I guess you could argue that writing songs about the end of high school and turning 18 is the easiest way to get people to connect with the music on a more personal level. Combine the lyrics with the innocence of lo-fi pop and you’ve probably got an album that’ll catch a lot of people’s attention. Regardless of what your own high school life was like, Dying Adolescence has probably got you covered. It’s easier for you to just listen yourself. The lyrics are all available on the Z tapes page, and the cassette can be picked up here.
It’s pretty common knowledge that there’s something about Iceland that turns regular musicians into fantastic artists. I mean, it’s not difficult to make a list of some fantastic acts to come out of Iceland. Múm, Sin Fang, Seabear, amiina, and Pascal Pinon would just be the start of a very long list of both well-known and less known artists. Your guess about how it came to be like this is as good as mine. Maybe something about the long nights, maybe the nature is more inspiring.
This time it’s Sóley Stefánsdóttir I’ve been listening to. Her first solo album since 2011 (she’s also a member of Seabear) was released early in 2015, around springtime. I could’ve sworn I listened to it back then, but it still felt like today was the first time I actually heard it. For an album released during spring this one sure feels cold and much more fit for winter. Dark and brooding lyrics performed with the familiar Icelandic accent over the accompanying drums, strings and piano.
Oddly enough the album closes out with Dreamers and Lost Ship, and while the lyrics on the latter can be a bit morbid (Maybe it’s best\If I kill you right now\You’ll be my guest\And I’ll show you how), they both seem more warm than the preceding 8 tracks, in particular Dreamers.
Like two-three years ago, after listening to an album in full, I’ go looking for reviews written for it when it first released. Seems counter-intuitive I guess, for the most part reviews are supposed to help someone that’s on the fence decide whether or not it’s worth giving the record a listen, the movie a watch, or the book a read. I liked reading reviews because it was a way to find out if others felt the same way about an album that I did. I didn’t really write my own reviews much back then, I’d just share whatever music I liked on a blog with a couple words and links. All the reviews would talk in length about the emotions and feelings the albums and the songs displayed, the deeper meaning of lyrics, and all I had to say was that «this is good and makes me feel nice.»
For the most part I’m still like that. My reviews don’t actually discuss the music as much as you’d expect an album review to do. It’s just thoughts that I want to put down on paper. Or in this case, a computer screen. I guess I got fed up with the reviewing style of pages like Pitchfork and Paste that try to make the review seem like as much of an artwork as the review. It just came off as pretentious.
But here’s Johanna Warren with nūmūn, released in May 2015, right about when I got into Vaporwave and didn’t listen to anything else for a couple of months. I only recently realized how much music I actually missed out on, but I guess there’s not really a rush to get through as much content as possible. nūmūn is in a lot of ways very similar to Warren’s 2013 debut, Fates, with the exception that Fates handles somewhat different subject and seems to emanate a more eerie nature than her new album. Both releases are acoustic indie folk releases, mostly just Warren’s voice and her guitar, occasionally accompanied by piano and what sounds like a single flute assisting in setting the ambiance just right. nūmūn demands your attention, it’s intense, honest, rich and piercing. A highly recommended listen.
I get the concept of end-of-year lists from a personal perspective. People with different tastes sharing lists of which albums they preferred over others that year. Which tunes and which sounds that had a big impact on their life, songs you should give a chance if you haven’t already. I don’t get the point with major publications doing end-of-year lists. Look, I’m not arguing that their lists are shit and that they only share mainstream music or some other argument you’d see 14-year-old me make, I’m just saying that what’s the point in saying that «these albums that 99% of you have already heard are the best of this year»? Sure it’s neat to see your favorite artist get acknowledged for their work, and I’m sure they’re really happy to see that they’re Pitchfork #1, but the lists are pointless to me.
And before you say that there are plenty of publications that focus on different types of music and there are plenty of websites dedicated to showcasing the works of those not yet famous, I know. A lot of genre-specific websites do their own lists with music only from a single genre and it’s sub-genres, and other publications might do lists of «names to follow in 2016» to showcase the little ones, and I appreciate these. I skim through a lot of lists like this between December and February. I’m talking about the major major publications with actual sway and influence.
Whatever, I’m babbling on about something few cares about. I found Heather Woods Broderick’s Glider on a stranger on the web’s personal favorites of 2015, and for once it’s from an artist I’ve at least heard of before. Sort of, anyway. She did a song with Nils Frahm a couple of years ago that I only got around to listening to this summer, but I never really looked her up after that. I was more interested in the Frahm side of things. I’m surprised that I recognized the name and decided to check out this release, because it’s absolutely one that you should play for yourself, and then your friends.
