This Week in Live Music: Future, EMA, Pink Martini, and More
Need to escape this heat? To the music halls!
Who says rappers can’t make great songs? Certainly not anyone who’s heard hip-hop champion Future spin soliloquies about monogamy and tunnel-vision courtship. The 30-year-old Atlanta emcee recently told the Baltimore Sun about his philosophy: “It could be a Garth Brooks song and if it's a smash, then I'll love the different wordplay and different melodies. That's what I'm a fan of—great music.” Perhaps his recent engagement to R&B singer Ciara and the birth of the couple’s first son might have something to do with that stance, but whatever it is, you can’t argue with the soulmate appreciation found in hit songs such as “I Be U” and “Honest.”
And now, your subgenre of the day: “poly-pop.” (h/t Pitchfork) We’ll define it as a musical act that employs a variety of pop mechanisms and song structures. Key word: variety. Glass Animals isn’t shifting directions overtly from song to song, but it’s thrilling to hear this band —seemingly in its infancy—bend comfortably with each subsequent track on its debut album Zaba. The album is as exotic and extraterrestrial as it sounds, one of those acts that begs live interpretation. WHAT ARE YOU PLUCKING AND/OR STRUMMING GLASS BEINGS?
Erika M. Anderson (EMA) has cycled through the rapid-fire "you’re-a-hit-now-entertain-us" machine that comes with releasing a brilliant album such as 2011’s Past Life of Martyred Saints. But she’s survived and assembled a spellbinding sophomore album, The Future's Void, which builds on the themes and ideas Martyred Saints hinted at. Her sweet nothings are now fully fleshed-out and complex rock songs (to say nothing poor re: Martyred Saints, a truly phenomenal album that begs a cigarette upon completion). But back to the idea that she “survived”—listen to her Spotify session breaking down her last three years of life and her approach to the new album. She's been through the ringer, alright.
The pop orchestra institution known as Pink Martini flies in the face of modern music convention. In short, Pink Martini is proof campy music can scale. The Portland collective has grown organically in size and stature since its initial conception in the mid-1990s, and refreshingly so. The band’s latest act is a collaboration with vocal harmonist extraordinaires The Von Trapps, a group long steeped in the pastoral arts of American history.
This new Fresh & Onlys album is, what’s the word, pleasant? San Francisco’s beloved garage/psych rock quartet just released its fifth album (we old!), House of Spirits, and it’s far less garage than psych, and significantly more subdued than previous entries in the band’s growing and varied catalogue. But departure and all, the Fresh & Onlys have found their sweet spot. Songs like “Ballerina,” “Home is Where?” and “Bells of Paonia” prioritize melody above all else, and it suits F&Os shockingly well.
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