Panda Bear teams with Dean Blunt on new video for “Token,” expands tour

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Hide your bamboo! Panda Bear is back with another single from his forthcoming album Buoys, out February 8 on Domino. It’s called “Token” and arrives with a totally hilarious video courtesy of Dean Blunt that’s almost certainly not what you’d expect from such a hype collab.

Opening with a set of title cards narrating Dean’s failed attempts to come up with a concept, the video settles into a home video-style montage of a goofy, faux-morose, camera-shy Dean riding bumper cars, navigating the horrors of a modern-day amusement park, and flying drones. As Noah Lennox sings about “a slap on a jelly ass” (!?) and getting into some kind of building, we follow Dean through what looks like a slow descent into the most cuddly mental breakdown of all time, all strobelights, kaleidoscopic stuffed prizes, and one oddly satisfying ending. The happiest Dean, it seems, is the one who has lost his mind.

As with first single “Dolphin,” “Token” and its heavily-delayed acoustic guitars represent a chillaxed change in direction following Panda Bear’s bumpin’ vinyl-only 2018 EP, A Day With The Homies. Check out the video below, along with expanded tour dates.

Panda Bear tour dates:

02.11.19 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
02.12.19 – Boston, MA – Paradise
02.14.19 – Brooklyn, NY – Pioneer Works
02.15.19 – Brooklyn, NY – Pioneer Works
02.16.19 – Chicago, IL – The Art Institute of Chicago
02.18.19 – Los Angeles, CA – Lodge Room
02.19.19 – Los Angeles, CA – Lodge Room
02.20.19 – San Francisco, CA – The Regency
04.19.19 – London, England – Electric Brixton
04.20.19 – Rotterdam, Netherlands – Motel Mozaique
04.21.19 – Berlin, Germany – Kesselhaus
04.23.19 – Brussels, Belgium – Les Nuits Botanique
04.24.19 – Lisbon, Portugal – Culturgest Lisbon
04.25.19 – Madrid, Spain – Conde Duque

Panda Bear announces North American tour dates for 2019

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Can you believe it’s been over three days since we first laid eyes on this painting of Noah Lennox cradling a french bulldog!? word (figuratively) <came through the wire about Panda Bear’s new album Buoys?!?

Well, it turns out indie music’s most iconic ursine is (literally) back in the headlines already with the extremely timely announcement of his 2019 tour across the North America…and panda bears aren’t even indigenous to that continent!

So I’ll make this simple: if you love the new single “Dolphin” — which is an altogether different animal (watch the video below) — and are confident in your need to see Noah Lennox’s electro-acoustic crooning live and in concert, check out those dates below and, you know, buy tickets! Now make like the sea and support Buoys (out February 8)!

Panda Bear live in an uninhabitable climate:

02.11.19 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club*
02.12.19 – Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club
02.15.19 – Brooklyn, NY – Pioneer Works
02.16.19 – Chicago, IL – The Art Institute of Chicago
02.18.19 – Los Angeles, CA – Lodge Room
02.20.19 – San Francisco, CA – The Regency Ballroom

Don’t let this amazing painting of Panda Bear holding a french bulldog distract you from the announcement of his new album Buoys

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A few months ago, Animal Collective released an audio-visual album called Tangerine Reef. Notably, Noah Lennox a.k.a. Panda Bear was absent from the proceedings for the first time in the band’s history. But don’t think for a second that the fluffiest animal in the collective was just eating bamboo all day while sitting around doing nothing though. No, Panda Bear was eating bamboo all day while sitting around recording a brand new album! It’s called Buoys, and it’s out February 8 via Domino.

Buoys will be Lennox’s sixth full-length Panda Bear album. After the vinyl-only release of his A Day With the Homies EP earlier this year, it will be a proper follow-up to 2015’s Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper.

Lennox co-produced and co-mixed the album with Rusty Santos, whom he last collaborated with on Person Pitch; so please allow yourself to get just a little bit more excited. Commenting on the album, Lennox says, “The last three records felt like a chapter to me, and this feels like the beginning of something new.”

