If you love music, but don't have the time to keep up with what's new, you should listen to Tuesday Reviewsday. Every week our critics join our hosts in the studio to talk about what you should be listening to, in one short segment. This week, music journalist Chris Martins joins A Martinez for a chat.
Album: "DEATH MAGIC"
Songs: "L.A. LOOKS," "NEW COKE"
Summary: I wanna kick things off with a modern Los Angeles classic, the neo-noise-rock band known as HEALTH. They've got a brand new brutalizer of an album out this week called "DEATH MAGIC." This thing is so heavy, it slams even during its poppiest moments.
You've got stomping arena rock drums, screaming glittery synth, booming bass, and then the bow: Jake Duzsik's treacly vocals, sounding like they're leaking out of a sweet dream. But then there's the content. You realize he's singing all these screwed up things, like "Am I stuck with myself?" and "It's not love but I still want you." HEALTH has always been like this, balancing light against dark. It's what separates them from the tired, off-putting machismo of so many loud bands, and it's what makes their abrasive sound accessible.
The video for this album's lead single "NEW COKE" includes a very telling moment. At the end of a night out on the scene, we see Jake and his bandmates vomit profusely, yellow liquid spouting from their faces. But in HEALTH fashion, the moment caught in glorious hi-def slow-mo. And it's kinda beautiful.
"NEW COKE" is a little more indicative of where HEALTH is at now. Their mashup of pretty melodies and heavy sounds says a lot about where they come from. Not just Los Angeles, but our legendary DIY punk venue The Smell. The same downtown hub that gave us groups like No Age and Mika Miko. But HEALTH have also found their place in more global musical picture. They've toured with Nine Inch Nails, been remixed by Crystal Castles (twice), and on "DEATH MAGIC" they bring in some new friends. Björk producer Haxan Cloak contributes, as do the trusted engineers of Mars Volta and Kanye West. These guys didn't change HEALTH's sound so much as take a thick black Sharpie marker and draw fat lines around all the wild sonic shapes this band naturally creates. "DEATH MAGIC" is a slugger.
Artist: Mac DeMarco
Album: "Another One"
Songs: "The Way You'd Love Her," "A Heart Like Hers"
Summary: Since I'm solo this week I've picked two albums that couldn't be farther apart in vibe, tone, content, and sound. We've got "Another One" by Mac DeMarco. That is the actual name of the record, "Another One," and the whole thing is as casual and easy as the title sounds. There's a shrugged off, unplugged, out-of-time quality to the whole thing that evokes solo John Lennon, or Harry Nilsson. You'll hear all that lovely slack in this first song, dubbed "The Way You'd Love Her."
It's a sweet little guitar ditty about having a crush you'll never get the chance to explore. All of the songs on the album find Mac pondering heartbreak or pining for love out of reach. But they're all breezy like this... short, bright and swirly songs that never mire in mope. That's probably to do with the way they were made. Mac's billing this as a mini-LP. It arrives only a year after "Salad Days," which made him a critical darling. He wrote and recorded "Another One" in about two weeks, in his bedroom, which is awesome. It's testament to his ability to ignore the pressure of sudden success. Also confirmation of what we assumed after listening to his tunes: this 25-year-old Canadian lo-fi prince is a very chill dude.
So much so, in fact, that he ends this album by giving out his actual home address. "Stop on by. I'll make you a cup of coffee," he says, and he means it. In an interview a couple of days ago, he said about 30 fans have visited already. Who knows, maybe one of them will turn out to be the true love he's looking for.