"World" - Julia Holter
This year’s Loud City Song has been lauded by many as Holter’s best, most consistent effort yet, outdistancing the still excellent Tragedy and Ekstasis. It all started with “World,” the record’s first single and a song unlike any other Holter had yet recorded.
Loud City Song was Holter’s first record in a studio, a fact that is most evident in the rich, open spaces of “World.” It’s a song that, though sparse, maximizes Holter’s best qualities: patience, precision, and her arrangements.
"World" has the first two in spades, stretching out the frequent silences into wide-eyed yearning for another word and blissful endorphine release when it would come. "Horns Surrounding Me" may be the epitome of anxiety and "In the Green Wild" her most fun song yet, but it is "World" that most showcased what Holter is capable of.
- Tyler Hanan // NSB Songs of 2013
"Freely" - Linda Perhacs
Good god, the things you can miss when in a finance-induced coma. On March 4, Asthmatic Kitty will be releasing Linda Perhacs’ The Soul of All Natural Things, Perhac’s first album since Parallelograms in 1970.
1970! That’s a 44 year gap between albums. That’s longer than I’m likely to be alive.
Julia Holter and Nite Jewel contributed to the ten-track, Inside Björk and Milton Nascimento record, a bit of news a certain writer for this website finds exceedingly delightful. This news was all first posted over on Pitchfork, where Jenn Pelly also reported that those two "helped revive Perhacs’ musical activity."
I don’t want to simply cop all the information - this is why we cite things - but I’d like to at least include this quote from Perhacs.
We get too far out of balance and we must find a way to get back to our polestar. I felt that people needed to be reminded of that. My music isn’t just recreational, it’s not just entertainment. I have a deeper purpose. My soul is giving itself to the people; I want them to be helped, I want them to be lifted.
- The Soul of All Natural Things
- River of God
- Prisms of Glass
- When Things Are True Again
- Song of the Planets
- Tyler Hanan
"Horns Surrounding Me" - Julia Holter
Julia Holter today released a music video for “Horns Surrounding Me,” a bit of news that was always more a matter of “when” than “if.” Since 2011’s Tragedy helped bring her to a larger audience, Holter has recorded music videos for a good amount of songs. This is already the fourth off her critically acclaimed album from earlier this year, Loud City Song.
I considered this news inevitable due to that fact, but also to because of the song itself. It’s one of the most dynamic and forceful cuts from the album, a propulsive, anxiety-spawning vortex. It’s magnificent as it reduces me to tears in a dark corner.
Directed by Angus Borsos and conceptualized by Ramona Gonzalez (Nite Jewel), the video takes a nightmarish turn, as was to be expected, and is light on action and heavy on some rather nice frames. I especially like this one. It comes out of nowhere for a few seconds, and is the only shot quite like it:
- Tyler Hanan
With the internet still riding high on Colbchella, the morning’s other music news items have understandably been a bit overshadowed. However, I am never one to miss a chance to write (and write, and write) about Julia Holter, especially when the pop auteur has released “the heart of [her] upcoming record Loud City Song.”
With only 11 days until the album’s August 20 release on Domino, two stellar and markedly different singles still fresh in our ears, and a string of live shows having entranced attendees the world over, Holter’s quickly rising renown and wide breadth of creative expression look to continue for quite some time
Click through to watch Pitchfork’s video of her performing “In the Green Wild” at their music festival and a music video of sorts for “Maxim’s I,” featuring Rick Bahto’s footage from the recording of Loud City Song.
- Tyler Hanan
"In the Green Wild" - Julia Holter
Shrugging off inner concerns of posting a single artist too often, I share with you “Into the Green Wild.” The track is the second single off Julia Holter’s Domino debut, Loud City Song.
Holter continues to be unpredictable in everything except her bent toward complex pop (a simplistic catch-all) and her fairly consistent album-a-year schedule. Though technically the follow-up to 2012’s acclaimed Ekstasis, “World" and "Into the Green Wild" are even greater departures from the lush pop proceedings of Ekstasis than Ekstasis was from the alternately discordant, inhuman, and eerie sounds of Tragedy.
Holter, in interviews, has expounded upon how each album is a new project rather than a new expression from an old project; each new song relates that same story by having a new direction. First there was the sparse “World,” a song so gorgeously restrained and built upon exquisitely empty space it was fit to burst - beautifully so.
Now we’ve been given “In the Green Wild,” a track that shares the modern sound of “World” - fitting for an album partially about “the city” and “themed around the loudness of society” (Holter, via Pitchfork) - but it possesses a funkiness that no other recent Holter track has hinted at. The song’s latter half edges towards a more familiar ethereal pop, but the song is still a startingly fresh one from the rising artist.
