St. Vincent Returns, Remains Awesome


Following her horn-laden collaboration with David Byrne, St. Vincent has announced a new self-titled album, from which she gives us “Birth in Reverse.”

Despite perhaps not being the sum of its parts, Love this Giant was great, but it is good to be reacquainted with St. Vincent’s sweetly-sung melody meets weird gnarled edge dynamic. Or, as she puts it well in an interview at The Quietus, a “weird world where music is accessible and likable but cloaked in things that are strange and left field.”

That there is usually a lot going on in St. Vincent  songs and the use of brass on Love This Giant show Annie Clark’s musical range, but “Birth in Reverse reminds that she is a guitar player first and foremost. Indeed, she is an awesome guitar player, capable of both creating intricate and atmospheric arrangements but also  pulling out a fuzzed-out solo every now and then. Further, the way she uses the low-end of the riff that propels the song shows how the brass sound has carried over into St. Vincent’s solo work. The way Clark’s guitar almost doubles as a tube to provide a backbone to the song similar to the synthesized baritone sax in Vampire Weekend’s “Diane Young.”

In addition, Annie’s new hair aesthetic suggests additional influences carried over from he collaboration with David Byrne. Artists!



Friday Tunes – Crazy Interactive Video Edition

The wonderful Arcade Fire have released a video for “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains).” It appears in “traditional” form here and below, in which we find a clip that is interesting and pretty trippy towards the end (Stereogum rightly notes that it “sort of plays like a constantly refreshing hi-res GIF”).

It is enjoyable. It is fun to see the familiar houses from their various album covers. Though I would find Regine to be weird and annoying if I didn’t think this was such a great song. (And it really is all-time-great caliber material.) But the band also gives us an “interactive” version that allows us manipulate the video by dancing in front of your computer. While it is not quite as affecting as their nostalgia-inducing video for “We Used to Wait,” it is great to see them continuously pushing the envelope of the medium. The idea also nicely fits the vibe of the song, as it has you doing what you were probably going to do anyway, awkwardly dance emotionally while sitting in a chair in front of your computer.

If there is not a meme in which people post videos of themselves dancing in front of their computer while watching/interacting with this by the end of the weekend, I do not know what the internet is for.

Bonus high quality live version:

Wednesday Jams

I have been slacking in the Sharing of Tunes Department, largely because I have been delving into my external hardrive for some older items I haven’t listened to in a while and/or because I am writing longer pieces on some other things that have been occupying my playlist. Anyway, let us address this situation.

Though I came to this party slightly late, I have had Cults in my head intermittently since I finally checked them out a couple months ago. They are great! Besides being obviously catchy, they are able to channel a retro-sounding vibe without being either derivative or ironic. And, in keeping with similar descriptive constructions they sound unique despite being fairly straight-forward. And their self-titled album cover is catching. Hooray for long hair!

But onto the jams:

Here is their official video for “Abducted.” It is kind of bonkers, but worth watching:

Here is a professional-quality live version of “Bumpers,” on a rooftop, somewhere.

Finally, for the sake of including yet another one of their songs that I greatly enjoy, here is a fan-made video for “Go Outside.” I have no idea what is going on here, but I do think it is great that people do this sort of thing, and bikes are fun:

(Here is the official video for “Go Outside,” which is also great/weird in the same vein as “Abducted,” but not embedded here to avoid redundancy.)

Friday Jams

Had this one in my head this morning:

It seems vaguely appropriate, given that it’s Veteran’s Day. Though I can’t speak to what they are up to here in an informed way, I feel like the rousing feel of this song has an inspiring “rally the troops” kind of vibe without veering into militarism. Maybe it is because the military allusions are historical rather than contemporaneous. Anyway, I like what these guys are up to; they pull off the aesthetic.

I had never seen the official music video for this song, however, and it is criminally abbreviated! The actual song on the album (it is the lead off track, no less) is long and sprawling. That sort of thing can easily feel like too much, especially in the stripped-down, gritty punk genre that these guys come from. If you are going to have an epic, over-the-top, Civil-War-meets-New-Jersey-punk singalong, you had better own it. The full version of the song is able to pull this off. They are able to be anthemic while stopping just short of cheesy. The video fits the song well but it is a shame it is only half the song.

To compensate for this, here is a live version of the full song, the best quality I could find in a quick search (note to self, attend one of their shows if they come around):

And finally, in the interest of completeness, the full album version (with just the album cover as the video image):