Exemplifying that “something new,” Lennox has also released the album’s first single, “Dolphins.” Check out the video for the song honoring the buoys of the animal kingdom down below, as well as the album’s artwork, full tracklisting, and that painting of Lennox holding a frenchie again…because damn. Iconic.

Buoys will be out via Domino on February 8 and can be pre-ordered here.

And…here it comes:

Buoys tracklisting:

01. Dolphin
02. Cranked
03. Token
04. I Know I Don’t Know
05. Master
06. Buoys
07. Inner Monologue
08. Crescendo
09. Home Free

Music Review: Julia Holter – Aviary

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Julia Holter


[Domino; 2018]

Rating: 4.5/5

Julia Holter has lost her mind. It is as if something inside Julia Holter has snapped. Julia Holter would like to go somewhere more quiet.

Holter recognises that too much of what holds the world together is melting, whether that be the standard of public discourse, the dignity of institutional power or the literal constituent parts of our ecosystem. Holter never used to think her music had a political aspect, though she has changed her mind about that. “What I’ve come to realize is all music is political,” Holter says. “It’s not like I’m inserting politics into my songs, it’s just there, just like it’s inherently personal.” “But parts of me are in it — when people ask if my work is ‘political’ or ‘personal,’ yes it’s both of those things, as is all art — all art is political and personal whether it wants to be or not.”

Aviary starts like a movie and it lasts as long as one: 90 minutes on the dot, the length of an independent rom-com or a forgivingly concise blockbuster. A 15-track, 90-minute ride through the deepest recesses of Holter’s most avant-garde impulses, it seeks not to make sense of the madness but to excavate the humanity out of it. Over its 90 minute runtime, structure and traditionalism are continuously overturned. Clocking in at an epic 90 minutes, Aviary is just about double the length of every album she’s made before.

Each of the album’s lengthy songs is like an exotic bird flying into view, showcasing its distinct and magnificent plumage. The term “aviary,” by Holter’s account, refers to the music’s internal conversations, which roughly evoke birdsong. The album’s title comes from a line in a 2009 Etel Adnan short story: “I found myself in an aviary full of shrieking birds.” “Ultimately, what this record feels like to me are birds as memories, or birds as thoughts,” she says. “Birds can be beautiful, but birds can also make these terrible, shrieking sounds. Just like you can have beautiful memories and terrible memories, beautiful thoughts and terrible thoughts in the mind.” “I was invoking that, that feeling of the physical presence of memory. Just like birds can be beautiful, memory can be beautiful. But birds can also be terrifying and shrieking.” “These were, like, the birds in one’s mind — thoughts flying around your head. I was feeling a lot of the noise of the world, and at the same time, the presence of my memories sharing space with my thoughts. Maybe it’s an age thing — you start to notice this as you grow older or something — but there’s so much of the past in the present of your life. To me, the birds are symbols of memory.”

“In medieval times, bird cages were used visually as a trope for a storehouse of memories (as mentioned in Mary Carruther’s Book of Memory). I thought of birds as memories flying around in the mind — beautiful birds, shrieking birds — just like beautiful memories and terrible memories.” The Book of Memory I’ve been reading for a long time, by Mary Carruthers. I haven’t read it from start to finish, but I’ve had it for a long time. It just connects a lot of things in medieval thought that I seem interested in for some reason.” She cites an interest in medieval history that prompted her to read A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara W. Tuchman. She tried to write her own manuscripts in the manner of medieval monks. That may sound eccentric, but for Holter, it relates directly back to music.

Though both of Holter’s parents are historians, and she thinks she must have inherited some of their interest in the past, she rejects the idea that her music is ‘academic’ or ‘literary.’ She’s no more influenced by outside texts than any other musician; having earned her master’s in composition, she’s just used to citing her sources more meticulously. Though Holter insists she’s not particularly literary — “I’m a slow reader, and I don’t really know a lot,” she says — her lyrical style is deeply influenced by her encounters with other people’s writing. Her lyrics tend to be studded with historical references and esoteric quotes — Aviary drips in Tibetan Buddhist chants, Pushkin poems, Medieval troubadour songs, and fragments of Sappho, though, unless you’re an expert in any one area, you’ll need to study the lyric sheet to parse them. According to Holter, the gathering of disparate sources like these was central to her process when choosing musical points of reference for the compositions that make up Aviary.

