Album Review: On the Line by Jenny Lewis


Album: On the Line
Artist: Jenny Lewis
Release Date: March 22, 2019
Favorite Tracks:

  • Heads Gonna Roll
  • Wasted Youth
  • Hollywood Lawn
  • Dogwood

Thoughts:

As a brief prelude to this review, a new album from Jenny Lewis reminded me of how much I liked Rabbit Fur Coat, followed by the stunning realization that the album was released in 2006! I discovered Rabbit Fur Coat at the time when I first started becoming aware of new music through podcasts and streaming services, and now my “new way” of consuming music is rather old at 13.

Okay, onto the actual new album, which is Jenny Lewis’ fourth. The album has a retro-sound reminiscent of 70s sunny California pop. This sound is added by the appearance of veteran musicians like Don Was, Ringo Starr, and Jim Keltner in he backing band.  Nevertheless, the sound is still fresh, and the lyrics are anything but frothy. Lewis is primarily a storyteller, telling stories of people desiring escape, lost love, and lots and lots of substance abuse. There’s a lot of humor in her lyrics, but often the humor is a way of revealing deeper pains.

Rating: ***1/2

Album Review: so sad so sexy by Lykke Li


Albumso sad so sexy
ArtistLykke Li
Release Date: June 8, 2018
Favorite Tracks:

  • two nights
  • jaguars in the air
  • so sad so sexy
  • utopia

Thoughts:

The album title sums it up perfectly as Swedish singer-songwriter sings heartbreaking tunes of romantic entanglings that ultimately end in failure. Stylistically, Li has shifted from indie rock and dream pop to contemporary R&B and electronic dance music.  It’s not a shift that I think works for her, as the music doesn’t sound bad, but it loses Li’s unique style for something that sounds like a lot of other music out there today. I’m thinking that this album will be recognized more as the transition to whatever Li does next than for itself.

Rating: **1/2

Album Review: Tracyanne & Danny


Album: Tracyanne & Danny
ArtistTracyanne & Danny
Release Date: May 25, 2018
Favorite Tracks:

  • It Can’t Be Love Unless It Hurts
  • Jacqueline
  • O’Keefe

Thoughts:

This duo features Tracyanne Campbell, formerly of the Scottish band Camera Obscura whose album Let’s Get Out of This Country was on my list of favorite albums of all time.  Her partner is Danny Coughlan, an English singer-songwriter from England, of whom I have no prior knowledge.  The sound of the album reminds me of 60s pop, not necessarily what the nostalgia industry categorizes as “60s music,” but the type of pop that was popular with older listeners in the period. Nevertheless, there’s a a lot of variety from folk to lounge music to jazzy to  the lushly orchestrated. The album on the whole is beautiful but melancholy, as to be expected since it is Campbell’s first album since the death of friend and bandmate Carey Lander in 2015.

Rating: ***

Related Post: Concert Review: Camera Obscura

Album Review: i can feel you creep into my private life by tUnE-YaRdS


Album: i can feel you creep into my private life
ArtisttUnE-YaRdS
Release Date: 2018 January 19
Favorite Tracks:

  • ABC 123
  • Colonizer
  • Home

Thoughts:

tUnE-YaRdS, once Merrill Garbus’ musical project is now officially a duo including bassist and co-songwriter Nate Brenner.  Like earlier recordings, i can feel you creep into my private life is heavy on samples, loops, and beats with even more emphasis a club dance music sound. Always a political group, tUnE-YaRdS sees the personal is political as the lyrics examine racism, white privilege, and cultural appropriation (apropos to white people who use African, Latin, and Native American rhythms in their music).  The message can be heavy handed at time and fails to truly transcend the way the music does.

Rating: ***1/2

Album Review: 50 Song Memoir by The Magnetic Fields


Album50 Song Memoir
ArtistThe Magnetic Fields
Release Date: 2017 March 10
Favorite Tracks:

“67: Come Back as a Cockroach,” “78: The Blizzard of ’78,” “81: How to Play the Synthesizer,” “85: Why I’m Not a Teenager,” and “15: Somebody’s Fetish”

Thoughts:

This is an album that I saw on the Best of 17 lists that I missed when it was released and since there weren’t many new releases in January, I decided to give it a spin.  As the title implies, it is a 50-song album, one for each year in the life of singer/songwriter/instrumentalist Stephin Merritt (The Magnetic Fields previously released an album called 69 Love Songs so this is relatively breezy).  The songs expertly mix personal memories with cultural touchstones (a Jefferson Airplane concert, Judy Garland’s death, the AIDS crisis) with the music recognizing the musical sounds of the time without being imitative (although it appears the disco era lasted longer for Merritt than everyone else).  It’s both humorous and heartbreaking as the story of anyone’s life would be.  While I enjoyed it, I kind of liken it to a long book or an lengthy movie that as good as it is, it’s not something I’m going to have the time to return to again and again.

Rating: ***

Album Review: Rest by Charlotte Gainsbourg


AlbumRest
Artist: Charlotte Gainsbourg
Release Date: 17 November 2017
Favorite Tracks: “Ring-a-Ring O’ Roses,” “Deadly Valentine,” and “Dan vos airs.”
Thoughts: The single “Deadly Valentine” is the standout track on Gainsbourg’s first album in six years, one that reflects on grief and loss on the death of her half-sister.  While there is an allure of a woman’s voice singing breathily in French, most of the album is full of synthesizer crunches and disco beats that sound like very generic electro-pop.
Rating: **

Song of the Week: “Deadly Valentine” by Charlotte Gainsbourg


“Deadly Valentine” is the lastest single from British-French actor and musician Charlotte Gainsbourg.  It’s a dancable track with lyrics that make wedding vows sound really creepy.  But this song is nowhere as creepy as “Lemon Incest.”  The song is featured on Gainsbourg’s newest Album Rest, due out on November 17.