Gig Review: The Mountain Goats at The Art School

By Dominic Cassidy (@lyre_of_apollo)

The Mountain Goats are awaited by the crowd with bated breath and I’d be lying if I said I was not amongst their number, in terms of the mob or the state of breath. North Carolina based folk rockers The Mountain Goats – consisting of the ever present singer-songwriter John Darnielle and multi-instrumentalist Matt Douglas – ascend to the stage accompanied by cries of devotion from the loving Glasgow crowd. Opening with Have to Explode, the cheers and whooping give way to absolute silence. When the song ends so does the hush, the hanging silence expelled with thankful applause.

It becomes clear almost immediately that The Goats will not be playing the greatest hits from their latest album, Goths: instead, this is a show for the super fans, as hit after ancient hit blasts from the speakers. In between hitting out with the band’s classics as well as newer material, Darnielle rambles with an intelligence and conversational ease seldom seen by crowds, but almost expected from one who has been making music for 20 plus years; and, honestly, the experience shows. Tracks wise, the stand outs from the night were Until I Am Whole, You or Your Memory, We Do It Different on the West Coast, the beautifully quiet Get Lonely, and the ever fantastic No Children.

There were very different vibes from the crowd throughout the gig. Songs like No Children were belted out word for word with ferocity, whereas during Get Lonely the crowd stood like a forest at night, but so much more silent; people asking to get by did so whispering.

Honestly, for me the gig was a beautiful exhibition of long-crafted skill and art, showing how well playing to the crowd can be done. The innate crowd interaction from John Darnielle who was loving the little stand up bits, made the night all the more special. If you have not seen The Mountain Goats live, I can recommend nothing more, and if you have never heard them, I would start now; on The Sunset TreeTallahassee, or Beat the Champ.

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ALBUM REVIEW: PURE COMEDY by FATHER JOHN MISTY

By Becky Little (@sometimesboring)

Scrolling through Twitter today, it is clear to see that everyone’s favourite narcissist Josh Tillman, known more commonly to you and I as Father John Misty, has created yet another version of his pseudonym. What will it be this time? ‘Farmer Jah Misery’? Nope. Of course, it is ‘Feather Jam Ministry’. Whether this is a big fuck you to critics and the music industry we may never know. It probably isn’t, due to the critical acclaim of his most recent offering Pure Comedy, released on the 7th April. It’s almost as if he loves taking the piss out of himself. However, his online presence is undeniably full of eccentricity, which is to be expected when your success has come from whinging about existentialism so beautifully.

Pure Comedy is the third album our Holy Father has released, which packs in just as much punchy realism and sheer gorgeousness as predecessors Fear Fun and I Love You, Honeybear, respectively released in 2012 and 2015. We were teased in 2016 with the release of Real Love Baby, the first single post-I Love You, Honeybear, a song which rings true with desperate millennials everywhere by claiming “I want real love, baby, ooh don’t keep me waiting.’ Joking aside, the single may have wrongly set us up for an LP just as romantic.

Instead, Pure Comedy is a beautiful and sometimes harrowing critique of 21st-century life, almost taking the piss out of the internet and the culture surrounding it. A perfect example of this is personal favourite Total Entertainment Forever, a track which begins with ‘Bedding Taylor Swift, every night inside the Oculus Rift’. It seems a little sarcastic, no? To be honest, you couldn’t really expect anything less from Josh than a quippy reference to popular culture, which can be seen again in Ballad of the Dying Man, as he references ‘the homophobes, hipsters and 1%’, despite arguably being part of one of those demographics…(I mean hipsters. He isn’t a problematic fave. He’s just a pure fave. As far as we’re aware.)

Further into the album, the song A Bigger Paper Bag seems to tackle more sensitive issues involving coping with mental health, with our Josh singing about being “bent on taking demons down with only your fists”. It is within this song that one of the greatest lyrics of the entire album is nestled – “What a fraud, what a con, you’re the only, one I love”. Here we find a little bit of that missing romanticism, despite it being in a song presumably about alcoholism.

Moving on, and not to sound like a GCSE English essay, but it could be interpreted that Pure Comedy is a grandiose message about the state of current society. Especially with lyrics such as ‘I’ve got the world by the balls, am I supposed to behave?’ which could easily be a reference to the leaders of our world who have no clue what they are doing. They’re in it so they can have their white, wrinkly hands on our incredible diverse world by the balls. Our collective balls.

