25 August 2013

Julia Holter - Loud City Song

Strange album titles sometimes grab your attention - whilst trailing though what some of my friends have been listening to, the title of this album just jumped out on me.  From what I have read up about this lady - she comes from LA, USA and she seems to have spent most of her time in Uni's or making albums.  This is her third release and was different from her earlier recording as it was not mostly recorded in her room, but with assorted musicians.  She has been compared to such artist as Laurie Anderson, Julianna Barwick, Kate Bush, Joanna Newsom, Grouper, and Stereolab. Now whilst I can understand why people compare other people to new artists (who did they do it to when rock n roll was young) Ms Holter does not sound like Kate Bush, the rest I can see what people mean, but for me there is nothing of Dame Bush about this lady. Not meaning that in a bad way, just I get really annoyed when every female artist gets compared to Kate Bush - so Julia Holter does not sound like the Great Lady Bush, so what does she sound like?

Musically this has a lot of empty dreamscape pieces which bring to mind the more subtle parts of Bjork and Joanna Newsom.  There are workings going on here which do not make themselves available on the first listen.  If I had have marked this on one listen, it would have been one of the most baffling marks ever as my first response was wondering what all the fuss was about.  But it brings to mind the more quite moments of St Etienne and Bat For Lashes, her voice has a light and individual quality to it.  The sound of most of the songs is very minimal, but when she goes big - such as on the crowning glory that is "Horns Surround Me" - it bring to mind the more dynamic parts of Ladyhawke but without the dependence on the guitar, she lets her voice do the work to amazing results which come out slow each time. From here you have the minimal bass workings on "In The Green Wild" and the shape shifting genre just of "Maxim's II" with the Bjork breakdown in the middle - even with a crazy sax solo in the middle.

But I am not overall in love with this album as much as I know I will be.  Let me explain - I find the whole experience of the album from "World" to "City Appearing" via "Hello Stranger" to be a beautiful album, it has textures that are giving with each listen and I also feel that it is a release that will improve with age.  But I don't love it; I don't have the need to listen to it every day that I feel I should have.  It is a beautiful and at time majestic, but it is not an instant classic or something that has that instant grabbing attention.  It give you subtle little hooks and whilst I might sound like it is a letdown I can assure you this is not the point I am trying to get.  I just find it hard to love straight away; it is like a finding out you have won an unlimited supply of your favourite food, but you are only given a small handful per day.  It is rewarding, but at time frustrating - I reckon this album will haunt me for years and will probably be in my record collection very shortly.  Damm you Adam Potts, damm you and your selection (and thank you as well) and Ms Holter, thank you for frustrating me beyond belief by making a very rewarding experience. Sorry for sounding ungrateful.

7 out of ten - This is good and well worth a check

You can purchase from Amazon here

You can visit her website here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

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