I've had this post sitting in my drafts for nearly a month. I keep meaning to make the finishing touches and post it, but I keep pushing it off.
BUT NO LONGER.
Death Grips and Radiohead demand attention. These albums below are excellent. But Christ... Death Grips and Radiohead, people.
Here's what I was listening to in a pre-Bottomless Pit/Moon Shaped Pool world.
Lemon Demon - Spirit Phone
When I sit and think about this album, I am positive that I should hate it. It's silly. It has maximalist, almost grating production values. It features a song about a man who becomes fused with an arcade video game and says "I won't hurt you unless you cheat." But dammit, when I listen to this album, I fucking love it.
This thing is pop gold. The hooks on here are incredibly infectious. And behind that cloying, maximalist production is actually a lot of little moving parts that really add to the character of this thing.
This album kind of sounds like Ford & Lopatin's Channel Pressure, but if they had been more influenced by ELO and if it had been written by a frustrated 12 year old with strange notions of what is "totally rad". So, basically this album was written by Pee-Wee Herman. It's simultaneously innocent and raunchy in weird ways, and the lyrics play more like surrealist lit than they do as immature self-expression.
There are plenty of highlights on this album, but one I absolutely must mention is the song "Sweet Bod". It's about a guy who wants to encase his deceased(?) lover(?) in honey to preserve that "sweet bod". And hands down, the most catchy moment on the entire album comes when he sings:
Strictly confectional (Strictly confectional)
Strictly medicinal (Strictly medicinal)
If a little nontraditional
Colin Stetson - Sorrow, a re-imagining of Gorecki's 3rd Symphony
This Colin Stetson record is nothing short of breathtaking. Anyone familiar with Stetson's work knows he absolutely slays the saxophone. Just watch the video below as proof:
On Sorrow, however, Stetson introduces the first movement with low rumblings from his baritone sax, but is soon overshadowed by the growing swell of strings, horns, voice, and electric guitar. Stetson's sax is not the star here. While it provides an invaluable deep register to these songs, the true star is literally everyone else. The strings are sweeping, the horns have a muted sadness to them, the guitar soars, and the lone vocalist evokes an emotional performance the likes of which I've never heard before (but then I am pretty unfamiliar with operatic singing).
But therein lies the genius of Stetson. His arrangement is an ode to the piece itself. There are no sax virtuosos to speak of. The arrangement is minimal yet integral; if you took away one instrument, it would lose a critical part of the piece. Stetson's arrangement is both traditional and modern; true to the original arrangement while breathing new life into the piece.
I realize this music is about as far from "rock" as one can get, and the addition of electric guitar and drumkit does not automatically make it a rock album, but I can't help but make this snarky comment: Colin Stetson has made the first Post-Rock album worth listening to.
Death Grips and Radiohead in one weekend. Shit, what a weekend.