Morrissey – ‘Low In High School’
Bigmouth strikes again. And while that might work in a musical context, the rest of its persona remains a subject of discussion.
Wait a second! The guy who recently wrote the ‘How My Sympathy For Morrissey Slowly Died‘ article is now recommending the album one week later? Yes, but that’s not the entire story and like I already wrote back then from a musical point of view, the eleventh album by the iconic British songwriter is actually pretty good. While it’s 2014 predecessor World Peace Is None Of Your Business was quite indecisive and partly suffered from Morrissey‘s fight against the record company shortly after its release back then, Low In High School delivers an outburst of confidence that continues his mid 00s You Are The Quarry winning streak. Released on his own label (finally) and distributed by BMG the album delivers sharp and massive production by acclaimed producer Joe Chiccarelli who polished the presence of Morrissey‘s band, making the whole squad sound massive, more confident and partly even more adventurous.
My Love I’d Do Anything For You is an outstanding opener (and one of his best songs in years) that comes with a mighty brass section while I Wish You Lonely puts a newly found fascination for electronic elements into focus, usually something that the maestro avoids. Low In High School benefits from more variety and good melodies, delivering the familiar anthems (Home Is A Question Mark), the atypical gloomy long tune (I Bury The Living) while not denying the singer’s love for Latin American vibes (Who Will Protect Us From The Police?). So, musically, Low In High School might be his finest album since 2006’s Ringleader Of The Tormentors but well, it’s quite tough to not see it in its lyrical content. Simplifications, stigmatization and a way too often odd drawing of conclusions define his most political LP so far, resulting in often cringe-worthy lyrics (‘Give me an order, I’ll blow up your daughter’ – Morrissey writing from the ‘perspective’ of a soldier). He can still be outstanding when he’s self-reflective and ironic (Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up On The Stage) but that part is underrepresented compared to the odd socio-critical one. But it’s how it’s always been with the Moz – you have to make up your own mind in the end. (Norman Fleischer)
Peter Broderick – ‘All Together Again’
Ever wondered what musicians do for a living aside from touring and releasing albums? This collection of neo-classical composer Peter Broderick’s commision works gives an impression.
Portland-based composer Peter Broderick is one of those restless characters in the buzzing genre of neo-classic. As part of the Erased Tapes family, collaborator of Nils Frahm and ambitious solo artist he surely can’t complain about his work load: There’s always some project to get involved in. This new record, All Together Again, tells the story of those projects. It gathers songs Broderick wrote for weddings (Our Future In Wedlock and The Walk), anniversaries (Emily), films (Robbie’s Song, Atlantic and Seeing Things) or art installations (Unsung Heroes).
And it all centers around one 17-minute piece written to accompany a ferry boat ride in Istanbul (A Ride On The Bosphorus): A meditative, living and breathing piece of reduced beauty that perfectly sums up Broderick’s strengths.
All Together Again shows the remarkable ability of Broderick to capture moods and mold them into music. With all instruments and recordings done by Broderick himself, this is a return to the approach of his first outputs. A fleet-footed but captivating statement of what the neo-classical subscene is able to create at any given time it seems. (Henning Grabow)
Tove Lo – ‘Blue Lips (Lady Wood Phase II)’
Who says mainstream pop can’t come with a decent message? Female empowerment never sounded that catchy.
Swedish grunge-pop queen Tove Lo reveals part II of her Ladywood story, a project between the songstress herself and Swedish director and co-writer Tim Erem. Blue Lips continues the artist’s crazy emotional ride in two acts, Light Beams and Pitch Black. Starting out with latest single-release disco tits, the record’s first half moves between kinky tracks like this or bitches, for which we have always adored Lo – but ballad-driven don’t ask don’t tell or stranger show once more the singer’s vulnerable sides and confrontations with herself. The more R’n’B-orientated romantics, featuring Nigerian-American rapper Daye, opens the second half of Blue Lies and moves on to Cycles – probably the album’s friskiest track, sound-related to Cool Girl, Ladywoods massive hit. With struggle, 9th of october or closing track hey you got the drugs?
