Monthly Archives: August 2017

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CKUT x MUTEK: An interview with Beatrice Dillon

As part of our ongoing MUTEK coverage, CKUT’s own Cyan (of Modular Systems) chatted with the London-based artist, producer, and NTS resident Beatrice Dillon. Read the full transcript below and get to know this prolific, boundary-pushing sound wiz.

C: Does your work as a DJ / radio host influence your own music production?

BD: It’s usually the other way round, I approach DJing as a musician so I search for music that connects with my own in some way – through production, attitude etc. Being on NTS gives me the chance to showcase all sorts of music and hopefully highlight some of the more unknown weirder stuff.

C: Are there any common musical themes/connections/processes that you draw on?

BD: I try to look beyond the 4/4 as that is covered really well by other DJs across NTS. I’m more interested in reduced ideas, unfamiliar time structures etc, I also like to balance newer and older music but to be honest it’s up to the listener..  I actually just play things I like!

C: What do you personally find interesting in a dj set as a listener?

BD: I’m always excited by twists and turns in DJ sets, moments where it could go wrong. I love watching DJs that enjoy the full capacity of a sound system – highs/lows etc..so the set becomes quite sculptural.

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C: One of the aims of Mutek is to showcase digital creativity. I was wondering how you would see your work in that context, or not?

BD: Well I use a computer and digital instruments all the time so it’s a huge part of what I do. Like a lot of people, I slightly obsess over technology and what might be possible for me but there’s always an interest in combining approaches. I’ve just produced a commission for a German artist, Jorinde Voigt, who makes beautiful large-format drawings which connect ideas across pattern language, diagramatic expression, algorithmic impulses, colour theory etc and I invited classically-trained cellist, Lucy Railton and Japanese percussionist, Kenichi Iwasa to perform with me as a contrast to the digital.

C: I wanted to know what motivates your collaborations – are you looking for particular types of collaborators, projects or ideas or does this just happen through personal friendships for example? How do your collaborative experiences influence your individual working practice?

BD: Usually through friendships. There’s always something to be gained from listening to someone else.

C: What are some of your upcoming artistic projects post-Mutek?

BD: I have a 12” on Hessle Audio which is a more club focused collaboration with Call Super and a remix for Ploy on the great Bristol label, Timedance. Then I’m focusing on a commission for a sound piece installed in a large cave in the north of England this autumn. Finishing a new solo record, a remix and continuing with some some new solo visual work. Plus, there are live and DJ sets booked too, so it’s a busy few months ahead, looking forward to it!

To learn more about Modular Systems and Traktion, check out Cyan’s website

 

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CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: August 29, 2017

Hi friends,

Princess Nokia rolled through Montreal last night and it was a doozy of a show — sold out room, crazy energy, and an all-around great performance. Forgive me, I’m still cobbling my brain and senses back together over here.

Other than that, we’re about to dive into frosh week and campus is abuzz with new students. Anyone else feeling especially old this time of year? Please reassure me that I’m not the only one.

xo
joni

:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
Did you catch CKUT’s live broadcast from the Montreal International Reggae Festival? No? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered — check out the full archives of the two-day broadcast on our website. They’re chock full of interviews, live footage, and special guests that you won’t hear anywhere else… this is truly exceptional content reflective of the amazing community of reggae artists & supporters here in the 514. Stream or download the full audio here and crank it loud for max listening enjoyment.

PS!!! Reggae fans, take note of our upcoming 30th birthday party with the legendary Mighty Diamonds, presented alongside our friends at POP Montreal. Do not miss!

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – august 29, 2017

1. sontag shogun – patterns for resonant space – youngbloods
2. markus floats – first album – self-released CC *
3. we r dying 2 kill u – buy your city/pay the rent – self-released CC *
4. sam shalabi & stefan christoff – s/t – small scale music CC *
5. david nance – negative boogie – ba da bing!  Continue reading

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Concert Review: Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas @ Corona Theatre

The cacophony in Montreal’s old Corona Theatre rose steadily this past Wednesday, as the crowd eagerly waited for Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas to take the stage. This was going to be my third time seeing Cult Of Luna, but the first with Christmas, who was added as a featured member for the band’s new album, Mariner. This Montreal show was the third in a series of just five North American tour dates for Cult of Luna, where, with Christmas’ help, they’ve been performing Mariner in its entirety.

