Tag Archive: musical presence


It’s been a week since my last post and I apologize to the many (by many I mean 3) people who follow my blog. School’s just been very busy and with graduation only a 3 or 4 months away, my mind has been else where.

With that out the way, I’ve decided to save my next rant for another day and instead take a look at another of my favorite albums/artist. Her name is Cat Power.

Cat Power is the alias of Chan Marshall, a Southern-bred singer/songwriter whose father, Charlie, was an itinerant pianist. After dropping out of high school, Marshall found herself in New York; performing under the name Cat Power, she was booked as the opening act for Liz Phair, where she met Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley and Two Dollar Guitar’s Tim Foljahn, who agreed to become her backing band. Following the release of 1995’s Dear Sir and 1996’s Myra Lee — both recorded on the same day — Cat Power signed to Matador for 1996’s What Would the Community Think?, which won acclaim for Marshall’s unsettling, emotional songs and cathartic vocals.

Before I say anything about WWTCT, I need to talk about Cat Power’s voice. She has a soft breathy vocals that’s like slowly dipping into a warm bath after a long and stress filled day. Her voice is an instrument it’s self and can carry even the most cryptic of lyrics.

The first track the album, In This Hole, is a very somber way to open up the album. She is accompanied only by her electric guitar, slowly strumming away. The soft whispers of xylophone playing seeming at random but somehow on time makes this a favorite of mine. Along the with the pained and hunting lyrics of course. The next  track isn’t quite as somber or slow but still contains haunting lyrics. Good Clean Fun, about a philandering lover, contains the same 2 chord guitar strings as In This Hole but is played to a more confident affect here. The drums lazily beating against Cat’s simple guitar strings gives it a very cool affect.

The album’s title track starts off with very rhythmic piano playing into the distance until we hear one sharp guitar chord. The guitar counties to play while the piano twinkles in the back ground and we get some feedback from the bass. These elements at first seem to be playing as separate bodies but come together as soon as Power begins to softly whisper, “My God, what would the community think?” Despite this song containing very few lyric, it’s still personal in so many ways. Next is the happier (production wise only) Nude as the News. A wise choice to be the first single off the album, as it contains a very catchy hook. All the instruments, the drums and guitar, are all play against a very digestible backdrop. While it contain Cat’s signature minimalist production, it isn’t like anything else off the album. Not that it’s bad, it’s actually good, as it breaks up any monotony the album may have.

They Tell Me is a very folksy, country inspired track that is a great listen. The writing along with Cat’s seasoned southern accent highlight how versatile she is as in artist. The track contains only her guitar slowly playing  along and the track seems to be given this effect to make it sound fuzzy. This actually helps the track feel that much more authentic.

The next two track are so vastly different that you could swear they were from two different artist. The first being Talking People, is the happiest of all the song on WTTCT. Cat Power’s main message being, just be happy with who you, are matches the very simplistically happy guitar and southern style bass brings this to a greater effect. The Fate of the Human Carbine is the first of numerous future Cat Power covers. Originally performed by Peter Jefferies, Cat’s cover brings the hunting emotion of his original track, while maintaing her own original style. The guitar sinisterly strumming along plays well with Cat Power’s breathy voice. King rides by sounds like if In this Hole and Taking People joined together.  It contains the very somber nature of In This Hole, with it’s mellow guitar chords, but the up tempo nature of of Taking People. The guitar is a bit more playful at some part, doing random quick placed strum. Bathysphere is another cover, this time by fellow Slower artist Smog. We open with a techno beat that slowly drowns in the background and allows the acoustic guitar to take main stage. Cat Power’s voice is at it’s most emotional at this point and we hear a tiny cracks it brining the emotion even more so. She even went as far as to rewrite the lyric to give it her own flair and does so to great effect.

