90s riot grrrl punk rock; another fine album from one of my favourite UK bands; a folk supergroup make magic together.
Bikini Kill – Reject All American
I’ve loved Bikini Kill’s Rebel Girl for ages, so I thought I’d check out their albums, of which there are only two. Reject All American is their second, considered to be more accessible and polished than their debut (which I bet made many snooty critics turn up their noses at the time). I like good melodies as well as anger and energy, and I appreciate the fact that there’s quite a bit of variety and change of mood on this 27 minute-long album. Some songs are blistering punk with Kathleen Hanna’s piercing banshee howl, others are more subdued and introspective and some have a strong girl-group/mod influence. Hanna’s emotional and heartfelt vocals on R.I.P., dedicated to a friend who died from AIDS, is probably my favourite moment on the album.
Elbow – Little Fictions
At this point in their career Elbow are unlikely to indulge in a bold reinvention and make an album of party bangers; their seventh album is pretty much more of the same. Not necessarily a bad thing when “more of the same” means more of meditative, richly textured songs, sweeping orchestration and Guy Garvey’s gorgeous melancholy vocals. To be honest I felt this album was their least immediate since Cast of Thousands and I miss the days when Elbow songs had hooks and choruses that instantly printed onto my brain. But while I never warmed to that album Little Fictions eventually won me over with its quietly effective nooks and crannies. Now tour Melbourne!
The rather matter-of-fact name case/lang/veirs stands for Neko Case, k.d. lang and Laura Veirs, who came together as a sort of folk/country supergroup to collaborate on this lovely and bewitching album. All-star get-togethers don’t always result in brilliance, but after listening to their debut record with great enjoyment I hope it’s not their last. The three have some of the best and most distinctive voices in music – Case a firecracker with a voice as clear as a bell, lang a smooth seductive crooner, Veirs a wry and deeply human storyteller – but there’s no sense of one overpowering another, or things getting overcrowded. Singing together or individually, they sound magical.