Monday, 23 August 2010

Women- Public Strain (Jagjaguwar)/Zola Jesus- Stridulum (Souterrain transmissions)

Women- Public Strain (Jagjaguwar)

The once heavily hyped Women are back with their 2ND album, after last January's debut, gone are their beach boys esque harmonies and the summer vibes, this is a comedown record although not devoid of their walls of sound opening with the haunting heavy "Can't You See." While "Heat Distraction" is the closest the album has to a hit, with it's hooky repetitive guitar line leading into a despondent pop song. However Public Strain takes five tracks to find its real stride and then on the instrumental "Bells" Women are taken hostage by white noise and the come out the otherside a lot better for it, as Public Strain is dominated by a guitar possibly stolen from sonic youth circa 1985, for some of the most intoxicating, violent and visceral songs this year often achieving some of the paranoid and edgy dystopia of Wire and the youth with clever incantations and a focus on the power of the guitar. The album closer "Eyesore" does suggest some spring after what it essentially a very dark and difficult second album, but Public Strains and Women are better for it, as harsh and cold as it's artwork suggests, this is one of this years most essential albums, challenging, blunt and aware of it's very obvious influences. 9/10

Zola Jesus- Stridulum ii (souterrain transmissions)

Not a sequel to Stridulum as such, more as a re-release with some extended scenes, Zola Jesus' UK awakening Stridulum II, showcases her haunting talent to anyone who is partial to atmospheric instrumental backing tracks (often looping synth lines, echoy guitars and lurking building beats) to a powerful and haunting voice, from Kate Bush to Tori Amos to the current string of similar (although not the same) artists, Zola Jesus is build on the same principles. No-one can deny her talents, ZJ voice is incredible and has an impressively large range and every song is passionately performed with the same umph as the aforementioned artists but also allowing her to stand out amongst her current musical contemporaries. But if earlier this year Los Campesinos termed the line "more post-coital and less post rock feels like the build up takes forever but you never get me off" seems to define Stridulum ii perfectly, or imagine someone standing over you with a knife to stab you death, lunging down but never stabbing you, and eventually himself getting so tired of not doing it, he wonders off. ZJ is the best of a group of acts that have kinda had their five minutes of fame in this particular style, not interestingly minimal enough but not nearly as complicated or lush sounding as intended and often derivative 6.5/10

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