With the spring equinox just passed, here are some of the best releases of the year so far
The Delines – The Imperial
If listening to sad songs could heal your own sadness, then Amy Boone, Willy Vlautin and the rest of The Delines would put the counsellors of the world out of business. Because The Imperial is packed full of very sad songs.
Cass McCombs – Tip of the Sphere
Another bunch of quirky songs from Cass McCombs. The artist who walks you right up to the threshold of a memorable melody only to reach over and ring the bell of the slightly grumpy neighbours next door. Frustrating at times, but features some really great bass lines.
Deerhunter – Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?
There’s a typically eclectic feel to the new Deerhunter album. On ‘Greenpoint Gothic’, for example, Gary Numan is surely in the house. For the most part, though, this is a fine bunch of exciting indie riffs for guitar and keyboards. Oh heaven. ‘Element’ is a particular highlight in the earworm department and it’s a great song to drive to.
Hand Habits – Placeholder
Don’t be fooled by the slightly shy-sounding vocals. There’s plenty of power to the songs on Meg Duffy’s second solo album. Most are about relationships of different types and, typically, there’s a sadness to the outcomes. There, though, the similarity with The Delines ends.
Amanda Palmer – There Will Be No Intermission
There Will Be No Intermission is the third solo release by Amanda Palmer, the former lead singer of The Dresden Dolls and the one and sometimes still performance artist also known as Amanda Fucking Palmer. It’s certainly quite a performance. Clocking in at nearly 80 minutes and with a couple of tracks passing the 10-minute-plus mark, this is not a record for those who are even slightly pressed for time. It’s also a highly confessional album. Indeed, as confessional albums go, this one has already been inside the box talking to the priest for quite a considerable period. It could all be a little too much. And in a different context it would be. If this was a man singing about his personal problems in an equivalently querulous and emotional register, any relationship he was having would most likely go tits up sooner rather than later. But it’s not. Released on International Women’s Day, the themes speak to some very difficult gendered issues, including Palmer’s own experience of abortion. Fittingly enough, the truth-telling reaches its climax on ‘A Mother’s Confession’, where Palmer recalls the everyday difficulties of motherhood in sometimes disturbing detail. “At least the baby didn’t die”. There Will Be No Intermission isn’t an easy listen. That’s both its strength and its weakness. Sometimes a huge amount can be too much. But sometimes it can be perfection too. Here, there are moments of plain and simple beauty that will stay with you forever. The waltz-theme of ‘The Ride’ being one. For that reason alone, let’s hope that there will indeed be no intermission.