“Art is always a process of translation, of sharing from people to people, from century to century. I don’t know what the purpose of art is, but there’s some comfort that it still exists. Why was I making this record? I don’t know. Is this a refuge for me? No, I don’t know what this is. But we have to keep translating.” It’s not the text that counts; it’s the writing, the impulse to metabolize one work and make another. “Collecting texts from different times — that type of translation of voices. For me that’s what art is: It’s a translation of voices from different times. It’s a kind of recycling.” “One of the tracks is called ‘Colligere’ (as in ‘collecting’) and that one is about the process of collecting different texts from different places and reusing it and transferring from one voice to another, this constant translation from one era to another, that sharing from era to era feels like what this is all about, and that’s all we have, to me that sharing is love.”

Ultimately, that’s what music is to her — an emotional transmission, a pure state of being, a potential vehicle for empathy so that disparate people can occasionally feel similar things in an increasingly fragmented world. “I was trying to ruminate on empathy and love,” Holter says. “I’ve been thinking a lot about love and what it is and sharing with people or something.” “I’ve been thinking about love and empathy. It seems like a time where it’s questioned daily if empathy is a real thing,” Holter says. “Am I an empathic person? That stuff seems to all be questioned in the politics of today.” “Empathy is an obstacle to people in power who know they can’t stay there if their people start working together and listening to each other.”

In the reviews and interviews surrounding Aviary, a coherent narrative has taken shape: the political climate since 2016 has driven Julia Holter to near-madness, resulting in a dense, thrilling, perplexing 90-minute album interlaced with themes ranging from birds to memory to medieval manuscript culture to the necessity of empathy to the nature and purpose of art. These themes aren’t as disparate as they appear, and they in fact relate to one another, moebius-like, such that you end up back where you began by considering each one in turn.

As Holter points out, birds have been associated with memory since at least the Middle Ages, when monks and scribes would copy and re-copy texts like Hugh of Fouilloy’s De Avibus, a collection of illustrated morality tales about birds produced in the 12th and 13th centuries (such a book was called an aviary). Through the process of re-copying, the monks would focus intently on the text, word by word, patiently immersing themselves in its aesthetic world. However, differences would inevitably emerge, as they would misread and make mistakes. The process is emblematic of Holter’s own artistic practice, as she collects, translates, and transcribes literary texts into her lyrics and compositions, changing them to suit her own ends. This is the purpose of art, this caring for the past and its people enough to transfer their work into our own era, even if imperfectly, and thus into the future (if, indeed, there is a future).

Holter’s seemingly academic interest in the distant past is not obscurantism, but rather a radical act of personal politics. Transferring texts from person to person, century to century, assumes a continuity and therefore a mutual understanding between people from wildly different eras. Recognizing something not only valuable but urgently relevant in texts from Dante, Pushkin, Sappho, and the 12th-century troubadour Bernart de Ventadorn (all adapted for tracks on Aviary) demonstrates an empathy that Holter rightly fears is missing in today’s political climate. If we can recognize ourselves in those long dead, perhaps we could recognize ourselves in those still living. Without this empathy undergirding our discourse, it devolves into the shrieking of birds.

Aviary hearkens back to Holter’s earliest records, Tragedy and Ekstasis, in its adaptation of classic texts and in its compositional process. However, it represents an astounding step forward in its scope and ambition. The claustrophobia of Loud City Song and the self-imposed aesthetic limitations of Have You in My Wilderness have given way to wide-screen, exploratory, celebratory triumph. The album’s standout tracks are those propulsive numbers that give the listener a way to orient themselves within its sprawl (“Whether,” “I Shall Love 2,” “Les Jeux to You”). Even the most challenging songs, though, unveil immersive worlds upon multiple listens (“Chiatius,” “Every Day Is an Emergency,” “Colligere”). Although it initially seems like Aviary could benefit from trimming a few songs, choosing those songs would be an insurmountable task. Together, its 15 tracks form an intimidating but coherent whole that serves as Holter’s most sophisticated and engaging release to date. For a composer of Holter’s rapidly increasing stature, that is high praise indeed.

