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We Slept At Last – Marika Hackman

 

The brooding melodies of Marika Hackman’s We Slept At Last carry one through 45 minutes of trance inducing ballads. It sounds at times like a mystic court musician, telling wary tales of faraway lands, or the creed of an artist already versed in the complications of what musicianship means. The album through and through sounds outside of it’s era, and could easily have come out any time between the 1990’s and 2020’s.

There exists a constant clash of folk melodies with light guitar and interspersed drums, and yet the addition of panpipes and collision of major and minor keys with Hackman’s dark and haunting lyrical subject matter. Take the lyrics from Ophelia, in reference to the Hamlet character who committed suicide at the rejection of marriage, also the theme of the song.

“She who walks alone in life is she of sound mind?

I am only as old as I’ve been told”

Or such again in a lullaby inspired by Debussy’s “The Girl With Flaxen Hair” in her song Claude’s Girl.

“Turn off my mind, I beg you

It’s buzzing like the Devil’s bow”

The simplicity of Hackman’s melodies layered with the complexity of her lyrical illusions create a greater sense of construction of the album that might be passed over upon the first listen. Her addition of flutes and cello on such songs as Monday Afternoon provides harmonious unity with the folk melodies aforementioned. They also provide a stirring contrast and pleasant uplifting tune that differs from the more hopeless lyrical themes on the majority of the album. A love song taking place in a forest, akin to the aesthetic Hackman maintains throughout the album, seemingly to break away, and yet, the haunting events unfold with death, and still the bittersweet ending that makes it characteristic of the album, ending in the lines

“I feel no pain

The blood is frozen in my veins

And although you were here in the morning

My skin was cold before you came”

We Slept at Last is a brooding tonal folk album worthy of praise, and a must listen for fans of Imogen Heap, Frou Frou, Cat Power, and J Tillman.

 

8/10

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Encyclopedia – The Drums


Encyclopedia

When asked what influenced the sound on Encyclopedia, Jacob Gram said he wanted the album to sound like a Disney Musical, while Jonny Pierce said he wanted it to sound like a garbage can. To take a line from Pierce, “I think you can hear a little bit of both”. Encyclopedia is the combination of tragically real lyrical prose and the instrumentation to convey Pierce’s haunting musings. Amidst turmoil with members of the band, this is the first album with the two as a duo, but the classic Drums sound is maintained and improved upon.

The album opens up with an exposé of the two’s talent on Magic Mountain, with what sounds like what a house show punk band would turn out trapped inside a real magic mountain with nothing but Chaucer and old copies of Vice, with the lyrics “Inside my magic mountain we don’t have to be with them”. Rapid and syncopated drums match harmoniously with synth and dreamy lyrics, but after this initial stand of independence, the Drums peal off the outer shell of cuffed jeans and adidas, and reveal the somber reality of the album, full of technical playing, but also an understanding of what it means to write a song that isn’t ashamed of saying what it needs to say. Pierce doesn’t try to tuck anything out of sight by admitting “So help me, because I feel you drifting. You’re drifting a little, And I’m scared” on I Hope Time Doesn’t Change Him.

Encyclopedia might initially sound like what you’d expect to find on a dream-pop album out of Brooklyn, but where it excels is its lyrical/ musical simplicity, crossed with mastery. Fear of dying, fear of leaving, yet set against a distinctly American backdrop of a band that’s started to dig deep into its own distinct niche. I feel this is conveyed clearly in U.S. National Park as Pierce sings “United States national park, I don’t wanna die alone by the campfire”.

If you came to The Drums through their 2011 release Portamento, you’ll still find the mesmerizing trance tunes full of guitar riffs, but the lack of their other two members will certainly stand out, though this is not necessarily a bad thing. It sounds almost more fitting to hear the sounds of The Drums in a more mature and reminiscent way. Encyclopedia is certainly worth a listen if you’re looking to be more concerned about your inner hopes and fears than the weather this winter.

 

8/10

-Spencer Graves

 

 

 

 

Johnny Marr Playland

Playland is the second solo album from iconic indie guitarist Johnny Marr. Marr is most famous for his work with the Smiths, Modest Mouse, Electronic, etc and Playland sounds like the culmination of everything has learned playing in these different bands. Marr blends the synths from Electronic with the rock and roll edge from his bands like the Cribs and the melodic sense of the Smiths. These elements come together to make for a collection of very well crafted songs that balance pop accessibility with rock n roll edge.

While the songs here are well written the production detracts from a lot of this album. The production doesn’t let anything stand out which is unfortunate because there is so much instrumentation on this album that it can become hard to pick out individual parts and instruments begin to blend into a shoegazy wall of sound that at times over powers Marr’s voice.The glossy production here works well at times on the more layered tracks but on rockers like “Playland” the glossy production takes much of the energy out of the song. Luckily for “Playland” there’s enough of energy that the album stays interesting despite this.

All in all this is a solid album, even the poor production can’t negate the fact that these are well written, catchy songs with a lot of energy. “Playland” shows that Johnny Marr has still got it.

Favorite tracks: “Back in the Box” “Easy Money” “the Trap”

Least Favorite track: “Playland”

4/5

by Charles Pfaff

WVCW’s Top 20 : 5/11/2014-5/17/2014

WVCW’S Top 20 of the Week List

The list of our favorite top 20 songs of the week …in no particular descending order

Song

Artist

Don’t Sleep for Free

You, Me, & Apollo

Cavity

Hundred Waters

Brains

Banks

Hold Tight

Midnight Faces

Hundreds of Ways

Conor Oberst

Understand

The Roots

Dumb

Jazmine Sullivan ft. Meek Millz

                                      Die Young With Me

Blacklist Royals

Bluebell Fields

Money

Pasedena

Donnie Trumpet ft. Vic Mensa

Hooray for Henny

The Kooks

Face Down

White Lung

Satellite

Pompeya

Fix me up

Rush Midnight

Ring the Bell

White Hinterland

Burning

Night Box

We Exist

Arcade Fire

Change Your Mind

Trey Songz

If You Want to Do It

Moonshoes

La Sera

Losing to the Dark

 

WVCW’s Top 20 (4/27/2014-05/03/2014)

WVCW’S Top 20 of the Week List

Tune into our top 20 every Saturday at Noon

The list of our favorite top 20 songs of the week …in no particular descending order

 

Song

Artist

Erreur Humaine

Paws

Oblivious

Jessica Lea Mayfield

What’s On Your Mind

The Greyhounds

A Midsummer Evening

Yann Tierson

Airwaves

Ray LayMontagne

The Crash

Motion Animal

The Fire

Kina Grannis

Wild Enough

The Neighbors

Where There’s Love

The Trews

Teenager

The Rich Hand

Soldiers

The Trouble with Templeton

Woe

Wild Adriatic

Heavy Seas of Love

Damon Albarn

Down on My Luck

Vic Mensa

I Got The Moves

Habibi

I am Very Very Lonely

Chance The Rapper

Cam Girl

Jeremy and The Harlequins

Medicine

Waylayers

Want It

Kelela Feat. Tink