McMahon doesn’t use fire and brimstone to convey his ideas. He’s got rough drum takes, glaring equalization problems in the guitars, and a tired-sounding voice. These are all he needs. If it weren’t for the loose production, the record would lose much of its charm; and if McMahon was screaming his rhetoric from the pulpit, Golden Juice wouldn’t be as relatable and moving. Any element you could perceive as negative is also a strength.
The only thing richer than Chou’s current discography is the way in which it is growing. Her current work-in-progress, Comfort Girl, will focus on the unsettling history of Chinese “comfort women” during World War II. In Chou’s own words: “The show will be a musical exploration—in song and story—of the lives of Chinese ‘comfort women’ who were abducted into sexual slavery by the Japanese army during WWII. The work will be a tribute to these young women’s incandescent courage and indomitable spirit, not only while in captivity during the War, but also—in a cruel irony—when they returned home to their families, who didn’t always welcome them back with open arms.” A bold task. But, given Chou’s uncanny ability to meld artistic styles, who could be better suited? The piece will premiere next year at the China Institute in America, in downtown New York. Teresa Teng would not only be proud, she’d likely get a little jealous.
What’s new about this particular Avey Tare is that the overflow of ideas, lyrics, and themes doesn’t turn spastic and blurry like it has on records past. Eucalyptus, though adventurous, is down to earth and focused. It’s by far the most spiritual Avey Tare has ever sounded (except for the transcendent love on AnCo staple ‘Fireworks’). The pieces of the record are spread out all over the cutting room floor. As you pick them up, they’ll shapeshift and tell their stories whether apocalyptic or teeming with life.
When Beach House’s Thank Your Lucky Stars - the band’s second record of 2015 - dropped, many fans thought it was a b-side compilation. Together with the track ‘She’s So Lovely’ and the pearls spelling out the title, it was a throwback to their debut. Other songs like ‘All Your Yeahs’ sounded distinctly like 2015 Beach House, focusing more on long buildups instead of the rhythmic payoffs like 2010’s Teen Dream.
Over time it became clear that this was not the case – that Lucky Stars was a separate work, and that an argument could be made for its being the superior 2015 Beach House album. ‘Majorette’ and ‘Elegy to the Void’ now seem indispensable, and the band proved that “inessential” isn’t a word in their vocabulary. Funnily, a lot of songs on the new B-Sides and Rarities seem to span the whole career of the band, just like Lucky Stars. Sadly, this is more a record for hardcore fans than casual ones, though there are some distinct highlights.