This column highlights music worth listening to that has been released during the interim between issues of The Pioneer Log. All genres and artists will be considered and generally, four of five albums will be chosen. For this issue, albums by MAVI, Lighting Bolt, Big Thief and Kim Gordon were selected.
“Let the Sun Talk” by MAVI
“Let the Sun Talk” tells a personal story of a man rationalizing his life choices, recognizing his own identity and developing his spirituality. MAVI feels like a disciple of the Earl Sweatshirt-fueled New York rap scene that birthed artists like MIKE and Slauson Malone. He is also a 19-year-old from Charlotte, N.C. studying at Howard University. His lyricism is poetic and cryptic. On the song “Self Love” he raps, “I’m back at it glad bags and flat backs a pack rat / A crass habit crash flashing scratch that im past rapping imma show off.” Although MAVI is rapping about his personal ideologies throughout this album, he never comes off as preachy. He describes the rationale behind his choices, not why anyone should necessarily replicate his actions. The instrumentals found in these 13 tracks are carried by delicate jazz, soul and break samples. The beats also carry a glitchy, abstract sound popularized by the aforementioned New York scene. The beats often feel like they are being composed as you listen. “Let the Sun Talk” is a compassionate and impressive work, presenting an artist who will hopefully continue to impress with time.
“Sonic Citadel” by Lightning Bolt
This is a loud album. Noise rock duo Lightning Bolt returns on this new record with eleven sonically abrasive yet charming songs on “Sonic Citadel.” After four years of absence and a record label change, Lightning Bolt is more realized than ever. Each song is a brutish amalgamation of heavy guitar sounds over crisp unrelenting drums except for “Don Henly in the Park,” which opens with a beguiling banjo section. Most of the lyrics are drowned in the storm of noise. The lyrics, along with hilarious song titles, allude to Lightning Bolt’s clever and constant sense of self-awareness and humor. These qualities are evident in drummer/vocalist Bob Chippendale’s tweets, where he defiantly and humorously denies claims that they are a math rock band. “Sonic Citadel” proves that the duo is still a master architect of noise and have built their sound to fit 2019 just as well as they did to fit 1999.
“Two Hands” by Big Thief
Big Thief’s songs have always been open and intimate. They are a band that opts for brilliance in raw creativity. Their previous albums have contained delicate and vulnerable stories, mostly of the lead singer Adrianne Lenker. “Two Hands” widens the band’s scope to examine through problems facing all of us: violence, loss and climate change. “Two Hands” echoes the themes and sounds of Neil Young’s “Harvest.” Big Thief’s members are watching the world change, maybe for the worse, just as Young experienced pain with the growth of his world. Both albums are also backed by bands playing tactful folk rock. Big Thief does not buckle under this weight. They push harder against it, building new songs more applicable and compelling than ever.
“No Home Record” by Kim Gordon
During her time with Sonic Youth, Kim Gordon always had an inclination to borrow from many other genres of music. On “No Home Record,” Gordon turns her past inclinations into complete ideas. This is an album that adheres to no one genre yet feels entirely cohesive. The album includes aspects of noise rock/no wave that made Gordon and Sonic Youth famous, as well as of trip-hop, synth rock and industrial music. Gordon breathes bizarre, fragmented sentences throughout the album, painting the life that could only be lived by the somewhat retired musician who is famous both for pioneering a sound that changed indie music forever and championing women’s place in the indie scene.