After a short absence, the weekly Audiophile is back. Each week, WVAU DJs will review five albums.
Pixies – “EP-2” (Self Released)
Proof that it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie
In September, a sans-Kim Deal Pixies decided to come out with its most substantial release since 1991’s “Trompe le Monde,” and God was it awful. Boring, generic and uninspired, the album was pretty much a train wreck: Black Francis (or is it Frank Black now? I can’t keep up) sounded older and less insane and Deal’s harmonies were sorely missed.
The Pixies’ most recent release has a lot of the same issues, but also has more redeeming qualities. “Blue Eyed Hexe” is a straightforward rocker that begins to harken back to Francis’s wild and screamy days, and the atmospheric “Magdalena” is a pretty darn good tune. “Greens and Blues” feels like many classic Pixies songs at one point with the riff and the verse’s melody fit, but the lyrics, vocals, chorus and overall songwriting are way too squeaky clean. This group may call themselves The Pixies and write songs that on paper seem like Pixies songs, but they lack all the mania, surrealism and Kim Deal-ness that made The Pixies. If you’re looking to fill out a playlist, you could do worse. If you want to remember the Pixies as indie rock giants who went out on top, just listen to “Doolittle” again.
- Michael Lovito
RIYL: Sugar, Guided by Voices, disappointment
Recommended tracks: 5, 6
Listen to Lovito’s show Truth, Justice, and the American Way on Mondays from 2-3 p.m.
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings – “Give The People What They Want” (Daptone)
Soul straight out of the seventies
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings make soul music. This group revives the emotion-evoking, groove-inspiring music of the 1960s and 70s with newfound energy and life. Lead singer Sharon Jones brings powerful vocals perfect for soul music and is backed by a skilled band that compliments her voice with strong funk elements. Jones relates to the listener through stories with her emotional yet gripping delivery.
Although the storytelling is superb, the instrumentation stays a main focus throughout the album. The laid-back guitars and bright horns compliment the upbeat perspectives showcased in the track “We Get Along.” In the album’s closing track “Slow Down Love,” the delicate touch of horns aims to develop the contrast between urgency and thoughtfulness in Jones’ lyrics. “Give The People What They Want” does exactly that. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings are pushing for the long-awaited resurgence of old-school soul music.
- Jack Fitzpatrick
RIYL: James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Corinne Bailey Rae, Motown
Recommended tracks: 3, 6, 9, 10
Warpaint – “Warpaint” (Rough Trade)
Cool and psychedelic
2014 is a highly anticipated year for the all-female psychedelic band Warpaint. The quartet embodies a spectrum of emotions with songs that can seem dark and sinister while others reveal a raw vulnerability. This vulnerability can be heard in slower, more chilled out songs such as “Teese.”
The band seems to have a heavier focus on bass harmonies and hard-hitting with steady drum beats instead of lyrical guitar riffs, which is refreshing. At times, Warpaint picks up right where they left off from their successful debut album, beginning with “Intro” and leading into “Keep it Healthy” (these songs should always be played together). However, due to a larger emphasis on individual instrumentals and synths instead of a more group-oriented collaboration, the album lacks some of the emotional connection that was so prevalent in its precursor. There are many awkward transitions and key changes, which makes the LP slightly less enjoyable. But there are still a lot of catchy songs within the bunch, such as “Feeling Alright” and “Drive,” which reminds us just how talented this band can be.
- Katie Cheyne
RIYL: Melody’s Echo Chamber, Widowspeak, Blouse
Recommended tracks: 2, 6, 9, 11
Listen to Cheyne’s show Amor Fati on Mondays from 8-10 p.m.
Gem Club – “In Roses” (Hardly Art)
Might make you cry, but like, in a good way
Most of Gem Club’s songs follow a pretty simple yet powerfully emotive formula: synth and vocal tracks are looped over the slow, almost drone-like cello playing of Kristen Drymala, joined by Christopher Barnes’ piano playing and warbly, soft vocals. Although Barnes says he doesn’t intend for his songs to be sad, every track on “In Roses” is solidly melancholy. The two musicians behind Gem Club, both classically trained, first played together at a 1980s theme party, where they played slowed down and inevitably somber interpretations of 80s hits. The only remnants of that decade on “In Roses,” however, are in Barnes’ extremely vulnerable and emotional lyrics, which doubtlessly owe a lot to 1980s sad-sack pioneers like The Smiths and The Cure, but probably owe more to the more recent and melancholy music of Antony and the Johnsons or Perfume Genius. As it turns out, that particular singing style pairs very well with Drymala’s soft, understated cello playing.
- Sean Meehan
RIYL: Perfume Genius, Antony & the Johnsons, Low
Recommended tracks: 4, 8, 11
Listen to Meehan’s show with Melanie Asherman, We’re Hilarious, on Saturdays from 6-8 p.m.
PYPY- “Pagan Day” (Slovenly)
Well done psych-punk debut
On their debut album, Montreal-based band PYPY (like the Greek letter you’d recognize from math class) marry psychedelic rock and classic punk. With elements ranging from shredding 1960s-style guitar solos to hard, fast, repetitive 1970s punk riffs to sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, this album has it all. The band switches off between co-lead vocalists, one female and one male, which gives these tracks just the right amount of attitude and flair. Serious lyrics exist among more playful ones, as well as experimental instrumentation along with more traditional rock styles. If psych rock is a little too psychedelic and punk rock is a little too hardcore, you’ll find this album has just the middle ground you’re looking for.
- Anna Walsh
RIYL: The B-52s, Thee Oh Sees, The Go-Gos
Recommended tracks: 1, 2, 7