QUICK SPINS: Death Vessel, Warm Soda, Kylie Minogue
By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 26, 2014 3:00PM
Death Vessel, Warm Soda, Kylie Minogue
Songs built on glistening webs, power-pop fighting its way to the foreground and sparkling pop from a true diva are all explored within.
As soon as we learned that Sigur Rós singer Jónsi and producer Alex Somers invited Joel Thibodeau’s—who is Death Vessel—to record with them in Iceland everything about Island Intervals suddenly made sense. Which is almost a bummer, because before discovering the background of the album we wondered which dark and still-watered lake-filled caverns Thibodeau had shut himself into to record these songs. So pay less attention to the lede in this review and more on envisioning the second sentence come to life for the purposes of balancing fact with fanciful interior images.
Island Intervals is filled with delicate and magical musical dreamcatchers, providing a lovely web to fall back upon and allow Thibodeau's unearthly vocals to drape themselves over you. Seriously, this guy's voice could give Farinelli a goddamn run for his money when it comes to unearthly, sky-scraping glittery range countered with extreme controlled power. Step into a boat and allow your mind to drift across and get lost in this midnight lake of sound.
Death Vessel plays with Shearwater at Empty Bottle on March 29.
Warm Soda is led by Matthew Melton and their debut Someone For You was one of our favorite albums of 2013. We also had a chance to catch them live at a warehouse-ish party in Chicago and were treated to a show that took the energy of that album, ramped it up a couple notches, and unleashed such scalding hot glam flecked rawk upon the room we didn't know if it was now covered in spikes or glitter.
So imagine our surprise upon throwing on Young Reckless Hearts and hearing the band had dialed their attack waaaaay back. The hooks are still there, but the vocals have been pushed to the front and the instruments are in the far back seat for the majority of the album. We admit we compensated for this by just cranking our stereo waaaaay up but that still didn't answer our central thirst for songs that just ripped themselves out of the speakers on their own power and forced you to dance along with them. Maybe Young Reckless Hearts is Warm Soda's "mature" album that dials down the dynamics? We guess if you listen to it in that mindset you can still appreciate the hooks, even if you do have to dig a little deeper to locate them.
We're hoping they tour through town soon, since we suspect that this collection might really reveal itself more fully onstage.
Count on Kylie Minogue to not drop the ball and turn out one of the tastiest pop albums to come out so far this year. in fact Kiss Me Once is far better than most pop diva stuff out in 2013 as well. By now Minogue is an old pro at this, but she hasn't allowed that to soften her playful approach when it comes to pushing buttons and bounces between playing the helpless romantic and ever wandering coquette.
Minogue has gone through her phases, from cotton candy tween pop to semi-serious indie endeavors, but once she re-embraced disco and camp she really found her footing and has steadily sharpened that approach over the last decade. Her shift began, way back then, to fun but faceless club anthems, and over time her dance music has grown more identifiably her while still remaining accessible. This isn't her most adventurous work, to be certain, but it's a strongly solid effort given the relatively limited subject matter Minogue deigns to explore, as she keeps things light and frothy on the front end while aiming the beats directly at the cerebellum. But this approach satisfies. In fact, the only moment on all of Kiss Me Once that falls flat is near the end, during "Beautiful," an unfortunate duet with Enrique Iglesias where Minogue fades into the background of an utterly unremarkable song.
However everything else on Kiss Me Once positively sparkles, dripping wit and sex all over the dance floor, reminding us that while there are many pretenders to the throne, there are only a handful of true pop princesses like Kylie.