The group took the stage in almost complete darkness. Four spotlights were aimed into the crowd and then instantly replaced with heavy backlights, shrouding all the members in darkness and leaving only their silhouettes visible. In all the Cult of Luna shows I’ve been to, I’ve never seen their faces – I wouldn’t be able to recognize them if I had to (but I’m sure they’re all beautiful; they are Swedish, after all).

They began with album-opener “A Greater Call,” starting off with steady post-rockish layers of keyboard, guitar, and drums, and then crescendoing alongside Johannes Persson’s unique growl. Julie Christmas responded to Persson with melodic lines that claimed “we are not conquerors/we float with the tide,” hypnotically repeating the phrases. Her ethereal voice was a welcome contrast to Persson’s, as was her eerie and magnificent presence on stage – Christmas pulled off pieces of her dress over the course of the set, twirling them as she howled before throwing them into the crowd. During “Chevron,” the heaviest song on the album, her demonic lyrics and entrancing headbanging captivated the crowd, Christmas’ hair becoming a rhythmic display against the backlit stage.

Christmas clearly established herself as a tough collaborator to match, but, as always, Cult of Luna did not disappoint. Their intense playing and visuals made the space-themed Mariner into a true journey. “The Wreck of S.S. Needle” best evoked the other-worldly subject matter, with its ominous keyboards and sinister lyrics, ending with Christmas’s enchanting request to “put me down, where I can see you run.” During album-closer “Cygnus,” strobe lights pulsed to the beat of the snare like a high powered camera flash, momentarily disrupting the crowd’s optical receptors; every time my vision returned to normal, it was just as quickly jolted by the next hit, leaving me completely spellbound. This part of the record was heavily influenced by the Star Gate sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey, an inspiration that certainly translated live: it felt like the whole theatre was crossing the outer-limits of the universe, about to finally progress into the darkness of the unknown cosmos and disappear, bringing the performance to a satisfying close.

The band exited the stage while Christmas stayed back, shaking hands with the whole front row, creating a connection with the audience that was very un-Cult Of Luna. Leaving the venue, I heard people express how mind-blown they were by the evening, particularly by Christmas’s incredible voice and immaculate stage performance. I had a hard time disagreeing. My only wish was that it had been even louder, but that might just be my ears fading from going to so many shows – a small price to pay for nights like this.

– review by Nadège Radioskid

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Free Samples Playlist

With last week’s article on DJ Khaled marking the end of Free Samples, here’s a playlist featuring some of the best tracks from the series. Thanks to everyone who followed this project throughout the summer!
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Spirit in the Dark” by Aretha Franklin
School Spirit” by Kanye West
Gold Digger” by Kanye West
I Got a Woman” by Ray Charles
Hotline Bling” by Drake
Cha Cha” by D.R.A.M.
Do You Mind (Crazy Cousinz Remix)” by Kyla
Glow” by Drake feat. Kanye West
Devotion (Live)” by Earth, Wind & Fire
i” by Kendrick Lamar
That Lady” by The Isley Brothers
Loyalty” by Kendrick Lamar feat. Rihanna
24 Karat Magic” by Bruno Mars
Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” by Jay-Z
I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5
Maria Maria” by Carlos Santana feat. Wyclef Jean
Wild Thoughts” by DJ Khaled feat. Rihanna and Bryson Tiller

– Matthew Martino

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CKUT @ FME 2017: Preview Playlist!

The end of summer is nigh, but don’t shed your festival gear just yet: we are just a week away from the 15th edition of the Festival de musique émergente en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (FME), held from August 31 to September 3 in southwestern Quebec. This year, close to 70 artists, most of them Canadian or Québecois, will descend on the sleepy city of Rouyn-Noranda and party all Labour Day weekend.

