Music Reviews

Review: the Soil and the Sun/Sarah Jaffe (Clifton Center 2/11/15)


The last of the WFPK Winter Wednesday concert series, featuring Sarah Jaffe and the Soil and the Sun, was rightfully packed. Both acts boast rich musical tapestries that would move even the toughest audience. When I arrived, the staff was just beginning to tell guests that the house was nearly full and seats were dwindling. Thankfully the work element of my attendance afforded me a place in the room. I volunteered to stand but was offered a seat to the right of the stage, where I could see the performers despite the small stack of amplifiers in front of me, but, I was most interested in what I would hear.

The Soil and the Sun kicked off the show with their brand of “experiential spiritual folk-rock” or what is clearly the love child of dream-pop, folk and shoegaze. Their set at times droned a tad monotonous, but their music shone brighter in the moments when the band allowed themselves space to ignite. This is a band of very capable players and sometimes I think that kept them a bit tame. They thrived in the space outside their technique. After their set, a group of young girls walked to the stage giggling and asked to meet the singer, Alex McGrath. It was darling and innocent. It’s nice to see those moments of fan connection still exist.

When Sarah Jaffe took the stage, the sober and “classic”-seated Louisville audience seemed to catch her off guard. Her sound has changed over the years from the traditional singer-songwriter format to include the feel of indie and electro-pop. It seems to be an area she is still navigating as her usually rich vocal felt tinny on occasion. Overall she sounded great and seemed to hit a stride near the middle of her set when she found the right spot for her voice. She finished strong with a small crowd dancing in front of her stage — a feat for any artist playing to a Louisville audience in a venue with chairs.

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FKA Twigs
(Young Turks)

Electronic music has grown up. FKA Twigs, whose real name is Tahliah Debrett Barnett, and her master production team have crafted a seamless blend of hip-hop, R&B and electronica that feels true and meaningful. The electronic landscape has morphed, and tracks on “LP1” like “Two Weeks,” “Video Girl” and “Pendulum” show that beautiful and organic art is possible with a Korg Kaoss pad and a MacBook Pro. Twigs is an artist that has found her place among ethereal and sometimes intensely dark samples and beats. Something threatening seems to come through her music and, at times, that same sort of doom is quite soothing. The closest musical comparison seems to be Bjork, but FKA Twigs is definitely something special and — thankfully — an artist who seems to be creating a substantive and challenging body of work.

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Temples (show announcement)

Friday, Oct. 17
1386 Lexington Rd.
$15; 8 p.m.

Remember the time you heard “that band” and your entire body felt awake and electric — or the time you heard “that song” and decided that wherever you were was where you wanted to remain forever? Yes? Well, Temples is coming to Louisville and I’m guessing, after listening to their music, these are the kinds of moments that happen a lot at their shows. There are few bands that have the songcraft and musical chops to make me feel this way — but Temples, with its music saturated in airy, well-crafted pop psychedelia with a smidgen of glitter (a la T. Rex), is well positioned. See them — glitter and all — this Friday, along with with earnest but energetic Pennsylvania band The Districts and dreamy local evocateurs Murals. —Erica Rucker

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Aun / Habsyll “split” LP


Public Guilt / Conspiracy



Aun—has a nice drone establishing, a dark throbbing and a soft synth. Then a drum that sounds like it’s being played in another state. The guitar is nice, heavy and thick, sharp. The music is building and strengthening and basically when this happens you know something super badass might happen. At least you hope something super badass happens. This is music that fills a space, makes the walls pulse; you know at any moment the room might collapse allowing some giant sunburst to burn you to a crisp or more likely, you’re at home, you close your eyes and maybe cry. Not just cry, but really howl and hate the world. You know what I mean. This is the kind of cry when you curse, hit the walls and collapse to the floor. Yeah, the kind that when it’s over you realize you threw a fit not unlike those you threw with your mom at daycare. Currently I’m at the part where you’ve had your daycare realization and the Interlude near the end of track one sounded like music you heard at daycare. Maybe not the right choice but a nice strong rebound. One drawback with this disc—technical difficulties. Occasionally the CD skipped, not sure if it was a recording issue or the CD itself. The second track now actually sounds like the record is skipping. It isn’t. It’s a CD anyhow. The music is suddenly stuck in a groove and skipping far away from me. The welcome darkness of the CD beginning has left and I feel as if I should be running with intent; far enough to get some distance between me and something horribly uncomfortable. I’m really stuck in childhood for some reason, so bear with me. Good music makes me feel youthful and interested; a bad track and I feel like escaping. Like being young, my attention span can only take so much and this is too much. The layers of noise and ‘screech’ behind the main melody are doing nothing to repair the damage of this second track. This isn’t good. This for some reason brings up Terminal Cheesecake, which means nothing to me, but the boy of the house suggested it. I don’t think he meant it as a compliment. Having said that, I do not hate this disc. I really love the first bits and the dark, heaviness. I just don’t like where it ended up.

Habsyll—you know how when you watch Jaws and the danger music comes and you think something awful is going to happen? I’m feeling like that now. I really do like telling you how music makes me feel because, dammit, it should make you feel something. Habsyll is very sparse. At times almost so quiet that I forgot the CD was playing. Part of me thinks it is a joke and if I speed it up I’ll hear a George Michael tune. Seriously, here is the thing with Habsyll—it is a great concept. The problem is that you know that it is either a guy in an empty space with a lot of musical gear and he’s running from one to the next in order to play the next notes, or it’s a dude with a Mac and he’s lazily flipping virtual switches because it has become just that easy. Habsyll is too much concept. I’m all for obscure and artsy, but the lack of coherence is more like a movie score. This would be a proper score. The horror howls and monsters growling are kind of cheesy. Not kind of—they are really cheesy. Apparently it is of the “black metal” trade so it’s kind of an expected thing. Unless it’s from Norway and you’ve burned a few churches or some babies, I’m not buying. Although I do know that France has its own dark soul and that may lend some credibility. Maybe I’m buying. No, ultimately, not. 6/10 — Erica Rucker (4 August, 2010)

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Originally published on Foxy Digitalis

“Axes” is the latest project of Andrew Moon under the Moniker of RST. “Axes” is a very classic drone album. Minimal and expansive, “Axes” is like a hammock. Once you get yourself situated in the cloth sling, the less you move, the more you enjoy it and the safer you are in it.

Not too much happens on “Axes” but enough that it remains cozy. I’m convinced in my experiences with the noise and drone genres that New Zealand is producing some of the the best experimental noise/drone artists. Artists like Campbell Kneale, The Dead C and Mr. Moon who understand that noise or drone doesn’t need to be overdone but also that it needs to remain something this side of interesting and purposeful. There is much raw power in “Axes” and it reminds me of those movie scenes when the tension is building and you’re sure something is going to explode or go seriously wrong yet you realize that the character has it all under control and is bending the events to his/her will. “Axes” has a sort of supreme power about it. Moon keeps his guitar lurking on the verge of madness but never losing the reigns. Any fan of drone would be a fool not to own this.  — Erica Rucker (5 September, 2007)

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