The video, which deserves more attention than it’s given here, was directed by Yelena Zhelezov. Holter’s plethora of intriguing, well-crafted music videos has remained consistent over the years, at least.
07-11 Washington, DC - Sixth & I Synagogue
07-12 New York City, NY - Le Poisson Rouge
07-13 Philadelphia, PA - World Cafe Live
07-14 Boston, MA - The Church Of Boston
07-16 Montreal, QB - La Sala Rosa
07-17 Toronto, ONT - The Drake
07-18 Detroit, MI - Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit
07-19 Chicago, IL - Constellation (Official Pitchfork After-Party)
07-20 Chicago, IL - Pitchfork Festival
- Tyler Hanan
"World" - Julia Holter
Following up the release of 2011 and 2012’s critically acclaimed gems Tragedy and Ekstasis, Julia Holter will continue her ascent into greater artistic expression, wider critical acclaim, and lesser anonymity with Loud City Song. The nine song LP - her “first studio album proper,” according to her record label and recent Tragedy rereleaser Domino - is a… well, here:
Holter taking inspiration from Collette’s 1944 novella Gigi and using it as a prism through which to explore her relationship with her hometown of Los Angeles and modern life universally, taking cues from the work of Joni Mitchell and the poetry of Frank O’Hara but forging those touch-points into something resolutely unique.
Yes, that. Not quite an ode to or meditation on the City of Angels, but rather something more intensely personal and widely, uniquely relatable, or some such thing.
There are many reasons to be excited for the record, only one of which is Holter’s penchant for unique, intricately woven conceptual ideas in each of her albums (each of which is, as she’s said before, it’s own separate project). Holter has shown compositional talent that is impressive in its layering, nuance, and rich emotional depth, as well as having a robust, spectrum-spanning music sandbox that she plays around in.
One need only look so far as Loud City Song’s first single, “World,” for evidence of these traits. Whereas Tragedy was otherworldly, esoteric art-pop and Ekstasis a more consinent and melodious layering of warmer elements (and her older material another brand of lofi pop still), Loud City Song's first single is already a fairly significant departure into a still, quiet vacuum.
Five minutes oh-so-patient progression, the song is slow, solemn, gorgeous example of the emotional heft that can be conveyed through restraint. “World” is fit to burst from the amount of it here; it feels as if the dams are splitting from the sheer weight of it.
That “first studio album proper” factoid can be felt in the song’s many quiet moments. The notion that leaving behind the home recording can only be for the better is a silly one, but it is exciting when thinking of what someone as talented with nuance as Holter could create with some new, expensive toys. The quality and purity of the quiet here alone is sublime.
We haven’t even touched on the Rick Bahto-filmed Super 8 footage, but we’ll leave that for you eyes. Loud City Song, co-produced with Cole Marsden Grief-Neill, is due out on August 20th in the US and August 19th everywhere else. Julia Holter will also be touring throughout July and August, bringing her rapturous live shows around once more [link].
- Tyler Hanan
Read the rest of our end of the year coverage:
- Favorite Albums of 2012: Eric Kossina [link]
- Favorite Albums of 2012: Kevin Tappin [link]
- Favorite Albums of 2012: Will McGee [link]
- Favorite Albums of 2012: Kyle Minton [link]
Here it is, though, as incomplete as any other. A year from now, I won’t have listened to a few of these, and a few other albums not mentioned here will become favorites, as is the way of these things. I was pained to leave off such albums as Laurel Halo’s Quarantine and Jens Lekman’s I Know What Love Isn’t, pleased to omit Grizzly Bear’s Shields, and disappointed at the lack of spins I gave to Sun Kil Moon’s Among the Leaves, How To Dress Well’s Total Loss, all of Ty Segall’s seventeen releases, and countless other albums I6’ve already forgotten about. Again.
The numbering here is largely irrelevant - a tiered format is a more accurate structure for how I rate albums, with the parsing out of the placement being more of an annoyance than anything. It hurts me, looking at this list as I realize how much I have missed. The heavier hardcore/skramz part of my taste has been underfed this year, as a Loma Prieta or Beau Navire didn’t even make the cut (and I never even listened to A Lot Like Birds). Rap and hip are sorely represented, with Ab-Soul and even Killer Mike not making the cut. Some of my favorite labels, such as Topshelf and Count Your Lucky Stars, even got pushed much further out of my life as I care to admit.
