Curious what it means to sound like a wise crone at 23? Listen to Laura Marling's Once I Was An Eagle to find out. Sixteen songs revolve around one world-weary woman. She rolls through what she believes are interconnected turning-point moments of growth, kicked off with a mini-song cycle: “Take The Night Off,” “I Was An Eagle,” “You Know” and “Breathe.” Then the album explodes with “Master Hunter.” I can hear a smile in Marling's voice on “Little Love Caster,” then her exasperated doubt on “When Were You Happy (And How Long Has That Been).” Yet by album's end, she's mired again—in a new strain of the very naïveté she sought to escape. Stunning. (M. Brianna Stallings)
Let's play “Where Are They Now?” with three big Bristol sound names: Portishead, Massive Attack and Tricky. Portishead rocked our faces off with the darkly different Three in 2008; they're now on a European tour. Massive Attack has devolved into trip-hop Muzak. And Tricky? Still plugging along with False Idols. “Somebody's Sins” is the first stanza of Patti Smith's version of “Gloria,” recited twice by guest vocalist Francesca Belmonte; she also appears on the engrossing “Tribal Drums” and the casually menacing “We Don't Die” and “Does It,” among others. Meanwhile an iffy “Valentine” samples Chet Baker in a listless loop. Tricky wants us to believe False Idols is on par with his debut masterpiece Maxinquaye. It isn't. But it's still very good. (M. Brianna Stallings)
The limited edition, debut offering by local noise curandera TAHNZZ is a treat for all the senses. Presented on cassette—the hip format du jour—Xila’s four tracks range from six-and-a-half to nine-plus minutes in length and conjure intelligent, emotive sound from static, white noise. TAHNZZ garnered serious buzz for her appearance at the 2013 Ende Tymes Festival, and this release underscores that warranted hype. Xila is cradled in a screen-printed sack, and it includes a mini-zine that draws inspiration from Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide’s work, New Mexican remedios and transistor radio schematics. (Samantha Anne Carrillo)
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