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Archive for the ‘Underdog’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: WOLF ALICE-Visions of a Life (2017).

Wolf Alice’s second album explores a great deal of diversity.  Nearly every song is in a different style–and yet none of them sound out of place.  It just sounds like Wolf Alice pushing their sound in many different directions and seeing what sticks (and most of hit sticks quite nicely).

It opens a lot noisier than the first album, but the shoegaze element is still prominent.  “Heavenward” is all distorted guitars and soaring melodies before settling down into a quieter verse and then a really catchy, bouncy chorus.  It’s followed by the loudest craziest song they’ve recorded thus far.  The 2 minute “Yuk Foo” is a solid blast of aggressive punk with a thumping bassline, squealing feedbacking guitars and Ellie Roswell screaming and cursing like a fiend.   Catharsis in 2 minutes.

It’s followed by “Beautifully Unconventional,” yet another terrific and, for them, a rather different style of song.  A staggered guitar phrase and a cool staccato chorus.  It’s wonderfully catchy.

“Don’t Delete The Kisses” is a surprisingly sweet pop song. The hook of the shouted singular words is undeniable.  “What if it’s not meant for me? love” with a happy ending “Me and you were meant to be in love”  “Planet Hunter” slows things down a bit with a quiet guitar and Roswell’s voice out front, but it leads into a full and really catchy chorus and a great ending section with a loud bass that takes the song to the end.

A lot of the band’s songs feature Roswell whispering the lyrics. “Sky Musings” is one of those songs.  It’s propulsive with Roswell’s vocals slightly obscured as she speaks out.  If she were a tad louder in the mix, the song would feel incredibly intimate.

“Formidable Cool” shifts things agin, with an almost Beatlesqsue guitar riff that turns very loud for the chorus.  The lyrics get really angry and the song grows pretty intense.  “Space & Time” is a bouncing song that lets up in the middle until the second half roars to the end.  Live, this song was amazing with guitarist Jeff Oddie just banging the crap out of his old guitar and making all kinds of sounds.

“Sadboy” is a bit of slower song but it’s got some great noises and sounds on it.  The hook is one that will stay with you.  The second half, with the “waiting for love” refrain features a whole chorus of backing singers (or Ellie)–quite a surprise–as well as some deep, processed vocals and what I assume is Roswell screaming in the background.

“St. Purple & Green” opens with a similar chorused vocal effect before roaring out with some loud crashing guitars. The band plays especially wonderfully with loud/quiet dynamic because during the quiet sections, Roswell’s voice is so delicate and soothing.  The contrasts are tremendous.

“After the Zero Hour” is a pretty folk song with acoustic guitars and Roswell’s layered soaring vocals.  It’s quite a lovely piece.

The disc ends with the title track “Visions of a Life,” an 8 minute epic of heaviness with multiple parts and time signatures.  It’s a fanatic conclusion to the disc–even if 8 minutes is nowhere near long enough.

I feel pretty lucky to have seen them in a small venue as I can imagine them really taking off.

[READ: January 29, 2018] “The Recipe for Life”

This is an essay about Chabon’s father and his own childhood.

His father was a doctor–an excellent doctor, by all accounts.  He worked all day as a hospital pediatrician and then at night he did house calls for U.S. Public Health Service for insurance claims.

He often took Michael with him.  And Michael often had his own doctor bag (made of plastic) and his own stethoscope (made of plastic) and a needle (made of plastic).

He recalls one night when the patient asked him if he wanted to be a doctor like his father.  He felt, even then, that he could never live up to his father’s work.  He saw (and still sees) his father as an excellent diagnostician (he gets every diagnosis correct very early on while watching Marcus Welby).  But Michael is more impressed at his father’s ability to reassurance patients.  he is warm and thoughtful and consoling.

Except toward Michael: “Unless I am gravely ill or seriously injured–and I am almost never either of those things–I don’t even rate the bedside manner.  My father’s response when I cut a finger, stub my toe, twist an ankle or fall of my bicycle never varies: ‘We’ll have to amputate.'” (more…)

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