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Muziek

Taylor Swift: Lover review | Alexis Petridis's album of the week

The Guardian - Albumreviews - 3 hours 25 min ago

Less bitter than Reputation, Lover has something for everyone, especially Swift’s boyfriend, but is she treading water?

The deluxe version of Taylor Swift’s seventh studio album comes with a facsimile of the singer’s journal. It contains selected diary entries that make for surprisingly glum reading. We see Swift progress from wide-eyed 13-year-old (“I heart school!”) to one of the world’s biggest stars: the latter the source of considerable woe. There are complaints about fans outside her house, worries about her relationships failing due to “the nasty world that just wants to ruin things” and about 2016, when her personal woes, including her mother’s cancer diagnosis, were compounded by public spats with other artists – most notably Kanye West – a succession of think-pieces bemoaning her awfulness and, most mind-boggling of all, her unsolicited adoption as a figurehead of the American alt-right after she declined to endorse a presidential candidate. “This summer,” she writes, from the thick of it, “is the apocalypse.”

Related: Taylor Swift's great re-recording plot: icy revenge or a pointless setback?

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Categories: Muziek

Lana Del Rey: “The Greatest”

Pitchfork - Best New Tracks - 22 August, 2019 - 17:26

It‘s another big highlight from the singer-songwriter’s forthcoming album Norman Fucking Rockwell!

Categories: Muziek

Felix & Fanny Mendelssohn: Works for Cello and Piano review | Erica Jeal's classical album of the week

The Guardian - Albumreviews - 22 August, 2019 - 10:00

The Mendelssohn siblings’ chamber music is vital and fierce on this release by cellist Johannes Moser and pianist Alasdair Beatson
(Pentatone)

The Mendelssohn siblings have suffered from their twin auras of worthiness: Felix’s as the oratorio composer whose works are murdered by a hundred well-meaning choral societies; Fanny’s as the token woman on dozens of concert programmes. Now, though, there is a growing discography helping to shake us into realising how vital and original these composers were. The chamber music, especially Felix’s, has done well recently – and the latest addition is this disc from cellist Johannes Moser and pianist Alasdair Beatson.

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Sheer Mag: A Distant Call review – swagger rockin' on grim reality

The Guardian - Albumreviews - 22 August, 2019 - 07:00

Topics from LGBTQ rights to fat-shaming, injustice to abuse are wrapped up in jubilant cock-rock minus the male entitlement

The second album by the Philadelphia outfit Sheer Mag begins with a yowl. Triumphant, guttural and faintly unhinged, it’s the kind that suggests arena-sized excess, permed mullets and peacocking masculinity. That it is delivered by a woman, the band’s commanding and pleasingly rough-around-the-edges vocalist Tina Halladay, is the first clue that this almost comically retro mashup of hard rock and power pop may not be an entirely straightforward historical re-enactment. In fact, it soon becomes apparent that the swaggeringly macho and viscerally gleeful sonic palate is going to be taken well outside its comfort zone, because A Distant Call is an album with a sombre and timely purpose: to parse the way global-scale tragedy intersects with deeply personal pain.

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Categories: Muziek

Young Thug: So Much Fun

Pitchfork - Best new Albums - 21 August, 2019 - 01:00

Featuring several of his acolytes, So Much Fun remains a triumphant showcase for the iconoclastic Young Thug and one of his best albums to date.

