October Audio: Jenny Hval, El Perro del Mar, Norah Jones + More

Posted October 15, 2016 in Music Reviews

Bello Bar

Jenny Hval

Blood Bitch

[Sacred Bones]

Jenny Hval generally uses her somewhat avant-garde music to seriously explore issues of identity and sexuality, so to see punning song titles like Period Piece and In the Red on her latest album is somewhat disarming. Thankfully, she’s not dipping into conscious self-parody. This is, though, probably her poppiest release to date. Don’t get me wrong; there is a track that mostly consists of the sound of heavy breathing – but damn if it’s hasn’t got a satisfying rhythm to it. – Leo Devlin


El Perro del Mar


[Ging Ging]

Through all of her various stylistic permutations – retro pop, gospel, dance – El Perro del Mar has kept a mostly consistent element of melancholy. On KoKoro, it’s still there, but now as part of an emotional mosaic. “I… finally dare to be hard-soft-hard” pretty much sums up her more wide-ranging approach. The addition of some East Asian musical elements to her style make for something of a tonal shotgun, but the resulting exuberance is well worth it. – Leo Devlin


Norah Jones
Day Breaks
[Blue Note Records]

When an artist with more than 50 million in worldwide record sales and nine Grammys Awards releases a new disc, it’s a special occasion – particularly when it features Brian Blade on drums, Wayne Shorter on saxophone and Dr. Lonnie Smith on the organ. It’s difficult to pick a favourite, but Carry On and And Then There Was You will ring in your ears long after you listen to them. Fall is here, winter is on the way. Get yourself a copy of this CD and cuddle up. – Tom Campion


So Cow
Lisa Marie Airplane Tour
[Tall Pat Records/Jigsaw Records/Lost Sounds Tapes]



Brian Kelly’s latest as So Cow finds him once again operating in the one-man-band mould that has previously yielded his best work. The potency of his parochial power pop had somewhat waned over his last few releases, as too many songs fell victim to their own ambition. Lisa Marie finds universality through specificity, offering an awkwardly danceable treatise on the modern rural Irish experience that range from the wry to manic. So Cow, once again, so good. – Danny Wilson


End of Comedy
[Weird World]

Through a string of ridiculous monikers (Salvia Plath, RUN DMT, Silk Rhodes) Michael Collins has always displayed a desire to fade into the background of his own work. This release takes idea to further extremes as he employs a slew of guests vocalists for this series of riffs on ’70s soul, bedroom indie and Beatles solo records. His most accessible work to date, End of Comedy makes for an ideal entry point to the work of an auteur hitherto receive the acclaim he deserves. – Danny Wilson


[Heavenly Records]



The appeal of Nots brand of analog synth driven post-punk is it’s driving brutality. Stark minimalism is obviously the intended mode yet over the course of a 40-minute record, righteous as their anger may be, becomes a little tiring. The keener understanding of space and dynamics evident on the longer tracks offer brief respites from the pummelling but does little to diminish the slog. Next time maybe just put out a couple of 7 inches instead? – Danny Wilson


Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam

I Had A Dream That You Were Mine


This collaboration will nicely fill part of that hole that the continued absence of Vampire Weekend has created. Rostam’s faltering solo releases suggest he knows he can’t convince as the leading man, but as the music nerd pulling the levers behind a charismatic voice he excels yet again. The team here don’t try anything too fancy: the songs are strictly within the pop and indie idioms and when it works best as on the Springsteen-fueled opener A 1000 Times I could listen to it, well, a thousand times. – Ian Lamont


Oneida & Rhys Chatham

What’s Your Sign?

[Northern Spy]



Oneida and Chatham are both pretty big deals in their specific niches in the general field of experimental music: the former are a psych-improv institution, while the latter is a composer known for his compositions for massed ranks of guitar players and No Wave affiliations. This collaboration makes for great copy (“a match made in drone, noise and Motorik groove heaven!” screams the press release) and a beautiful, immersive bath of six-string explorations that never outstay their welcome. Probably not a signature release for either party, but fun nonetheless.  – Ian Lamont



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