Sonic Reducer: Grimes • Beliefs • East West Quintet

3 min read
Share ::
Last week, Claire Boucher—better known as Grimes—played at the Guggenheim, proving that her music has a tendency to toe the line between pop and concept art. Her new album Art Angels is no exception, with pop ballads like “California” sitting comfortably next to “SCREAM,” which features animalistic growls and baby-voice whispers in French courtesy of Aristophanes. “Kill V. Maim” is a dancefloor gem with a cheerleader-chant chorus and thumping bass, but also featuring Boucher’s highly compressed, creepy-cute falsetto growling into a screamy vocal fry. Grimes, who has a reputation for tireless perfectionism in her work (she scrapped an entire album last year because she said it “sucked”), has clearly poured significant time and energy into this record, which highlights her chops as a producer and songwriter. While some have complained that Grimes’ new direction is pandering towards Top 40, it sounds more like she’s displaying the range of her talents—and it’s truly an impressive range.(Robin Babb)

Beliefs Leaper (Hand Drawn Dracula Records)

Critics are calling Beliefs’ second full length album “the most anticipated shoegaze album of the year.” I find that ironic because it conjures up the funny image of someone briefly interrupting their ‘shoe gazing’— which let us not forget is a heroin-nod reference from a William S. Burroughs novel—to smile at someone else who just told them there’s a new Beliefs album. As their PR says, Beliefs was formed “through the love of Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine” and this swirling, fuzzed-out album with dreamy vocals bears that out. Appropriately, the first single off Leaper is titled “1992”. If this Toronto-based duo hits the road with a full band next year, get ready for some psychedelic lights and a lotta feedback! (Geoffrey Plant)

East West Quintet Anthem (Self-released)

The East West Quintet put aside their hard bop incarnation some years ago in favor of a jazz fusion style that their latest album, Anthem, demonstrates was the right choice. With sweeping, cinematic horn riffs and down-lilting progressions that bring to mind sidewalk film sequences of ’70s New York City on top of some of the most innovative jazz-rock drumming you could ask for, Anthem really holds together tightly a lot of disparate musical—and possibly visual—influences. From Sonny Sharrock fuzz guitar to Krautrock beats, Edgar Winter organ (on “Action Figure”) and electronica effects, East West Quintet’s Anthem is a polished gem of experimental music. I love this unexpectedly groovy, yet gritty, album. Recommended. (Geoffrey Plant)

1 2 3 316