Happy October! Check out a few of our reviews from this month.
FOONYAP – Palimpsest
By: Alec Warkentin
Palimpsest, the latest from Calgary’s FOONYAP, is unlike anything you’re set to hear this year. Drawn from her history as a classically-trained violinist, Palimpsest is comprised of nine tracks that shift from stark, minimalist laments to Björk-influenced experimental odes that showcase an unbridled intimacy from one of Calgary’s best-kept secrets. FOONYAP, herself, describes the new album as introspective, foreboding, expansive, and, above else, feminine as her newest release is a means of reconciling with her past and defining what it is that she consciously encapsulates in her distinct niche of electronic folk. Palimpsest features lightly plucked violin notes echoing through an almost cavernous ambiance, an atmosphere in which the listener can almost see FOONYAP herself searching, and then ultimately finding, the forgotten past that she’s buried so deep. In keep with the title as well, the album shares reworked versions of her previous work, literal palimpsest from her previous albums, such as “The Fun Machine” and “Woolf + Plath,” which debuted as early as 2010. But from the remnants breathes new emotion, the sound of an artist matured by her many years in her own beautiful microcosm, that ultimately shines through from the murk of the past.
Lady Gaga – Joanne
By: Spencer Belanger
Over three years since the release of her critically acclaimed ARTPOP, Lady Gaga gloriously returns with her fifth studio album Joanne, a title intended to memorialize her late aunt of the same name. As unforgiving as it is a true rejection of modern pop, Joanne finds Gaga exploring a more humble, and seemingly honest sound. To illustrate Joanne as a significant departure from her otherwise exclusive pop background would be an understatement, as we now witness a stripped down version of the Mother Monster with mainly acoustic instruments, understated vocals, and even country elements. This isn’t my favorite flavor of Gaga to say the least, as her trademark lyrical urgency and novelty are nowhere to be found. The song “Angel Down”, claimed to be written as a response to the gruesome murder of Trayvon Martin by police in 2012, barely serves up a large portion of political rage and rather resonates as a half-hearted lament wedged in between the latter, much more forgettable portion of the album. Aside from obvious hits such as the infectious “A-Yo” and hard-hitting “Perfect Illusion”, the album lacks a sense of cohesiveness or any thematic significance, and instead serves as a transitional piece of work for Gaga, as we see her throwing around ideas that aren’t necessarily working. I applaud Gaga in her pursuit of a more mature and authentic sound, it just seems that she hasn’t quite found it yet.
Regina Spektor – Remember Us to Life
By: Nathan Kunz
Regina Spektor’s consistent ability to write dramatic and unique melodies is ever present on her seventh studio album, Remember Us to Life. From track to track, the album moves thematically, creating a varied offering of pop songs. Spektor begins the album with lead single “Bleeding Heart”, a track that bounces between an electronic and acoustic instrumental section, both supporting the central piano riff. Though seeming to set the tone for the album, no other track matches “Bleeding Heart” stylistically. Instead, the album is a constantly changing combination of unique sounds that draw from a broad spectrum of influence. The track “Older and Taller” is a bright and playful indie pop song, woven with smart wordplay and an emphatic string section, contrasting the darker and more mechanical “The Trapper and the Furrier”, which marches throughout with punchy instrumentals and a chanting outro. Spektor’s signature, however, is ever present throughout these contrasts, and varying themes never becomes a problem for the overall feel of the album. The celtic infused “Grand Hotel” sits comfortably beside the bouncing Soviet style of “Small Bill$” without conflict, while tracks like “Tornadoland” weave bright and dark imagery together within the same song. The album, through freedom of exploration, nearly always hits its mark, only slightly missing on tracks such as “Obsolete” and “The Light”, which both drag at moments. However, these blemishes pale in comparison to the bright spots on Remember Us to Life, a successfully diverse pop album that keeps the listener guessing throughout.
This month’s throwback is in preparation for Femme Wave, coming up November 17-20. The two headliners are Peach Kelli Pop and catl., two bands that we know you’ll love. Check out the most recent albums from each, Peach Kelli Pop III and This Shakin’ House. Get your Femme Wave wristbands and tickets here.