Inside Llewyn Davis
It is kind of hard to review a soundtrack without seeing the movie. The context may be very important for a soundtrack. Certain songs may be felt more deeply when accompanied by the attached story. So, with that caveat in place, I am going to go ahead and review the original soundtrack for Inside Llewyn Davis. I kind of figured it wouldn’t hurt, since a lot of people may want to pick up the whole album on the strength of the Oscar Isaac and Marcus Mumford rendition of the traditional “Fare Thee Well”. In addition, many people just don’t see many movies, particularly Oscar-bate like Inside Llewyn Davis, so a review may be the only exposure they get.
New York based musician Ryan Lott aka Son Lux has quietly been making some of the most forward-thinking electronic/post-rock music around since 2008. The young musician has taken on his music with a real entrepreneurial spirit, with his songs taking the most unique twists, and exploring all expanses of the musical universe. Despite being highly imaginative, Son Lux’s music has left me a little cold in its abstractness until this year with his third release Lanterns.
Nearly two years after the release of “Bad Girls”, one of M.I.A.’s biggest singles to date, as well as a slew of three additional pre-releases, we now finally have the mother album to go with these albumless tracks, Matangi. After the non-success of her last album, MAYA (which I personally thought to be great) M.I.A. hit a creative wall, in which she was not only struggling with studio execs pressuring her to make another Kala, but was also suffering from some mild writers block. The good news is the frustration between artist and studio didn’t seem to have too much of an effect on the overall outcome of the album. After a trip to India she found inspiration from her Hindu roots in the goddess Matangi, the Hindu Divine Mother that governs music, knowledge and art. Fairly fitting I’d say, and her inspiration has led to yet another solid effort from our favorite English-Sri Lankan dub/electronica/world/hip-hop artist.
6 Feet Beneath the Moon
British singer/songwriter Archy Marshall aka King Krule may look like Tintin, but he has real soul and anguish in his music, and the voice of a much more lived man. The 19-year-old Londoner started his career at 15 making music under the name Zoo Kid, before changing over to his current moniker, King Krule, which he borrowed from the 1958 Elvis musical King Creole (contrary to the long-held belief that his name was inspired by the Donkey Kong villain King K. Rool). While the carrot-topped teenager has released music for four years, this fall marked the release of his long-awaited full-length debut, 6 Feet Beneath the Moon, an album that shows an artist with sophistication and confidence well beyond his years.
Love’s Crushing Diamond
It is often said “familiarity breeds contempt”. This phrase is most often directed towards people, but it also carries a lot of weight in regard to listening habits with music. With a few exceptions, if a band that does the same thing over and over with every album, they will often lose my ear. Or, if a band comes along and does something similar to what is trending at the time, that familiar trend will cause me to be dismissive of a copycat upstart.
Almost everything on Mutual Benefit’s debut, Love’s Crushing Diamond, is familiar to me. The voice of the primary vocalist, Jordan Lee, is so reminiscent of The Antler’s Peter Silberman, that upon first listen I had to make sure Mutual Benefit wasn’t a side project of Silberman’s. The string arrangements range from extremely delicate in the vein of Damien Rice to containing more punch like those used by Lost in the Trees. There are even some hints of Sufjan Stevens in the collaborative vocals and overall song structures.
Love’s Crushing Diamond is about as familiar as it gets. But there is such a warmth and genuine nature to the album, it would be almost impossible not to love. Mutual Benefit has managed to make an album where I feel like I have heard every song before, but also feel lucky to revisit each and every one. Its the type of familiarity akin to seeing some of your best friends from a previous stage of your life that you haven’t seen in years, and proceeding to pick up right where you left off. It is very fulfilling.