Colin Wessman

Rokk Talk Ep. 19: Unbearably White

Love ’em or hate ’em, Vampire Weekend have gone the distance and continued to reinvent themselves like few bands of their generation. On this episode of Rokk Talk, John and Colin break down Vampire Weekend’s entire discography, album-by-album. They also give their first impressions of V-Dub’s new album, Father of the Bride, just for those of you looking for a rare hot take on a podcast usually dedicated to music from 30 years ago. Ya hey!

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The Juice Is Loose

Lizzo – Cuz I Love You

What is one supposed to make of a force of nature like Lizzo? It’s hard to think of anything other than pure enjoyment, and perhaps Lizzo is well aware of this. Which would explain her recent (sort of) beef with Pitchfork for giving this album a somewhat mixed review. Because come on, what’s not to like?

That said, “likeable” pop stars aren’t typically the kind of singers I go out of my way to listen to (the number of Beyonce and Taylor Swift albums I’ve listened to is not high). But Lizzo seems like something else entirely, considering nothing about her feels particularly calculated (exhibit #1 being her impressive flute skills). However, I would say it’s reasonable to argue that Cuz I Love You might be a little too slick for its own good, but there are just so many bangers here that its hard to complain. Continue reading

The Third Annual Mildly Pleased Criterion Draft

As we find ourselves in the midst of Avengers: Endgame and the NFL Draft – two celebrations of grown men pummeling each other – we thought we’d class things up a bit. On this podcast, we offer our very own draft pertaining to the films each of us will review during the Criterion Month of July. Much like past years, John sticks to a theme, Sean tries to see some of The Greatest Movies of All Time™, and Colin just befuddles everyone with movies no one’s heard of. Be sure to check back in July when we get this Criterion train a-rollin’! Continue reading

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Blood Thicker Than Water

Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising

In retrospect, it makes sense that after one listen, I (undeservedly) wrote off Weyes Blood’s last album, 2016’s Front Row Seat To Earth. For one, it came out around the time I had finally embraced streaming music as an integral part of my music-listening habits. So I might have felt a bit overwhelmed by being able to easily listen to every single album that got decent reviews. Also, it was an easy album to lump in with other artists like Father John Misty or Whitney – who seem to be channeling the Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter scene of the early ’70s. Continue reading

Walking The Line

Jenny Lewis – On The Line

It’s a bit of a coincidence that both Jenny Lewis’s On The Line and Solange’s When I Get Home came out around the same time, since they both have the same approach to their album covers. In that they’re quite similar to the artist’s previous album, but dressed in different garb, while the album is a bit of a companion piece to the artist’s previous album. Fittingly, On The Line has a similarly breezy and beleaguered vibe to 2014’s The Voyagerand with Lewis having a few more years on her since then, she sounds a bit wiser, but also just as confounded by the impending doom of middle age. Continue reading

Deuce Ex

Ex Hex – It’s Real

After seeing Ex Hex live this week, it has become quite apparent that it was misguided of me to frame Ex Hex as exclusively a Mary Timony project in my recent Retrospecticus. After all, bassist Betsy Wright sang lead and wrote two of the songs on the band’s debut, and does the same on several songs on the band’s latest album It’s Real, including headbangers like “Rainbow Shiner”. And live, she doesn’t even play bass anymore – she instead plays just about as much lead guitar as Timony, and thus gives the appearance that the band has not one, but two really awesome frontwomen. (Note: some generic dude played bass slightly off stage in Wright’s place. I cannot confirm whether it was Jonah Takagi, who produced It’s Real and played some bass on it.) Continue reading

Retrospecticus: Mary Timony

Huh. Guess we’re in full Retrospecticus mode here. Here’s one that probably features way less things you’ve heard of…

There was something very satisfying about seeing the modest success of Ex Hex at the halfway point of this decade, seeing as it was a long time coming for the band’s frontwoman Mary Timony. Sure, she had some indie level success in the ‘90s with Helium, perhaps on about the same level as Ex Hex. But something about Rips just meant a little more, since in the wake of the ‘90s, she just kept toughing it out, making music in relative obscurity before finding a more simplified, anthemic formula to transmit her immense talent through.

As I said, it was a long time coming, and it’s pretty interesting to traverse the road that Timony took to finally get there. It’s not often you find an artist who first finds success sounding fairly unconventional, then becomes even more unconventional, and then eventually morphs into something resembling mainstream rock. Yet, that’s the path that Mary Timony forged, and without ever compromising her prowess as a guitarist and songwriter.

For this Retrospecticus, I’ll be looking at basically every album she was heavily involved with. Many of her bands released EPs, which I’m choosing to skip even if some of Timony’s projects only released EPs (like her first side project with Carrie Brownstein, The Spells), and therefore will not be featured. Also, that would’ve required more work, and I had enough on my hands, considering I’d only extensively listened to Timony’s 2010s albums prior to my research for this post. Oh, and if you hadn’t assumed already, Ex Hex has a new album coming out in a few hours… Let’s get started. Continue reading