Mr. Struggan’s Foolish April Playlist
Hello, Wilson and Nico here, checking in just under the wire with Mr. Struggan’s Foolish April Playlist. Please enjoy this selection of tracks from the likes of Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones, Daft Punk, Justin Timberlake, Miles Davis, and more, finely crafted for your listening pleasure.
Mr. Struggan send his regards.
Mr. Struggan’s March Mysticism Playlist
Hello, Wilson and Nico here, kicking of the month with Mr. Struggan’s March Mysticism Playlist! We both, on behalf of Mr. Struggan, hope you enjoy this month’s selection of tracks, featuring Holy Ghost!, David Bowie, Birdy Nam Nam, Cat Power, and much more.
Mr. Struggan send his regards.
Until the Quiet Comes, 2012
Nico here. Mr. Struggan, an avid pilot and horticulturist, unsurprisingly invited me to review Flying Lotus’ newest album, Until the Quiet Comes. Flying Lotus’ last album before this one, Cosmogramma (2010), was a cool album during a cool time.
Effective music elicits physical reactions. The 5th Dimension makes me dance. This album makes me fall asleep. No surprise, since the album’s concept relies heavily on dreams. This is not a negative criticism, I’m just saying this album is a dangerous selection for a solo road trip.
So, It’s a sleepy album. No less meaningful, though. “Sultan’s Request” has this deep repetitive riff/bass line that lulls the listener like a mantra. Not in a rocking way, but in a sleepy way, even to a point of monotony that begs attention. Interesting effect.
Furthermore, I disagree somewhat with critics who have said this album delves deeper into the jazz influences FlyLo began experimenting with on Cosmogramma. The jazz is there, but I hear a lot more hip hop rhythm on these tracks, albeit abstracted. Even thematically, this album is more hip hop-influenced. Think turntablism. Two of his collaborators, Thom Yorke and Erykah Badu, are good flavors for the songs’ drowsy soundscapes. FlyLo is an ascetic, not a baller. ”DMT Song” is more introspective trip than psychedelic roller coaster.
On Until the Quiet Comes, Flying Lotus continues to work his butt off and gets us listening in new directions. Thought-provoking music is important, but not always super-fun.
Mr. Struggan sends his High Regards.
Shout out to Plan 9 Music in Richmond, Va., where I bought this album. Helpful staff. Good selection. Be sure to make a visit if you’re ever in Carytown.
Mr. Struggan’s February Hearts Playlist
Wilson and Nico here, ushering in our second month of the New Year with Mr. Struggan’s February Hearts Playlist! We hope you enjoy this preview for the month ahead, featuring the likes of Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Dr. Dre, Rufus Wainwright, and other artists. Happy listening!
Mr. Struggan sends his regards.
Nico here, reporting from Mr. Struggan’s Possum Alley bureau in Washington, D.C. In keeping with our new schedule, Mr. Struggan has assigned me a review of Ra Ra Riot’s new album, Beta Love, this week. Tuesday morning, I stayed home with a fever of 100.8. Beta Love did not soothe my senses as well as other music could have; it sounds like a quarter life crisis.
The main problem with this release is that it does not offer much sonic or thematic breadth. Lack of lyrical ingenuity could be forgiven if the sounds were more convincing.
“Wilderness” shows me something, but then, the verse line’s cheesy, repetitive arpeggio drops in. It doesn’t give the listener much to work with. I can’t tell whether this is minimalist, or just bad. I’m leaning towards the latter. ”I Shut Off” is supposed to be some kind of final-track-of-the-album anthem, but it lacks instrumental backbone. Aside from a few tracks, this album is pretty flat. “When I Dream” showed a lot of promise as the album’s single. As lead vocalist Wes Miles switches between alto and falsetto, it creates interplay that is absent from the rest of the album.
Synth rock can be a great genre from bands to tap into. Add some synths and beat, and your average rock group can fill arenas, get people moving, and reach a broader pool of listeners. This summer, Passion Pit’s sophomore album Gossamer attained a broader reach emotionally and musically than the group’s debut album, showing that the genre doesn’t result in being pigeonholed. Ra Ra Riot does not have the same success in their reinvention.
One might expect that after three albums, Ra Ra Riot would know a thing or two about restraint and focus. Many groups come to a point when they jump the shark in their creative direction. Perhaps Ra Ra Riot is there now.
Mr. Struggan sends his Low Regards.
Nico here. You might not know this, but our boss, Mr. Struggan, is a huge fan of contemporary pop music. He reached out to me this weekend and asked if I could write a review of Solange’s new EP, True, which was released on CD and LP this Tuesday.
Given the creative freedom the format allows, True works as an EP and bodes well for the direction Solange is headed in. Taken as her third album, however, True might be as unbearable as a Ric Ocasek’s Beatitude on cassette, a theme-y, period novelty. There have been plenty of bad EPs by great artists. Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Machine springs to mind.
Here, Solange draws influence from 80s R&B, Michael Jackson, Pet Shop Boys, even Yeasayer, to create music that’s fresh, but forgettable. The tracks are fun and cinematic, a quality the rest of her catalogue has. However, all of these songs are downers—think 808s and Heartbreak—and the emotional range is disappointingly narrow. The sparse beats on some tracks like “Some Things Never Seem To Fucking Work” are ripe for more energetic remixes. I could easily hear any of these songs in the closing credits of an HBO comedy series. The British-accented monologue on “Some Things Never Seem To Fucking Work” transports us to London in 1984.
Like many other EPs, True shows us where Solange is right now. I hope a lot of the musical ideas on these songs will be more fleshed out on her next album. She has successfully broken away from the middle-of-the-road style of her previous work, gone full on into weird soul mode and come out on the other side all the groovier.
Mr. Struggan sends his Regards.