It’s a testament to how much great music is being made out there - for someone as time-strapped and multiple-interest-laden as me (boo hoo, first world problems, etc), it’s hard to keep up with it all. Here’s to listening to more music than ever; covering more music, and doing so better; and becoming more well-rounded people in the industry, creator, and fan realms all in this new year - I’ve never felt better on a New Year’s Day. Thank you to all of you, those old readers and new, both the followers and the casual Google-took-me-here…ers - we certainly do much of this for us, but we also do it in the hopes that you will benefit too.
Cat Power - “Ruin”
Chairlift - “I Belong in Your Arms”
Death Grips - “I’ve Seen Footage”
Fiona Apple - “Werewolf”
Icona Pop - “I Love It" (ft. Charlie XCX)
Menomena - “Skintercourse”
M.I.A. - “Bad Girls”
Mount Eerie - “House Shape”
Pinback - “Proceed to Memory”
Twin Shadow - “Five Seconds”
Burial - Kindred
Dum Dum Girls - End of Daze EP
Icona Pop - The Iconic EP
Ricky Eat Acid & Arrange - Sketches
Yohuna - Revery
Honorable Mentions: Shlohmo - Vacation; Elvis Depressedly - Glamour Kills; Prawn - Ships; TNGHT - TNGHT; Daniel Rossen - Silent Hour/Golden Mile
20. Joie De Vivre - We’re All Better Than This
Ah, Joie De Vivre - once dead, now, so soon, alive again. It’s one of numerous great Count Your Lucky Stars releases (including quality new albums from Annabel, Innards, and others) but one of the few I made extensive time for. It’s full of all the midwestern emo goodness one could hope for from one of the better bands (of the many great bands, make no mistake) doing it, all the more welcome for the fact that we once thought another Joie De Vivre album wouldn’t happen. Let’s all add on a poorly improvised, “and many mooore” to the end of this.
"Gold Dust Woman" (Fleetwood Mac cover) - Julia Holter
It’s the post you all knew was coming. Julia Holter has shared her cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Gold Dust Woman,” an earnest and throbbing, yet mightily haunting cover. It’s from Rumours Revisited, Mojo’s Rumours cover album that also contains covers from such indie luminaries as Yeasayer and Liars. Enjoy [link]
- Tyler Hanan
"Fast Chariot and Wounded Footsoldier" - Julia Holter
Hello all, I’m dropping in with a brief post on this busy day as I near completion on a few longer pieces. Julia Holter earlier released this recording from late last year. It’s an intriguing piece, and shows yet again her fascination with many things experimental, ancient and Greek. (Is that piece in the art Greek? Maybe? Please be Greek? I really should have brushed up on this more before posting.)
Regardless, it’s a rather sparse recording, more in the vein of Tragedy, unsurprisingly. It also provides me with something brand new to post today, as well as an excuse to again express my excitement for the material Holter has been arranging recently and for her cover of “Gold Dust Woman” off an upcoming Fleetwood Mac cover cd. There’s also her 12” single, soon to be released via Domino [link], which I would not mind receiving as a Christmas gift…
Lastly, it’s that end of the year list time - will Ekstasis be cracking your top 2012 albums?
- Tyler Hanan
My favorite holiday is almost gone, but I’ll refuse to let it go for another few days still. Music is just as big a Halloween event for me as decorations and haunted houses; plus, I actually have the time and funds to indulge it. Epic post rock (Godspeed You!, Mogwai), drawn-out, creepy electronic and drone (Oneohtrix Point Never and Tim Hecker) and the queerer realms of ambient pop (Julia Holter, whose Halloween-ready Tragedy is sadly not on Spotify) - these are the things that pique my interest even more than normal this time of year. So enjoy your Halloween, folks. I wasn’t able to embrace it as much as I would’ve liked, but we’ll take what we can. Pick out some of your favorite soundtracks and blast those through the house, double-check your beds and closets, and for the love of John Carpenter, do not go outside to investigate that sound. I’ll be watching Trick ‘r Treat and Halloween if you need me. [link]
- Oneohtrix Point Never - “Andro”
- Crystal Castles - “Year of Silence”
- Soft Moon - “Into the Depths”
- Mogwai - “Batcat”
- Young Widows - “Miss Tambourine Wrist”
- Tim Hecker - “Borderlands”
- Zomby - “Haunted”
- Julia Holter - “Goddess Eyes I”
- Zola Jesus - “Avalanche”
- Explosions in the Sky - “Greet Death”
- Mount Eerie - “House Shape”
- Godspeed You! Black Emperor - “East Hastings