Moses Sumney - “grae”
One of 2020’s more interesting album releases has been the roll-out of grae. In February, Sumney released “Part 1” digitally, but waited for May to debut “Part 2” and then have companions as a double album. Pitchfork bestowed Best New Music (with an exact same rating they gave his previous Aromanticism) to the record today so if you’re a disciple like I am, then my additions won’t mean much. Sumney’s beautiful voice will capture your attention on every track. The record stretches over an hour which might seem daunting, but it isn’t exhausting. His personal writing feels like a conversation with a familiar friend.
Perfume Genius - “Set My Heart On Fire Immediately”
I was lucky enough to see Mike Hadreas (aka Perfume Genius) perfom in two extremely different settings while I was living in Seattle. This was 2017 while PG was touring “No Shape.” Day one was the Capitol Hill Block Party, as the sun set on a warm summer night and Hadreas just tore the stage apart with his incredible dancing. Day two was in the KEXP studio for an intimate set where his voice soared. This brief story is only to convey the power of Perfume Genius’ eclectic ability. When I first heard “Hood” (nearly ten years ago) I was devastated by the emotion behind the songwriting. As the years have gone and PG evolves, he sways from thumping industrial to piano ballads to dance like a maniac electro numbers. The latest, SMHOFI, does just that.
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down - “Temple”
Nearly ten years ago I saw Thao and Mirah with The Most Of All at the Bottleneck (can you tell I’m missing live shows like crazy?) which blended the unique vocals of both artists and their catalogs at the time. But to prepare for this show, I was led to Thao Nguyen’s previous two records. Her avant-garde rock, distinct voice, and angular glitchy guitar work. Temple lets those vocals dance over disco beats, thumping bass, and shimmering synth. It’s got a coolness no matter how much the time signature shifts.
Jess Williamson - “Sorceress”
Folky singer/songwriter evokes biblical images, spacious frontiers, and dreamy existentialism on Sorceress. There’s a grandeur in its massive sound. Saxophone sneaks in and out, light keys, and hums enveloping what’s most present: Williamson’s voice and guitar. You could strip all the extra layers but they don’t take away from those two powerful elements. Only filling up the universe she’s conjuring. “Wind on Tin” & “Infinite Scroll” are on constant repeat.
Reviews by Nathan Cardiff