To prepare you for this unique festival experience, this author has prepared a curated Spotify playlist featuring artists who will be performing at FME 2017. Below are short descriptions of the tracks and artists for you to peruse at your leisure.

Look out for exclusive interviews with artists from the festival on TOTAL ECLIPSE in the coming weeks, as well as live coverage coming at you from my CKUT Twitter account, @jmvanamsterdam.

FME 2017 HOT PICKS

  1. Pierre Kwenders (“Woods of Solitude”): Kwenders is a Congolese-Canadian rapper and musician who blends traditional African themes with dance music and hip-hop. He performs on August 31 at 9:15pm.
  2. Thus Owls (“Smoke Like Birds”): Thus Owls is a Swedish-Canadian husband-and-wife duo based in Montreal. Together they create a dark, layered indie pop sound. Thus Owls perform on August 31 at 8:00pm.
  3. Phillipe B (“Explosion”): Phillipe B is a Québecois singer-songwriter hailing from Rouyn-Noranda, though he is currently based in Montreal. He produces haunting, expansive music that incorporates acoustic guitar plucking and orchestral accents. Phillipe B performs on August 31 at 9:00pm.
  4. La Mverte (“The Inner Out”): La Mverte is a Parisian electronic artist whose music is reminiscent of Kraftwerk’s “robot pop.” He performs on August 31 at 5:00pm.
  5. La Bronze (“Aimons-nous”): La Bronze is a band hailing from Quebec, blending a capella harmonies with alt-rock instrumentals. They perform on August 31 at 8:30pm.
  6. A Tribe Called Red (“R.E.D.”): A Tribe Called Red is a Canadian electro-hip-hop group based out of Ottawa. The trio is comprised of First Nations members, and they famously meld “powwow step” with hip-hop and dubstep to create powerful, contemporary powwow dancehall music. ATCR perform on August 31 at 10:15pm.
  7. Andy Shauf (“The Musician”): Andy Shauf is a Saskatchewanian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who creates highly-acclaimed indie pop, notable for its inclusion of the clarinet. He performs on August 31 at 10:15pm. Continue reading
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CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: August 22, 2017

Hi folks,

Keeping this short today — I’m catching up from a whirlwind weekend trip to Toronto, a real nice gig with total sweethearts Yamantaka//Sonic Titan, and the usual back-to-school prep madness. MUTEK also kicks off today so it ain’t getting any quieter around here, either. Wanna stay in the loop about all this goodness and more? You know what to do.

xo
joni

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – august 22, 2017

1. markus floats – first album – self-released CC *
2. faith healer – try 😉 – mint records CC
3. yoo doo right – ep2 – second best records CC *
4. sontag shogun – patterns for resonant space – youngbloods
5. slight – the hustle is a many splendoured thing – second best records C * Continue reading

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CKUT x MUTEK Present buffalo MRI’s Montreal Sessions

As part of our ongoing Montreal Sessions residency, CKUT and MUTEK are thrilled to be welcoming one of our favourite local sound-benders, Dominique Alexander, back into the studio. Familiarize yourself with her excellent work below and catch her live on the air from 3-5pm, streaming from your faithful source ckut.ca.

buffalo MRI is the solo project of Montréal-based experimental musician Dominique Alexander. Since 2013, Alexander has developed an approach focused on prepared tape, field recordings, sampler performance, and fluctuation between structure and improvisation. Her creative process employs a wide range of techniques and sound sources, from voyeuristic moments and spontaneous background noises caught on tape to plunderphonics-style sample work and everywhere in between. From a given handful of recordings, Alexander manages to extract minute details and reconfigure them, weaving unrelated sounds into new images in performance.

As well as having made solo appearances at numerous one-off events and festivals in Montreal, including POP and Suoni Per Il Popolo, Alexander has performed elsewhere in Québec, Ontario, and the United States, with further touring slated for this fall. Her work has also taken the form of collaboration both within music and across disciplines. She is currently one half of experimental duo Urlapse with Joshua Bastien, and in 2016 she worked with visual artists Chloe Lum and Yannick Desranleau and choreographer Sarah Wendt to compose and perform a live score for their work The Rules, debuted at Montréal’s OFFTA Festival.

