Japanese Breakfast – Soft Sounds from Another Planet
I couldn’t stop listening to the Soft Sounds of Japanese Breakfast over the summer. Expecting some wonderfully Proustian moments in years to come.
Dan Michaelson – First Light
Dan Michaelson’s first solo album was built around a plaintive piano. His second features a string section. Plaintively, of course. With the sound perfectly complementing the sentiment, “Don’t dwell on old kisses you’ll always regret”, First Light is scarcely a blast of Christmas cheer. But released only a few days ago, it proves there really is a Sanity Clause.
Frontier Ruckus – Enter The Kingdom
Sounding like songs of innocence, these were more like songs of a certain type of suburban experience. “Everyone’s home in sweatpants for the series finale of their discontinued fall prime time”. For sure, the neighbours may be slightly passive-aggressive, “And if I am not mistaken, You still owe me, 27 dollars”, but the air is thick with tender melodies and exotic instrumentation.
Widowspeak – Expect The Best
There’s a density to the sound of Widowspeak, but there’s also a sensitivity to melody that keeps the tunes in your head long after the record has stopped.
Sparky riffs. Erudite lyrics. Robyn Hitchcock rolled back the years and delivered one of his finest albums in years. Meanwhile, therapists are still pouring over the lyrics. “I’m naked in the water, In the amniotic sea, Inside my real mother, She opens up for me”. Oh boy.
Frontier Ruckus – Enter The Kingdom
In 2013 Matthew Milia and Frontier Ruckus released a sprawling, 20-song album called Eternity of Dimming. The road was long, the journey was often hard, and many listeners never made it to the final destination. Four years on and Matthew Milia has a new album out. This time we’re facing not so much a frontier ruckus as a polite suburban melee. Think middle-class bargain hunters at an out-of-town mall at the start of the Labor Day sales. This is an altogether more polite place to grow up in. But its inhabitants still face their own distinctive set of problems. And the scars can be just as deep as those received at any previous wilderness location. On Enter The Kingdom Matthew Milia takes us on a 37-minute tour through modern suburbia. It’s a real pleasure to be in his company even for such a short time. He’s certainly one of the most erudite guides in the neighbourhood. With his talk of glottal stops and gerunds, it’s clear that language is a major preoccupation. In fact, the man is a walking rhyming dictionary. And he sure knows how to make music. Every song on Enter The Kingdom is as catchy as a late-night hickey. Whether it’s the plaintive call for the return of ’27 dollars’, or the comforting waltz of the title track itself, these are melodies that keep on giving. And they’re always played with a full-on verve and sometimes a refreshingly idiosyncratic instrumentation. On ‘If You Can’, it seems like Frontier Ruckus like nothing more than to stay in on a rainy night and play the musical saw. Elsewhere there’s the sound of trumpets, clarinets, melodicas, and more. Yet this is modern suburbia. All is not exactly what it seems. “Your mind’s half hot lava and half Dexedrine”. “Our sacred neighbourhoods now only nominally exist, Your dad’s looking for work on craigslist”. Sounding like songs of innocence, these are more like songs of a certain type of experience. It’s an experience that’s common to many in today’s new suburban frontier. And Matthew Milia and friends are offering to take you on a short trip through it. Buckle up. You won’t be disappointed.