Two weeks ago, Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) released her fourth studio album. I think it is worth noting as well, that this is her first solo album to be released after her collaboration album with David Byrne, Love This Giant. I say that it is worth mentioning because it is quite apparent that her work with David Byrne, and possibly the current friendship that they have taken up after the fact, has clearly had a large impact on her music. So what do you get when you take one of the better female singer-songwriters and multi-instrumentalists of the current generation, and slap on a nice new coat of influence from one of the better/quirkier musicians to ever grace the presence of popular music? You essentially get what was already a fully developed musician in untried territory. Stepping outside her own comfort zones, and becoming better in ways that weren’t exactly necessary, but incredibly enjoyable for her fans, old and new. You also get one of the best albums that St. Vincent has released to date.
The War on Drugs
Lost in the Dream
Philly indie rockers the War on Drugs admittedly hit my sweet spot when it comes to their sound: they create dreamy psychedelic rock with an Americana soul, sort of Wilco’s experimental side under a cloud of guitar haze. The band started out with 2008’s freewheeling Wagonwheel Blues, where they had fuzz-rocker Kurt Vile in their band as sort of a lo-fi Dylan-worshipping indie band. Since, Kurt Vile has left to do his own thing (which we have loved every minute of), and since the War on Drugs have gotten even more similar to Vile’s music: hazy, sonic explorations filled with atmospheric guitar, synth sounds, and front man Adam Granduciel’s wistful vocals. On their latest, Lost in the Dream, the band has never sounded so confident musically and anxious emotionally, making this a thrilling and wistful ride.
I wrote last summer about my five favorite music podcasts, which is a surprisingly thin category for podcasts, though there are still no doubt some great ones. 2014 brought about the debut of Song Exploder, the latest great podcast from Jessie Thorn’s family of Maximum Fun.
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit
February 9, 2014
St. Louis, MO
Isbell and wife, Amanda Shires, performing “Mutineer”
This review is coming in a little late for my tastes, but no one ever said “Timeliness is next to Godliness”. The good news is I capped off my beer consumption at 3-4, so my mind is sparkly clear even three weeks later. So at long last, here is my written account of Jason Isbell live.