Third Wave Metaphor (Tove Lo, Lady Wood review)

Wiz Khalifa is something of an enigma, he jumped off the lot with Black and Yellow back in 2010, but did you know he had been generating buzz since about 2005? And ever since then he’s collaborated with a ton of other crowd disturber personalities. Did you know he has over 100 collaborative efforts?

He must have some kinda influence? And guess what, he paired up with another Swedish shit disturber to riff on the subject of influence. And she’s on the docket for a review this week too…

Tove Lo – Lady Wood
released October 28, 2016
******** 8/10

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Ebba Tove Elsa Nilsson, better known by her stage name Tove Lo, is a Swedish singer and songwriter.

Lo formed the Swedish rock band Tremblebee in 2006, but when that group disbanded, she pursued a song-writing career and was able to get a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell music in 2011. By 2014 she secured an incredible arrangement with Wolf Cousins that led to a record deal with Island and Polydor. Tove Lo has now released two studio length albums, the first being Queen of the Clouds, and most recently the two-part concept album Lady Wood.

In addition to solo work, Lo was a co-writer on Hilary Duff’s Sparks and Ellie Goulding’s Love Me like You Do. She has also worked with Coldplay, Flume, Nick Jonas, Years & Years, Seven Lions, and Wiz Khalifa, among others. Lo is known rather openly for her autobiographical lyrical content and the often dark tone which moves the narrative of each song forward. She is also quite comfortable with indulging love, sex, and death wherever and whenever she can.

For instance, in anticipation of her album release, Tove Lo just released an accompanying short film called Fairy Dust which pairs with and features tracks from Lady Wood. It ‘s directed by Tim Erem and stars both actress Lina Esco an Tove Lo in various vignettes which tell a slick story with a strong third wave feminist bend to it. I can’t say too much about the explicit direction of the story (and it is explicit, too explicit for YouTube), but it is rather conceptual and definitely not something to open at work or around the kiddies.

Part I is about the movement towards sex – anticipation, indulgence, consideration, consequence.

Yeah you give me wood, give me lady wood – This is the anthem of this first half of the album. Whether it’s about the addictive nature of lust on Influence, the technical and literal of what happens to a woman’s chemistry on Lady Wood, debauchery and complexity of emotion serviced via synthesizers on True Disaster, the allure of having fun and hooking up on Cool Girl (an homage to the Gone Girl persona), and finally that feeling of love as it overtakes your sensations delivered via Vibes.

Part II is the aftermath of it all – loneliness, vulnerability, complexity, withdrawal.

It’s darker and dejected, almost like that afterglow is gone, but the energy of desire hasn’t returned just yet. Don’t talk about it, sweep it under the rug like we do, do – and such is the anthem of the second half of this album. The questioning hedonist, wondering if the consequences have been worth it, but still alone. Don’t Talk About It is an expression of lamentation, while Imaginary Friend is more of a defence mechanism against haters, Keep It Simple an update on Habits (Stay High) because she’s still struggling but older, while Flashes is straight up self-awareness minced with self-hate, and last but not least, WTF Love Is audibly shows the problems she faces, confusion about her identity and desires. She has emotions she cannot harness and yet she wants something personal.

Ultimately, you might not “like” her music, but it’s really difficult not to get on board with Tove Lo and her natural ability to produce a strong set of tracks. Lady Wood is clever, catchy, and conscious. I cannot believe I read this in The National of all places, but they’re on point. Tove Lov is making the closest thing to punk rock EDM as is possible right now. It’s dark and desperate, but her sense of counter culture is ever-present – She’s under the influence, and this is the best place in the world.

 

 

 

Let’s close this review out with a dovetail. You should probably listen to this album. But you’re an adult and you can make up your own mind. So I’ll let you think on it. But if Wiz Khalifa is into it, and he managed one of the biggest hits of all time via See You Again, then it’s time to stand up and listen. Could just be a theory though.

Tim!

