What’s new on WUOG? An ambient angel, slacker storyteller and a buncha folk-punk fellas…
Julia Holter – Have You in My Wilderness
Listening to Julia Holter’s fourth album, Have You In My Wilderness, was one of the most pleasurable experiences I’ve ever known. From the very first song I was captured by the beauty of Julia Holter’s voice and the symphony that accompanied her singing. Have You In My Wilderness can be defined by how intimate it makes you feel. Holter is telling a story through her music, and there is something that feels extremely personal and touching as a result. This is an album that you play at the end of the night when you’re reflecting on how great the party was and how glad you were that all your friends came. Julia Holter has created a chamber orchestra pop album that is slightly more accessible then her splendid past works. The production on the album is extraordinary, and the intricacies of the music, due to great production, continue to complement Holter’s voice. Some tracks that really stood out to me are “Feel You”, “Sea Calls Me Home”, and “Everytime Boots”.
Kurt Vile – b’lieve i’m goin down…
Kurt Vile opens b’lieve i’m goin down with a ballad of desolation, and how his self-awareness from past albums crumbles when he merely looks at his own reflection. Vile’s bleak thoughts are delivered through humorous lyrics, meant to be listened to at night after everyone else has gone to bed. His deadpan vocals and guitar picking allow the listener to drift along to his conversational musings. Vile’s growth comes in the instrumentation as he incorporates more piano and banjo into his songs. Recorded at Joshua Tree and even in Athens, Vile uses less reverb, making it a lot lighter, but his emotional intensity is still as strong as ever. Vile claims “Wheelhouse” is the best song he has ever written, but “Lost My Head There” and “Pretty Pimpin’” are close rivals.
Front Bottoms – Back on Top
Back on Top is the fifth album from the indie-punk band, The Front Bottoms. Although the Front Bottoms are no strangers to the music business, this album is their first after signing to Fueled By Ramen after years with the small, independent label, Bar/None Records. With this label change, has come a change in sound. While staying true to their history of raw and revealing lyrics on most tracks, The Front Bottom’s newest album has a cleaner, and at times, more generic sound than that of the past. The newest album features slower tempos and more electric guitar than on previous releases. While The Front Bottoms have definitely not been lost, the album at times shows a side of The Front Bottoms that is a little too saccharine. One of these saccharine instances is “HELP,” which turned out sounding too common and not personal enough to be a quality Front Bottoms track. “Laugh Till I Cry” and “West Virginia” are the golden connections that link Back On Top to the group’s past, saving the band from losing their distinct sound in the void of the competitive indie-rock world. They both feature instrumental diversity and The Front Bottoms’ signature chaotically eccentric sound. Furthering the transitions from one album to another, “Ginger” almost sounds like a B-side off of Talon of the Hawk, with extremely quirky lyrics and even some trumpet on the track. “Cough It Out” is slower and sweeter than most that the band releases. It features a snare beat and a little keyboard to push it forward, but lead singer Brian Sella’s profound lyrics are really what drives the song to a new, yet somewhat nostalgic mark of success. “Historic Cemetery,” buried deep in the middle of the track list, is another standout. “Historic Cemetery” is more somber than the rest of the tracks, with haunting lyrics, acoustic, guitar, and even some recorded conversation. These songs add complexity to The Front Bottoms, proving they are more than one-trick pony. While there are some glaring faults on Back On Top, that’s what The Front Bottoms are all about; making music for the sake of making music, not with the goal of perfection in mind. While The Front Bottoms may not be recording out of warehouses or friend’s basements at 2A.M. anymore, the passion and creativity from those days are still apparent.