Watch: Julia Holter – “Words I Heard”

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“I shall love.” The way you might go to the conservatory’s fern room in the dead of winter, the way you might attend a Polish Mass in a moment of crisis, the way you might check your favorite old webzine in the middle of the night, don’t go too far. Ave Maria on Maria Ave, she writes down the address for the Loud City Aviary, cheeping, where you sit and listen to the slowing spinning song, watch them cross, tweet, “Pedestrians are flightless birds.” Unbottled, I follow moss, though it couldn’t drag me away. I’m all all’s swell, sworn in birdsong, chiming in. I’ll forget how “Hello, Stranger” got me through a winter, I’ll forget the words I heard that sealed with wax will get me through this one again. The camera looks up, again and again, a spell to ward off darkness, the seasonal caring commentary of the House kids seeing the falling leaves and mistaking them for butterflies, or maybe saying, “Oh, pretty!” at some of the Virginia countryside. It’s the kettle, it’s the film, it’s feature-length (double LP). Have One On Me In My Wilderness, it’s Julia Holter back at the piano, in the studio, finding herself out of the woods, in the clear, right where you are, that’s where she loves, “in the city of man.” And how!

Aviary is out next Friday, October 26, via Domino.

Music Review: Animal Collective – Tangerine Reef

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Animal Collective

Tangerine Reef

[Domino; 2018]

Rating: 1.5/5

They were the greatest psych-pop band in the world until they weren’t. You know, back in the Merriweather Post Pavilion days, when Obama was in office and love was in the air. But then something shocking happened: social media became a way of life, and we all became narcissistic and bent on beautifying our cyberspace. Amidst all of that, a bunch of non-guitar-based genres gained prominence in the 2010s. Meanwhile, Animal Collective landed safe on a shore of financial stability and fame, just as the kiddos were throwing away their guitars and replacing them for DAWs. We didn’t realize that Animal Collective had swam out to an island and were impossibly alone and trapped in their musicality, until it was too late. They were stuck out there.

Now this: making music for a film about a coral reef that is also a vessel for climate awareness. Collaborating with Coral Morphologic. 2018 International Year of the Reef. Trump in Office. And Avey Tare, swimming through a cloak of seawater and singing to the reef down below, with that style that we know: like he’s perpetually in the summer, at the end of the day, outside, looking up at some trees, with the same tiredness that kids have when they are wrenched from a nap. You know, that childhood vibe. Like as if he spent half of it as a tadpole or a seahorse. That’s one of the reasons why we love Animal Collective: it’s as if they’re still kindergarteners experimenting with kaleidoscopic visuals while playing with instruments as if those instruments were seesaws, merry-go-rounds, swing sets, slides, chin-up bars, sandboxes, trapeze rings, and mazes. We like it when they freak out, because it reminds us of how much of life should be experienced untamed.

Since half of experiencing Tangerine Reef comes from experiencing the visuals it accompanies, it’s hard for me to really vibe with this album as a complete thing. Really it feels less than that, like a side table, a bed frame, or a pierced hole in an ear with no earring in it. Sure, maybe you’ll be reminded once again of the planet’s fragility. Sure, you’ll be reminded once again of Trump’s denial of said fragility. And yes, Avey Tare’s lyrics, as always, are unburdened by the need to demonstrate knowledge in a way that is quantifiable or provable. But honestly, will we the millenials, upon listening, give a fuck about all of this? Will anyone, for that matter? It’s cool to be in the world by being in the protest by being in awareness of how the reef’s breathing quivers with each wave-pull. No doubt about that. But at the same time, Tangerine Reef is more like the sound of pretending to experience something profound. It’s a lull, a moonlit lull on the banks of the ocean in an off-moment, star-lit and discrete. It feels as if led astray. As if it were a fake ointment. Or adding emptiness to emptiness, secretly.

Yet, accompanying the film made by Coral Morphologic, it makes way more sense. Check it out below:

Music Review: Blood Orange – Negro Swan

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Blood Orange

Negro Swan

[Domino; 2018]

Rating: 3/5

Ever since abandoning the tranquil, indie pop tendencies of Coastal Grooves and Cupid Deluxe, Devonte Hynes has become unafraid of taking risks. The nocturnal expanses of Freetown Sound were (and still are) a full-bodied testament to that fact. While Blood Orange may have originated within the confines of bedroom music, the calling of shared histories and experiences, drawing from Hynes’s diasporic beginnings, have come into focus.

