And yet it is a poet who has written these essays, and his imagination presides over them. There is a sameness of tone about such ruminations, even when they are worthy, that prevents their becoming part of literature. What makes a poet write an essay?
Born Losers — Scott A. Sandage | Harvard University Press
Or, more precisely, where did these essays originate? Although the editor has grouped the essays collected here into five categories, beginning with the more autobiographical pieces and ending with three essays on classical authors Seneca, Petronius, and Juvenal , they can be read in any order, from the slightest to the weightiest. Their essential qualities are constant: vivacity of style, intelligence of mind, and vividly imaginative expression--and often, in the pages that began as lectures, a fierce colloquiality of diction. Whoever composes poems, by contrast, places himself at the mercy of Dionysus, who leads us into the dense thicket of our drives.
Lyric poetry as a pursuit and investigation of human consciousness has been presented as an emotional rather than an intellectual medium. As he courses rapidly through many subjects, always pointing, defining, and exhibiting, he displays some of the evangelism we associate with Whitman, who could not believe that the glories and miseries of the world, natural and human, could so often escape human notice. His grandfather takes him to the natural history museum, where the child is enraptured by the dioramas of scenes in various climates:.
Picture books, dioramas, and the exotic real kindle into a single perception in the six-year-old poet to be. In his very satisfying essays on poetry, he does not abandon his love of hyperbole and his rhetorical momentum, but he does tame them into a more melodic prose. In poetry, he says,. The Dresden that he recalls was still part of the German Democratic Republic, the communist East Germany, and in the museum a docent explains the Raphael to the children:. Or perhaps the blame should be ascribed to the long exacerbation of youth under the control of a repressive and dangerous regime, to the immersion in a hateful history that one was powerless to change.
He refuses to give up the attempt to confront the lifelong standoff between perception and thought, imagination and truth. Helen Vendler is the A. This review ran in the June 24, , issue of the magazine. He plunges into the implications of the natural world, describing deep-sea fishes, who he says, in a cascade of ungovernable similes swim like images in the unconscious mind: These monstrous prototypes resemble the first pressing irons, the earliest sewing machines, phonographs, water picks, or safety razors Hingelike cartilage, fins notched as if by rasps and graters, rows of stiletto-sharp teeth in mouths with corsetlike braces Having first appeared in time immemorial, long before the beginnings of continental time, they have always already been contemporaries [of all historical epochs].
The poetic word in Latin approached me like something quasi-objective, as a sculpture made of syllables Ancient poetry can be thought only in multiple voices, as a physical polytheism. Nothing was excluded, not one of the drives was left without speech. Impossible to imagine that a poet should be among them. It is as if the art of poetry, of all things, were the blind spot in the cultural memory of modern man. His grandfather takes him to the natural history museum, where the child is enraptured by the dioramas of scenes in various climates: What to my grandfather was at best a copy, a piece of jungle nicely imitated and about as interesting as the window display in a fur shop, was to me identical with the nature outside.
It's honest and beautiful, inner-thoughts translated into songs that reflect their feelings with a stunning immediacy. Rock Solid and June Gloom's lo-fi production works to their advantages, the songs wrapping themselves around you with the intimacy of an old friend, someone who understands, and someone who wants to listen.
Blending together orchestral psych with electronic experimentation, Melody and her band take a brilliant approach to nuanced instrumentals, adding in soft touches of shoegaze, manipulated indie pop, heavy space-aged drifts, and the occasional touches of soul and jazz. Her vocals and clever lyrics twist delicate word-play around the ensuing pummel she and her bandmates are consistently perfecting.
Slight uses of near-repetition and warm melodic touches cut through the noise, it's the counterpoint in their sound that makes it so special and the drumming Back in January, Winters treated us to "The Future District," a solo effort that stripped everything back and confirmed what we all knew, she's a gifted songwriter in any capacity, context be damned. The lo-fi cassette release is a pleasing blend of Winter's songwriting and field recordings, perfect in any context.
