'Devotion' album cover.

Devotion by Pale Honey #

Played on Oct 9th, 2020

The only appropriate way to read the following review is to have this performance of The Heaviest of Storms (devotion, pt. 1) at Tapetown studios playing in the background.

Why do people write music reviews? I, human, listened to something for a while, and it made me feel something. It put a dimple in my tin heart, and I want to give you, other human not sharing a sensory experience with me, that dimple. I want to describe it to you, to materialize it in your mind’s eye. It’s futile, really, and the harder I try to make it happen the less relatable my whole effort will seem to you.

Reviewers end up in contortions, binding themselves in wet language trying to make you understand what it’s like for the music in its specific quality to impact your eardrums. Well, there’s just no way to do that.

That won’t stop any of us from trying though. So:

The whole album is really good. It’s clear, unassuming. No one is forcing anything. It’s like everyone sat back and just agreed to let their emotions become music for a while. It’s most obvious in the beginning riffs of my two favorite tracks: The Heaviest of Storms (Devotion, Pt.1) and 777(Devotion, Pt.2).

The singing and instruments reach out to hold your hand, and say “hey, it’s okay. we’re all dealing with some things, and wouldn’t it be nice if we were just ourselves for a while and talked without pretension? without rush?”

And that’s one way to describe the album. I couldn’t make it any clearer than that. You should listen to it.

favorite tracks

The Heaviest of Storms (Devotion, Pt.1), 777(Devotion, Pt.2)

'Profane' album cover.

Profane by Couch #

Played on Aug 6th, 2020

This album was added to my library in early 2015. ‘Was added’ is passive, and the passive voice is a tool to hedge and avoid responsibility,1 which is why I usually avoid it. But in this case, I actually don’t remember adding it. Of course, I don’t remember adding hundreds of other albums that sit, waiting, unlistened-to, in my iTunes library.

Profane is an instrumental album. I can’t quote you any favorite lyrics. I can try words like ‘dreamlike’ and ‘post-modern’, but that could mean anything. The band doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, and “couchmusik.de” goes to what I assume is a German domain registrar’s page. So how can I describe this to you?

A quieter and more consistent God is an Astronaut, and a faster Bonobo. A simpler Maybeshewill and an abbreviated and more disciplined Mogwai. Describing an artist’s work in terms of other artists is a last resort for me, but describing music is hard, and I’m not that good of a writer yet.

Profane is dramatic and progressive, it has anxiety which becomes cacophony; not the annoying kind, the beautiful cathartic kind.

Listen to Doch endlich, you’ll know what I mean.

Unfortunately this album is not on Bandcamp, and I don’t see the CD being sold anywhere obvious, but it is sold in the Apple Music Store, and you should listen to it.

See also

  • A Matador Records page written around the time Profane was released, via the wayback machine

    Our friend Richard Martin at the Seattle Weekly says of ‘Profane’: “guitarist Juergen Soder, keyboardist Stefanie Bohm and their mates succeed again, sping complex rhythms and hidden melodies, straying into fascinating jams.” The equally observant Michael Endelman of the Boston Phoenix says, “Couch arrive at a state of suspended animation, somewhere between Sonic Youth’s ‘Daydream Nation’ and Tortoise’s 20 minute epic ‘Djed.’”

I like how I described it better.

  1. This is especially true in scientific writing. All papers are written in a passive voice. We didn’t tell the participants in the study to do something, “participants were told”. We didn’t run the regression analysis, “a regression analysis revealed a significant effect of years of education”. I digress. 

favorite tracks

Doch endlich

'Far Enough' album cover.

Far Enough by Cable Ties #

Played on Apr 7th, 2020

Hope

And it might be hopeless but if I lose hope
I bring on that ending

Everything on this album is great, but the singing is what will stick in my mind forever. Jenny McKechnie is one of the best vocalists I’ve discovered in a long time. Her range, how she can go from quiet to growly, either suddenly or more gradually than you thought was possible. Her control of her vocals is perfect. Apparently, they’re punk. At first I didn’t see it, I thought there were parts that sounded too controlled and beautiful to be punk, and I don’t remember the last time a punk song lyric left made me feel as uplifted as the first chorus of Hope does (quoted at the top of this note).

But. But you can listen to (or watch) the last chorus on Sandcastles, and it is very punk.

Sandcastles

You don’t do anything because you know that people like you they
just don’t do anything at all
but tear each other down

Who knows. Punk, like all genres, and almost all things, is difficult to define. Anyway, I think what I’m trying to say is that you should listen to it.

favorite tracks

Hope, Sandcastles

'what we say in private' album cover.

what we say in private by Ada Lea #

Played on Apr 6th, 2020

I discovered this album when I bought The Execution of All Things CD and Saddle Creek records included a thank you note and a postcard with the album art of “what we say in private”. Something about that warms my heart.

The first track on the album starts with some electronic music that’s the opposite of what you’d expect, and you’re not wrong to not expect them, because there is nothing like those first few seconds again on the entire album. It’s a strange decision. But that part quickly ends and the rest all makes sense. It still weirds me out whenever I relisten to the album from start to finish.

A lot on this album feels unintentional or improvised, and I like that, although it doesn’t always work well. More often than not it does work though, and when it does you realize just how good the lyrics are. If anything I think the lyrics are sometimes let down by the music.

wild heart

God watches over us in disbelief
And I take your head with my hand
A ring of dancers form around the house
To surround us and I pray that every door is shut
But in my heart, I know that any woman bound to enter will

Long live the wild heart, babe
Always groping for answers
Hungry for experience
Always touching the neighbour

what makes me sad

What makes me sad is I can’t
What makes you sad I don’t know
But if your eyes well up at the thought of it
Well that’s a sure way to know

the dancer

Some days I feel like dancing
But some days I don’t
Some days I just sit and watch
The sun dancing through my window

Some days I am a daisy
Dancing with the breeze
But some days I am the foot
That has to step on everything
Everything, everything

Even on clear days, your judgment is cloudy
Even on clear days, you’re expecting thunder and rain
Even on clear days, your judgment is cloudy
Even on clear days, even on clear

You should listen to it.

favorite tracks

wild heart, easy

'EP' album cover.

EP by Mexico City Blondes #

Played on Mar 21st, 2020

I re-listened to this EP many times trying to put into words what I like so much about it.

I still don’t have the right words. I like Allie Thompson’s singing a lot. It’s warm and soothing. It’s a voice that dances and makes me want to dance with it. I just want to fall back into it like it’s a soft couch.

Hm. You know there’s a bit of calm Ladytron in here, and a bit of Scanners too. I like this like I a lot of Scanners’ quieter songs.

Further

Nobody’s gonna hold my hand
Holdin hands is like holdin’ sand

Growin’ up it feels like givin’ in
Growin’ up it feels like givin’ in
Growin’ up it feels like givin’ in
Can’t run from the skin you were meant to be livin’ in

I don’t know what else to say. The wordcount does not correlate with how much I like this EP. You should listen to it.

favorite tracks

Worry, Further

'Con Todo El Mundo' album cover.

Con Todo El Mundo by Khruangbin #

Played on Mar 6th, 2020

I knew about Khruangbin but I didn’t know about this album. I discovered this via The RFK Tapes podcast, which used Maria También as their intro credit music. The track is easily my favorite on the album, but the entire album is worth your money. You should listen to it.

favorite tracks

Maria También