Categories: Muziek

The Hold Steady - Thrashing thru the Passion

Humo CD-recensies - 20 August, 2019 - 09:38
Mijn ex-vriendin noemde The Hold Steady graag ‘praatziekemannenmuziek’.
Lees de bespreking
Categories: Muziek

Sleater-Kinney - The Center Won’t Hold

Humo CD-recensies - 20 August, 2019 - 09:35
Het feministische punktrio Sleater-Kinney, bekend van de op bloedneuzen aandringende oplawaai ‘Dig Me Out’ uit 1997, liet zich voor deze negende plaat inspireren door Rihanna, van wie ik begrijp dat ze prima ‘ro-po-po-pom’ zingt.
Lees de bespreking
Categories: Muziek

Redd Kross - Beyond the Door

Humo CD-recensies - 20 August, 2019 - 09:33
Vinnig en pittig, altijd übermelodieus, en nu al veertig jaar lang de powerpop getrouw: Redd Kross. De groepsnaam verwijst naar het kruisbeeld waarmee Linda Blair in ‘The Exorcist’ tot bloedens toe masturbeerde: in 1982 zag de actrice haar naam een songtitel worden.
Lees de bespreking
Categories: Muziek

Sleater-Kinney: The Center Won’t Hold review – trying too hard?

The Guardian - Albumreviews - 18 August, 2019 - 03:00
(Mom + Pop)

Sleater-Kinney were never going to go for the pop jugular half-arsed. In fact it’s been very much full-arsed, with Carrie Brownstein flashing her bare bum in the trio’s latest press shots. Their ninth album is no-holds-barred: slicker, sultrier, synthier, with producer St Vincent yanking their songs about the post #MeToo moment in some unexpected directions and injecting them with noirish electronics.

Drummer Janet Weiss, who left the band last month, clearly wasn’t up for the ride. Who saw the influence of Tool coming on the opening title track, with its metallic clangs and Nine Inch Nails-nodding lines like “I need something holy/ Give me a little taste”, punctured by a burst of eviscerating punk rock? Can I Go On is great but sounds a bit like… the Killers?

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Blanck Mass: Animated Violence Mild review – Power reins in the cacophony

The Guardian - Albumreviews - 18 August, 2019 - 03:00
(Sacred Bones)

With the unlikely Olympian duo Fuck Buttons having largely been on the back burner since 2013, Benjamin John Power has had plenty of time to concentrate on his side project, Blanck Mass. Not surprisingly, many of the highlights of his fourth solo album – a treatise on capitalism and loss – nod to Power’s better-known band. Death Drop drags distorted death metal screams on to the dancefloor and ends up coming across as an industrial evisceration of the Doctor Who theme music. Album highlight Love Is a Parasite, meanwhile, is the sort of overloaded Wagnerian techno maximalism that is Fuck Buttons’ calling card, its distorted beats driving a melange of house motifs, deeply buried R&B vocal lines, soaring orchestral strings and punishing sheets of noise.

But just as 2017’s World Eater showcased a newfound knack for melodic levity amid the Sturm und Drang, so Power reins in the cacophony here on the blissfully minimal Creature/West Fuqua. The hypnotic No Dice eases back on the intensity, aims for the hips rather than going for the throat, and consequently is rather more Massive Attack than massive attack.

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Shura: Forevher review – airy summer jams

The Guardian - Albumreviews - 18 August, 2019 - 03:00

(Secretly Canadian)

As with Shura’s debut, Nothing’s Real, her second album is front-loaded. After a brief intro come Forevher’s three best songs, followed by a slump it never quite recovers from. Side Effects is the clear highlight, a perfect collision of aesthetic and emotion. The English songwriter’s spacey, super-melodic, immaculately produced pop casts a wonderful spell when it works, particularly on lead single Religion (U Can Lay Your Hands on Me) or the swooning, filtered coda to The Stage, as endless as summer seems in early July.

It just feels that whenever the rhythms retreat, the songwriting behind these airy, 80s-Janet Jackson jams isn’t always strong enough to really connect. Shura’s sugary voice works best when the beat is insistent, pulling you towards the dancefloor in your head. Sometimes she sounds tamed, quiescent, processed and treated, her vocal lacking the personality to overcome the distancing effect of its digital rendering. That said, you can always hear how songs such as Forever or the endearingly batty Flyin’ (“a virgin had a baby, it’s crazy… I’m scared of flying/ I’m scared of dying”) could be remixed into magic, while the languorous closer Skyline, Be Mine is a beauty.

