SotD: Ojalá – Silvio Rodriguez

A round of applause for youtube user ‘Sexyyygirls’ for uploading this Spanish gem – what a man. Meaning ‘hopefully’ in Spanish, Ojalá has a great chorus.

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Aldous Harding: Party

Aldous Harding

Aldous Harding hasn’t been around long, with ‘Party’ being only her second album. However, her new release and her accompanying tour has gained her a strong reputation within her field. Kevin Morby recently tweeted:

“Aldous Harding is the best thing i’ve seen in a very long time.”

Lorde agreed, stating Party’s best track ‘Imagining My Man’ “blows her head off” (genius imagery from the chart musician, flaunting the reason for her success).

I share my opinion with Morby and Lorde, with my first experience of Harding’s music being only positive. A stripped back album, with clear distinction between instrumental tracks, Harding produces a piece of work which is both simple and entrancing. Songs like Imagining My Man are successful due to their limited production. Instruments are played raw and the vocals are untouched, producing a track which requires little from the listener, but gives a lot back.

Throughout the first half of the album, there is a sense of direction. Tracks 1 through to 3 all develop in energy levels until it reaches its apotheosis with track 4: ‘Party’. A slow tempo piece, Harding injects energy through her vocals, which are stretched to limit during the chorus. Planting herself among female artists such as Julia Holter and Alynda Lee Segarra, Harding makes no effort to distract from the vocals, instead basing her instrumentals around them. A move such as this pays off, with her vocal style shining through.

Nonetheless, an issue for Harding is the problem of track order. Whilst the first half of the album is characterized by clear progression, tracks 5 through 9 fail to develop into anything meaningful. Possessing the structure of a best-of album, the latter half of ‘Party’ has trouble in maintaining listener concentration. Like a Mathew E. White concert, all the tracks blur into one, with the songs possessing few distinguishing features.

Harding has effectively produced a perfect EP in tracks 1 to 4, but a mid-level album overall and for this reason, the album’s rating is hit quite hard. Lorde is right that individual tracks show signs of genius, but as a whole, ‘Party’ lacks the quality of music produced by established musicians due to the inclusion of tracks without suitable consideration. ‘Swell Does the Skull’ demonstrates this will, displaying few characteristics of a closing track, so much so that one could passively listen to the album and not realise it had looped 3 tracks ago.

Overall, Harding’s work is brilliant, but her consistency is not. For that reason, she can’t be put on the same level as the four star albums reviewed this year.

Artist: Aldous Harding
Label: 4AD
Release date: May 19, 2017
Tracks: 9
Play time: 38 mins
Standout track: Imagining My Man
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Less Accessible Music You Should Definitely Listen To: Yr Atal Genhedlaeth – Gruff Rhys

Gruff Rhys

One of the shortest albums you will ever listen to, and the first feature in the new thread ‘Less Accessible Music You Should Definitely Listen To’, is Gruff Rhys’ ‘Yr Atal Genhedlaeth’. An album sung entirely in Welsh by psychedelic-rock pioneer Rhys, ‘Yr Atal’ bases it success on its accessibility to listeners of all languages: no understanding of the lyrics is needed.

Nonetheless, Rhys entertains those who do understand the language with a series of Welsh-language wordplay. The title itself can be translated to mean ‘The Stuttering Generation’, and yet, if the words are spoken with different pauses, it can be heard as the Welsh word for contraception. Other wordplay is used across the album titles, though none as notable as the album title itself.

Certainly more laid back than Super Furry Animals’ albums, the lead singer’s first solo album is a release with no consistent subject thread. ‘Gwn Mi Wn’ – which details a battle – differs greatly in subject to ‘Pwdin Ŵy 1 & 2’ – two love songs with the English title ‘Egg Pudding’. This doesn’t interfere with the album’s quality, however, which is an anthology of musical genres. Generally gravitating around indie-rock, Rhys introduces presets drum beats, electronic-rock and heavily chorused vocals to produce an album which is oddly coherent, despite the seeming dissimilarities between tracks.

With 10 of the 11 tracks written by Rhys, the album closes with a cover of Caryl Parry-Jones’ ‘Chwarae’n Troi’n Chwerw’. The cover fits the general feel of the album, which gives off a low-cost, almost home-made feel, standing in stark contrast to the heavily produced records of Super Furry Animals. Stripped back, and not just a SFA reproduction, ‘Yr Atal Genhedlaeth’ is well worth a listen.

Artist: Gruff Rhys
Label: Placid Casual
Release date: Jan 24, 2005
Tracks: 11
Play time: 29 mins
Notable mention: Pwdin Ŵy 2

P.S. For those interested in what could be considered less accessible English-language Rhys, check out his 14 minute narrative track, ‘Skylon!’:

Less Accessible Music You Should Definitely Listen To: What is this thread?

‘Less Accessible Music You Should Definitely Listen To’ is a thread in which you can find music which you most likely haven’t heard of, or have avoided in the past. ‘Less Accessible Music…’ will be frequently updated with new material, and will hopefully develop into a large database of alternative music.

However, to create a thread such as this, one must first understand what characterizes ‘less accessible’ music. The definition of this terms will vary greatly, however, on this page, it will be defined as thus:

‘Any music (or audio which can be found on mainstream music sites such as ‘Spotify’) that differs from typical Western music in language, recording style and/or genre, or that is hard to acquire.’

I hope you will enjoy the thread.