It may be cold outside, but we’ve got plenty of hot tracks for you here at Radio 1190.
If a sea anemone had a soundtrack, it would be Anemone. Their new record “Beat My Distance” is beachy, colorful and psychedelic. As I listen, I’m nostalgic for times I’ve spent by the ocean, both as a child in California or with friends in Texas. I appreciate the specific mood Anemone evokes. There have been many times in the past week that I’ve put on “Memory Lane,” closed my eyes and just nodded along to the music. Even though there’s snow on the ground and the closest beach is 1,000 miles away, I can put on “Beat My Distance” and imagine laying back on a red-and-white-striped towel and soaking up the sun.
“What Chaos Is Imaginary” is the third album from Los Angeles-based indie icon Girlpool. Throughout this record, members Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad trade off the role of lead vocalist. It’s not typical for a band to have two lead vocalists, but Girlpool pulls it off as seamlessly as two people with voices that different can. Even though Tividad and Tucker have unique voices and don’t sing simultaneously for most of the record, they still maintain a cohesive and distinct sound. That aside, some of the best moments on the record come from the moments when both are singing. Their voices go together like peanut butter and chocolate, a beautiful blend of texture and harmony. “What Chaos Is Imaginary” takes influences from a variety of genres to create a sound that’s truly Girlpool’s own. For example, “Swamp and Bay” starts with a country-esque riff but morphs into a powerful ballad of distorted guitar and assertive vocals. My favorite tracks include the catchy “Hire,” the pleasant “Pretty” and the nostalgic “Hoax and the Shrine.”
Unlike the two aforementioned records, “Girl with Basket of Fruit” is not an easy listen. Xiu Xiu‘s 14th studio release is aggressive, frightening and sometimes downright bone-chilling. The drum beats get you hyped up, then the dissonant and grainy samples and synthesizers add layers of harshness. What brings the record to the next level, really evoking those uncomfortable emotions, is the performed vocals and the vocal samples. Band leader Jamie Stewart recites lyrics in wavering whispers and haunting screams. Stewart’s lyrics aren’t happy, and the samples used in the record aren’t from happy people. Hearing the voices of distressed humans is, at the very least, uncomfortable. While it may sound like I’m dissing the record, this is not the case. Positive emotions aren’t the only ones art can or should convey. The off-kilter record is worth multiple listens for its emotional intensity, musical density and artistic value — especially for fans of experimental music — but it’s certainly not going on your feel-good playlist.
Askari is a music director at Radio 1190. Read more reviews: coloradodaily.com/columnists