Albums Of The Month
1. FLAMING LIPS – 7 SKIES H3
Typically, when associating lengthier pieces of music, one looks no further than classical music. With any number of extended works (operas and symphonies), classical music is known for its extended works and long-windedness. Rock bands, even experimental ones, typically don’t produce works that last hours upon hours, let alone 24 hours. That said, classical composers aren’t usually that prolific, at least constrained to one piece of music. The flaming lips, a veteran experimental-rock band known for their ‘ambitiousness’, created a day-long composition entitled “7 skies h3” in 2011. Definitely a novelty, three years later, “7 skies h3” arrived for record store day divided into 10 tracks, clocking in at a manageable 50 minutes. 7 skies h3, like the majority of the flaming lips albums, “beats to its own drum”. Fans and experimental rock enthusiasts wouldn’t have it any other way. The album opens with a stunning, mysterious ballad, “7 skies h3 (can’t shut off my head)”. Guitars establish the harmonic scheme of the song while synths and sound effects provide extra color. Vocally, wayne coyne takes a tenderer, haunting approach vocally, never forcing things. The restraint certainly contrasts the noisier, more raucous side of the band, but it works sensationally in this instance. The album constantly exemplies the flaming lips’ predictably unpredictable music, containing the anticipated noisy, distorted sounds, sounds like a truly horrid acid experience and moments of organic and unforced beauty. Penultimate cut “7 skies h3 (main theme)” highlights the beautiful melodies from the opener in even more gorgeously, thanks to the orchestral treatment. Even so, towards the end of the instrumental, things turn darker, harsher, and more enigmatic closer “can’t let it go”, like a well-rounded classical work, references previous cues, namely the memorable synth line from the opener. Sure the band prolongs things here, but at least it’s good stuff. Ultimately, 7 skies h3 is another strangely alluring addition to the flaming lips truly bizarre discography. Arguably less accessible and enjoyable than the terror was, 7 skies h3 still impresses tremendously. Always pushing the envelope doing things ‘their own way’, the flaming lips actually seem more innovative and fresher compared to any number of contemporary artists.
2. SEBASTIAN TELLIER – L’AVENTURA
Sébastien Tellier has never been one to shy away from huge concepts. Since launching his career in 2001 with an assist from his pals in the frothy French pop duo Air, he’s laden his albums with the weight of terms like Politics and Sexuality. his new record, L’Aventura, is no different: the album is supposed to be a musical reimagining of his childhood, a fantasy inspired by the sights of sounds of Brazil rather than the reality of his French home. Tellier’s choice to trust experienced, highly skilled Brazilian session players with the fruits of his imagination is one of the best decisions of his career. L’Aventura sounds immaculate, verdant, and rich; strings swoop and fly in the background, cascading around Tellier’s thick baritone, while bass lines pop and rhythms dance with a surprising lightness. These are densely arranged, complicated songs, so buoyancy and deftness are unexpected and very welcome elements. The album’s most ambitious moment is also its most impenetrable: “Comment revoir oursinet?” (roughly, “How to See Oursinet Again”) is a 14-minute odyssey that splits the album into two halves, moving from spacey synth-pop to soaring balladry and back as Tellier journeys in search of the titular bear, a common figure in French Christmas stories. The song takes a while to unfold and compromises the album’s flow, but its scope and sheer breadth is undeniably impressive. More than a decade into his career, Tellier can’t help himself—he’s still a sucker for the big moment, the lofty idea, the EP-length monolith, and with L’Aventura, he’s done a fine job of sticking the landing.
3. WHITE FENCE – FOR THE RECENTLY FOUND INNOCENT
For The Recently Found Innocent is the fifth album by White Fence, the stage name of Los Angeles-based psych-rocker Tim Presley. Presley is a highly prolific songwriter who compulsively writes and records skewed tunes to a four-track tape recorder in his bedroom. For The Recently Found Innocent, Presley’s debut for Drag City, is the first White Fence LP to be recorded outside the confines of his home—but it’s not as if he’s moved into Muscle Shoals. The recording quality a modest step up at best, with Presley swapping out four-tracks for eight and his bedroom for Ty Segall’s garage. As a result, some of the wonky studio artifacts from Presley’s bedroom days have mostly been preserved, which is a good thing. Though Presley’s music takes melodic inspiration from ’60s psychedelic pop—both British weirdos like Syd Barrett, and West Coast folk-rockers like Buffalo Springfield—it’s rare that his songs cop their druggy feel from fuzz pedals or delays. Instead, weird tape tricks and glitches do the work by skewing the listener’s perception of time. It’s a record shot through with feelings of anxiety and anger seemingly related to money, art, and other artists. Presley’s finally made a step into the outside world, but it hasn’t made him particularly comfortable about it.
4. SHABAZZ PALACES – LESE MAJESTE
5. ANUCHKA – BROKEN CIRCUITS
6. JOHN STEEL SINGERS – EVERYTHING’S A THREAD
7. JENNY LEWIS – THE VOYAGER
8. RICHARD THOMPSON – ACOUSTIC CLASSICS
9. JUNGLE – JUNGLE
10. COMMON – NOBODY’S SMILING
*****CHECK OUT OUR ALBUMS OF THE YEAR 2013!*****
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