Negro Swan is Hynes’s most ambitious undertaking to date. While the blinds are still partially drawn and things feel characteristically brooding, a typical Blood Orange track is no longer sullied by insular drum machine patterns and oceanic reverb: voices are fully present, percussion sits resolutely front-and-center in the mix, and every bass line maintains a warm embrace. The album battles the myriad complexities of black depression, queer existence, and finding safety in a world that was never tailored for you.

You can touch blackness as the Negro Swan. The tactile manifestations of a marginalized person’s life — hair, skin, clothes — become the canvas of Blood Orange’s choosing; “Your skin’s a flag that shines for us all” the emphatic battle cry of a life’s radiance undermined. Tactility is of paramount importance. A crisper take on production results in songs feeling physically closer than they ever have; although a wealth of rewarding grooves exist, it’s the stark, minimal tracks that showcase a side we haven’t experienced before.

There’s close attention to each potent hook, and it shows. “First kiss was the floor” is undergirded by a sway so infectious that it’s easy to overlook the refrain’s devastating personal truth. “Charcoal Baby” features one of the album’s most killer choruses and prominent guitar riffs while posing toward brown/black skin, very tongue-in-cheek, “Can you break sometimes?” (The answer is no.) When somber, “Take Your Time” is a comforting reprieve, where vocals reach for new heights in delirious glory. Singing has never been Blood Orange’s forte, but there is something to be said of its nakedness, especially when pushed to the very brink of each last breath.

Hynes avoids lingering in the spotlight for too long. The album is atypically feature-heavy, but the results are a mixed bag. Diddy’s brief and vulnerable appearance brings plenty of personality to “Hope.” As usual, Georgia Anne Muldrow is in godly form on the Pharcyde love-letter “Runnin’.” But A$AP Rocky delivers an instantly forgettable verse on “Chewing Gum” about his ex, toothpaste, and riding on the dick “with no license and shit.” At best, it’s just about listenable; at worst, it’s puzzling and thoroughly awkward.

There’s no denying that Blood Orange has become, aesthetically, a slicker and smarter project in taking this resolute turn toward regal, monochromatic pop and soul. That being said, Rocky’s feature is just one of the many instances where this newfound approach reveals itself as a cloud of disparate ideas that ultimately dampen the impact of any overarching statement. Most of this issue stems from a tendency to recklessly introduce and eliminate potentially powerful ideas. The gospel-inflected vocalizations of “Holy Will” were a welcome move, sharply contrasted against more rhythmic backbones elsewhere — after all, Hynes is capable of creating juxtaposition. Unfortunately, backloading drums and more syrup synths toward the end of the song provides only a fleeting glimmer of variation that deserved development. “Jewelry” blossoms into an understated electro-soul bop, only for a confused blend of detuned guitars, vocal inflections, and ad-libs to steal the show.

Janet Mock’s narration plays an integral role, as it bridges various musical passages together. But most of the time, it feels conceptually disjointed. That’s not to say that Mock’s insight isn’t valuable, but its collaborative role with the music is largely surface-level, featuring arbitrary trade-offs between her and Hynes. The obsession over performativity and the need to limit self-expression in certain spaces seems to suggest that the subject matter at hand — Negro Swan — represents some kind of unshackled representation of the artist’s voice. If this really is the case, it’s disappointing to see Hynes fall prey to relatively safe resolutions when preoccupied with complex, intersectional ideas. The sheer amount of songs that dissolve into a pastiche of floating keyboards, atmospheric city sounds, and other jazzy detritus is exhausting, and truly accepting these features as representative of the album’s lofty thematic aspirations is not easy. New York City and the confines of bohemian intellectualism (“Got big books and I’m broke”) are motifs that fail to connect. Take the additional battery of tracks, including “Vulture Baby” and “Minetta Creek,” that are 100% vibes but not much else and it gets less appetizing to pick out meaningful assertions among the filler.

