February 18th Release Day – Caustic Commentary: Lavender Country, Beach House, Khruangbin & Leon Bridges, Tame Impala, Methyl Ethel, Metronomy

In this new weekly roundup, Glide drops caustic commentary on selected tracks from release day Friday.

Lavender Country – “Lament of a Wyoming Housewife”

Lavender Country’s lone album, 1973’s self-titled, is not the lost classic its fans would have you believe. Instead, it’s a messy but interesting trailblazer, an album that’s more important than it is enjoyable. As the first outwardly gay country album it deserves its influence, but still it’s always been frustrating that so many of these songs are so slight even when the rest of the album so often comes close to greatness. But the real disappointment would be Lavender Country’s “comeback album” Blackberry Rose. This album is clunky, not anything close to a Linda Perhacs or Vashti Bunyan grand return to music. Its most appealing prospect, aside from the re-recording of the classic, “I Can’t Shake the Stranger Out of You”, would be “Lament of a Wyoming Housewife” a waltz meditating on the trials of a classic countrywoman. A great song with some decent vocals from Tami Allen, whose no Patrick Haggerty, but nowadays, neither is he.

Beach House – “Hurts to Love”

Last week I wrote an article about Spoon, citing them for their consistency. This side of Radiohead, it’s hard to think of a modern band that routinely puts out such stellar material, (Hail to the Thief and King of Limbs still get a seat at the table in my book). Beach House haven’t been around as long as those other groups, but in some ways what they do is riskier. “Hurts To Love” might sound like another dreamy piece of critic fodder to the uninitiated, but like the best songs on Once Twice Melody, and pop music in general, it finds a way to push an established sound farther than previously thought, within its character. After eight albums, it’s hard to imagine how this song hadn’t been written by the band before, like a great pop song, it sounds like it’s always existed. 

Khruangbin & Leon Bridges – “Mariella”

After an EP that spawned a million Tinder Anthems, Khruangbin & Leon Bridges are back with more mellow, barbeque jams. As far as music designed to appeal to everyone goes, you could do a lot worse. Leon Bridges is plenty boring on his own, but Khruangbin find the right kind of touch to make his singing sound more important than it is. “Mariella” especially relies heavily on its mood, but it’s a good one, being the only track that could reasonably live up to the EP title, Texas Moon.

Tame Impala – “Borderline – Blood Orange Remix”

I must admit I’m sick of every decent album getting the deluxe treatment, almost as much as when it’s followed by the remix treatment. Tame Impala, for how great of a band they are, and for how strong The Slow Rush was, are no exception. We are almost exactly two years removed from the album drop and what do we have to show for it, some decent B-sides? Another release of “Patience”? Even Four Tet struggles to find footing here. Blood Orange, on the other hand, layers Kevin Parker’s instrumentation the same way Khruangbin do, finding the right nooks and crannies to transform one of the clunkier Slow Rush tracks into a blissed-out breather, a song that exudes a kind of romanticism scant from any Tame Impala release.

Methyl Ethel – “Proof” (feat. Stella Donnelly)

Australian band Methyl Ethel and Australian Stella Donnelly don’t have a lot in common besides their Perth residences, but this collaboration works surprisingly well. Their vocals ping against each other with a brightness not afforded to many Methyl Ethel tracks and Donnelly maintains the charisma she brought to 2019s Beware of the Dogs. When the song swells to its expected conclusion, and everyone involved has done what they were supposed to, the catharsis – and the collaboration feels rewarded, instead of foisted.

Metronomy – “Things Will Be Fine”

A deserving single from an album that’s surprisingly good. Not that Metronomy are bad per se, but plenty of their music, even when it’s catchy, is boring. Small World is still not a great album, but every song does its job at weaseling into your subconscious and presenting a likable brand of indie pop, if that’s still something people want. None more so than “Things Will Be Fine”, a track that seems destined for iPod commercials. Maybe that makes the song dated, with its punchy synth chords and skipping drum line, but the sound itself is grounded with the rest of the album, and more importantly to 2022. Besides, with everyone else looking back 40 years, it’s refreshing to hear a band looking back 20.

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