Outside of music performance, Alexander has worked in curatorial and academic capacities, giving guest lectures at Concordia University on the history of musique concrète and tape music as well as on the representation and visibility of women in electronic and experimental music. For a one-month residency at McGill University’s CKUT radio station, she hosted the weekly experimental music program If You Got Ears and will continue to appear as a regular guest on the show for future editions. While working to prepare her MUTEK debut, Alexander is also crafting a future release that functions as a reimagining of the “DJ tools” format, her first released work as buffalo MRI in over two years.

You can hear her hosting CKUT’s MUTEK x Montreal Sessions on Tuesday, August 22nd from 3:00pm to 5:00pm.

Photo: Thomas Boucher
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Album Review: Vivid – Daniel Arthur Trio

As the title of their debut full-length album would suggest, the music that flows from the Daniel Arthur Trio can only be described as vivid. Vibrant. Vivacious. I could go on. The fact of the matter is, it would be impossible to mistake these recent Schulich Music School graduates for sophomoric amateurs, not to mention their expanding resumé. In 2016, while still at McGill University, the trio performed at the internationally-renowned Montreal Jazz Festival, and this year have taken third place at the Conad Jazz Fest (Perugia) and a semifinalist title at the Bucharest International Jazz Competition.  Daniel Arthur, a pianist by trade and the trio’s “frontman,” was performing with the Seattle Opera while still in high school, and has played classical piano since the age of seven.

All arrangements on Vivid are of his own composition, and it’s clear from the get-go that he has an ear for the ebb and flow of the tracks. The album moves as a river might: at times still and quiet, at others roaring along, almost unhinged. Arthur’s piano may wander, but it is always brought back by Ethan Cohn’s steady bass and Eric Maillet’s clever drums. The trio members have all been formally trained as musicians, and it shines in their performances; everything is precise, even when the intricate harmonies present as hectic or loose.

The three instruments will expertly play games of tag and tug-of-war, yielding for solos and dramatic effect, but not once do they fall completely silent. When one instrument shines, the other two provide a support system to buoy it along. Their style evokes 20th century composers such as Stravinsky and Messiaen, as well as contemporary jazz musicians; a hint of Brubeck can be heard from time to time as well. 

Vivid begins with “Prelude,” a kind of amuse-bouche that does a good job of introducing the trio’s sound, letting them stretch their musical muscles. Arthur demonstrates his penchant for syncopation and time signature shifts early on in this short track, which features a hypnotic piano melody. On “DSFCA,” a frantic piano shoots out of the gate before the drums and bass kick in to send the track into a frenzy. Constantly shifting intervals, dynamics, and tempo keep the listener on their toes before the track cools down, the dynamics becoming subdued and steady rhythms taking hold.

Rolling chords introduce “Joy,” blossoming nicely with the addition of the bass being played with a bow, instead of Cohn’s usual plucking style. Maillet’s drums are added slowly, entering the flow of the rhythm seamlessly to provide a nice contrast with Cohn’s bass. Arthur’s piano then takes over, with the bass and drums now only acting as accents. While the melodies are rather repetitive, the differences in tempo and call-and-response pattern that emerges keep the track pleasant and the listener engaged. Arthur arranges the track to fall into dissonance before inserting a neat, circular resolution: the return of the initial piano melody, now a little more harried.

On “Mars Text,” bass and a higher piano melody take the spotlight, supplemented by drums and a faster piano melody, played at a lower register. The track has a bittersweet quality to it, with each instrument alternately fading in and out, each in its own world. As the track picks up, the melodies of piano, bass, and drum become intertwined, building on one another; this cyclical track is one of Arthur’s most involved compositions, and the trio perform it expertly.

The Daniel Arthur Trio also cover the greats on Vivid, paying homage to Shostakovich and Messiaen in additional tracks. While their overall performance style still has an air of youthful formality, the raw talent exhibited by these musicians cannot be denied, and this author can only hope they will continue to showcase their prowess as they carve a name for themselves in the jazz world.

