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Saturday, October 31, 2020

Crowded House return + Wild Tibetan Monks debut + latest from Julien Baker, Eels, Blue Stragglers

Crowded House: Whatever You Want

Neill Finn and his band are back with their first new music in a decade. On this track, Finn and fellow founding member Nick Seymour are joined by producer/keyboardist Mitchell Froom and Neil’s sons: guitarist Liam Finn and drummer Elroy Finn. It's unclear whether they have an album in the works, but they're planning a New Zealand tour in March. This upbeat track, with the refrain "Some people will tell you whatever you want," could just be about flattery in general - but one verse suggests something darker: "Should be shouting from the mountain / At their top of their voice / 'This is not right; this man is a fake' / But they will follow him down / To the edge of the cliff / And if he tells them to jump / They will jump right in." 

Wild Tibetan Monks: Cartoons

We've just been introduced to this Irish indie band and its debut single. The trio formed in college in 2011, and moved in 2018 to Perth, Australia. They toured around Western Australia, playing covers, working on their own music and developing a following. This track was recorded at Rada Studios in Perth before their recent return to Dublin. (Did their travels ever take them to Tibet? Or a monastery? Unknown.) Bassist/vocalist Sean says the song deals with "the pressures of modern life ... We wanted to create a feeling, not just through the lyrics, of longing to go back to a simpler time, of sitting with someone and watching cartoons.” Australian music site The AU Review picked it as a Track of the Day last week. 

Julien Baker: Faith Healer

Photo by Alysse Gafkjen
Due early next year, Little Oblivions is the third album by this Memphis-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. New York Magazine's entertainment site Vulture says it features the artist's "fullest sound yet, with Baker producing the album and playing most of the instruments - which now include drums, bass, and synthesizers, along with the usual guitar and piano." Of this track, Baker says it began as "a very literal examination of addiction" and grew to touch on other forms of escapism. "I (and so many other people) are willing to believe whomever - a political pundit, a preacher, a drug dealer, an energy healer - when they promise healing."

Eels: Are We Alright Again

Known for dark, brooding lyrics, Mark Oliver Everett, a.k.a. E, takes a more circumspect, even optimistic approach on Earth to Dora, the 13th album from his LA-based band. Although structured as a song cycle about a love affair that breaks down, "the album is full of songs that conjure a feeling of internal hope," as a review at Louder than War puts it. "Their soft winding melodies creep inside you as E’s voice soothes and croons." Everett says the album's songs came about before the pandemic - except for this one, which he says "is kind of a quarantine daydream I desperately needed to have."

Blue Stragglers: She

We previously featured "Forever and a Day" from these Sussex, UK-based purveyors of "fuzzed-up, hook-laden grooved-out alt-rock," and now we're dipping back into their self-titled debut album. The lyric, with the refrain "She never makes mistakes," is the amusingly relatable lament of a man admiring a woman who's out of his league: "She's always there / Just waitin' for the right time / Waitin' for a perfect / Man, someone she'll understand / It's not you and it sure ain't me."

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