Monday, October 26, 2015

Grimes Unleashes New Video and Single: "Flesh without Blood/Life in the Vivid Dream"

Electronic prodigy Grimes has finally released the lead single and music video from her forthcoming album Art Angels, due November 6 for digital download. The video actually features two songs, "Flesh without Blood" and "Life in the Vivid Dream."

"Flesh without Blood" might sound like a scary title, but this single is anything but. It's actually quite lighthearted, with plenty of mainstream appeal, and even as an avid fan of her last album, Visions (which was rather dark), I found it enjoyable and meaningful. Much like I've felt that I've personally needed her older material, I needed this song both musically and lyrically: "If you don't need me / Just let me go."

"Life in the Vivid Dream" is a quieter, slower song, and I love it as much as its upbeat predecessor. Even though it's short, it definitely leaves an impression. It may not sound that much like her earlier material but it retains the relaxing, dreamy quality her fans know and love. The lyrics are poetic and heartfelt: "I could tell you that people are good in the end, but why / Why would I?"

The production of these guitar-led songs is just spectacular. As much as I love Grimes' older songs, the sound quality was very reminiscent of demos (albeit some damn good demos that I'd love with all my heart even if they were recorded in a windstorm). But now, everything's crystal clear - even the lyrics (for the most part), and we all know how Grimes likes to make it as difficult as possible to discern what she's singing.

As far as the video itself? Well, the quality is pristine. Grimes is the only artist capable of making a video so cute and evil, of being totally whimsical while also being serious. It gets kind of gory within the two minute range, right when the seemingly random elements first begin to come together. I love the concept - sometimes the people that are supposed to be angelic are the ones sticking knives in our guts.

Altogether, I'm very pleased. I can't wait to hear what else she has in store on Art Angels.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Wishes I'd Ask the Book Genie to Grant Me

Top Ten Tuesday is held at The Broke and the Bookish. Every week, book bloggers are given a theme to roll with and compile a list accordingly. Today, we all get to be super imaginative and create a limitless wish list. What if us book lovers could get whatever we want...What if a certain Book Genie gave us ten wishes? 

Top Ten Wishes I'd Ask the Book Genie to Grant Me

Annette Curtis Klause releases a new novel. 
I LOVE Annette Curtis Klause. This lady has written paranormal YA classics like Blood and Chocolate and The Silver Kiss. Three of her four books were published in the 90s, and the last one (Freaks: Alive on the Inside) was published in 2006. Her writing is really beautiful and her stories are different from what has become the typical paranormal YA. I NEEDZ MOAR.

The new Sailor Moon art book gets released.
A couple of years ago I read this exciting news post from Kodansha Comics saying that we would be getting a new Sailor Moon artbook - including in the US. I was really excited because I think Naoko Takeuchi's art is really pretty. So... where is it?

Long lost novel by Charlotte Bronte discovered.
It's no secret that Charlotte Bronte is my spirit animal, but like Annette Curtis Klause, we only have four novels. (Unless you include the chapter of Emma she wrote - which was completed by Another Lady - her little collection of poetry, and her juvenilia.) If someone somehow discovered a long lost, unpublished manuscript you know I'm going to read it!

Meet J.K. Rowling.
Because I think all of us what to meet the Literary Queen in person. Not only has this woman shaped my childhood and helped me get into reading, but now that I'm older I look up to her both as a writer and a human being. Meeting her would be an honor.

Meet the Bronte sisters. All three of them.
Yeah, the fact that they're dead is problematic, but hopefully the Book Genie has an ethical way of making this happen. These women were brave to say what they felt they needed to say in such a sexually repressed time period, and furthermore, they're just geniuses in the storytelling department. I'd love to have dinner with them all and thank them, and I'd let them know that things got a hell of a lot better. 

The Host sequel.
Because really, what has Stephenie Meyer been doing lately for the book world? Not much. At least nothing that she's revealed. (Since drafting this post she has released a new book called Life and Death for Twilight's anniversary.) And honestly I'd be perfectly happy if The Host was a standalone - I really don't think it needs a sequel. But, Meyer told us it would be a trilogy, and now I'm so curious, especially since I regard The Host as one of my favorite books of all time.