Glider is dreamy Chamber Pop, and apparently also «Slowcore», which I now know is a genre that doesn’t sound anything like I’d expect it to sound. It’s a fairly stripped down release. It’s lo-fi, but not in the same way that a lot of bedroom pop producers might sound. It’s a gentle voice riding gentle harmonies with the occasional pluck of a guitar. While the record as a whole just seems to emanate sadness, it’s never overwhelming, it feels more comforting than dreary.
I’m really hoping there wont be another 6 year wait for the next full album release from Heather Woods Broderick.
It’s January 1st, 2016, and like every year I’ve decided I want to write more reviews, and hopefully slowly become better at writing these things. It’s not a resolution or anything, it’s just somewhat of a tradition for me to start every year by saying it. I suppose traditions are supposed to be kept.
As often is the case with releases I write reviews about, I’ve never heard of Emily Ulman before. I guess, for me, writing a review is always easier when you don’t have any expectations going in other than a genre tag on a Bandcamp page. This one says «acoustic», «folk» and «indie pop». Two tags that have basically lost their meaning entirely, and acoustic, which… I mean it doesn’t say much about the type of sound I’ll be hearing anyway.
I guess the tags fit quite well though. Wear it Well is 11 carefully crafted songs with Ulman’s soft voice trilling over warm acoustic guitar melodies occasionally accompanied by wind and string instruments. Saying it’s simple would be unfair, but calling it not too complicated should be fine. It’s good, and it’s worth a second listen.
There’s this small part of me that could never really give up on Emo completely. I’d have Sunny Day Real Estate, Brand New and American Football playing all day every day, sometimes putting on the screamo tones of pageninetynine or Orchid. By the time Sorority Noise came along with Young Luck, I had almost completely given up on the genre. It didn’t really appeal to me anymore, bar a listen or two on a slow Sunday or tired Monday, and I’d never stray from the bands I already knew.
I hadn’t even heard of Sorority Noise till about a month ago, when I got told I should check out their split with Somos from last year. Though the latter’s parts off the EP was a far more enjoyable listen, I noted down Sorority Noise’s sophomore effort in my calendar to check it out when it dropped. I checked out their debut album, Forgettable, which makes for an extremely easy joke. At least, listening to Forgettable lowered my expectations for their sophomore effort, and going into a new album with low or no expectations is probably the best way I could ever start listening to something.
I’m glad I wrote down Joy, Departed on my calendar, and I’m glad Sorority Noise was recommended to me. It definitely leans more towards some sort of indie rock/power pop fusion, but it’s still an emo album, and it’s still an excellent album. It’s personal, it’s emotional, and to me, the album works as a transition from old to new for Joy, Departed, with the first half of the album sounding a lot like Forgettable, and the latter feeling more like a descent into depression that is easy to relate to, with the occasional beautiful moments coming out of Mononokay» and «Using». It’s this latter half that I fell for, but the album definitely needs to be listened to from track 1 through 10.
My listening habits these days are all over the place, but I always seem to end up back on bandcamp trawling through the catalogues of Business Casual, Commercial Dreams, or DMT Tapes FL. I haven’t really used Bandcamp that much before I got hooked on Vaporwave, but these days it’s basically my homepage. I mean, it would be my homepage if I still used homepages. What I’m trying to say is, there’s always a Bandcamp tab open. Following a dozen labels, a couple «curators», if I can call them that, and a couple artists means I will almost always have some new music on my feed since my last refresh.
Today, that was Dante Mars Ajetos newest release, ㅇㄱㄹㅇ １９８８. I’ve been a big fan of this guy ever since I heard his debut LP, Ｌｉｆｅ Ｅｎｔｅｒｐｒｉｓｅｓ, over on DMT Tapes, and I’ve yet to be disappointed by anything I’ve heard. combining Vaporwave, Future Funk and Nu-Disco to create something that I can’t imagine people would dislike. ㅇㄱㄹㅇ １９８８ starts and ends in a more relaxed way with This Is Real １９８８ and 사랑이뭐예요？, with 3-minute breaks in the sun-soaked nu-disco of How I Feel About U~ and a trip down future funk lane with Lookin’ for Love. There’s even the half-time vaporshow with Commitments 2. Too Many Times and a sweet collaboration with 陽神L O R D S U N on Lookin’ For Love.
Pick it up for the low low price of whatever-you-want over on Business Casual.