Call for Book Reviewers and Bloggers

Music

The Wild Swans and more...

Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA


cover art

The Wild Swans

The Coldest Winter for a Hundred Years

(Kitten Charmer; US: 2 Aug 2011)


The Wild Swans
The Coldest Winter for a Hundred Years


The Wild Swans were part of the same late 1970s Liverpool scene that begat Echo & the Bunnymen, the Teardrop Explodes, and the Icicle Works. Though they released the revered “The Revolutionary Spirit” / “God Forbid” single, they never had the same commercial impact as their peers. Their debut album Bringing Home the Ashes (1988) became a cult classic, but the band’s leader, Paul Simpson, was never satisfied with it. In 2008, he decided to revive the Wild Swans, and the result was The Coldest Winter for a Hundred Years. That title belied the warmth of the introspective, literate guitar pop within. An all-star lineup including former Echo bassist Les Pattinson leant a crisp, no-frills freshness to a batch of songs so strong they transcended mere nostalgia. At their best, the Wild Swans could transport you to a place where noble ideals met with complicated realities. The Coldest Winter for a Hundred Years was full of those moments. John Bergstrom


 

cover art

Steven Wilson

Grace for Drowning (Deluxe Edition)

(Kscope; US: 27 Sep 2011; UK: 26 Sep 2011)

Review [19.Oct.2011]


Steven Wilson
Grace for Drowning (Deluxe Edition)


At first glance, a lot of Grace for Drowning is emblematic of the least-liked elements of progressive rock. The record is a double album just shy of an hour and a half’s worth of music, which even in a time where CDs can hold a lot of music is too long for many. One of the album’s songs runs 23 minutes, a notable departure from what most people will casually listen to. And then there’s the music itself: ranging from ambient choral pieces to daunting displays of progressive jazz, the majority of Grace for Drowning is proudly prog. The album, however, is not a run-of-the-mill epic prog recording. The skill and uncompromising vision of Wilson make Grace for Drowning unlike any other long prog double album. The album is diverse, but not disorganized. The music is challenging, but not in a way that’s inaccessible. To wit, there’s “Postcard,” a four-minute piano ballad that features a choral part so beautiful it just might make your heart stop. In a more just musical universe, the song would get solid radio play. Nevertheless, despite the typical prog traits that seem to indict the record, Grace for Drowning is a layered, lush musical experience that all can enjoy. This is prog at its best, as only a master like Wilson could do it. Brice Ezell


 

cover art

Chelsea Wolfe

Ἀποκάλυψις

(Pendu Sound; US: 30 Aug 2011)


Chelsea Wolfe
Ἀποκάλυψις


“DEMONS! DEEEMONS!” Finally, an album so spookily terrifying that its own creator’s eyes permanently rolled back into their skull to escape the horror unleashed! God only knows how she makes a cup of tea in the morning now. It begins with what sounds like a feral, godless banshee literally being born, before upon thus strides the devil’s daughter, conceived of PJ Harvey and Nick Cave and weeping for eternity (OK, 38 minutes) at the edge of the blackest, deepest ocean beneath an icy, silvery moon. Bring your finest hooded-robe party people as Ἀποκάλυψις (Apokalypsis for non-horned, non-fork carrying readers) wants to swallow your soul for supper. Lusty, serpentine, windswept, ancient, romantic and hypnotically enchanting. Hunt it down, dial its magick numbers under cover of darkness ‘n’ solitude and let it ignite your dark, bloody heart. Just don’t look her directly in the eye! Matt James


 

cover art

The Wombats

This Modern Glitch

(Bright Antenna; US: 26 Apr 2011; UK: 25 Apr 2011)

Review [8.May.2011]


The Wombats
This Modern Glitch


Although pop music absolutely dominated all of 2011, it’s hard to think of any pop album that was as witty, fun, or damn-near replayable as the Wombats’ sophomore album, This Modern Glitch. Although their quirky 2007 single “Let’s Dance to Joy Division” introduced a group who knew how to wryly mock the pop music masses while simultaneously delivering monster hooks, Glitch shows that they’ve fully come into their own, adding in string sections and crunchy synth blasts to what has become their signature sound: dry, nervy guitars constantly on the hunt for arena-rocking choruses. Best of all, however, is frontman Matthew Murphy’s deft wordplay, detailing the pain of being dragged to a club only to discover he actually likes dance music (“Techno Fan”), pleading for his love to let him lift her up when she’s down (“Please allow me to be your anti-depressant / I’m prescribed as freely as any decongestant” he sings on “Anti-D”), and working in a relationship where “self-help might help when it makes is laugh” (“Walking Disasters”). Few albums last year were as catchy, humorous, or just damn-near joyous as This Modern Glitch was, and at the rate it’s going now, even 2012 is going to have a hell of a time trying to catch up to this modern day pop masterwork. Evan Sawdey


 

cover art

WU LYF

Go Tell Fire to the Mountain

(L Y F; US: 6 Sep 2011)


WU LYF
Go Tell Fire to the Mountain


WU LYF spent 2010 shrouded in mystery. There was an image of a masked gang of Manchester youths and some demos that sounded like Modest Mouse by way of another dimension. In 2011 they showed their faces and released a proper album with a properly tribal title. It’s not tribal like how it’s commonly used, in cases like Panda Bear, to connote nothing more than some breathy lyric repetition and a preference for tom over snare—no, WU LYF sound like a less evolved sapiens trying to shout their way through speech. The album is as viscerally satisfying and undeniable as any debut in recent memory. Now in 2012 the band seems poised for the global domination their full name (World Unite Lucifer Youth Foundation) implies; the first stop was a complete annihilation of the Letterman stage (as seen below). Jesse Fox


 

cover art

Youth Lagoon

The Year of Hibernation

(Fat Possum; US: 27 Sep 2011)

Review [26.Sep.2011]


Youth Lagoon
The Year of Hibernation


When I was a teenager, long before the wide adoption of cell phones, I would hide under my blanket whispering over the landline telephone to my girlfriend. Hours would go by and though we never talked about anything substantial, the tone of these long winded chats would take on the hushed, earnest tones of a confessional booth. At 3am we knew we would catch hell if we awoke our parents, but we didn’t want to end these calls, even though we would see each other again in the hallways and classrooms four hours later. Trevor Powers captured that ubiquitous time in life we can all fondly remember and recorded these songs in his own bedroom. On “17”, his voice warbled by effects, he sounds like he is reading from his diary at summer camp: “When I was 17 / My mother said to me / Don’t stop imagining / The day that you do / Is the day that you die.” It’s funny how at 17 I would have rolled my eyes at such a statement but at 30, I feel like I received a much needed dose of perspective. In his debut album, Powers makes a strong case to disprove that youth is wasted on the young. Eddie Ciminelli


Related Articles
2 Mar 2014
Without a doubt, this is another Real Estate album.
By PopMatters Staff
27 Feb 2014
Get the early word on some of March's most anticipated albums from the likes of the Hold Steady, Real Estate, and the War on Drugs.
25 Oct 2013
Twenty-three years in, Pearl Jam may no longer be grunge. They may no longer be young. But the band took the Barclays Center by storm and sold out two nights.
By PopMatters Staff
16 Apr 2012
Coachella streamed live this past weekend and here you can catch entire sets sets from hip-hop legends Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, indie rockers Real Estate, and Santigold.
Comments
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements
Win a 15-CD Pack of Brazilian Music CDs from Six Degrees Records! in PopMatters Contests on LockerDome

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.