Album released: July 7, 2017

review by Juliana Van Amsterdam 

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Free Samples: How DJ Khaled Dominated the Summer

 

While we can all thank Justin Bieber for teaching us how to speak Spanish this summer, DJ Khaled also had his fair share of success these past few months. The Miami producer’s tenth studio album Grateful debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and has remained in the top four for the past six weeks. The album has now been certified gold. His smash hit “Wild Thoughts” featuring Rihanna and Bryson Tiller peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and is nominated for three MTV Video Music Awards including “Video of the Year.” If that wasn’t enough, the chart-topping “I’m the One” featuring Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper, Quavo and Lil Wayne has now been certified three times platinum. So basically, if you wanted to sum up Summer 2k17 in a sentence or two, the words “DJ Khaled” would definitely be in there — along with “hangover” (but maybe that’s just me).

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Song Sampled: “Blow the Whistle” by Too Short (2006)

The lead single off Khaled’s previous album Major Key, “For Free” samples lyrics and cadences from Too Short’s “Blow the Whistle” and interpolates Akinyele’s 1996 track “Fuck Me For Free.” In addition, one of Drake’s verses references Kendrick Lamar’s song “For Free? (Interlude)” off To Pimp a Butterfly with the line, “and like your boy from Compton said/You know this dick ain’t free.” The track is the fourth collaboration between DJ Khaled and Drake, following “No New Friends,” “I’m On One,” and “Fed Up.” Khaled claims he received Drake’s second verse while shooting the album cover for Major Key. He said, “I had a real lion on the album cover. I was sitting on the throne, and the lion was right here. Drake texts me with the second verse done. Mind you, I’m shooting my album cover, the lion is in front of me, and I’m on the throne. I swear on everything this is a true story. I even snapped and said, “The Drake vocals came in!” And the lion roars. This is all real. I’m not lying! You can go document and go find this. I thought that was so powerful and spiritual and amazing. I couldn’t sleep at night until it was done.”

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“To the Max” feat. Drake (2017)
Song Sampled: “Gus Get Em Right” by Jay-O (2015), among others

DJ Khaled began teasing the song on his Instagram, asking if “the Drake vocals came in yet,” attempting to recreate the success of their previous collaboration. Most of the “To The Max” production is a sped up sample of Jay-O’s “Gus Get Em Right,” which is heard prominently in the intro, chorus and outro of the song. The track also contains a sample of T2’s “Heartbroken” and sounds very similar to DJ Jayhood’s 2007 remix of the song, which the New Jersey beat-maker claims has “the exact same chops.” He wrote on Twitter: “I don’t want to say Drake DJ Khaled stole my ‘Heartbroken’ track.. I don’t own the sample but they were inspired.” Jayhood then went on to say that he respects both Drake and Khaled and that there is no “bad blood.” In an interview with The Fader, Jayhood said, “It was definitely sampled from the version I did. The chops are not the same from the original, it’s from the one I did. My drop is even in there.” T2 later confirmed that he was asked by Khaled’s team if they could sample the song, and although he agreed, he claims he hadn’t officially signed anything to approve the sample. “That was a bit of a surprise,” he said upon hearing the track. “I was not aware it was going to come out. I need to speak to people there [his publishers Sony/ATV] to get a clearer picture.”

 

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 “Shining” feat. Beyoncé and Jay-Z (2017)
Song Sampled: “Dionne” by Osunlade (2013)

Released as a surprise single right after the 2017 Grammy Awards came to a close, this track samples “Dionne” by Osunlade, which itself uses Dionne Warwick’s 1970 tune “Walk the Way You Talk.” DJ Khaled came up with the idea for the song while at a restaurant a week after his son was born: “I was at Nobu eating and I heard this sample. I put my phone up and I Shazam’d it [saying] ‘Man, this is my single!’ [Then] we went in the studio and we flipped it. So we sampled it and we chopped it up […] and it ended up being a masterpiece.” After signing a management deal with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation early last year, Khaled presented the beat to the rapper at the entertainment company’s Christmas party:

