Weekly Capsule Reviews: 26/02/2017


This week: Ryan Adams, Future (2)

Older releases: Overhead, the Albatross; Katie Kim

Ryan Adams: Prisoner [PAX-AM/Blue Note, 17/02/2017]

I made the mistake of properly getting into his stuff after the suck-up cover album of Taylor Swift’s 1989 from 2015, which is disingenuous yet not too far off the beaten track from yours truly. Smithsophiles are normally on my radar for a fond listen, but most of the modern ones piss me off to no end. Tumblr is to blame for that. You can hear his Johnny Marr-isms everywhere, particularly in the title track “Doomsday” and “Anything I Say to You Now”. In this instance I like his “There-Is-a-Light-That-Never-Goes-Out” ripping because he acknowledges he’s an Anglophile and wants to experience the imagery Morrissey painted in his transitory youth—the cemet[e]ry gates, the iron bridge, Rusholme, and so forth—even if he himself doesn’t and couldn’t paint a vivid canvas of Northern California if he tried. The issue is him but he feels as though it can be solved and he’s worth anyone’s time. There were moments in which he gave to me a slight different perspective on his music past the vacuous and vapid interview with Miss Swift. The harmonica outro in the title track and the broken-voice note-holds are certainly ones to keep in mind. His alt-love is more alt than his alt-country. Like always. (7/10)

Future: FUTURE [Freebandz/A1/Epic, 17/02/2017]

He gets some better when the rent’s due. Whether that’s a reminder or a thank you to pay it I don’t think he minds either way. His good dope allows him to shop at Tiffany’s; taste and gangsta normally go together—within reason. A lot like unrelenting beats and violently swaying from lane to lane in your supercar. It’s difficult to ascertain the differences in this guy’s output up to now, so much so I’m even concentrating on the subtle distinctions—and pitches—in the Auto-Tuning. I’m supposed to be concentrating elsewhere. (6/10)

Future: HNDRXX [Freebandz/A1/Epic, 24/02/2017]

Hilariously I like the way Future has gone about this but I have little-to-no fondness for it over the self-titled predecessor. He’s less crass and more charming about getting some and he’s kept the Auto-Tune down to a pitch where his more emotional and airy side can seem raw, and occasionally it is. “Use Me” has him spilling his guts when all his egocentrism hasn’t quite caught up with him more he’s taken some sort of notice of it. “Neva Missa Lost” is his reprieve from his fast-paced lifestyle and one of the more R&B efforts. And if he’s able to pay the rent, flaunt the Tifanny’s, and race in his Lambos and Ferraris I’m sure she’ll stick around. The down-pitched Auto-Tune on “Selfish” is to give Rihanna her say in a track in which selfishness is in love over the pimping and binging on goods, I’m sure. Unlike the constant and rigorous pimp, gangsta, and playa we see previously there’s a little light, open, and maybe more compassionate side to Future. The good bits left an opening for the record to kick on and do something with itself. But it didn’t. (6/10)

Older releases

Overhead, the Albatross: Learning to Growl [590389 Records DK2 (self-released), 13/05/2016]

This makes me think I’m a little harsh on the likes of 65daysofstatic and Explosions in the Sky (not really). But there’s an essence of character about this, more of an Irish feel with string sections alongside the breezy riffs that are so pronounced in their arpeggio ways you’d almost wish they’d found a way to become a djent band. Learning to Growl is more grounded than the other groups I’ve mentioned in sound and even in their pretentious instruments. I’d nearly use the word spiritual, but it isn’t. It’s more of a show that “modern” post-rock can be done via shortening the length of the set blueprint, i.e. not getting pissed off too much with trebly riffs thanks to the severed song lengths. (7/10)

Katie Kim: SALT [Art for Blind, 14/10/2016]

The Lana Del Rey effect in full swing just a little more weird about it and just as romantically poetic if I didn’t have to work so hard to hear her words past the studio enhancements. I like the percussion in “I Make Sparks”, the voice acting as an instrument in itself. This is fine for a listen but grating to an extent where you feel like you’re going through the pain of this painfully overworked piece to hear her say something. Alas, you don’t get anything of too much worth and the somewhat worthy ones are so smothered with electronic glitches; booming, reverb-drenched drums; and thudding organs you just give up and let them hit your ears. Believe me you’ll be fine once you’ve forgotten about it, which isn’t difficult. (6/10)


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