See The Math Of It (The Dillinger Escape Plan, Dissociation review)

Saying goodbye is incredibly tough – Particularly if you don’t know if you’ll ever meet again. When all you have are memories from a painful departure, it numbs you to your core being.

You need to be thoughtful in your farewell messages, because once you do, there is no second chance. This week’s album review is an exercise is that experience. Someone leaves and the other stays behind.

The Dillinger Escape Plan – Dissociation
released October 14, 2016
******** 8/10

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The Dillinger Escape Plan are an American mathcore and heavy metal band which claimed their name from the bank robber John Dillinger. Founded in 1997 and born out of a hardcore punk group called Arcane, these guys have seen numerous roster changes over their 10 year tenure and 6 studio album showing.

Like the man, The Dillinger Escape Plan have successfully executed numerous projects which have given them creative control and an ability to dictate the course of their own trajectory despite numerous changes to the lineup, intentional and otherwise.

Dissociation marks the last time that TDEP will be performing together on tour. Initially thought to be an indefinite hiatus, lead singer Greg Puciato has since confirmed that the band will be breaking up once the tour ends in March 2017.

Let me start first by stating that I was disappointed to learn that TDEP would be breaking up after this record. As I immerse myself more fully in the music scene, especially in metal, I realize that there a number of fantastic groups that make metal music which I know absolutely nothing about. Dissociation feels like the right title knowing what we now know of the future. Whether the album is about the separation of it’s elements, literal or metaphorically, the foundations of the record are set up rather nicely with Limerent Death. A song that addresses the death of a romantic sentiment and the lingering frustrations therein. The follow up track Symptom of Terminal Illness is definitely more methodical and slow in it’s delivery.

Wanting Not So Much As To is one of my favourites on this album. I suspect it has something to do with the punk tones and howls featured throughout, plus it features melodic notes, spoken-word, and it all fits in together rather nicely in it’s instrumentation.

Fugue has great electronic influences, Low Feels Blvd is jazzy, while Surrogates and Honeysuckle feature prominent opening, middle, and closing sections.

Manufacturing Disconent is heavy. And in the past this would’ve been exactly the kind of song I stayed away from, but it’s considerably more interesting to consider it with the backup vocals and sampled audio. Taken as a whole, this song represents the creative ability of The Dillinger Escape Plan almost perfectly, and other critics have labelled it as a classic sound for them.

The final three tracks are all excellent in their own right – Apologies Not Included, Nothing to Forget, and title track Dissociation. It is the light at the end of tunnel. And as mentioned before whether literal or a metaphor, this song has a simple structure and even some hope of the future ahead. I blame the strings for that. They are beautifully included and introduce us to a very different side of The Dillinger Escape Plan. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye, but I suspect a great many replays of Dissociation in the years to come.

 

 

 

I’ve heard this idea that true friends don’t ever really say good-bye, they just take a sabbatical from each other, picking up the pieces easily upon reconnection. The Dillinger Escape Plan have had an excellent run, and while they may be leaving to pursue other opportunities, the memories they have made will last a lifetime, even better because we have a musical record. That could just be a theory though.

Tim!

Roll Your R’s (Green Day, Revolution Radio review)

Experience will teach you a lot. For instance, I couldn’t roll my r’s until someone taught me how. And granted it’s probably a useless skill, but I hear that some chicks enjoy it when you kiss ’em with that level of dedication.

Just something to think about, you creative cuties.

Green Day – Revolution Radio
released October 7, 2016
******** 8/10

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Green Day is an American punk band that formed in 1986, the year after I was born. They’ve released twelve studio albums to date, starting with the Lookout! produced 39/Smooth. This was followed up by Kerplunk in 1992, the year my baby brother was born. But in 1994 they released the album that caught my attention and introduced it all for me, Dookie. I must’ve listened to that cassette over a 100 times with my BFF.

9 year old’s listening to 22 years play punk rock. Everything about that statement just makes me smile.

