Azalia Snail: Avec Amour

Climbing further out on lo-fi branch, one might find Azalia Snail, clinging lackadaisically and fluttering in the breeze.

Azalia Snail

Avec Amour

Label: True Classical CDs
US Release Date: 2006-02-14
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon affiliate

Remember the lo-fi revolution? Back in the early '90s, bands like Guided by Voices and Pavement were its minutemen, infusing the well worn rock idiom with their own peculiar aesthetics. Feedback was a harmonic device, ramshackle imperfection a political statement. Climbing further out on this stylistic branch, one might find Azalia Snail, clinging lackadaisically and fluttering in the breeze. This self professed "avant gardener" has been releasing home recorded or "bedroom psych" albums for 15 years now; Avec Amour is her first since 2002’s Brazen Arrows (Dark Beloved Cloud).

From the start, what is most noticeable about Avec Amour is that it's a full studio production. Snail has recorded in professional surroundings before, but usually more in an overdub capacity. Here, she has a capable band behind her, and she’s working with Gary Ramon (Sun Dial) at his Third Eye Studios in England, where artists as diverse as Coil and Ramon’s own hyper-psychedelic Quad have recorded. If you haven’t gotten the hint: Snail likes her sugary melodies dipped in fuzz and her often multi-tracked vocals bathed in shimmery effects.

This gauzy quality, combined with the immediacy of her band’s performance, makes for a billowy rush on the opener, "Honeysuckle", a mid-tempo, downy singsong with Snail’s glazed vocal sensual and all-knowing above her celestial keyboards. With "Alcazar", Snail runs her voice through a bullhorn over shuffling guitars and loping casio-tones, invoking a nauseous nfectiousness. "Scenescape" is more minimal, with looped beats and plaintive keyboards swooning beneath an essay on the price one pays when he/she plays the scene game -- cute, but hardly revelatory. Then again, if I was 15...

Fairing better is the dreamy drone wash of "I Praise You", blown wide open with some spacious jazzy dissonance beneath Snail’s vocal mantra of the chorus. "Casuarina Trees" is a beautiful little instrumental bliss-out made up of acoustic guitars, twinkling electric bleeps and glistening distortion that probably should’ve been twice as long.

Avec Amour is not necessarily original. It’s not a profound. More than a few of the mid-tempo, soft pop numbers start to blend together from afar, but Azalia Snail albums have always been like this. That’s definitely part of their charm. Snail’s innocent, but equally world weary perspective, infused with her undeniable femininity and minimal pop smarts (she has obviously closely dissected the early works of Brian Eno) prove to be just what the doctor ordered in these uncertain times.

As Snail intones in a hitch pitched warble over a dense fog of distortion and canned beats on the album’s final, untitled track (actually a cover of the Giorgio Moroder disco classic, "I Feel Love"), the aura is one of confusion and exaltation fused with a heavy dose of the gooey good love. Avec Amour offers a potent dose of affectionate fuzz for the heartsick, daydreaming masses.


To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.