The next track is the most hunting and unsettling song on the entire album. It does so by taking a very sparse 2-chord guitar, having it play dominantly but in the background have the bass strumming rapidly in a faint whisper, almost inaudible. Combine that with Cat’s cathartic voice and the slow-paced drums making it even that much more haunting. The final factor bringing this all together is as always the writing containing lyrics like: “Oh, to be at the bottom of a river. Below the dark water, the devil all around.”
The final two tracks are both hunting as well, but to a lesser extent. Cat Power covers one of her own songs (not the last time she’ll do so) for the first, Enough. The very fast paced guitar and speeding drums play along until we reach the bridge that slows down and gives us a more rougher and hardedge feel. The final track, The Coat Is Always On, contains only a simple guitar until we reach the near end of the song in which drums join in. The guitar strums along with Cat Power’s voice while she and who I assume is Steve Shelley talk over the track. Both have slight southern accent that make an already dark track darker. Bringing the album to an amazing album to an amazing finish.

This album is without a doubt worth a listen. Quite and delicate while hunting and frighting at times, one can’t get more personal then this or at least I thought so. Cat Power somehow tops this performance in 1998’s follow up to What Would The Community Think, Moon Pic. But that, my readers, that is for another time and review.

Thanks for reading!

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Despite the fact that I’ve only started this blog a day ago, I’ve decided that in order to avoid monotony, I am going to do something other than ranting. When people read my blog, I not only want to laugh (either at my jokes or my incompetence) but see why I get so upset when bad music is popular. I want my readers to understand my passion in music. So these post will be me reviewing and talking about artist and albums I like or dislike. They may not be very long but I hope you enjoy them.

First up is Tori Amos.

 

Tori Amos (born Myra Ellen Amos) was one of several female singer/songwriters who combined the stark lyrical attack of alternative rock with a distinctly ’70s musical approach, creating music that fell between the orchestrated meditations of Kate Bush and the stripped-down poetics of Joni Mitchell. In addition, she revived the singer/songwriter traditions of the ’70s while re-establishing the piano as a rock & roll instrument.

Here is my review for her solo debut, Little Earthquakes

The album opens up with the very dark  yet interesting Crucify. With its haunting melody, piano beautifully chiming during the chorus, and Tori Amos’s unapologetic lyric’s about religion this song is well worth a listen. It easily flows into two of the best tracks on the album Girl and Silent all these years. Both songs seem to share similar themes as they are both about women in relationships in which they’ve lost their voice and are now trapped in them. Girl has a much more theatrical feel to it with its stomping drums and dramatic violin. Silent all these years has a more simplistic approach with its production even though it is essentially featuring the same instruments.

The softer Silent all these years is a great contrast to the next track, Precious Things, that is anything but soft. Everything from the  banging Piano, to the thumping drums, to the mysterious breathing effect seem to be smashing down to create a very driving beat. It’ sounds very angry and since the song is written about adolescence angst, it fits perfectly. Tori’s writing is the strongest we’ve seen to this point including one of my favorite lyrics written by Ms. Amos, “Just so you can make me cum, doesn’t make you jesus.” It’s my second favorite track on the album only tied with the next song, Winter. With its twinkling piano and delicate violin, this is Winter is a beautiful song.

Playing off the very somber tones of Winter, Happy Phantom features a very playful piano and jumpy beat as Tori sings about the possibilities of the afterlife. The next track leading right back in the somber tones is China.  It reminds me of Winter but only musicality wise. Lyric wise, the song is surprising straightforward which is rare in any Tori Amos song, even an early 90’s one.

The production gets toned down for next two tracks Leather and Mother as they feature Tori and her piano with no backing instruments. Leather seems to use to piano to get a more rough and somewhat sinister effect making it an enjoyable listen. While the latter track uses it to get a more somber tone and this works to an even greater effect then Leather. While the six-minute running time may seem a little intimidating at first, its well worth repeat listens. The piano seems to be telling its own story as well. One moment it’s quiet and lullaby like, while at another moment its very dramatic and make’s it’s presence known.

