Japandroids has always been a frenetic, freight train of a band, blending the driving fury of classic rock and punk bands like Springsteen and The Replacements. 2012’s Celebration Rock was a perfect encapsulation of the duo’s aesthetic – eight gutpunching rock anthems barreling off into the night from the very first note, and never letting up until the very last. Sadly, Near to the Wild Heart of Life does not reach those same highs. While the record is cleaner, a more proper studio creation, than previous efforts, it suffers from its abundance of polish. Ultimately, it is much tamer than its title would indicate.
With its sweeping orchestral flourishes and heart-on-its-sleeve lyrics, it’s pretty clear that Little Fictions, the seventh studio album from British band Elbow, is a love letter to someone. Nearly every song is infused with some kind of romantic sentiment, be it desperate longing to regret or stupidly giddy happiness at being with someone you adore. In the wrong hands, these songs could be overwrought, even saccharine. But the members of Elbow have twenty years of songcraft under their belt, and they know how to treat these tracks with the quiet tenderness and breathing space they deserve.
I don’t know about you but when I saw that they were making a Suicide Squad movie a few years ago, I was incredibly excited at the idea of seeing an on screen portrayal of one of my favorite female comic characters. The current character arcs show her as a strong, independent character who owns her sexuality, and works through extremely intense PTSD due to coming out of an abusive relationship with a psychopath. I was elated at the idea of seeing the idea of the “manic pixie dream girl” get turned on its ear and to have a powerhouse like Harley Quinn subvert the expectations.
However, after seeing the film, it turned out to be just another movie where a potentially interesting female character is treated like crap by an awful dude and its okay because “she’s craaaaaazy” or “well, she loves him and that’s just the way he is, she knows what she’s getting in to” …ugh.
I’m not sure I enjoy defaulting to calling out “the male gaze” in film, but its obvious what happened here. We came for Harley and we got 50 Shades of Problematic Patriarchal Bullshit instead.
What I’m saying is: I really wanted to like this album, but it was ultimately a letdown overall.
From the moment that Angelina’s eminently soulful voice (a long, low drawl that falls somewhere between Janis Joplin and Patsy Cline) kicks in on “Dark Heart,” it’s clear that Vagabond Soul is going to be a languorous journey through the farthest corners of Americana, a winding riverboat trip down a long, wide delta. Like many British musicians before her, the Isle of Wight native is heavily indebted to the blues tradition, and though she may not have been born or raised anywhere near the Mississippi, you’d hardly know it to listen to her.
Hot off the heels of my time with (The Blood Album) I’ve found myself diving back in to the wild world of early 2000s hardcore and pop-punk; for better or for worse. With that I’ve been doing a sort of “Where Are They Now?!” with my old mix CDs; trying to see if their new songs are more like Fuller House or The Godfather: Part 2.