Identity and the burden of performance are grueling enough to articulate, let alone deconstruct for others. It is deeply, deeply layered. For those without brown or black skin, there’s no beginning or end to this discussion. Negro Swan is certainly an excellent primer, with enough defiance and unapologetic celebration to go around. In being both celebratory and broken, it embodies the disenfranchised human. Hynes takes ownership of that dissonance. Rather than a vague interest in creating bite-sized political fodder, the album is indeed invested in rejecting one-dimensional interpretations of being black and/or queer.

Confrontational moments, however, are scarce. It all sounds incredible, but there is a fundamental, unignorable disconnect between what wants (or needs) to be said and what is actually said. Situating oneself in New York City may be one of the easiest things to do while listening to Negro Swan, which is a fairly lukewarm prospect. Perhaps Negro Swan is merely a step along the way, as Blood Orange continues to contend with monolithic, difficult ideas, but for now, this patchwork of sweltering grooves, amicable conversations, and urban ambience remains limited in its vision.

How to Dress Well announces new album The Anteroom, shares video for new single “Nonkilling 6 | Hunger”

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Tom Krell has an advanced degree in philosophy, and his new How to Dress Well album is called The Anteroom. This is the closest Krell’s come to using a GRE-level vocab word in conjunction with his once-wispy R&B project. (The “What Is This Heart?” cut “Pour Cyril” has a whiff of grad student dweeb humor to it too, with the pun.) Will this minor elevation in diction signal an unexpected shift in sound? A return to the vaporous obscurantism of Krell’s early work after a couple of albums that have spent more and more effort on musical and emotional clarity?? Will there be a PBR&B cover of Fugazi’s synonymously named classic “Waiting Room”??? Only time (and Tom) can reveal the answers to these questions.

(Well, actually, we have the tracklisting, and you can look at it below. It does not include a cover of “Waiting Room”. It does, however, present more evidence that Krell is flaunting that academic background a little more overtly this time around. You’ll see why.)

(Oh, and we have another hint, too: Krell, along with the announcement of the album, has shared a video for “Nokilling 6 | Hunger,” which you can watch below. The video was created in collaboration with Justin Daashuur Hopkins and Cloaking under the aegis of NOH/Wave.)

How to Dress Well also has some tour dates coming up, which you can view below the tracklist.

The Anteroom is out October 19 on Domino and can be pre-ordered right here…right NOW.

The Anteroom tracklisting:

01. Humans Disguised As Animals | Nonkilling 1
02. Body Fat
03. False Skull 7
04. Nonkilling 3 | The Anteroom | False Skull 1
05. Vacant Boat
06. Nonkilling 13 | Ceiling for the Sky
07. A Memory, The Spinning of a Body | Nonkilling 2
08. Nonkilling 6 | Hunger
09. July 13 No Hope No Pain
10. Love Means Taking Action
11. Brutal | False Skull 5
12. False Skull 12
13. Nothing

How to Dress Well North American Tour Dates:

11.12.18 – Washington, DC – Union Stage
11.13.18 – Philadelphia, PA – Jonny Brendas
11.14.18 – Brooklyn, NY – Good Room
11.15.18 – Boston, MA – Museum of Science
11.17.18 – Montreal, QC – Le Ministère
11.18.18 – Toronto, ON – Velvet Underground
11.19.18 – Detroit, MI – The Schvitz
11.20.18 – Chicago, IL – Sleeping Village
11.27.18 – San Diego, CA – Casbah
11.28.18 – Los Angeles, CA – Lodge Room
11.30.18 – San Francisco, CA – Popscene at Rickshaw Stop
12.01.18 – Portland, OR – Doug Fir Lounge
12.03.18 – Vancouver, BC – The Wise Hall & Lounge
12.04.18 – Seattle, WA – Kremwerk

Julia Holter returns with new album Aviary, shares video for first single

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“LIKE” this post AS SOON AS IT’S CONVENIENT FOR YOU, because Julia Holter is back with more choon for your headtops. Titled Aviary, the (new) album features 15 (new) tracks and serves as her first (new) record since 2015’s Have You In My Wilderness (our 11th favorite album of that year). She describes Aviary as “the cacophony of the mind in a melting world.” Explains Holter:

Amidst all the internal and external babble we experience daily, it’s hard to find one’s foundation. I think this album is reflecting that feeling of cacophony and how one responds to it as a person – how one behaves, how one looks for love, for solace. Maybe it’s a matter of listening to and gathering the seeming madness, of forming something out of it and envisioning a future.

