine”. Olsen moves through watching a love from a distance to asserting the reality that she struggles to come to terms with. The twangy guitar and instrumental intersessions bring us back to the register of traditional pop songs of unrequited love.

Following “Never Be Mine”, Olsen fights back in “Shut Up Kiss Me” Chaotic drums and ethereal background vocals accompany Olsen’s billowing voice demanding “shut up/kiss me/ hold me tight” that progress into the pleading statement/question “I’m still yours!” “Give It Up” is a sorrowful, resistant surrender with a regulated rock melody. “Not Gonna Kill You”, she draws back into herself and reflects, questions, and makes sense of her feeling. She almost mockingly repeats “It’s not gonna kill you/ it’s not gonna break you/ it’s just gonna shake you” and hopefully blazes “let the light shine in” in midst of the words that are meant to comfort. “Heart- Shaped Face” is a slower tune with driving, syncopated drums, and rhythmic folk-y guitar.

“Sister” and “Woman” are the longest tracks on the album, drawing out emotional nuances as Olsen navigates a cacophony of feeling. She sings ” I want to live life/ I want to die right/ next to you” the last line delivered with powerful, melancholy vibrato. She ends with a string of “all my life I’d thought I’d change” erupting into a choral climax followed by a soft, breathy conclusion. Between “Sister” and Woman” lies “Those Were the Days”, a wistful track, nostalgic without defeat. This track is delivered beautifully, and transitions into the soft instrumental build-up of “Woman”. The album ends with “Pops”, a heavy tune. Olsen’s vocals are distant, almost exhausted as she sings “I’m not playing anymore”. The piano-heavy ballad is the perfect balance of cutting and gentle with Olsen’s voice as dynamic as ever.

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Album Review: The Serious EP – Bibio

WRP9385EP_1024x1024On his earlier 2016 release A Mineral Love, low-fi electronica artist Bibio (née Stephen Wilkinson) utilized Olivier St. Louis’s angelic croon on the playfully keen track “Why So Serious?.” The seed of a beautiful R&B psychedelia union having been planted, it came to many as no surprise when the duo reunited for a blossoming EP, assumedly titled after the song that started this partnership. While Bibio usually explores the electronic psychedelia realm with great success, he has expanded his territory for The Serious EP to add in bouncy ’80s synth and R&B effects that subtly weave in between shuffling beats and the aqueous electric guitar featured in many of his tracks. The combination provides a bright foil to St. Louis’s soft falsetto, sliding in and out of the layered instrumentals.

The pair had a mutual respect for each other before they started the collaboration, working almost exclusively on tracks over email and communicating through WhatsApp. Most of the instrumentals, provided by Wilkinson, were outtakes and leftover tracks from A Mineral Love, modified in part to mesh more effectively with St. Louis’s lyrics (all lyrics on The Serious EP were written by St. Louis, though Bibio is a songwriter as well). Interestingly, the vocals on the EP’s final track were written for an alternate version of “A Mineral Love.” While the original “A Mineral Love” provided the title track to A Mineral Love, the alternate version became “Night Falls.” The similarities in the instrumentals of the two tracks, while subtle, shine through upon a second listen.

The opening track is the familiar “Why So Serious?,” which was included in A Mineral Love; it continues to be a great reminder of how two solo artists can make excellent collaborators. Growling synth and a staccato underlying beat make for an undeniably groovy sensation, strengthened still by St. Louis’s playful lyrics and sexy R&B croon. “Make Up” is a more subdued track, with St. Louis singing barely above a whispered falsetto; Bibio’s own instrumental influences are featured more heavily here, with rolling synthetic beats and methodical guitar chords. “Stress Me Out” begins with a staccato beat and more aggressive electric guitar; the music is as blunt and forward as Bibio seems capable of, and is the farthest he strays in this EP from his normal areas of expertise. St. Louis demonstrates his excellent vocal abilities on this track, catapulting from a nasal whine to a simmering falsetto, descending the scale again with ease. “Night Falls” is a sultry track replete with synthetic shimmer effects (oh, to revisit that era again) and low, soft vocals mixed with sweet falsetto. The bass line shines in this song, enhancing the retro themes and grounding the track.

The Serious EP is, in all reality, anything but what it professes to be. Bibio has made a rather successful career off the utilization of retro sounds and rhythms, and he does not stray from the path for this EP. Instead, he and St. Louis capture the quintessential R&B and keep it pleasant and light, singing about love in broad strokes to smooth, jaunty tunes. While many R&B artists (looking at you, Frank Turner and Blood Orange) have repeatedly revolutionized the genre and helped buoy its relevance in the changing political and social climate, Bibio and Olivier St. Louis have released a nostalgic, good-natured EP that harkens back to simpler themes. Bibio is not a bona-fide R&B artist by trade, so while he utilizes many of those thematic elements in The Serious EP, he also continues to incorporate his own musical influences. Consider it R&B Lite: providing a glossy, breezy collection of tracks that float just above the current R&B climate.

Album released: September 2, 2016

review by Juliana Van Amsterdam

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CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: September 13, 2016

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Hi radio,

Busy times here in Montreal: caught Inga Copeland here over the weekend, helped with a fundraiser for a beloved local venue, and started gearing up for Pop Montreal in a big way. Oh, and chilled with the resident CKUT raccoons. It’s tough to remember that they’re pests when they’re so goddamn cute.

Quick note: there will likely not be charts next Tuesday as I will be in Toronto getting all judgey for this thing. Things return to normal the following week.

xo
joni

:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
We’re having a street fair! Swing by the Milton Gates entrance to McGill onThursday, September 15th from 11am – 3pm and peruse a sweet variety of LPs, CDs, baked goodies, odds & ends, have yr fortune read while you’re at it… This is gonna be a doozy of an event and we highly recommend you come check it out. Full info here.

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – september 13, 2016

1. v/a – no. 2 – oh hi CC *
2. automatisme – momentform accumulations – constellation CC
3. the submissives – do you really love me? – fixture records CC *
4. towanda – plaything – dtm CC *
5. braids – companion – flemish eye CC * Continue reading