Dig These Discs :: Suzanne Vega, Angel Olsen, Candice Glover, Cibo Matto, Girls Volume 2
It's Valentine's Day, and Dig These Discs is all about the ladies! Check new releases from American Idol winner Candice Glover, and Missouri-born singer Angel Olsen. Japanese duo Cibo Matto is back together with "Hotel Valentine," and Suzanne Vega drops her first new album in seven years. And enjoy music from the second season of the hit HBO show "Girls." Love is in the air; can you dig it?
"Music Speaks" (Candice Glover)
Only 24 years old, season 12 American Idol winner Candice Glover looks like she could be one of the Huxtable kids, and sings like an angel. With her new album, she starts things off by showing off those shimmering pipes of her, singing sweetly and sadly about domestic abuse in her debut single ballad "Cried," accompanied by a tinkling piano. She vows her love is strong in "Die Without You," singing, "You’re my purpose, you’re all I know," with deep bass pounding in the background. She captures the Diana Ross vibe as she sings, "Why don’t I run while I can, cause I always end up loving the ’Same Kinda Man.’" Glover sings of being the other woman in "Damn," and says, "my everything is you," in "Passenger," a song that demonstrates the higher range of Glover’s silky voice. She strikes a very marketable balance between R&B and soul, as seen in songs like "Forever That Man" and "Kiss Me," which employs unusual percussion. She captures a rollicking ska sound in "In the Middle" and slows things down in "Coulda Been Me." She includes her version of the Cure’s "Love Song," which Idol judges called the best performance ever on a reality show. She finishes the album with an acoustic version of her Idol coronation song, "I Am Beautiful," which ran up the music charts after her win. With her blend of funk, soul and R&B and those amazing pipes, you’re gonna love her!
"Burn Your Fire For No Witness" (Angel Olsen)
Missouri-born singer/songwriter Angel Olsen drops her second album, chock full of confessional material, but this time, with a band backing her. Others describe the vibe as excited and angry; she just says it’s defiant. "I quit my dreaming the moment that I found you," she mumbles over reverb-laden guitar in the track, "Unfucktheworld." The reverb drones on in "Forgiven/Forgotten." The video for this track came out this winter, and listeners are already abuzz with Olsen’s ’90s lo-fi sound, comparing it to early material by The Breeders. "I feel so lonesome I could cry," sings Olsen in "Hi-Five," a song that has a country twang under layers of synthetic twing. Her first single, "White Fire" features her spare, melancholy singing with complex acoustic arrangements and lyrics like, "burn your fire for no witness, it’s the only way it’s done." She eases up on the dolor in "Lights Out," with punchy drums to keep it moving along. "Stars" is another nice piece of work, with Olsen singing, "I think you like to see me lose my mind." She hits the high notes in "Iota" and moves slowly through "Dance Slow Decades." In songs like "Enemy" Olsen comes across as a heavily sedated Liz Phair: just as angry, only slower to deliver. Olsen is new to the game, but her confessional style should take her far.
"Hotel Valentine" (Cibo Matto)
Cibo Matto, the outrageous girl group of Miho Hatori and Yuka C. Honda, brought to life our anime dreams in the ’90s, with absurd songs like "Know Your Chicken." The girls experimented wildly with the sounds of pop and hip-hop, Brazilian music, African and Latin jazz. After working on their solo careers, the two reunited after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011, during a benefit concert in New York City. From that point, they continued to perform and tour sporadically while working on new material. "Having spent some time apart, we became more aware of our magical chemistry, our magnetic bond. We both realized we had unfinished business," said Honda. On February 14, 2011 a Cibo Matto light bulb flickered and they struck upon the idea of this album. "’Hotel Valentine’ is the cinematic bricolage of Yuka and me," said Hatori. "Our medium is music." The album begins, logically, with "Check In," a study in the snare drum, with a strong pop vibe. They follow with "Déjà vu," an odd song that blends discordant verses with a harmonious chorus with a Brazilian backbeat, complete with horns. Cibo Matto’s music is still populated with delightful nonsense. "She talks like American, she walks like Egyptian, maybe international ghost girl," they sing in "10th Floor Ghost Girl." A mélange of drums and horns peps up the wacky "Emerald Tuesday" and a cacophony of curse words pepper "MFN." The title track is a haunting blend of hand drums and sax, "Empty Pool" is a dystopian soundscape, and "Lobby" has fantastic percussion with a spoken word intro. The album ends with "Housekeeping" and "Check Out," as appropriate an ending as any. Fangirls, rejoice! Cibo Matto is back again.
"Girls Soundtrack Volume 2" (Various Artists)
Atlantic Records releases another volume of songs from the hit HBO show "Girls." Vampire Weekend starts out with the metered rock tune "I’m Going Down," and Beck follows with his moody, harmonious "Blue Moon." M Ward scores with "I Get Ideas" and Miguel thrills with his electronic-heavy love song, "simplethings," singing, "I just want someone to smoke with me baby and laugh with me baby and lay with me baby." Even Oasis lends their somewhat dated (but still solid) track "Wonderwall" to the mix. The girls kick in some songs too, with Jenny Lewis’ girl-band track "Completely Not Me," Lily Allen’s ska-tastic "Late Comer" and Christina Perri’s sticky-sweet losing love song, "I Don’t Wanna Break." Even the illustrious Aimee Mann adds her homegrown acoustic hit, "How Am I Different" to the mix. Zero Dezire wins the award for hottest new track with the "It’s My Birthday (Remix)," a filthy, delicious treat, with lyrics like, "It’s my birthday, and I wanna get fucked like it’s the first time!" Father John Misty’s "Nancy From Now" ends things, with the odd lyrics, "Oh pour me a drink, and punch me in the face, you can call me Nancy." This soundtrack follows another year of exploits in the lives of "Girls," and just like the show, it blends comedy and drama in equal portions.
"Tales From the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles" (Suzanne Vega)
Suzanne Vega drops her first album of new songs in seven years, with a title worth of "A Game of Thrones." The pragmatic singer is known for her folksy rock, as seen in hits like "Luka" and "Tom’s Diner," the a capella version of which became a huge dance hit, courtesy of DNA. The years have not changed Vega’s beautiful voice, and it soars as she sings about spirituality and mysticism in this collection of 10 tracks. The sound varies from folk and guitar to ambient soundscapes and even a dabble in rap, via a sample of 50 Cent’s "Candy Shop" mixed with Arabian melodies in the fast-moving "Don’t Uncork What You Can’t Contain." On her website, she calls her first track "Crack in the Wall" a song about "those moments in time when you see or sense a spiritual world beyond this one. But if you try to hold on to it, you lose everything." The guitar arrangement is engaging and Vega’s thin voice sings enigmatic lyrics like, "a wildish wind open wide like childish mind." She speeds things up in the poppy "Fool’s Complaint," singing about "such expensive innocence, never knowing any cost." She moves to rock in "I Never Wear White," singing, "my color is black, black, black... black is the truth of my situation." She sings of a friend’s terrible mood in the Ren Fair-esque "Portrait of the Knight of Wands," with theatrical lyrics like, "his inner burdens weighed upon him mightily." Vega gets Biblical in the clap-track "Jacob and the Angel," and looks at the passing of a friend in "Silver Bridge." Vega said of this sad song that she seemed to see the silver bridge where he had passed over. She takes a wry look at the times we live in in the rockabilly "Laying on of Hands" and finishes things up with "There is a Road (Horizon) for Vaclav Havel," looking at the life of the Czech writer and former president. If you’re a fan of mystic tales of knights-errant, genies in bottles and angels flying to heaven, this is one you won’t want to miss.