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Categories: Muziek

Leslie Stevens: Sinner review – potent ‘cosmic country’

The Guardian - Albumreviews - 18 August, 2019 - 03:00
(Thirty Tigers)

Raised in Missouri, Leslie Stevens has spent her professional life in Los Angeles fronting a country rock band. Much loved by LA’s Americana crowd, and with a couple of decent albums to her name, she seemed perpetually on the verge of a breakout that never quite arrived. After a few years below the radar – motherhood will do that – Stevens has re-emerged with an album that should establish her credentials as a singer-songwriter of skill and passion.

Not everyone will love her voice – effortlessly melodic, though with a pinch of Joanna Newsom-style squeakiness involved – but Sinner, burnished by producer Jonathan Wilson with strands of steel guitar and even Mellotron, packs a potent emotional punch. At its centre are a cluster of songs about a burned-out affair: a pair of forlorn country ballads in Falling and Sinner, and Depression, Descent, the devastated reflections of which are belied by its catchy, soft rock style. Stevens is strong on narrative: Teen Bride laments a young woman pregnant with “a baby that would never live to see Missouri”, while The Tillman Song honours a former NFL athlete killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan. For a self-styled purveyor of “cosmic country”, Stevens proves admirably grounded.

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Categories: Muziek

Home listening: Scriabin, Chopin and Liszt piano works

The Guardian - Albumreviews - 18 August, 2019 - 03:00

New releases from Chen Yunjie and Mariam Batsashvili; and Edinburgh mornings on Radio 3

• The Chinese pianist Chen Yunjie, now reaching mid-career having had a prodigious start, is among the few players in the world to have performed the 10 sonatas of Scriabin in one concert. That may sound like a Guinness world record kind of feat, but Chen’s live recording of Scriabin’s Sonatas Nos 6, 1, 8 and 5 (Accentus) suggests dedication indeed to this singular, sensuous body of music: romantic in the earlier examples, then spinning off into aural and structural fantasy. Chen calls the Sonata No 8, Op 66 his favourite (it was the last Scriabin composed). Its single-movement structure, melancholic and phantasmagorical, captures the pianist’s imagination and draws the best of his playing.

Related: The week in classical: Proms 32, 34 & 35; Rinaldo review – happy returns all round

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Categories: Muziek

Normani: “Motivation”

Pitchfork - Best New Tracks - 16 August, 2019 - 15:11

The former Fifth Harmony member’s new song was co-written with Ariana Grande

Categories: Muziek

Blanck Mass: Animated Violence Mild review – grief, rage and transcendent electronica

The Guardian - Albumreviews - 16 August, 2019 - 05:30

(Sacred Bones)
Mourning the death of the planet and a parent, Ben Power has made an album that fuses existential fear with sheer beauty

Back in 2012, Blanck Mass sounded optimistic. Ben Power’s one-man electro-noise project (distinct from his work as part of the duo Fuck Buttons) was best known for his ambient headrush of a composition, Sundowner, which was used as part of the soundtrack for Danny Boyle’s buoyant Olympics opening ceremony. But, as the political mood of the country continued to sour, Power’s work darkened in response, leading up to 2017’s snarling World Eater, and now Animated Violence Mild: an album where blind rage and beauty commingle. In the accompanying press release, Power describes how the record was born of grief – he wrote it while musing on how consumerism is destroying our planet. In the final stages of recording, his father died, and so he also began processing this deeply personal loss alongside his global mourning.

