A Woman Left Lonely

Angel Olsen – My Woman

Angel Olsen’s Burn Your Fire For No Witness made a bit of a stir when it came out back in 2014, but for whatever reason it never really clicked with me. Which is a bit surprising, since I tend to gravitate towards female singer-songwriters that are able to splatter all their messy emotions all over their songs in a raw and honest way, which Olsen certainly has a knack for doing. Or maybe it just took Olsen making a more “rock” record like My Woman to lure me in, though I’d say the more appealing, poppier songs are just one piece of the puzzle that makes this such an eclectically awesome record with a clearly strong voice at the heart of it.

Though listening back to Burn Your Fire For No Witness, this newest release isn’t really that much different in terms of accessibility. Though I suppose My Woman does have the song “Shut Up Kiss Me”, which is both very catchy, but also captures the kind of messy intensity that most catchy love songs usually fail to capture. This song then leads in to “Give It Up”, another very catchy, pretty rockin’ song that makes you start to think that Angel Olsen might be positioning herself as the next coming of Chrissy Hynde or something.

And then you get into the second half of My Woman, and that’s not quite the case. I’m glad I ended up buying this album on vinyl (purple vinyl no less), since in an interview Olsen said that she intentionally made side A more upbeat, while side B is a little more introverted and reflective. Which may have made me a little hesitant to completely embrace this record at first, but now I find this to be an absolute asset. Because now that the first half of My Woman has lured me in with its summery fervor, it’s getting to be just about time for some wistful reflection as we move deeper into the Fall and Winter months.

Favorite Tracks: “Shut Up Kiss Me”, “Give It Up”, “Sister”

Pitching Tents 17: Premium Cable

Many happy returns to the world of television! Mid-late September has historically been the time that the most important TV shows begin their seasons, although that’s been going the way of Blockbuster these last few years. Now that you can watch good stuff on your phone or whatever the kids are doing, the people needs good shows all the time. We’re here to help with that cause, with a few pitches aimed toward Netflix, HBO, and everyone else who wants to carve their own slice of the fall season.

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Album Titles Are Stupid, Vol. 2

Wilco – Schmilco

I think at this point I might be the king of the 3 1/2 star Wilco album review.  This can be attributed to the fact that I am a pretty big Wilco fan, even though I realize they’re not really the sexiest band to admit to being a big fan of.  Also, my Wilco fandom has blossomed mostly during the latter years of Wilco’s run as one of the more ubiquitous American indie rock bands.  Which means I still like them enough to write about them, it’s just that the Mildly Pleased era of Wilco hasn’t been the most exciting phase in their career.

That said, it doesn’t mean this hasn’t been a rewarding part of their career for longtime fans of the band. In retrospect, 2011’s The Whole Love I’d say is more of a 4-star album (if that means anything), as it saw the band recapturing the glitchy noodling that marked their best work in the late ’90s/early ’00s, and even last year’s lazily named Star Wars had more than its share of moments, even if it felt sort of half-finished.  Of course, we can see that it was kind of half-finished now that the band has released its follow up Schmilco, which not only might be even more lazily named, but also serves as a nicer, softer counterpoint to Star Wars. And in the process, it creates a pair of albums that both distinctly embody what I referred to in my Star Wars review as “weird Wilco” and “pretty/pleasant Wilco”.

Now, if I’m being honest, I’m usually a bigger fan of the weirder, more rocking Wilco numbers than the “pretty/pleasant” ones, but maybe that’s because a lot of the time there can be such a stark contrast between the two.  Like as much as I’m a fan of The Whole Love, the album does have a kind of weird rhythm to it, since the tracklisting feels like every other song falls into either one or the other of the two categories I’ve been talking about.  And since the weirder songs on that album were also super catchy, the ballads tended to feel like somewhat of a burden. So I do almost appreciate the cohesiveness of an album like Schmilco, where every song fits the kind of laid-back reflectiveness you hope to find in a Wilco ballad.

I’m sure if you’re just a casual Wilco fan (which I assume most people with a passing interest in indie rock are), this album probably sounds like it might be a bit boring if you’re not a Wilco die-hard.  But what do you expect?  At this point, Wilco’s most recent run of albums have been marked by their consistency, now that the band’s current line-up has been rock solid for many years, while Jeff Tweedy has clearly been writing songs for long enough and is a smart enough guy to know where his (and his band’s) strengths lay.  And sure, that consistency may not be terribly sexy, but it should be good enough to keep me listening, and it should be good enough to keep me writing even more 3 1/2 star reviews for years to come.

Favorite Tracks: “If I Ever Was A Child”, “Cry All Day”, “Someone To Lose”

Freaky Fridays: Silver Streak

Silver Streak (1976)

Thank god it’s Friday! Um, er, I mean Tuesday. Sorry, with Labor Day Weekend I was away from the site for a bit, though I did start working on a post last Thursday. Seems like a shame to let it go to waste, so here it is.

It’s rare that an actor can be so beloved for multiple roles. Some people will remember Gene Wilder as cynical chocolatier Willy Wonka, others—such as myself—as Mel Brook’s most treasured madcap pawn. Yet Gene had a third on-screen life as one half of cinema’s most underrated comedy team. I’m not sure who decided to pair the sweet Gene Wilder with Richard Pryor, one of the edgiest comics who will ever walk this Earth, but it worked, particularly in Arthur Hiller’s 1976 classic Silver Streak.

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