The band do it on their own discordant and brilliantly disjointed terms though, as evident by the album's weaving non-conventional hooks and each and every twist and howl, twitching between skronky melodies and fractured rhythms with an experimental grace. It's a testament to the band's songwriting, a big and brash record that relies on confidence and casually crushing melodies. It's only a matter of time before that piano refrain is driven deep into your subconscious.
The song, a reflection of growing up and figuring shit out, takes solace in that while everything may not be perfect, it's all the learning experience that is part of getting older. With stretched syllables and walls of thick guitars, Pllush maneuver melodic ideas in and out of distortion, casually creating deep hooks and layered bliss. Ring , the EP is a boisterous slow burner, Protomartyr offering a great deal of nuance as it plods forward, from piercing feedback to stampeding sludge and sharp stabs of distorted guitars. Protomartyr forever. Even when he gets into it with himself, or the world behind that sunshine, he is a steady hand at the wheel.
The LP was recorded on a borrowed reel-to-reel eight track at the height of summer, and the songs have the happy illusion of being effortless and open. Tuning to a Rhodes in the room and working within the limitations of the apparatus, Owens marshalls his band beautifully. From the outside looking in, trying to get into Self Defense Family can feel like a painfully taxing process. Singer Patrick Kindlon uses a backdrop of disparate, moody music to take a hard, honest look in the mirror. And get no better? When I first heard this album I immediately wanted to talk about it with everyone I know so it makes me glad to see so many people, especially teenagers, connecting with it.
Lush is the work of someone who was survived heartbreak and become a better, wiser artist because of it. Beach Deep , the band's sophomore album is a genuine work of art. The layers are delicately packed and percolating at all times.
Without speaking the language, the music, melodies, and J uliette Buchs ' gorgeous vocal presence speak their own sentiments, offering an exploratory freedom and beauty that can be appreciated by all. Landowner's album, Blatant , is just that - there's about as much subtlety here as a hammer to the skull. Self described as "weak hardcore," Dan Shaw and company have built themselves a deviant post-punk record thick with wit and abrasive tonality, skewering everything from the far-right to environmental disasters.
It's not for the faint of heart, but then again, little is these days. First single "Moving Again" is the album's opening track, an immediate statement of sonic intent with a dense low end groove and harsh stabbing guitars. The sound is clean and focused, blunt with force and upfront in its aggressive tendencies. With all the charm and sour humor of Big Black and The Fall, Shaw's lyrics are bleak but biting, lashing out at disposable culture, entitlement, gentrification, and instant gratification. The record, one of the best new hip-hop albums in the past few years, is refreshing from the beats to the undeniable lyricism and ability of Brigham, a young and relatively unknown talent.
Having made a name for himself in recent years with album collaborations that include Kool Keith, Stik Figa, Mr. Brigham shows a diverse talent for shifting flows between rapid fire spitting and knowledge based poeticism, delivered between elegant rhymes and melodies around circular beats that draw from the boom-bap greats. Don't judge this book or record by it's cover, the Oakland noise punk band's sophomore full-length is pretty much as good as it gets.
A triumphant upheaval of fuzzy guitar shredding and thick as bricks rhythms, the band tread between balls to the wall noise rock, slacker punk, and the SST glory days, in their own delightfully volatile way. In a year where a lot of the female led music making the "best of year end lists" is dramatic and slow burning, The Ophelias debut Almost is a real stand out.
The deep well of sounds that populate this record, as well as the surreal and poignant lyrics by Spencer Peppet , make Almost a refreshing antithesis to the current trend. Tough times don't always need to be expressed by a drawn out piano ballad or plodding, guitar-centric keening. Sometimes they're more rightly excised by grooving, letting your troubles get carried away by the sure ferocity with which you can shake them from your body.
While not a dance record per se, I dare you not to bop along to every track here. In Hi-Fi. The long awaited and heavily anticipated third album is an exceptional record that has the duo sounding better than ever before. It's a new shinning moment for the band and Crow, an artist that has never lacked shinning moments.