Green Day have made twelve studio albums over their career, one of them a rock opera that went on to become a broadway play, another three that were released in the same year, and they’ve got a movie in the works too. Let me just put it to rest right quick, Revolution Radio is a return to form for Green Day, and while I love him, Meanthony Jerktano is wrong in his review of this record.

These guys are making punk rock which is self-referential and intimate, focused on the fact that they lived a fast life, but are finally in the throws of middle age. I suspect they thought the might burn out first. What do you do when the genre you helped define is turning into a dirty word? Keep doing you.

Revolution Radio takes from the missteps that were Uno! Dos! and Tre! and presents an idea, protest.

It’s not the kind of music that has profound or beautiful effects, but I don’t think we should be looking for that from these guys. Somewhere Now pulls from The Who, while Bang Bang assumes the identity of a murderer who wants to be internet famous. The next single (and title track) Revolution Radio is catchy and maturely constructed, referencing the Black Lives Matter movement at one point, and followed up by Say Goodbye another song which looks outward to challenge the issues of the day.

Surprisingly enough I find the album gets even better once we get into the middle of it. Outlaws is reminiscent of American Idiot days, and I think is probably the reason why so many critics are saying Revolution Radio is the spiritual third in the real trilogy of American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown. Also, Bouncing Off the Wall is great, fun and loud – It’s a call back to older Green Day sounds.

Still Breathing takes up back to the political injustices and tells a story through the eyes of three separate protagonists, tying it with Youngblood for my essential tracks of the record.

The remaining songs are great too, Too Dumb To Die features that nostalgia I mentioned earlier, while Troubled Times pairs well sonically. Forever Now is another American Idiot callback, and the closing track Ordinary World is by far the most interesting and up there for me in value – it asks the question of what life would look like if Green Day were in an ordinary world, and it’s clever.

 

 

 

Green Day have a wealth of experience at this point in their lives, and despite having some concerns about what they should be doing with their lives, I think they are on the right path. After all, they symbolically burned the music carrier which got their name out there in the first place.

These guys can take a seemingly useless talent and turn it into a sweet melody, so I say let them play. But hey, that’s just a theory.

Tim!

 

Let It Go (Every Time I Die, Low Teens review)

I’m not the biggest fan of winter. Like at all. I should have a better taste for it as my ancestors are a variety of European types, but for whatever reason, I was a skinny kid with a fair complexion. So I hated winter. Like a lot.

It makes me want to scream into a microphone.

Thankfully, I found my winter jam just in time – So enjoy it along with me dear readers.

Every Time I Die – Low Teens
released September 23, 2016
******** 8/10

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Every Time I Die is an American metalcore group that have been around for almost 20 years. Known for their energetic shows and ability to infuse meaning with melody, Every Time I Die have been with Epitaph records since 2008, and were with Ferret Music before that.

I probably sound like a crotchety old man, but I fucking love most artists signed to Epitaph records, so vis a vis, I love Every Time I Die. Maybe that’s a juvenile or closed minded way to look at the subject, but come on people I’ve reviewed everything from pop, to hip hop, to metal, to jazz, and everything in between in the past year, which should tell you that I may have favourites, but I play a bit of everything to continuously expand my sonic ability.

Now let’s get down to business.

Low Teens was recorded in the midst of winter, but it has a surprising amount of heat behind it – these guys decided to focus their already biting sound and circle pit tendencies on a rather somber and enduring note of the frailty of life. For instance, frontman Keith Buckley almost lost his wife and daughter during pregnancy complications while the album was being recorded.

Which is awesome, given that these guys have never had a slump of quality in their long run, despite a few lineup changes over the years.

Let’s start with album opener Fear and Trembling which is a duel between Buckley and death itself, and he stands firm in the belief that he’ll follow death straight into the pit itself if he loses the battle for his loved ones. This is quickly followed up by the speed and precision of Glitches, one of the albums singles and a great way to keep us engaged.

C++ is yet another track that explores death and that pleading for another sweet moment with a woman on life support. Seriously haunting.

