Sonic Reducer: Micro Reviews Of This Is My Hand, Too Bright And Weirdon

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How wonderful it is to have a contemporary musical landscape chock-full of virtuosic female voices: Des Ark, tUnE-yArDs, St. Vincent, Laura Marling and, of course, Shara Worden aka My Brightest Diamond. An operatically trained multi-instrumentalist from a musical family—who counts Sufjan Stevens among her former colleagues—Worden bears all the hallmarks of brilliance; her new album This Is My Hand is further proof. Ten songs tackle the gestative and tangible as part of the creative process. The drumline coursing through “Pressure” is a departure from Worden’s more effluent sound but still in keeping with her grandiose sensibilities. “This Is My Hand” is a portrait of the artist unashamed. "Shape" would be a perfect tune for a kindergarten class to sing in a circle during music time. Worden’s elastic alto shines like a jewel throughout. One of the year’s best. (M. Brianna Stallings)

Perfume Genius Too Bright (Matador Records)

Have you ever heard the peculiar American idiom “that dude’s like, a total perfume genius?” No? Me either. But I have heard Perfume Genius, the project of Jet City singer-songwriter Mike Hadreas. His latest recording Too Bright—titled after what humans from Seattle say when exposed to even minimal amounts of sunlight—is an ironically dark yet compelling concoction of pop and prog-inflected tuneage. Crushingly seductive and anthemic, the album’s first single “Queen” wrestles with the silvery, synthetic soul of “Grid” and the rest of this crazy-good album for supremacy; the immediate result may include listeners hitting the replay button compulsively ever after. The production quality, songwriting and lush arrangements make for a genuinely surprising and richly musical experience. In his mad evolution from maker of sad, spare songs to deep dissembler of rock tropes, Hadreas pushes his artistic volume knob up to 11. And you should too. (August March)

Purling Hiss Weirdon (Drag City Records)

Speaking of records to play at high volume while attempting to defy the laws of gravity, there’s always the latest from Pennsylvania power trio Purling Hiss. Weirdon is a completely rocked-out affair capable of reversing the Earth’s axis and other grand, transformative geological phenomena. Album opener “Forcefield of Solitude” is a deceptively plaintive song that guitarist and singer Mike Polizze uses as a staging area for the psyched-out, sometimes humorous and always deeply informed riffage that follows. Polizze wears his heart and more notably, his influences on his sleeve; but the diversity of work here—from the weird, wired blues of “Reptili-A-Genda” to the pop-punk of “Airwaves”—gives depth to his vision of guitarist as arhat of both the absurd and the sublime. The lumbering closer “Six Ways to Sunday” just adds lava to the quake triggered and magnified by each preceding track. (August March)

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