Album Review: We Will Always Love You by The Avalanches


Album: We Will Always Love You
Artist: The Avalanches
Release Date: December 11, 2020
Label: Modular
Favorite Tracks:

  • “We Will Always Love You”
  • “The Divine Chord”
  • “Interstellar Love”
  • “We Go On”
  • “Wherever You Go”


Thoughts:

20 years ago, the Australian electronic group made one of the most amazing albums of all-time, the sample-filled “plunderphonics” of Since I Left You. Then they disappeared for 16 years only to return with an uneven follow-up album (albeit with some magnificent individual tracks), Wildflowers, in 2016. Now after a relatively short 4-year gap, The Avalanches are back with a much-anticipated third album.

This work feels more down-tempo than previous works without songs like “Frontier Psychiatrist” or “Because I’m Me” to jump out and grab you. The most prominent samples on the album include low-key acts like The Roches, The Alan Parson Project, and The Carpenters.  The album also features a boatload of guest artists whose vocal interplay with the samples and electronic tracks is seamless(featured artists include Sananda Maitreya, Vashti Bunyan, Blood Orange, Rivers Cuomo, Pink Siifu, Denzel Curry, Tricky, Sampa the Great, Leon Bridges, Johnny Marr, MGMT, Clypso, Neneh Cherry, Jamie xx, Kelly Moran, Cornelius, Karen O, Kurt Vile, Mick Jones, Cola Boyy, Perry Farrell, and Orono).

The underlying theme of the album is outer space and how it is a metaphor for the distance between people. A photo of Ann Druyan, director of the Voyager Golden Record project and producer of the tv show Cosmos (both projects she worked on with her husband, Carl Sagan) is on the album’s cover. The final track, “Weightless,”  features the beeps of the message to the stars from the Arecibo radio telescope (and SETI gets a featured artists credit). The album was recorded before the collapse of Arecibo earlier this month so it serves as an unintentional obituary for another senseless death in 2020.

This is a beautiful album and gets better with each listen as my ears uncover the onion-like layers of the songs and the album as a whole.

Rating: ****

 

2016 Year in Review: Favorite Songs


Once again, it’s time to look back on the music of 2016 with my favorite songs of the year.

I’ve featured many of this songs in my Song of the Week posts this year.  If you see a link from a song title it will take you back to the Song of the Week post for that song, or other time I wrote about that band.

For previous year-end lists of previous years check out my lists for 2015,  201420132012,  2011,  2010  and  2009.

In alphabetical order, here are my ten favorite songs of the year:

Atomic Number” by case/lang/veirs

Brother, What Happened” by Muddy Magnolias

Big Bad Good” by My Bubba

“Freedom” by Beyoncé

“Mighty (feat. JFTH)” by Caravan Palace

“Quiet” by Erik Blood

To Have You Back” by Tourist

Wave of History” by Downtown Boys

Your Best American Girl” by Mitski

You Want it Darker” by Leonard Cohen

 

And here are five honorable mentions:

Augustine” by Blood Orange

Frankie Sinatra” by The Avalanches

Stranger Things” by Kyle Dixon, Michael Stein

“This Girl” by Kungs vs. Cookin’ on 3 Burners

Yeah, I’m Okay With My Shit Life” by Bethlehem Steel

What were your favorite songs of 2016?

 

2016 Year in Review: Favorite Albums


This is my second attempt at making an Albums of the Year least after my first try in 2014.  There aren’t any real surprises here as most of these albums are appearing on every other list, so I will have to seek out younger and more experimental musicians.  Nevertheless, here are my thoughts on five great albums from 2016.

Listed alphabetically by title, with links to my original reviews where possible.

David Bowie, Blackstar

Bowie’s final album, released days before his death, shows that he was an experimenter to the very last, incorporating jazz and electronic songs into richly textured songs about mortality.

Beyoncé, Lemonade

Confession: I never listened to anything by Beyoncé before this year.  But this album blew me away with it’s mix of genres and the blend of personal travails with the political aspirations of black women.  It seems appropriate that it comes 25 years after Nirvana’s Nevermind and The Beatle’s Revolver because each album created a new sound for its generation.

A Tribe Called Red, We Are the Halluci Nation

As the Water Protectors made their stand  against DAPL this year, it is appropriate that the Ottawa-based DJs of A Tribe Called Red released their most angry, political album yet.

The Avalanches, Wild Flowers

It wasn’t worth waiting 16 years, but it’s still a wild mix of sounds that feels like a back alley journey through American music.

Leonard Cohen, You Want it Darker

Another farewell album recorded by an artist in his dying days that shows that the power of creativity can persist into old age.