Blue Lips stays aside from some fun on the more dramatic, deeper and serious perspective in the singer’s artistry. Lo does not enhance her stylistic skills, which is more than ok as we got served not just a new record but a sequel, so the musical line stays clear. However, Blue Lips proves once more that Tove Lo portraits one of the darkest and coolest figures in contemporary pop. Let’s hope we will see some beautifully disturbing new visuals to the tracks! (Kai Hermann)
Martin Kohlstedt – ‘Strom’
Martin Kohlstedt brings in the electronic elements of his live performances to create a raw, enveloping follow-up to Tag und Nacht.
With his new album Strom, composer and musician Martin Kohlstedt nearly picks listeners up and brings them directly into what his live performance may look like. Throughout the nine pieces there is a raw, bulging energy driven by the piano and backed by faint electronics and varied instrumentals. The single piano notes are simplistic in their layering but have an underlying power that drive the album forward.
Each note is differently charged; delicate, eerie tiptoeing keys easily flow into robust, sad releases. It’s intimacy dissolves into chaos; it’s hurried in places then moves to abrupt stops. In the past, Kohlstedt used his classical jazz piano training to create works that set the piano as the sole star, only improvising with electronics and strings during his live sets. By adding in the ever-changing backings, Martin Kohlstedt creates an album that is at once classic, yet stands alone in the field with its few rougher edges. (Sasha Chebil)
Sia – ‘Everyday Is Christmas’
Not in the mood for the festive season yet? The Australian pop heavyweight might help with that.
Young and old, clap and cheer: it’s the music industries favourite season (and hope) of the year – Christmas season! For 2017 one of pop’s biggest singer/songwriters is heating up winter. No other than Sia herself is fulfilling some dreams by releasing her very original Christmas soundtrack. Packed with 10 tracks, Everyday Is Christmas offers some warm holiday tunes and the artist’s well-known lyrical skills. Latter play with all the traditional related themes: there is Santa, some snowflakes and the mistletoe – without being too cheesy or forced-happy.
Since the singer’s break-through hit Chandelier listeners fell in love with the heavy produced, but radio friendly sound of her music. Everyday Is Christmas follows this path and creates some variety among other holiday-related releases. It might not be a super indie-pop record – but Sia’s magnificent voice turns Christmas even more into a nostalgic event, with a healthy amount of drama. While tracks like Santa’s Coming For Us or the edgier Ho Ho Ho are danceable and undoubtedly to enjoy, the power ballads show the album’s real potential. The closing duo, with the record’s title track and Underneath The Christmas Lights could even turn the biggest Grinch into a Christmas fan. (Kai Hermann)
Love Dance – ‘Cul-De-Sac’
Love Dance deal in ambiguity, but they sure do know how to make it sound good.
Bergen’s Love Dance are a difficult band to get a grip on. Kristopher Straus and Eirik Vestrheim released a debut album in 2007, Result, which pinned their sound as 80s-style jangle-pop, and the sporadic singles they put out across the intervening decade tended to stay in that territory. But when they reappeared again in 2017, things had changed. Their new single All The Time moved them into lush-synth dance territory, and that’s where they’ve stayed for their new EP Cul-de-sac.
Made with programming and analogue instruments, Cul-de-sac goes for a big, muscular synth-pop sound, reminiscent of The Tough Alliance. But within that sound they find ways to twist and turn, to carve the songs their own niches and space. Point Of No Return is the most loosely they move here, a song loaded with swagger and groove. Voice & Loyalty is cold and dark, a glacial take on confusion and nerve-shaking dance music. But the highlight of this record is the opening track More & More, the song where they let the most light in. It’s a warm, propulsive song, and acts as the positive high point to the record’s general ambiguity in mood. Admittedly, that high-point hits in a chorus built around the phrase ‘I’m not really impressed, but I’m thinking It’s not at all hopeless’ – positivity and clarity isn’t something Love Dance embrace easily. But that’s part of what makes Cul-de-sac a compelling record. The bright, shiny music will hook you in first, the shadows it covers its secrets in will keep you listening. It takes Love Dance a while to release music, but when they do its creative appeal is built to last. They’re hard to pin down, but it’s harder to stop trying. (Austin Maloney)
Song to get you started: More & More
Stream it now: ► Spotify / ► TIDAL