Thanks, Josh, once again we are left contemplating our own existence. Very on brand.

8.5/10


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ALBUM REVIEW: Semper Femina by Laura Marling

By Callum Thornhill (@Cal_Thornhill)

Laura Marling has returned with sixth album Semper Femina. Latin for ‘always a woman,’ Marling’s delicacy and charismatic charm has always been evident in her previous work, but this is a record holding something more. An ensemble of tales cut down into three to five-minute tracks sounds like the norm for songwriting, but Marling has crafted an album that exceeds the norm.

Throughout the creation process of this record, Marling has made her directorial debut with the video for Soothing, produced the record with Blake Mills and released it on her own label More Alarming Records.

Following on from Marling’s podcast series, Reversal of the Muse, where she questioned feminine creativity alongside Haim and Dolly Parton to name just two, Semper Femina carries on this theme across nine abstract, non-definitive tracks. It is an accumulation of what has stood before put together in a record that will be looked back on in several years as one of the most important records of the decade.

The questioning is portrayed in Don’t Pass Me By with the lyrics “Can you love me if I put up a fight” and “Is it something you make a habit of, that not something I need from love right now” give a journey of empowerment and no longer needing a (assumed) man to carry on with life.

Next Time, however, juxtaposes Don’t Pass Me By. Reversing the themes and mellowly singing the optimistic lyrics of “I’ll do better next time” at the beginning. It is a reminiscent track where by the end she has seemingly accepted defeat via a pleading mid-section. The signature plucky guitar and echoey arrangements are core to Semper Femina and create a backbone to the record – not that anything else would be expected from the Hampshire singer-songwriter.

There are moments of rawness throughout; notably in Wild Once where Marling’s authentic, bold accent comes through and you are briefly invited into her mind and memories. Dropping it again now and then throughout, it offers different perspectives and different characters in the songs.

Image result for laura marling semper femina

The moody ballad of Nothing, Not Really closes Semper Femina. Quick, snappy relatable lyrics pour from Marling’s alongside the emphatic instrumentation, which creates a mesmerising sound leaves the nine track record begging to be extended, but in some ways this gives the sense of mystery that was always going to come from Laura Marling’s story telling methods.

The sound of footsteps shuffling and a microphone being placed down at the end of the record shows that the job is done. Marling has completed a record of mystery, passion and allure. It is now time for her to leave and for you to now take it and perceive in however you want.

 8.5/10


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ALBUM REVIEW: Jake Bellissimo – Piece Of Ivy

Artists creating content under monikers isn’t anything new but seeing a musician go by the name of “gay angel” is eye catching to say the least. While most artificial names musicians will use are only skin deep, Jake Bellissimo’s use of the title is a perfect indication of the music he provides: wonderfully blissful and, if we’re going by the dictionary definition of being happy, very gay.

The eponymously titled track Piece Of Ivy was released at the tail end of last month and perfectly set the scene for what listeners can expect on this six track LP. With the delicate playing of piano alongside the plucking of his acoustic guitar, there’s a definite feeling of acceptance, almost like the epilogue to the depression ridden nature of Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago.

The rest of this release seems like it will carry the same positivity as the opener and thankfully spices things up as it goes on. Take for instance the small 44 second interlude Memento Mori which, as the title would suggest, feels very reflective and, alongside the use of an accordion near the end of the track as well as some romance tinged lyrics, feels like what you’d expect to hear on a gondola ride alongside your beloved sweetheart.

However, the latter half of Piece Of Ivy takes a dark turn just after the purely instrumental track The Burning Sky which feels theatre-esque. Grand in scale, boasting bodacious orchestral arrangements, the track feels utterly shocking due to what has came before. (A Considerable Amount Of) “Ow” makes the comparison between heartbreak and physical pain quite well, talking of broken legs alongside the instability that inevitably follows a romance gone sour.

This is where Bellissimo doesn’t so much shine but radiate storytelling beauty. Swan Song definitely captures the bitterness of an ex lover, going through his mundane start to the day while dwelling on the past. The isolated guitar strumming feels like a perfect match and the previous resemblance to Bon Iver comes out on full force.

“Does the light reflect off your beating eyes” are one of the many lines that hit home a wave of empathy, undisputedly evoking emotion due to the sincere and simple beauty Bellissimo’s love displays. Piece Of Ivy deserves a listen due to its ambition, excellent execution and, just like the old flame in question, the power it has over you.

8/10

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