The fourth episode of the Distant Stations podcast is now live.
Topics of discussion: Lucero’s 1372 Overton Park, The New Radical’s Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too, thinly-disguised hero worship of David Duchovny and John Darnielle, and a double dose of Sufjan Stevens (with guest reviewer Ansley).
Well, that was a rough one. Ryan Adams’ latest effort, Prisoner, is a harrowing, and barely disguised, outpouring of catharsis stemming from his recent divorce and subsequent life apart from Mandy Moore. You can sense her presence, or perhaps rather her absence, looming in every corner of this album. You can hear the breakdown threatening to occur in every note Adams sings. It’s such a deeply personal thing that at times you almost feel bad for listening to it. Almost, but not quite.
I know I’m a day late to the party here, but here’s a Valentine’s-themed playlist to soundtrack the rest of your week. Whether you’re a grumbling cynic or a hopeless romantic, there’s something for you here – 31 songs about love, heartbreak, secretive trysts, and Kafka’s sex life. Enjoy.
The third episode of the Distant Stations podcast is now live.
Topics of discussion: Is Beyonce a rock star and other Grammy related-questions, the impending doom and possible resurrection of college radio, Neko Case’s Blacklisted, Tsunami Bomb’s The Ultimate Escape, Deep Sea Diver’s Secrets (with guest reviewer Markie).
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.
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.