For an entirely different list of albums I’ve never heard before (but really want to now), check out this list on the Speed of Things by my friend Erik.

What are your favorite albums of the year?

 

 

 

 

Albums of the Months: August/September 2016


I never got up my AOTM post for August, so here’s a two for one.

Ratings scale:

***** – An all-time classic album (highly recommended)

**** – Great album (recommended)

*** – Solid album (consider buying or streaming/downloading top tracks)

** – Weak album (only consider streaming/downloading top tracks)

* – Poor album (not recommended)


ARTIST: Elza Soares
ALBUMA Mulher do Fim do Mundo (The Woman at the End of the World)
RELEASE DATE:3 June 2016
RATING: ****
COMMENTS: At 79-years-old, Elza Soares is an iconic samba performer in Brazil.  Her voice is gravelly, but it captures perfectly the emotions.  I don’t understand Portequese but I can understand the feeling in these songs about poverty, domestic violence, and the political strife of her native land.  Musically there are traditional samba elements, but also fuzzed-out electric guitar and a bass line sometimes reminiscent of Primus.  It’s an innovative fusion, unlike anything I’ve ever heard and a voice at once defiant and celebratory.
OUTSTANDING TRACKS: “Dança,” “Benedita,” “Pra Fuder,” and “Maria da Vila Matilde”


ARTISTcase/lang/veirs
ALBUM: case/lang/veirs
RELEASE DATE: 18 June 2016
RATING: ***1/2
COMMENTS: Three artists come together and form a more cohesive band sound than I would’ve expected.  Some great tunes and harmonies, the best tracks seem to be loaded toward the front of the album.
OUTSTANDING TRACKS: “I Want to Be Here,” “Honey and Smoke,” “Georgia Stars,” “Blue Fires,” and “Atomic Number”


ARTISTThe Avalanches 
ALBUM: Wild Flowers
RELEASE DATE: 8 July 2016
RATING: ***
COMMENTS:  The band’s 2000 album Since I Left You is an all-time classic.  Is the follow-up as good? Not really.  Was it worth waiting 16 years? Probably not.  Nevertheless this is a delightful cacophony of sounds that feels like a journey through American music played on the radios of passing cars or spilling out of a nightclub down the block.
OUTSTANDING TRACKS: “Because I’m Me,” “The Noisy Eater,” and “Frankie Sinatra”


ARTIST:  Angel Olsen
ALBUM:  My Woman
RELEASE DATE: 2 September 2016
RATING: ***
COMMENTS: Indie folk rock with ethereal vocals is my bag.  The early part of My Woman is peppy, almost punk with 50s/60s girl band thrown in, but as the album proceeds the songs slow down and stretch out, each showing varying degrees of optimism and melancholy.
OUTSTANDING TRACKS: “Shut Up Kiss Me,” “Never Be Mine,” and “Intern”


 

ARTIST:  Clipping.
ALBUM:  Splendor & Money
RELEASE DATE: 9 September 2016
RATING: ***1/2
COMMENTS: Clipping. is an experimental hip-hop group featuring Daveed Diggs of Hamilton fame. This hip-hop space opera is reminiscent of Afro-futuristic works of PFunk and Janelle Monae.  Gospel melodies are paired with rapid-fire rap.
OUTSTANDING TRACKS:


 

 

 

Song of the Week: “Frankie Sinatra” by The Avalanches


A long time ago I found a random album at the library by a band called The Avalanches and was blown away by the sound collage of samples, sound bites, and dance music, especially the track “Frontier Psychiatrist.”   16 years later, The Avalanches finally got around to releasing their second album Wildflower featuring the delightfully bizarre and catch “Frankie Sinatra.”

Be warned, the lyrics are crude and the video is slightly disturbing, but if you make it to the end you’ll be singing the refrain all day.

Ten Favorite Songs of 2000


New decade. New century.  New top ten list for the year 2000.

I seem to still be in the middle of my my folk music and electronica phase.

Learn more about this project in the first post.

Blackbirds – Erin McKeown

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Frontier Psychiatrist – The Avalanches

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Last Days of Disco – Yo La Tengo

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The Littlest Birds – The Be Good Tanyas

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Me & Mr Sutton (Plug 97 Rmx) –  DJ Maus

[A link to a link where you can hear this track]

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No Place Like the Right Time – Donna The Buffalo

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Prince Charming – Jim’s Big Ego

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Still The Night – Paperboys

[listen to a clip on Amazon]

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Tanglewood Tree – Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer

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Wings of the Ragman –  Peter Mulvey

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And my song of shame for 2000:  Who Let the Mets Out by Baja Men

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What were your top songs for Y2K?