Xenia Rubinos- Black Terry Cat
From the outsider, the illegibility of high-register output. Are those screams of joy, suprise, anguish, elation? That can’t be a funeral, because it is loud. This can’t be a protest, because there are not delineated endgoals. Xenia Rubinos has written and performed and sung a challenge, not only to slow-poison power structures, but to herself, to critics driving themselves to defensiveness trying to pin down this album, to you, to do something that helps you, whatever that is. Black Terry Cat is a party, one where the cops show up, and that is the most terrifying option.
Meat Market- Dig Deep
Smear cement on your face. Drink coffee backwards. Spraypaint a house on the side of a house and then walk into that house you made and live there. Spraypaint some curtains on the house you made. Spraypaint them closed. Listen to Dig Deep.
Leonard Cohen- You Want It Darker
I’m the type to think planned final statements are, largely, bullshit. You Want it Darker might be Leonard Cohen’s best album. Everyone else halts at some point in the confidence of their passing. Cohen doesn’t break his stride.
Martha- Blisters in the Pit of My Heart /
Thin Lips- Riff Hard
The boldness where you haven’t been touched by the weight of the fact, just because it is your first time, it’s not anyone else’s first time. Or the boldness where you know it isn’t anybody’s first time any more, ever, but you say it like it could be. Or the boldness where the first time is precisely what you need to think about, breath in, walk around draped over your shoulders like a thrift-store winter coat you vaguely remember owning, and so you make it so. Or the boldness where ???
Blood Orange- Freetown Sound
Three comparisons reaching for accuracy
The album I come back to for this one is Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. It doesn’t matter that probably hundreds of double albums are released every year. It doesn’t matter that Cupid Deluxe, Dev Hynes’s last release, was also a double album. I hold Freetown Sound and Mellon Collie albums in the same hand because both are epic-scope albums with the early lifespan in their targets. While the Smashing Pumpkins chronicle White, suburban upbringing. from the frenzied tenderness of sneaking upstairs at house parties to seismic-scaled angst, Dev Hynes focuses on the lives of black boys and girls, and so both the threat and the levity feel less metaphorical.
In the same way that Moonlight brought gravity and significance to lives typically labeled disposable—people who are less than, because they brought it upon themselves—Freetown Sound offers a similar validation- your thoughts, your future, your life matters.
Walking past a tree fallen perfectly from the bottom. Those roots circumferencing out from the trunk. The work never seen that went into that height, that stability, those decades of life, now made visible. You would have never guessed.
Preoccupations- S/T /
Danny Brown- Atrocity Exhibition
The house of mirrors where there are no mirrors, no echo, no familiar scents, no light, no prescription refills, no unread messages. Then the last room, which feels scarier than the rest.
In the house of mirrors where the soundtrack is Preoccupations, that room is all mirrors.
In the house of mirrors where Danny Brown is playing, that room is the exit.
Modern Baseball- Holy Ghost
It isn’t even about the place namedropping (although I like the place namedropping, because I happen to live in the place, and it’s kind of weird to wring another layer, a thick, woolen layer out of the blocks I walk every day), Holy Ghost is the most Philly album this year. “Waking up every day is all about/Doing things you don’t want to do/But your reward is you get to wake up.”
Kera and the Lesbians- S/T
The party stays up all night. The party cleans its mouth out. The party smokes a cigarette out the window. The party drinks some water. The party cleans up empties. The party goes to the liquor store. The party thinks about adopting a shelter dog from the ASPCA van in the parking lot. The party responds to missed texts. The party reads a book on the bus, until the bus breaks down. The party goes to the voting booth. The party falls down the stairs from Sunset to Glendale near the end of an otherwise fantastic third date. Excuse me, have you been drinking?
2011 you are not pulling your weight.
Ok. Maybe you believe this. Maybe you believe this because Leonard Cohen published his first book of poems before he released his debut album. He wrote out this song like the difference between first and second degree murder. Premeditated. You believe this because the first verse of this song are some of the least ambiguous lyrics Cohen had penned up to this point in his career.
Sometimes I find I get to thinking of the past.
We swore to each other then that our love would surely last.
You kept right on loving, I went on a fast,
now I am too thin and your love is too vast.
But perhaps you believe the wrong thing. How much do you believe Cohen when he sings, “for a while?” Do you take him at his word? You might, and that might be the fault of that stupid Jew’s Harp that zips around your eardrums as you listen to Cohen spill his guts. It makes the song seem somehow like a joke. It’s a deflator, that stupid Jew’a Harp. It also could be that Cohen doesn’t attack the song. He sings it like he’s Leonard Cohen, like he’s speaking low because there’s a memorial service next door for someone he wishes he could be mourning, and so you might be prone to believe him when sings, “Tonight will be fine, will be fine, will be fine
for a while.”
I love it when Leonard Cohen goes off-book. It only happens rarely, and even when he does, when his bricks move slightly so you can see a beating heart behind them, he does it on his own terms. Cohen’s first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, is wonderful, but it is also stoic for forty of its forty-one minutes. Then, on the last minute of the album’s last song, “One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong,” he lets everything out. Cohen wails, maybe hammered out of his head, but certainly out of his element, and the album ends with his tantruming gyre. It’s a magnificent, breathtaking shift.
The story goes that they woke Cohen up at 3 AM after Hendrix had just driven the audience into a death spiral and asked him, the Stoic Canadian Poet, to get on up stage (in his pajamas!) to calm them down. Cohen acquiesced, but he changed first and did a sound check. By the time Cohen got on stage after 4 AM, there was something tense in the breathing air, the story goes. And while the Stoic Canadian Poet did not light his electric guitar on fire or yell or scream, while he may have calmed the audience, he made no qualms or promises concerning reassurance. His voice sounds worried, as if he looked out at his crowd of 600,00 people, a metropolis of shifting youth, and had no easy answer. He sounds fatigued and groggy and tired, but at the same time, absolutely comfortable with this song and what it means. What he’s saying here, which the album version doesn’t, is No. No it won’t.
Or see this, which is roughly the same.