We've been trying to refocus our sound a little bit over at Radio 1190. And what we've generally concluded is that we want to be more selective about the big-time, bigger-label artists we play. That being said, here are two big-time artists who really make the cut, both of them capable of playing a critical role in music as we know it. St. Vincent and King Krule are tinkerers who draw from a lot of influences and cram them all under the umbrella of pop music, usually resulting in something perfectly complex, pushing limits but not enough to push people away.
"Masseduction" is St. Vincent's "Death of A Ladies' Man," a lonely and cynical tell-all wrapped in a sweet layer of willful pop ignorance and commercial largesse. Co-produced by Taylor Swift's Jack Antonoff and further collaborating with the likes of Kendrick Lamar producer Sounwave, singer Jenny Lewis and saxophonist Kamasi Washington, I'm not at all shocked by the mainstream appeal of this record. Annie Clark has always teetered on the edge between pop star and alternative rock 'n' roll mastermind, with a keen ability to push the limits of noise and abstraction all while maintaining a very intentional sense of catchiness and danceability.
Sharp vocals and undeniably poppy rhythms that are contrasted against angular guitars serve to construct something massive and clearly defined, while filling in the gaps of her quieter moments with an unexpected, gentle vulnerability. A lovely texture surfaces when tracks likes "New York" are placed against the impenetrable pop barricade of "Pills" and "Sugarboy." In some ways, this record is sterile: It's immaculately produced, every detail considered and perfected.
King Krule, also known as Archy Marshall, is back at it again with his latest record "The Ooz." It is dark, atmospheric, jazz-tinged and echoey, as to be expected. But compared to his previous releases, this record is tighter and more complex than ever. Marshall is an alchemist who combines anything to ultimately deliver something wonderfully new, refreshingly itself. "The Ooz" is a cocktail of dark wave, punk jazz and rap fusion complete with flourishes of stoner-pop guitar trembles and found ambient sound. Notes of Pixies, Devonté Hynes and Frank Ocean unobtrusively scatter themselves throughout. While dominated by a generally gray, mellowed-out, eye-of-the-storm kind of feeling, this record manages to serve a few bangers as well — from the spooky, slightly evil bass-groove "Dum Surfer" to the a la post-punk lament on "Emergency Blimp." This record is poignant and depressed yet warm. Two thumbs up; go check it out.
Stop by anytime: 1190 AM, 98.9 FM or online at radio1190.org.
Klefeker is Radio 1190's music director. Read more reviews: coloradodaily.com/columnists