Not to get too heavy or anything (he said as he got heavy…), but if there’s been one recurring theme I’ve found in 2016 music just on a personal level, it’s been having to face my own mortality as a music fan. Firstly, because one of 2016’s most notable releases has been David Bowie’s Blackstar, which I’ve been finally catching up with after plopping down the money to buy it on slightly overpriced vinyl. While 2016 also saw the self-proclaimed possible last album by Bowie’s buddy, Iggy Pop, in the form of Post Pop Depression. Also, I suppose just in general I’ve had to deal with the fact that being a classic rock guy has forced me to reckon with the fact that most of my musical heroes are not only going to die within my lifetime, but probably within the next 10 years.
Then on the other end of the spectrum, I’ve been reminded that I’m not necessarily that young anymore by some of my favorite bands to emerge in 2016, like Car Seat Headrest or Frankie Cosmos, who are several years my junior. Which brings me to Mitski Miyawaki, who is really only about a year-and-a-half younger than me, and yet I still can’t help but equate her with these younger artists, and how I’ve been learning to embrace the fact that I’m starting to be comfortable with my adoration for musicians who still aren’t old enough to rent a car. I mean, Bowie recorded Hunky Dory when he was 24, and Iggy was 22 when The Stooges recorded their first album. So it’s not like this shit is new. As we all know, rock and roll is a young man (and woman)’s game.
Anyways, getting back to Mitski, if there’s an easy comparison to make, I’d say her guitar-based freak-outs coupled with her strong vocals and electronic flourishes bring St. Vincent to mind. Much like Annie Clark, Mitski seems to have been brought up on ’90s alt-rock, but I think also has a kind of curiosity about more modern and unconventional sounds that leads to different sonic treasures that can be found on this album with each listen. Though if I’m being honest, my favorite track on the album, the blisteringly catchy “A Loving Feeling”, happens to be pretty straight-forward while also having the distinction of being the shortest track on the album at 1 minute and 32 seconds. In short, it’s the kind of song you can find yourself hitting play on over and over again.
I would say another big part of Mitski’s appeal would be in her ability to come off as an open wound, unafraid to let her most insecure feelings bleed all over her music. On “My Body’s Made Of Crushed Little Stars”, she shouts “I wanna see the whole world!/I wanna see the world!/I don’t know how I’m gonna pay rent!/I wanna see the whole world!”, which are words I can’t help but gravitate towards, since I recognize that a big part of being a young adult is wanting to experience everything the world has to offer, while also having to grapple with the fact that the world doesn’t give a shit about your stupid indulgent experiences. But, at least you can always write a song about it…
Favorite Tracks: “Your Best American Girl”, “I Bet On Losing Dogs”, “Loving Feeling”