Welcome Distractions

Distractions are often very welcome, aren’t they? Quite often lately, I simply beg for distractions. Likeminded readers will know why. Nightmarish state and national political scenarios have us almost constantly either shaking or scratching our heads in painfully confused and irritated wonder.

Everything’s a bit of a blur. photo by Michael Rucci.

Everything is moving so quickly – everything’s a bit of a blur.

So it is a welcome distraction to enjoy the anticipation of new work from two of my musical favorites: Alison Goldfrapp (my very English Queen!) is releasing a new record in March with band mate, Will Gregory; and the group, Real Estate, will likewise release a new record in March.

Queen Alison.

Of course, I have written here before about Goldfrapp, (and my obsession with the band’s vocalist and namesake, Alison Goldfrapp.) Most recently there was a post at the end of 2013 when the band slotted this page’s top selection of that entire year with the brilliant record, Tales of Us. Looking back at it, that post contained some thoughts on loveliness that seem timely and still very relevant. Resistance in not futile; differences are not to be feared, but treasured. Here are a few of the words from that post:

Tales of Us is “… Magical. Sometimes being just exactly who you are is an act of defiance. [Being oneself] is not easy for everyone, and the simple act of your own expression is courageous. Tales of Us is made up of ten songs, each a distinctive journey of self-expression. The song titles are names, (Jo, Annabel, Drew, Simone, Clay, etc.,) and in each song, Alison Goldfrapp either presents us with, or bravely inhabits, a different persona. All of them (quietly, defiantly, courageously) being exactly who they are….

“Fantastic and liberating, deeply private and still somehow seductively inclusive, the record successfully plays both ends against the middle. Simple acoustic guitar songs trade time with hugely wrought symphonic pieces, slow jazz, and tripped out electronica. The binding element of Tales of Us is her exquisite voice. Breathily playing out through the dreamy range of the songs, she draws me in absolutely. Alison Goldfrapp does not merely sing, she occupies her songs, and she transports her listeners. The beauty, the elegance of her, the certainty – she makes me lightheaded. She is delivering her art from a castle on a cloud, and I want to be where she is.”

Clearly, I am enthralled by this artist and her group, (I still listen to Tales of Us regularly,) and had hoped that when Goldfrapp returned with new music that it would be in the same intrepid vein of introspection and emotion. If the first single is an indication, it appears that will not be the case. The band dislikes repeating themselves, though they may have elected to go back a bit further in their career to investigate and mine some fresh ideas from dancier periods.

However, Goldfrapp is forgiven — I think this single is thoroughly excellent. The album will be called Silver Eye, and features the work of the trusty American producer John Congleton, and darkish, London-based Haxan Cloak. This music, my friends, is about urgency. Queen Alison can do whatever she wants. I can’t wait…

Anymore by Goldfrapp from Silver Eye, due 31 Mar (2017 Mute).

I have also written on this page about Real Estate, most recently about the jangly observations that they made on the terrific album Atlas that ranked as my number one selection for 2014. I wrote:

“There is an unforced earnestness to each beat, note, and syllable that makes this collection of songs feel not only brand new, but also somehow like an album that’s been around a while. Along with the rest of their catalogue I will continue to enjoy it for years. All three of the band’s records have a wistful summery feeling that I think a lot of people pick up on and dig. What it is: That feeling that something wonderful is happening, and you have not processed how important it will be to you in the future. You know that something wonderful is going to end – soon – and that the freedom that comes with that something wonderful is evaporating.”

The boys got new jackets! Real Estate, the band.

The band has released a single and it indicates that Real Estatewill be building on their fine ideas of low key, richly examined, (and, yes, summery,) guitar driven pop.

Darling by Real Estate from In Mind, due 17 Mar (2017 Domino).

What else is good from this young year? Well….

Since everything is moving so fast, thank goodness for Missy Elliott. She has the sense to slow it down a little here, giving us some blessed space and a delicious taste of her special flow. As ever, sick.

Missy Elliott – thank goodness.

I’m Better by Missy Elliott w/ Lamb (2017 Atlantic/Goldmine).

And check this:

Run the Jewels 3, (this link leads to a free download of what is easily the best record of 2017 so far.) It has been on the old headphones about four times a week, and each time I listen I marvel anew at the lyrical genius, the brilliance of the music, and especially the strong personal bond shared by the insanely gifted musicians and rappers Killer Mike and El-P.

Best in the game – Run the Jewels.

This is the lead track:

Down by Run the Jewels from RTJ3 (2017 Run the Jewels, Inc).

Fear not. Increase loveliness.

31 Jan 2017

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