This Weeks Music Video with Childish Gambino, Sigrid, Arctic Monkeys, Florence and the Machine, Mitski and Blossoms

Musicandotherthingz Best Songwriting of 2016

There’s been a lot of content for songwriters to ponder over this year and amongst shocking deaths of icons, social exclusion, war and political upheaval, they’re pretty much all covered by the songwriters in our long list. Mitski and Christine and the Queens delved deep into gender issues and identity whilst Pinegrove offered up an almost quaint and close personal narrative. All came close, but did not crack our top three. 

3. Paul Simon – Wristband (12.20%)

There aren’t many people better at providing a social commentary of America than Paul Simon. He’s been identifying and observing it with every last crumb of detail for over fifty years and it’s only fitting that in 2016 of all years, he was spot on again and producing some of his best work for well over two decades. Here, he takes the small event of him being locked out of his own gig, because he didn’t have a wristband as was required and equates this to American society. A society in which no one has a wristband and no one can get through the door. His words becoming more ominous given how the election played out just a few months later. It was also reassuring to have a legend like Paul Simon firing on all cylinders when so many of his contemporaries were lost. 

2. David Bowie – Lazarus (22.00%) 

There is little else to say other than ‘David Bowie – Lazarus’. It is typical of Bowie to go out in such a way as he almost flaunts and projects all of his fears and reflections of his coming death and the life that he had lived. Again, only Bowie could make death appear to be like a release from the shackles of limited time on earth. This is a strong concept in general, but made even more terrifying and astounding is that less than three days after his final album was released, he had passed. Even in death, Bowie did it in his own unique and bold fashion. 

1. Kendrick Lamar – untitled 03 | 05.28.2013 (24.39%)

It shows the measure of Kendrick’s songwriting ability to win this category for the second year in a row and not only that, but do so with an album of throwaway tracks from last years album To Pimp A Butterfly. In a way, he is almost a modern Paul Simon in that his commentary of America is so distinct if not a little more direct in his case. Untitled 03 is a prime example of this as he takes stereotypical advice from all the different peoples that make up everyday American society. In doing so he highlights the diversity, but also the hypocrisy of all of them and how they are at least the same in that sense; each motivated by selfish goals. It almost acts as a commentary of humanity itself which sounds like an ambitious task, but Kendrick just rolled out that task with ease and it still didn’t even make the cut for his album in 2015. 

Owen Riddle 

This Weeks Music Video with The Weeknd, Mitski, The Last Shadow Puppets, Rose Elinor Dougall and The Japanese House

Mitski – Puberty 2 Review

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Though Mitski Miyawaki was born in Japan, she is very much a citizen of the world with Malaysia, China, D.R. Congo and a more prolonged stay in Turkey before we reach her current destination of New York. There, she has grown and shone as an artist with lyrics reflective of her journey and her search for who she is and who people want her to be. Though these have been touched on before, with the title Puberty 2 she looks set to hammer the message home this time with bold and ambitious music, equal to her talent.

The light strumming of chords and light vocals that open ‘Your Best American Girl’ deliver the initially innocent lyrical content which in turn delves deeper as the song ratchets up. At its peak the heavy distortion and feedback ring out as if it was 1994 and through this are her distorted vocals project her message of having to fit into the ‘ideal’ of an “American Girl”. It is a strong track made possible by its dual identity and thought provoking lyrics. The plunging riffs mimic the frustration within the lyrics and because of this, it is a truly emotive effort. With ‘Happy’ she demonstrates beyond the poised, yet heavy guitar work of ‘Your Best American Girl’, are the distorted vocals and developing assortment of sounds in this track. The clunky percussion and steady pulsating beats are joined by Saxophones and heavier, reverbing guitars. Despite the growing sound, Mitski’s vocals stay level and melodic. A neat alternative to the previous single with enough familiarity for a consistent effort. ‘Fireworks’ opens with a light clicking sample and the loose riffs of her guitar. Her vocals softly meander from lyrics as they are joined by a growing, whirring shroud of synth chords. The vocals are expertly produced as they are extended in their echo as she, herself raises the volume. The whole song lifts with it in a seamless build up without sacrificing itself to be a catchier tune.

‘Thursday Girl’ features Mitski’s vocals in beautiful isolation. This is added to by a modulated synth and spacious, prominent bass line. On top of this are the 80’s echoed percussion another light drum sample. As the song steadily flourishes, her vocals grow and the guitars roll in with long drawn out strikes before breaking away to the song in it’s most basic form. A wonderfully worked track. ‘Crack Baby’ is a distorted and more longing version of ‘Prince Johnny’ by St. Vincent as her haunting and soft vocals sing of the loss of drug abuse. ‘Once More to See You’ has Mitski’s vocals working in an anti-harmony against the bold, grungy waltzing instrumentation. Her vocals take the form of those from a 1940’s ballad before they fall at the concluding parts. Tracks such as ‘Dan The Dancer’ are akin to Foo Fighters track instrumentally with aggressive percussion and rumbling guitars, but even in this environment her vocals remain almost stoic and resisting to do the predictable and this adds another dimension that was is on the face of it, a track to rock out to. There are so many positives from this album. Her vocals are facile and smooth at every demand, her guitar work is abrasive, yet perfectly poised and the arrangement and production value is second to none. One of the albums of the year without a shadow of a doubt. It is angsty and full of attitude musically, yet tinged with a vulnerability and emotion that gives the songs a multiplicity of roles.

Mitski – Puberty 2 = 9.5/10

Owen Riddle

This Weeks Music Video with Adele, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (feat. Idris Elba), Last Shadow Puppets, Wild Beasts, Mitski, Yeasayer and Deerhoof

 

Single Review – Mitski – Happy

From New York via Japan, Mitski has released a second single from her upcoming June 17th album Puberty 2 with ‘Happy’. With it, she demonstrates again the influence of St. Vincent upon this album. From the poised, yet heavy guitar work of ‘Your Best American Girl’ to the distorted vocals and developing assortment of sounds in this track as clunky percussion and steady pulsating beats are joined by Saxophones and heavier, reverbing guitars. Despite the growing sound, Mitski’s vocals stay level and melodic. A neat alternative to the previous single with enough familiarity for a consistent effort. Whilst she’ll look to blaze her own trail, she could do worse things than taking influence from someone such as St. Vincent. The album looks promising.

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Mitski – Your Best American Girl

Mitski is a New York based songwriter from Japan who like St.Vincent, can really wring every ounce of noise from a guitar whilst offering intricate lyrical content behind it. With her upcoming fourth album Puberty 2 (out on June 17th) she looks to combine her talents again for another bold effort. The light strumming of chords and light vocals that open the song deliver the initially innocent lyrical content which in turn delves deeper as the song ratchets up. At its peak the heavy distortion and feedback ring out as if it was 1994 and through this are her distorted vocals that project her message of having to fit into the ‘ideal’ of an “American Girl”. It is a strong track made possible by its dual identity and thought provoking lyrics that stands her in good stead for her album in June.

Owen Riddle

This Weeks Music Video with FOALS, Bloc Party, The Kills, AlunaGeorge, Mitski, Eleanor Friedberger and Blossoms