Track number four, Two Summers is somewhat divisive, as it deviates from the typical sound of the band somewhat, but damn it if it doesn’t have a great southern drawl, and I cannot seem to place my finger on what song it reminds me of, so hopefully one of you will help me out.

The adventure continues onward and upward with I Didn’t Want To Join Your Stupid Cult Anyway, It Remembers, and Petal. Only gaining in steam and energy. It’s not until we hear The Coin Has A Say, that we take pause and recall a time when ETID was a bit younger and less world weary. When we finally reach album closer Map Change, the audience is primed and the stage is set for a song that really addresses the cold of winter AKA hell.

As is so consistent with their track record, throughout the years, the track record on this album is one of both chaos and order. A challenge well met.

 

 

 

Everything is coming up roses Buckley screams in bonus track Skin WIthout Bones, and I have to agree with him. This album is reliable and also noteworthy. If you’ve been wavering on the fence about whether you should listen to Every Time I Die, now’s the time to give them a chance. They’re made of the right stuff.

Tim!

Shut Up, Kiss Me, Hold Me Tight (Angel Olsen, My Woman review)

Ever read Peter Pan dear readers? Or watch one of the many animated and live action movies that exist? Well, there is this idea out there that Peter Pan didn’t want to grow up and so he stayed in a state of perpetual childhood.

Now, in the media it’s become rather common to refer to those who engage in youthful behaviour without wanting to or feeling unable to grow up as having Peter Pan syndrome. It’s not considered as a psychological condition, but there is definitely a movement.

But what about people who oppose the normative behaviour and also experience that full range of emotions, are they still called adults?

 

 

 

Angel Olsen – My Woman
released September 2, 2016
********** 10/10

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Angel Olsen is an American folk and indie rock singer and guitarist. She also manages to channel some punk, western country and psychadelic rock when needed – Olsen is incredibly sorrowful, uncut, raw, and mindful. And from what I’ve heard it only took her 3 full-length albums to get there. *cough* Anthony Fantano *cough*

This is what grunge should have sounded like if it had some ska in it. Eat your heart out Nirvana and No Doubt. Or to put it another way, and ironically it breaks my heart to say this, this is a much stronger version of anything that Leslie Feist has ever put out. And I love me some Feist. Like, I can’t even – you have no idea what Leslie Feist did to my dumb little punk rock heart in 2005. Go listen to Let It Die, Open Season, and The Reminder after listening to this and tell me I’m not right. I dare you. It’s not gonna kill you.

Which incidentally is my favourite track on this little piece of album gold. I mean she even has a song called Heart Shaped Face, that just has to be a send up to Nirvana. It just has to.

Olsen does something special on every single track. She uses the best instrument she has, her voice, and arranges the melody accordingly to carry the weight of each message. The first half of the record starts out as woefully naive and volatile with its themes of love, but the back half puts itself it the shoes of one who has loved and lost, dealing with regret and that bitter disenchantment that dulls the edge of each love ventured.

The thing about excellent country music is that it doesn’t have to be about dead dogs, broken trucks or marriages ruined. It has to be authentic to the artist it represents, paying homage to what came before, but also owning the moment of what is. If I had to pick a track to represent the back half it would probably be Sister an epic of growing up and growing apart and rather well put by Olsen herself – you fall together, fall apart. A close second would have to be slow burner Pops, which if you haven’t fallen in love with Angel Olsen after listening to nine songs, I don’t know what to tell you.

This is an album of many tones, and I know it might come off cliche but she is in rare form and easily becomes my woman.

 

 

 

I would never accuse Angel Olsen of being a victim of Peter Pan syndrome, especially because it’s almost exclusively associated with men. But nonetheless, the question of love, lust, and loss are intertwined throughout this musical endeavour. What starts out as a youthful and naive look at love slowly turns into something much darker and more intimate and My Woman is seriously my favourite album of the year as a result. We’ll have to see what’s in store for the rest of the year, but with less than four months to go, you’ll want to snag a copy of this, lest you get left all alone.

Tim!