Author: Matthew Barlow

Dilly Dally — Heaven

Dilly Dally Heaven Partisan My generation is always dissing on the Millennials for this, that, and the other thing.  They eat too many avocados.  They think they’re the first generation to get screwed. And so on.  But one wonderful thing that the kids have done is give us a 90s alternative rock revival. Big, loud guitars. But they’ve taken Gen X one step better, it tends to be women behind these guitars.  Think Courtney Barnett.  Or Camp Cope.  Or Jenn Cloher (to be fair, she’s one of us, she’s my age).  And so on.  So that brings us to the Toronto outfit, Dilly Dally.  Along with having a great name, Dilly Dally bring the noise. Their first album, Sore, came out in 2015, and was long-listed for the Polaris Prize.  And they toured the hell out of the album and nearly imploded.  So it took awhile for the band to recover and regroup.  And then, of course, the global clusterfuck of 2016-17.  And so, frontwoman Katie Monks had to dig deep for the songs on their stellar new album, Heaven. Heaven hits hard.  Very hard, and lead guitarist Liz Ball hits like a tonne of Billy Corgan filtered through the past three decades.  Monks and Ball are like Corgan and James Iha Redux.  But I feel this does them a disservice, they’re not the Smashing Pumpkins II.  They’re better than that.  They’re...

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Public Image Ltd. — The Public Image is Rotten (Songs from the Heart)

Public Image Ltd. The Public Image is Rotten (Songs from the Heart) Virgin PiL hasn’t been on Virgin Records in a long-time, since the early 90s, before the official break occasioned by John Lydon returning to the Sex Pistols to make filthy lucre on tour.  But, here we are, with a 5-set compilation from Virgin that includes some tracks of the two most recent PiL albums, This is PiL (2012) and What the World Needs Now (2015), both of which they released themselves.  There isn’t really a lot to report here in a lot of ways. Despite vague promises of never-before-heard tracks and remixes, there isn’t a lot here a dedicated fan hasn’t heard, and most of it was on the Plastic Box boxset in 1999.  But, it is worth noting that this compilation is the soundtrack to a new documentary about PiL of the same name. But what I found interesting about this compilation is that I have always thought that whilst PiL is Lydon’s bus, it is impossible to take its ouevre as a single, digestible piece.  PiL is best understood in periods.  The first period, which included the brilliant Jah Wobble on bass and Keith Levene on guitar, officially ended when Levene wandered off in 1983.  Wobble had left in 1980. From 1983 to 1985, PiL was essentially Lydon and drummer extraordinaire Martin Atkins (one of the best Twitter follows...

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Deafhaven — Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

Deafhaven Ordinary Corrupt Human Love Anti- Deafhaven ain’t your average metal band.  They’re also hard to pin down, their albums all sound divergent from each other, which is unusual, really.  Bands usually find a sound and stick with it, or at the least, their evolutions are more predictable.  And even across albums, the sound evolves and changes, incorporating elements from everything from metal to post-rock and everything in between.  Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, despite its cynical title, is both a beautiful and heavy album. It starts with a spoken word story read by Nadia Kury over a beautiful piano riff and soaring guitars on ‘You Without End.’ Vocalist George Clarke’s howling madman vocals get buried in the mix on this track and it generally remains so throughout the album.  So, in a way, Clarke’s voice becomes another instrument, and one that remains at odds with the shimmery guitars and steady rhythms of the band on Corrupt Love.  On ‘Honeycomb,’ the second track, a heavy Black Sabbath by way of Faith No More riff holds sway and Clarke’s voice shimmies over the guitars and beat before a lulling ending punctuated by a hypnotizing bit of guitar.  And this is what seems the biggest difference in this album from earlier ones, the two guitarists, Kerry McCoy and Shiv Mehra, play melodic, shimmery bits more than gut-slamming riffs and shredding metal guitars, though the...

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Angélique Kidjo — Remain in the Light

Angélique Kidjo Remain in the Light Kravenworks In 1980, Talking Heads released their landmark Remain in the Light.  Working, as usual, with Brian Eno, the band was attempting to prove it was a band and not just one talking head in front of a group.  So they retreated to the Bahamas, listening to a lot of Fela Kuti and getting into African polyrhythms, as well as electronics and loops.  Meanwhile, frontman David Byrne conquered writer’s block by looking to early hip hop to come up with his patented stream of consciousness lyrical style.  It was, to that point, their first Top 20 album in the US, and it set them on a long road of exploring African grooves and sounds in their music, culminating in their swansong album, 1988’s Naked.  Since then, Byrne, America’s beloved eccentric, has been all over the place musically. So when Beninese singer, and legend in her own right, Angélique Kidjo announced her plans to re-record the album, it all made perfect sense.  As she tells it, she first heard ‘Once in a Lifetime’ in a café in Paris after fleeing war-torn Benin in the early 80s, and she was studying jazz at the Centre d’informations musicales, and she was hooked.  She says she thought it was African music. So she takes Remain in the Light and makes it a right, proper Afrobeat album, down to Fela Kuti’s...

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Santigold: I Don’t Want: The Gold Fire Sessions

Santigold I Don’t Want: The Gold Fire Sessions Downtown Records Santigold has always struck me as an exhaustive artist, meaning she is careful about the curation of her public self as viewed through her music.  So it was a surprise when The Gold Fire Sessions dropped as a sudden mixtape last week with no real warning.  Actually, no warning at all.  Suddenly, there it was. This is new territory for her, essentially the mix is a dub-fired collection of Jamaican-influenced music.  Working with Dre Skull in the studio, on music for someone else, she suddenly got influenced and inspired to do this.  She describes it as a mixtape because it’s her with someone else, though she acknowledges that a true mix is usually the artist with a bunch of different people.  Whatever, don’t care. This is her first mixtape since 2008, and she’s been, uh, rather busy of late, giving birth to twins (she recorded parts of this mix whilst 9 months pregnant) moving to the City of Angels and prepping to open for Ms. Lauryn Hill’s coming tour, though Ms. Hill appears to be busy cancelling dates on that jaunt.  This is her summer party mix. And it is that.  With big, phat dub beats, Santigold’s beautiful voice wraps around the spaces in between the beats, smoothing over classic reggae guitars and other flourishes.  She has described the lyrics...

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