No idea what “melting world” she’s referring to, but then again, I’m a Music Critic, so I have it pretty damn good. Anyway: Aviary. October 26. Domino. Watch the Dicky Bahto-directed video for the album’s first single, “I Shall Love 2,” below, followed by the cover art, tracklist, tour dates, and a bunch of annoying ads.

Aviary tracklist:

01. Turn The Light On
02. Whether
03. Chaitius
04. Voce Simul
05. Everyday Is An Emergency
06. Another Dream
07. I Shall Love 2
08. Underneath The Moon
09. Colligere
10. In Gardens’ Muteness
11. I Would Rather See
12. Les Jeux To You
13. Words I Heard
14. I Shall Love 1
15. Why Sad Song


10.14.18 – Lake Perris, CA – Desert Daze Festival
11.24.18 – Leeuwarden – Explore The North Festival
11.26.18 – Amsterdam – Paradiso Noord
11.27.18 – Bochum – Schauspiel
11.28.18 – Antwerp – De Roma
11.30.18 – Berlin – Funkhaus
12.01.18 – Hamburg – Elbphilharmonie
12.02.18 – Frankfurt – Brotfabrik
12.03.18 – Munich – Kammerspiele
12.05.18 – Paris – Petit Bain
12.06.18 – Manchester – Gorilla
12.07.18 – Bristol – Fiddlers
12.08.18 – Dublin – Button Factory
12.10.18 – Edinburgh – Summerhall
12.11.18 – Leeds – Howard Assembly Rooms
12.12.18 – London – Hackney Arts Centre
02.19.19 – Washington DC – U Street Music Hall
02.20.19 – Philadelphia, PA – Underground Arts
02.22.19 – New York, NY – Warsaw
02.23.19 – Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall
02.24.19 – Montreal, CA – La Sala Rossa
02.26.19 – Toronto, CA – The Great Hall
02.27.19 – Detroit, MI – El Club
02.28.19 – Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall
03.01.19 – St. Paul, MN – Turf Club
03.04.19 – Vancouver, CA – Imperial
03.05.19 – Portland, OR – Doug Fir
03.06.19 – Seattle, WA – Neumos
03.08.19 – San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall
03.09.19 – Los Angeles, CA – Lodge Room

Music Review: Tirzah – Devotion

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[Domino; 2018]

Rating: 4/5

“I’ll make you fine again,” she reminds. Is fineness what we want?

Lovesick, we said once, all our musculature and skeleton whacked out imbalanced, dripping like this fluttering organ, this spinning coo. “I’ll make you,” and a blip, a spin, and back “I’ll make you fine again, again.” Devotion was pressreleasedly pitched as “straight-up love songs,” but devotion is the holy wholly. Things repeat — the feeling falling can’t be straight-up. It’s all at once interdirectional. It’s arrhythmic, full of blood and air popping, lovesick. And then,

“This is so pure, this feels rare, I just want you to know that I’m here for you you make me stronger so I’m here to catch you don’t worry ‘bout worries I won’t let them get you,” and I feel fine.

“Do you know, I think I’d be fine if you met someone/ It’s not even like we were doing nothing wrong/ I just need to find something that would take me back to how I was before.” Unfine, we circle our selves. Devotion’s move into rhythm and blues, ballad and bang, is defined by all of love’s contradictory aspects. We meditate when we could mediate. “Fine Again” trusted that want’s weight wouldn’t break the skin; “Do You Know” retreats into monologue and repeats its one question until you don’t, you can’t, you never know. “She brings this chaos, this unraveling to the project,” Tirzah said of her friend and collaborator, Mica Levi, who produced these songs. In a sound like this, where moments loop just as quick as they start, instability feels sustainable. Loving feels logical, backwards. Levi’s lolls and blips envelop the ache of Tirzah’s alto, essentially, fundamentally. What if loving is part chaos? Take me back to how I was before? How were you before? Isn’t it how you were now?