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The Hold Steady: Thrashing Thru the Passion review – chancers and chasers in fist-punching glory

The Guardian - Albumreviews - 16 August, 2019 - 05:00

(Frenchkiss Records)
Craig Finn’s barstool-rock raconteurs paint a portrait of booze-soaked Americana with their most enthralling record in years

You don’t listen to Hold Steady albums – you live in them. Craig Finn’s barstool-rock raconteurs’ six albums so far have been engrossing adventures through an America full of delinquents and dreamers, their stories sketched into bolshy, blue-collar indie singalongs. It’s a formula that’s served the group well: with the exception of 2010 misstep Heaven Is Whenever, the Hold Steady have operated with a dependability befitting their band name since forming in Brooklyn in 2003, amassing a devoted cult fanbase in the process. On seventh album Thrashing Thru the Passion, they further cement their punk poet laureate credentials over 10 songs-cum-caterwauling character studies that are among Finn and friends’ most enthralling to date.

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The Murder Capital: When I Have Fears review – a raw, rampaging debut

The Guardian - Albumreviews - 16 August, 2019 - 04:30

(Human Season Records)
Dublin five-piece draws on post-punk from Joy Division to Idles, but their thrillingly unnerving energy is all their own

Post-punk has been a fruitful genre for many a young band in recent years, with careers sustained by sounding like a facsimile of Joy Division. Dublin-based quintet the Murder Capital are surely familiar with that ensemble, and some of Diarmuid Brennan’s staccato drum beats would fit snugly on Unknown Pleasures. However, the band’s palette draws on decades of the genre, stretching from early luminaries Modern English to more recent pacesetters Idles; urgent guitars cohabit with gentler piano and violin.

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Friendly Fires: Inflorescent review – deliciously cheesy 80s disco vibes

The Guardian - Albumreviews - 16 August, 2019 - 04:00

(Casablanca Records/Polydor)
Harking back to the era of funkily optimistic pop may not speak to our times, but FF’s first album in eight years is truly joyous

When Friendly Fires released their debut album in 2008, the St Albans trio’s busy, brooding brand of electro-punk seemed precision-engineered for a music scene craving respite from the scratchy guitars and pointy brogues of landfill indie. By the time the band’s second, Pala, came out three years later, they were on the precipice of proper mainstream success; their dancefloor-friendly synthpop merged intricate, pulsing percussion with big, yearning choruses. Now, however, as the band return to a fractured pop landscape after a momentum-quashing eight-year break, their relationship to the zeitgeist is far less clear. Perhaps they know this: on their third album, they instead seem intent on submerging themselves in the past.

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Širom: A Universe That Roasts Blossoms for a Horse review | John Lewis's contemporary album of the month

The Guardian - Albumreviews - 16 August, 2019 - 03:30

(tak:til/Glitterbeat)
Three classically trained musicians from Slovenia make meticulously plotted episodic music that sounds lopsided

If you were to chance upon any fragment of the music made by Širom, you might reasonably conclude that it was some anthropological field recording, taken from a traditional folk compilation. There are bits where an ululating female vocal is accompanied by a banjo and what sounds like a Hardanger fiddle, and you could swear that it was something that – say – Nordic shepherds might have been playing for centuries. You’ll hear wailing reed instruments set against chaotic percussion, and for a few seconds you might think that you’re listening to the ecstatic Sufi trance music of the Master Musicians of Joujouka; there are slurring solos on indeterminate stringed instruments that invoke a Chinese erhu, or an Indian sitar, or a hurdy-gurdy.

Except none of this is actually “traditional” music. Širom are a trio of classically trained musicians from Slovenia – Ana Kravanja, Samo Kutin and Iztok Koren – who play dozens of instruments between them and describe their work as “imaginary folk music”. That phrase was first coined by the critic Serge Moreux in the 1950s, when referring to the way in which Bartók and Kodály processed traditional Hungarian melodies, but Širom’s folk forgeries are weirder and more pan-global. This is actually densely written and meticulously plotted music, played live on acoustic instruments, apparently without any overdubs. The songs (some of them 15 minutes long) are episodic, dreamlike voyages – qawwali-style vocal wailing and medieval drones mutate into free-jazz freakouts; steampunk techno (played on pots, pans and cutlery) shifts into gamelan music, anchored by squelchy bass sounds.

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