The next track is the acoustic guitar dominant Tear in your hand. This song is almost like a cousin to Happy Phantom but I think this one is superior. Tear in your hand with its sharp hook and clever lyrics makes it one to listen to over and over again. The next song though, is the best song on the entire album, and there isn’t even any musical accompaniment. Tori sings about her REAL life rape experience a capella in the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard. It’s hunting, it’s upsetting, it somewhat strangely comforting, it’s everything I imagine a victim of rape must go through. This song literally made me cry the first few times I heard it. The hunting lyrics and the pain in her voice just rip right into your chest and grab at your heart.

The final track is the very eclectic title track. While it isn’t one of my favorites, it’s enjoyable none the less and is worth at least a few listens.

Overall what would I recommend Little Earthquakes? Yes!!! If your a fan of artist like Fiona Apple or Joni Mitchell or especially Kate Bush, you’ll love this album as much as I did!

Thanks for reading!

 

When comes to talentless whores who have no business  being in music, you probably picture famed professional slut Ke$ha. But alas my unlucky readers, for there is another who has managed to grab fame for herself. If you couldn’t tell my the title of this blog, i’m talking about no one other than Katy Perry.

A brief history: A former Christian artist, Katy Perry rebranded herself as a larger-than-life pop star and rose to prominence during the summer of 2008. Before she topped the charts with songs like “I Kissed a Girl” and “California Gurls,” though, she spent the better part of a decade recording music under a different name. Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson(or Katy Hudson, as she billed herself on her 2001 gospel album) was born on October 25, 1984, in Santa Barbara, CA. Raised in a religious household as the daughter of two pastors, she was forbidden to listen to secular bands as a child, although a childhood slumber party introduced her to the music of Alanis Morissette and Freddie Mercury. Religious music remained at the forefront, however, and Katy released a self-titled Christian album in 2001 under her original name. She would later abandon the genre (and her given surname) in favor of a pop career.

My dislike for Katy Perry is more so than any pop singer today, that including the aforementioned Ke$ha. At least Ke$ha , a.) Has some sort of musical presence and identity. Sure it’s being a whore, but it’s an identity none the less. b.) At least Ke$ha can admit she is a whore. Katy Perry seems to have this moral high ground when it is convenient for her. For example, does anyone remember when she criticized Lady Gaga for putting religious symbols in one of  her music videos, even though at the same time Ms. Perry’s showed California Gurls a video that featured whip cream shooting out of her tits. Classy Ms. Perry, very Classy

Reminds me of the whole Sinead O’ Conner and Madonna scandal, but only not as entertaining, seeing as how we didn’t get a Sex book from it. I could go on for pages about what I truly hate about her, but i’ll sum it up in three points.

1.) Horrible song writing

Let me say this, Katy Perry gains ONE, only one, point for at least writing her own material. It’s sad that top 40 artist put so little effort in their OWN music that this counts for anything, but whatever. With at that said, she still can’t write worth a shit. Let’s look at some of her lyric’s shall we, starting with one of her most offensive songs toward homosexual (but not her most offensive) This was also her first big hit. We’ll start with the chorus:

You’re so gay and you don’t even like boys
No you don’t even like
No you don’t even like 
No you don’t even like boys
You’re so gay and you don’t even like boys
No you don’t even like
No you don’t even like 
No you don’t even like…

Fucking amazing, I mean just some of the most poetic song writing i’ve seen since the days of Jim Morrison. Despite the unbelievable simplistic and repetitive nature of this chorus, your probably thinking to yourself, “Hey that’s just the chorus, the verses are probably better written.” And maybe I am being a little unfair by beginning with the chorus so here is the second verse :

You’re so sad maybe you should buy a happy meal
You’re so skinny you should really Super Size the deal
Secretly you’re so amused
That nobody understands you
I’m so mean cause I cannot get you outta your head
I’m so angry cause you’d rather MySpace instead
I can’t believe I fell in love with someone that wears more makeup than…