“I just got to do ‘I Got The Keys’ with him, so I ain’t wanna ask him for another record;          but I knew the record was so dope so I’m like ‘Let me play it for you.’ And the first 20,
30 seconds he was bopping his head, I seen him already rhyming in his head. And after I   played him the record I was like ‘Yo, I know the answer is “No,” but if you wanna play this to your wife, man, that’d be dope.’ I remember I was at the Roc Nation Christmas party [and] Beyonce came up to me and she was like ‘Yo, I like that record.’ I damn near   passed out! I was just speechless […] So, what happened was the night before the Grammys, Jay-Z hit me up and said ‘Record done.’ Meanwhile I was wondering if they were even gonna record it. So I had kept that beat and that vibe and I didn’t touch it. I was gonna hope that, you know what, my prayers are gonna come true. [It was] meant to be. I knew they liked it, but I didn’t want to keep asking them because they’re two big people. I just let the vibe take control.”

Khaled and his team then mixed, mastered, cleared the samples and got Jay and Bey’s approval all in less than 24 hours before dropping the record. Sounds like a Christmas miracle if you ask me.


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”Wild Thoughts” feat. Rihanna and Bryson Tiller (2017)
Song Sampled: “Maria Maria” by Santana feat. Wyclef Jean (1999)

A serious contender for this year’s Song of the Summer, “Wild Thoughts” heavily samples the main riff from Carlos Santana’s 1999 smash hit “Maria Maria” featuring Fugees frontman Wyclef Jean. During Grateful‘s recording, Khaled invited Tiller to his house for dinner and played him the initial demo of “Wild Thoughts,” asking him if he could do something with the song. Tiller returned home, quickly recorded his verse and sent it to the producer who used it on the final recording. As for Santana’s reaction to the track, the latin guitarist said he was “honoured” that Khaled, Rihanna and Tiller “shared this summer vibe with the world.” He went on to say that “there is a reason that the infectious groove/theme that Wyclef and I created on ‘Maria Maria’ still resonates today. It speaks to the heart. DJ Khaled, Rihanna and Bryson take that vibe and bring it to a new dimension with ‘Wild Thoughts,’ but the groove and essence of the song is still intact” — which is exactly what a good sample should do.

– Matthew Martino

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Album Review: Japanese Breakfast – Soft Sounds From Another Planet

“I want it all,” Michelle Zauner coos on “Diving Woman,” the opening track from her new album as Japanese Breakfast. The breathy vocals turn what could be a bold opening statement into a kind of aspirational mantra, something to reach toward.

Six and a half minutes long, “Diving Woman” is an enticing, meandering track that immediately differentiates Soft Sounds From Another Planet from Japanese Breakfast’s last release, 2016’s Psychopomp. That record was short, sweet, and immediate. Zauner put it together right after her mother passed away from cancer, and though most of its songs weren’t explicitly about her mother’s death, the album had a sense of working through fear and pain as they’re happening. That rawness was what made Psychopomp stand out, despite the fact that some of its two-minute tracks slid pleasantly in one ear and back out the other.

Soft Sounds, on the other hand, takes the time to brood, and is stronger for it. Zauner’s guitar is still at the forefront but now shares the spotlight with flitting synths and bells. Her vocals, meanwhile, are lighter than they’ve ever been, creating space for the songs to swell underneath. Soft Sounds is an indie rock album, but the tracks aren’t interested in catchy hooks so much as settling into a good groove and seeing where it goes. This isn’t a departure for Zauner, then, but an expansion.

Because of this calmer tone, Soft Sounds feels simultaneously in-depth and distant, the lyrics often expressing a sense of disconnection and isolation, as if sung by someone looking in on her life. In “Road Head,” Zauner recalls a failed relationship while remaining separate from it, her voice floating as she sings, “‘dream on, baby,’ were his last words to me” – a reference to an ex who told Zauner she wasn’t good enough for a career in music. The airy vocals and synths don’t create a sense of emptiness, but possibility, like the narrator is dreaming herself right past this shitty dude.

Continue reading