Julien Baker – Sprained Ankle

Julien-Baker-Sprained-AnkleIn a stunning debut, Julien Baker offers 9 songs of heartbreak,  sorrow, loneliness and loss. Remarkably, Baker is just 20 years old; much too young for anyone to experience what she has.

The songs on Sprained Ankle are sparse: Baker accompanies herself with solo guitar and a looper pedal with no other added instrumentation. Large splashes of ambient reverb and delay accentuate the spaciousness of the songs; sometimes it seems as if she is playing and singing in a vast cathedral.

Raised in the South in a religious home, a thread of spiritual doubt weaves its way through her sparse songs. But rather than beating the listener over the head with her religious views, Sprained Ankle is a testament to surviving the horrors of drug addiction, loss, and self-harm at such a young age. Sprained Ankle is her catharsis; going through hell and not only surviving but coming through it stronger.

Click on the following link to place a hold:

Julien Baker – Sprained Ankle

-Steve

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Music Review: Lights Out by Ingrid Michaelson

 

71VV-kAvR4L__SL1500_.rLights Out by folky/indie, singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson took me completely by surprise; this is not the type of music that I normally listen to. But it snuck up on me with its infectious, catchy beats and joyous, heartfelt lyrics.

Much pop music is vapid, forgettable, and ultimately disposable. Not so with Lights Out, which has an ear-worm quality, but in a good way. The songs play in my head even when I’m not listening to the album itself.

My first introduction to Michaelson’s music was from the above video.  The video is truly a wry homage to Robert Palmers “Simply Irresistible” which I remember fondly from my college days. I like Michaelson’s twist on Palmer’s stylized models.

The song itself is very catchy as well and led me to investigate more of Michaelson’s music, most of which is available for streaming on YouTube. Kudos to her for allowing people to listen to her music before purchasing it. Her music stands on its own and it seems to me that she is confident enough in it to let listeners listen first and then pay for it later.

Other standout songs from Lights Out are “Wonderful Unknown,” “One Night Town,” “Over You,” and “Everyone Is Gonna Love Me Now. ”

Click on the following link to place a hold:

Lights Out

Give it a listen if you  like infectious, catchy pop music which is more complex than it appears on the surface.

Skip it if you don’t want these catchy songs playing in your head even when you’re not listening to them.

-Steve

Broken Crown Halo by Lacuna Coil

Lacuna-Coil-Broken-Crown-Halo-800x800Broken Crown Halo is the seventh studio album from the Italian goth-metal band, Lacuna Coil. For trivia fans: Lacuna Coil means “empty spiral” in Italian.

Lacuna Coil has a track record or releasing a great album, followed by a weaker one. Unfortunately, Broken Crown Halo is a weaker one. While not a bad album per se, it doesn’t have the hooks and the songs are not as good as their previous effort, Dark Adrenaline.

The primary draw of the band is their captivating lead singer, Cristina Scabbia. Her vocals never disappoint but the material does not give her much to work with. The guitars, bass  and drumming are heavy and crushing (as they should be on a metal album), but the song writing is weak and there really aren’t any memorable songs on the album.

I was disappointed in Broken Crown Halo, particularly after their spectacular previous release, Dark Adrenaline. Broken Crown Halo is not a bad album, it’s just not up to the level of their previous efforts. Hopefully the next one will be as good as or better than their best  (Comalies and Karma Code come to mind.)

However, Broken Crown Halo is worth a listen if you are a fan of the band. Click on the following link to place a hold:

Broken Crown Halo

For a better representation of the band’s dark, goth-metal sound click on the following link to place a hold.

Dark Adrenaline

-Steve