Nope the writing is still shitty. First off, what’s with the forced McDonald’s reference? I’m thinking she (Katy actually wrote this “gem”) was trying to be clever, but she isn’t that sharp so this is what we end up with. Get it, because you can get a happy meal from McDonald’s and you used to be able to supersize your meals! 😦 Ugh…..  Second, MySpace references are just timeless aren’t they? It’s not like they were already outdated in even 2008( when this song was released) and at this point it making one just looks sad. On a side note, when I first heard the song, I swear she said “crowd my space instead.”  Probably an attempt to fix that horrible writing. My final issue is the ending of the verse, where it just cuts right the fuck off. I mean “more makeup than”- what? Did she forget to finish writing something after than? It’s not like it was for cadence purposes or to finish  the aabb rhyming pattern she has, because doesn’t rhyme with the preceding verse. After the end of the verse all we get is the same chorus again, so is she saying that this person “wears more make-up than you’re so gay?” Maybe she’s supposed to be saying it like:” I can’t believe you wear more make-up than me, but than again you’re so gay”….. I think I’m digging to deep into this very shallow song, but the end to that verse always annoyed me. Overall the song is just making fun of someone for doing things of a stereotypically gay person. I’ve heard fans defend the song by saying it’s about a guy who’s so metrosexual that he is basically a total pussy. That still doesn’t make the song any less insulting or stupid. If the song is an attempt to slam an ex lover, she did a fucking horrible job.  The best she could come up with is “your so gay”? What, is she thirteen?

This pretty much sums up the problem I have with her writing. I mean, she attempts to be clever and witty but fails embarrassingly. I’m not sure if it’s because she’s afraid if alienating her tween fan base by going over their heads or if she’s just that stupid. I’m gonna go with the latter here.

2.) She can’t sing worth a damn

This isn’t just me being mean or a smart-ass here either, no, this is a well known fact to even Perry fan’s themselves. Look up any live performance and you’ll swear you never saw or heard such an embarrassing thing in your life. I won’t subject you to it by posting a link here, but just TRUST me. Hell, if you type in Katy Perry’s name on Google one of the things that is suggested is “Katy Perry can’t sing live.” When she tries to she either does this strange out of breath whisper that is always off key or she tries way to hard to add “passion” in her voice by doing this weird guttural thing. To give you an example when she does the latter, she sounds like a doped out (or even more doped, if possible) version of Courtney Love from her Hole days.

Also, she can’t sing live? As opposed to being able to sing well in the studio? If an artist isn’t able to perform a song live, at least marginally well, then they can’t sing. End of story, sorry Perry fans. Speaking of Katy Perry on stage, she has the stage presence of a goddamn codfish. I mean, she wear’s skimpy outfits and I guess she thinks (or the big wigs at her record company) this is going to distracts us from her lack of talent. New flash, it doesn’t because we can still hear her horrendous voice.  According to Wikipedia she also decided that if she is gonna be a performer she should be able to play an instrument. So she took up the guitar, and I again have to give her a point for credibility for attempting to play or own instrument. She almost never plays this on stage though, as she’d much rather prance around on stage showing her ass then actually have any credibility as an artist.

3.) Great production values

I know you’re wondering why this is bad. I mean great production in her music makes it good, right? Actually no, it doesn’t because not only does it highlight her piss-poor songwriting and voice, but it gives listeners a false hope of potential. Let’s take the song Ur so Gay for instance since I already used it for an earlier example. The song has this nice mellow guitar riff and slightly sinister piano mixed with this awesome whistling that reminds me of Liz Phair’s Supernova. It’s very trippy while at the same time has this very tight hook  to it. The song just seems to be made for the sharp lyrics and even Perry’s voice surprisingly works here. But like stated above, the lyrics are just too dull and don’t hold up even the slightest. Another example is Waking up in Vegas with it’s very bouncy beat and  catchy hook, the song had so much potential. All it needed was shaper lyrics but alas it fails. The only thing that my third point proves is that whoever is producing her albums deserves a much better artist to work with.

To conclude, Ke$ha Katy Perry is a lot of things, but talented is sadly not one of them. At times she show slight potential as someone who could be an interesting artist, but never even lives up to a quarter of it. Sadly she is only talented at selling this image as a “sex kitten” that apparently all of mainstream america seems to eat up. What a waste…..