January 14th Release Day – Caustic Commentary: Cat Power, Elvis Costello, Earl Sweatshirt, Grace Cummings

In a new weekly roundup, Glide will drop caustic commentary on selected tracks from release day Friday.

FKA Twigs – “Careless (feat. Daniel Caesar)”

The obvious choice here would be “Tears in the Club”, the Arca produced, Weeknd featuring banger; but instead let’s go with “Careless”, a softer Tobias Jesso Jr. penned track. Daniel Caesar also gets a co-write and feature credit, and even if his performance serves more as a requirement of the song structure, he melds so well with Twigs it sounds perfectly natural. Of course, the real strength comes from the song itself: a well-meaning, and sweet ballad, one catchy enough to challenge Abel himself.

Cat Power – “Against the Wind”

What can be said about Chan Marshall’s ongoing series of cover albums that can’t be summed up by this particular rendition of Bob Seger’s “Against the Wind.” Think of the trite lyrics oft serenaded by middle-management, holiday party karaoke drunks and pick-up truck commercials, superimposed over stately piano-driven instrumentation, and this time sung with the anguish of someone even older than Seger was when he recorded it. Now turn “Against” into “Again” just to accentuate the verses.

Elvis Costello – “My Most Beautiful Mistake”

A man with his screenplay and his waitress as the actress, who even helps carry the bridge. Elvis Costello is a strong writer, not just because he knows how to write about writing and certainly not because at 67 he doesn’t mind building a song around various filmmaking metaphors, but because he has the pop sensibility and wry wit to circumvent any of those cliches and avoid the seemingly unavoidable.

Earl Sweatshirt – “Tabula Rose (feat. Armand Hammer)”

Earl’s follow-up to 2019’s Feet of Clay follows the same formula he established on Some Rap Songs, stringing together short bursts of tracks over what amounts to a glorified EP. As with both of those releases it works, only this time, the best song is also one of the longest (if that’s significant?). But maybe that says more about Armand than it does about Earl (definitely significant).

Grace Cummings – “Heaven”

Storm Queen is the first great album of the year, and “Heaven” gets points for being the first track you’ll hear on it. Cummings’ voice lands somewhere between late-career Marianne Faithful and later-career Patti Smith, only Cummings is Australian and frankly a better singer, having developed her throaty strain while she was still early-career. Musically, Vashti Bunyan’s warm and sparse arrangements come to mind, but on “Heaven” that instrumentation serves to make “Ave Maria” biting instead of comforting. A necessary mood-setter.

Broken Social Scene – “Golden Facelift

Excluding the mash-up of “Lover’s Spit” and “Stars and Sons”, this is the most evocative of the classic Broken Social Scene sound on a collection of B-sides and outtakes. Even more impressive is that the track only dates to 2010, a proof of its quality and the relative unimportance of the remaining material. “Golden Facelift” has been knocking around since 2014, but when compiled here it shines just as bright as anything else, and that includes “Death Cock”. 

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