Released to a wide audience in July because this record is simply too good not to get a full release , the band shared intricate pop songs that layer vocals, lush harmonies, and of course, the optigan, used to create an atmospheric background that's steadily rising, building into a crescendo of Beach Boys-esque glory. They are able to capture moments of wonder and angst in ways other bands simply cannot.
The two ultra-prolific musicians' styles most certainly have a degree of garage psych overlap, but when together they take both aspects of their respective sounds and it let run wild. The album's first single "Good Boy" is a breezy effort full of texture and pop bliss, cascading drums, and lush acoustics, mixing the band's psych roots with a prog detachment. It's unpredictable and yet easily accessible, a welcome exercise is combining their sounds to create something familiar but ultimately the culmination of their efforts.
Between stealing pizzas, discordantly dismissing chores, and questioning the decrease in the bee population, Wimps are here to say what we're all thinking, and they do it rather brilliantly. Still relying on their well coiled slacker fuzz meets locked-in post-punk, Wimps ooze charisma in all their punk intelligence and sarcastic lyrics delivered in a non sarcastic way. It's that ability that has Wimps shimmering with deadpan joy. The five songs on it are easily some of the most memorable of This is the mesmerizing skill of songwriter Maya Bon , who wrote and initially performed and released this material on her own in Los Angeles.
The EP is equal parts intimate and grand, a combination that makes for one of the most impressive label debuts of the year.
Baked still bring the pounding rhythm and motorik repetition on this EP, but some surprising melodies and brightened vocals add another ingredient that provides a new flourish. Raw and immediate, the new Dust record could just be Bone's best effort yet, an album that combines earthy textures and gravely voiced depression with dynamic arrangements and a real tortured sense of beauty in the shallows. The album rattles with loose rhythms and distorted folk ideals, the simplistic structures dropped on their heads and contorted with a veteran's attention to detail.
Their unique brand of melted prog blends in everything thee Oh Sees have built their impenetrable catalog upon It's a beast of explosive double-drumming and guitars that glitch and explode down a number of rabbit holes, chasing an eternal locked in groove, determined to disrupt and expand beyond any preconceived confines.
What you may not already know is that both Hartlett and Weiss are both great songwriters and guitarists as well. They can really do it all and they do it all so damn well Tomberlin's has delivered a record that reaches emotional levels that are extremely relatable for everyone trying to find their way through life with all it's highs and lows.
There is a constant hum that adds a sense of brittle tension that works its way through every song and heightens the emotional intensity. With an impressive catalog already behind them, their latest is all caustic and jittering post-punk, creeping and grooving with a manic energy, one that feels ominous and tense but in short bursts that rarely pass the two minute mark.
The tight rhythms crack under their guitars sharp attacks, collapsing and expanding to push the tempos and keep their structures unpredictable. It's a great record from two musicians who have never shied away from a bit of abrasive experimentation.
Dreams and Shadows by Robert Cargill
Self described as "post-noir noise disco" genres After a three-year hiatus, Ava Luna is strolling back into the spotlight with a strong return in the form of their latest LP Moon 2. The album sees the Brooklyn-based indie rock group maintaining a stable position in an increasingly diverse and crowded lot of genre-bending acts.
The past several years has seen the rise of other sonically strange supergroups that casually toss around opposing genre elements. While at times it sounds as if Ava Luna is trying their best to flank others like Hiatus Kaiyote, you quickly realize this assumption to be false. In doing so, it triumphantly puts the group in their own lane. In the hands of the five person outfit, a disparate collection of ingredients is measured and mixed in such a way to create the musical equivalent of some complicated confection.
If you've ever seen them live than you know the potential is bubbling over it only took seeing them once for me and the time to get weird is upon us. The album is the sordid punk masterpiece they seem so destined to make. They've upped the fidelity and sonic comprehension without loosing any bite. Hell, they've never sounded better.