Album Reviews: October 29, 2018

Cat Power – Wanderer (Atlanta)

With the elegance and subtlety of a modern Patti Smith, Cat Power offers us an emotionally dense record this time, that focuses everything on her vocals. Though the album is sonically a little barebones, so much of the work from Chan Marshall is so devastating that it works nonetheless. Marshall slow-burns her own entrance on the album through "Wanderer" as her ambient guitar work sees her leading from the background. As things move to unusual rhythms on "In Your Face" we Marshall creating loops which emulate sense of stagnation in her subject's own life. There's a hazy vintage energy to "Woman" with Lana Del Rey providing a bit of her own tones as well as voice for a sharp genre-bending pair-up. Marshall shows the most of herself however on "Horizon" as she uses a very open and sparse production to feed into the sense of hope she tries to offer up.

Hergian Flux – Arrival Tale (Ottawa)

With so many artists bringing chiptune music back, there's rarely enough people looking at how it serves as a more atmospheric genre. For Hergian Flux's new record, there's a unique mix of fidelity to make you wonder where a song will go next. "Café Sans Toi" drifts like an over-world groove from a video game, as we take in the room around us pensively. After some of the record's more simplistic midi-hook tracks "Les Chars" falls into a hazy wash of demented keyboards and grimy percussion to pull you down a rabbit hole. In a much looser way, "Je Pense" tumbles out like an interlude of sound effects meeting something more melodic. However it's the boss theme-like energy of "Recherche" that really shows the range and all-out energy Hergian Flux is capable of here.

Swearin' – Fall Into The Sun (Philadephia, PA)

Despite the similar styles all its different members bring to the table, Swearin' still offers up a range of material that seems author-driven. While not being the most coherent supergroup record, there's a raw fury within the record that's worth hearing. The broken down guitars of "Big Change" highlight the grit in Allison Crutchfield's singing  and sees their lament on obsessions getting excitingly frustrated. "Dogpile" balances a much more familiar rock core with a much more creative lyricism to keep it interesting. There's a true darkness to the otherwise chipper energy of "Margaret" that sees Swearin' slowly revealing the sad truth behind a happy song. All the groaning distortion and feedback of "Treading" elevate the track, as its narrative of harsh struggle cries out well.

Creations In Vivo – Around The Rain (Ottawa)

As a concept, Creations in Vivo is a cool idea to bring artistic types together, and it mostly works on the whole. Apart from some tonal choices that make the album feel a little too kid-music like, there's a powerfully diverse range of ideas at play here. "Une Berceuse Pour  Gabrielle" quickly escapes its child-like roots for something dark and thoughtful. Even with its wondrous and fantastical story, the gypsy-jazz roots of "L'ouverture Du Festival" are on point and leave it a lot of room to run wild as a production. This kind of balance reaches a demented end on "Allons Ensemble" where all the themes hit a demonic high, akin to that moment from a kids movie that freaked you out a little. "On Cherche" leans into its lyrical playfulness to make every chorus feel loud and excited and brings its writing to life. 

Molly Burch – First Flower (Austin, TX)

Hearing tired genres like country and pop revitalized by a poetic soul is a revelatory experience. For her latest offering, Molly Burch taps into the fun of vintage pop while bringing that modern sadness and anger that have made her contemporaries like Angel Olsen so interesting. There's a Southern atmosphere across something like "Candy" that Burch uses to make her folk feel more epic as she kicks out loudly across her choruses. Burch herself comes out energetically on "Wild" as she shifts delivery styles constantly and brings you to highs through dramatic and emotive choruses. Distinct romance surrounds "First Flower" as Burch lulls listeners in with her smoother style and then booms. This kind of feeling feeds into the instrumentation of songs like "Good Behaviour" where instruments fall in and out with a sort of natural glee that suggests emotional spontaneity in itself.