“All I want I want you to try and remember what it was like to have been very young. And particularly the days when you were first in love; when you were like a person sleepwalking, and you didn’t quite see the street you were in, and didn’t quite hear every thing that was said to you. You’re just a little bit crazy. Will you remember that, please? is you.”

If devotion throws us out, it throws us back, too. Devotion is the sound of the whole love at once, a love song extrapolated, a kiss as a cosmos, gladly. “I like you/ You’re like to me. If it’s not strictly Euclidean, it’s at least similarly dissimilar: we can match each other with what we give and what we get, what we take and what we make.


And, in the end, if you come onto me, then I’ll come onto you. Reciprocal want is the geometry of ordinary experiences. Bodies and feelings get flung up and laid down like lines in triangles, like plucked pianos and the kiss of chimes. The disaffected “Affection” doesn’t come after or because of “Holding On,” because love and loss and want and won’t are part of the same patchwork. Devotion moves the “straight-up love song” up and over and out of its self. “Don’t say you want only affection.

Tirzah Mastin, Tirzah, began making music at Purcell School for Young Musicians, in Watford, in England, where she met Mica Levi, where she was learning how to play the harp. She enrolled at London College of Fashion, studied textile design, released I’m Not Dancing in 2013, then No Romance in 2014, both on Greco-Roman, both recorded with Levi. In addition to her music, Mastin works full-time as a designer at a print agency; she and her partner, Kwake Bass, recently had a baby.

“She says that I bring the calm,” Tirzah told Colleen Kelsey in a Times interview, regarding Levi, mostly regarding her self. Chaos and calm, the lasering synth spiraling and the steady stepping beat of “Basic Need,” is love via Devotion. Like a garment stitched from a universe of textiles, love is what we say about love, how it was and how it will be.

And then “Guilty,” a shock of electric guitar. “And then, distortion.” If it didn’t break down, it wouldn’t integrate into. Distortion is metabolism, the crunch of closeness. Distortion teaches us we can love again, even in loving. Loss is love removed. This is a stunning love song. “And then the silence of space,” loss, shows us what to do.

“What are you gonna do what are you gonna do about it?”

“So listen to me.”“So listen to me.”

A reminder: “Don’t raise your voice to me.” If love is an equalization of wants and gets, it’s important to call out when it’s not love. Maybe that’s why the drums land harder on “Go Now,” why Tirzah’s athletic voice sounds resolute. Devotion is off-kilter, an exploratory treatment of feeling love that paints a sound where all lovings are valid, where it’s not longer a singularly homogenized sensation. Love can sound like anything, can look like anyone. This is quietly radical. But if love is everything, not everything gets to be love. Things that are equal to the same thing are equal to each other; things have to help each other, equally.” Don’t raise your voice to me.” Don’t lose track of that.

“I think it just came about like that, really. We thought, Wait a minute. We’ve got loads of love songs, and we just need to make a straight-up kind of love song album… It’s really just a matter of trying to be sincere. I think it was just trying to be sincere with each thing and hope that it resonated.” (Tirzah Mastin, in conversation with Nylon.)

“I know we are made from love and fantasy/ I know we will be here for eternity,” Tirzah sings on the last song, “Reach,” over boom and snare, her voice curling. We want, try, and time splits those markers. We give and we lose, erode and scar and hoist. Tirzah’s Devotion, these 14 numeral moments, sketch a way toward communicating loving better. Love and its songs are all these things, fashion and textile, joke and confession, milled piano ballad and club-drum slap. It has to be everything, chaos and calm and resolving and receding, shapeless resolute — how could love sound like one thing?

And in the end (as at the beginning), devotion isn’t sensation between two people, but in and of and over every one’s version of life, the sound of love as it was, as it can be, as it will be. The sound of loving is consistent, even as it appears in radically different instances. The mechanism of love song fits all bodies, all modes. It lands on ears, it laps and licks and it does no harm. If it did harm, we wouldn’t listen. If it didn’t receive every devotee, it would be a lie. If it didn’t make us sing, we wouldn’t call it love.