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Old 04-13-2010, 08:28 AM   #29 (permalink)
Bulldog
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Some more pictures and words for you to look at...

Bat For Lashes - Two Suns (2009)

So I lied when I said I was gonna cover some more conventional pop music. Rather than give you another more focused three albums like before, I'm gonna give you three examples of three different kinds of pop music.

Two of these I'm gonna mention are kinda like two sides of the same coin, and the first of them would be what you, me and all the little kiddies god bless 'em would call dream pop. If I could just wrap and tape that up into a nice little package for you, for the benfit of those who aren't in the loop dream pop entails more introspective, 'deep' if you will lyrical themes to serve as that kind of foil to the more ethereal atmospheres and textures thrown up by the music. Basically, the sub-genre is the triumph of mood over the guitar, and that mood mood is more often than not pretty grim (as reflected by the slow pace of the songs in tandem with the atmospherics).

What keeps you from falling asleep with your face on the desk though is, of course, melody (hence dream pop of course). Not only are Natasha Khan's songs here well-written and thought through enough to keep this album well above mediocrity, but also her breathy voice, capable of traversing the highs and lows as convincingly as a skag addict, serve the genre tag so well and really do conjure such a wonderful piece of work, and easily one of the very best albums of 2009. By sheer contrast, her preceding album was about as edgy as a bouncy castle, so don't be put off if you hated that.



Iggy Pop - Blah Blah Blah (1986)

I'm sure 100% of any of you who are reading this little note have come across Iggy Pop before, whether he's blared through your speakers at some point or other or been flashing his wrinkly torso at you in that vomit-inducing insurance ad. I'm gonna bet that a lot of you associate him with a livelier, proto-punk sound, be it in the form of songs like TV Eye and Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell that make you want to kick things or more considered, flat-out immense numbers like Five Foot One, the Passenger or China Girl. The Bowie anoraks among you may even associate him with the classic 1977 albums Lust For Life and the Idiot, both of which were produced and, in most places, co-written by David Bowie.

What some of you probably haven't noticed just yet is that the Bowie/Iggy collaboration didn't end there, but that in 1986 Bowie produced and co-wrote a third (and final) album with Iggy. What with its appearing in this thread and all, you can probably guess that this album represented an effort by a formerly heroin-crazed Iggy to present himself as a more cleaned-up guy after the chaos that was his professional and personal life in the earlier 80s. It's rumoured that, upon talking about making another album together, Bowie said to Iggy "I can make this album as commercial as hell". Neither of the pair were exactly at the peak of their artistic greatness at the time (the undeniably crap Never Let Me Down was just around the corner for the former), and it's true that Blah Blah Blah here isn't really one of the latter's best albums - for me, those would be Preliminaires, Brick By Brick, Lust For Life and the Idiot. Those aren't what I'd call flat-out pop albums though and, evidently, this is. By putting their heads together here though, what they produce is, for me, one of the better unashamed pop albums of the 80s and, when it comes to a lot of Iggy's fellow 70s big cheeses who tried to go for a mass audience and, therefore, to sound 'contemporary', this is a much better album than a lot of them. Dated, sure. A blatant pandering to the masses, certainly. But this is a very charming and infectious 80s pop album to me.

To tell you the truth though, you'll either dig it or dig a hole for it. If all you've heard is his work with the Stooges, prepare for a shock. Also, for anyone who was insane enough to watch Pretty Woman, you'll recognise one of the songs on this one.



Zola Jesus - The Spoils (2009)

So, we went off on a little tangent there with the kind of music I'm sure pretty much everyone recognises as out-and-out pop music. Now I'll just take you through another kind of pop, and something of the flipside of the coin when it comes to dream pop. This one is a rougher-edged version of the aforementioned sub-genre, and one that sounds to me like a variation of shoegaze and noise-rock. This is, in case that sentence didn't get you guessing, noise-pop.

This noise-pop is the noise-pop of one Zola Jesus - a girl by the given name of Nika Roza Danilova who's a year younger than my good self and has already accomplished this (and man is that depressing). All in all, she gives us not only another one of the hot contestants for album of 2009, but also a much more sinister variation of the dream pop of Bat For Lashes. The focus is still well and truly on atmospherics and ghostly, haunting vibes, but they're created in a totally different yet equally fascinating way here. This method presents us with a much more obviously minimalist approach, and one that utilises feedback and fuzz to a huge degree. The percussion sounds very industrial too, giving off a very authentic, Einsturzende Neubauten kinda vibe.

Which is all very well but a) is it any good and b) is it pop music? My answers would be a) don't be daft and b) absolutely. Somewhere beneath the walls of drones, feedback and industrial backdrops you can hear the kind of souful vocals and dreamy melodies that dream pop tends to go for. Here, though, any melodies tend to be a lot more subtle, almost as if they're buried beneath the embellishments (often a bad thing but, in instances like this one where the embellishments are good embellishments, sometimes not so), but the pop songwriting at the music's spine is definitely there. Plus, this way, it's all the more memorable for it. Anyway, great album this, and another sign that there's plenty of good stuff out there these days.


And, on that note, it's time for that old chestnut...

This Is Pop #3

1. Struggler Barrington Levy
2. A Yah We Deh Barrington Levy
3. Siren Song Bat For Lashes
4. Good Love Bat For Lashes
5. My Whole World Beres Hammond
6. I'll Never Change Beres Hammond
7. Shades Iggy Pop
8. Cry For Love Iggy Pop
9. Jerusalem Matisyahu
10. Unique Is My Dove Matisyahu
11. Sink the Dynasty Zola Jesus
12. Lullaby In Tongues Zola Jesus

Again, click the pop tart and all shall be revealed.
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