A cover of Shades of Earth that matches Across the Universe and A Million Suns.
The fuck was this logic anyway?

The ability to read faster.
Because that would make it a lot easier to read ALL the BOOKS!

What wishes did you ask of the Book Genie? Feel free to share your Top Ten Tuesday list in the comments. Thanks for visiting and have a great day!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Visions | Grimes

Some albums have this wonderful ability to make you completely obsessed with an artist's music and can be repeated several times without ceasing to impress. Visions is one of those albums. It's the third LP from the ever-so-unique electronic artist Grimes (born Claire Boucher), who caught my attention when I saw her open for a Lana Del Rey show last summer. I bought a copy of Visions only a couple weeks later, and gradually, I fell in love with basically every track.

The little introductory song "Infinite Love Without Fulfilment" kicks off the album in such a generally happy way, contrasting with the cover, as it looks like it could be the cover of an angsty punk band with the skull in the center. The girly, light vocals are heavily layered, and eventually the song becomes more mysterious, hypnotic. It's strange, kind of cute, kind of dark... I guess that's Grimes in a nutshell.

This leads us to "Genesis," the first full track, which is infused with echoey synths that initially made me visualize an underwater setting. The repetitive lyrics are as beautiful as the instrumentation, which just builds and builds as it goes. Eventually harps and a piano are added in the electronic mix, and it feels so lighthearted and beautiful... "Genesis" is the sound a soul makes when someone is so happy they could cry, it's the sound a heart makes when it flutters. I've never heard anything like this, and I've never run into a song that makes me feel like this. Grimes' trademark girlish vocals are the perfect fit for the pretty instrumentation. I get chills just about every time she ends with "I am the one in love" and her backing vocals layer and fade, leaving us with one last snippet of the echoing keyboard. Even though it took me a little while to truly hear "Genesis" for what it is, it is my favorite Grimes song.

"Oblivion" follows, and it's another of the seemingly examples of how Grimes can make certain aspects of a song that are repetitive not even feel repetitive because she keeps adding new interesting layers of instrumentation and vocals. The music itself is a lovely combination of dark and bubbly, but those lyrics are more intense than one would expect as Grimes tackles the concept of assault and its aftermath: "I will wait forever / Always looking straight / Thinking, counting all the hours you wait." She repeats "See you on a dark night" as the music climaxes.

These singles from Visions feel very peaceful, but that calm bubble is burst with track four's mere power. "Eight" is one of the craziest things I've ever heard in my life. It sounds like an alien invasion. The deep synthesized vocals that repeat throughout the entire song clash with Grimes' pitched voice (and considering how light her voice is without being pitched... well, it's high) to create something chaotic, but once we hear her normal voice it takes the edge off without killing the song's level of oddness. I always have to dance along when I hear this one and the song that follows, "Circumambient," in all of its darkness and catchiness, as it was the first Grimes song to stand out to me. Before we reach the second half of the album we hear "Vowels = Time and Space," which sounds bright enough to be a slowed down Aqua song.

"Visiting Statues" is like a short interlude marking the midpoint, an intermission of sorts, but it definitely stands out on its own with its light instrumentation in the spotlight. The only vocals prominent seem to mainly be backing vocals, giving the track an atmospheric feel - it's peaceful, perfect background music for writing. This song leads into "Be a Body (侘寂)," another standout with its fleeting electronic spurts and pretty, empowering lyrics: "I close my eyes until I see / I don't need hands to touch me / Be a body." The second repetition of those lyrics constitutes the part that truly made me fall in love with this song with its dark, pulsating instrumentation. The music becomes darker still with "Colour of Moonlight (Antiochus)" with its prominent percussion and the instrumentation's gorgeous melodies. It's one of the calmest, ballad-like songs from Visions, and I sway every time I hear it.

The album continues to feel peaceful and relaxing with "Symphonia IX (My Wait is U)," but then things get a little chaotic with the masterpiece "Nightmusic," which is a very fitting title. In all of Grimes' music it's sometimes difficult to understand what she's saying (especially since she never released official lyrics to her songs), but "Nightmusic" owns that element. After multiple listens (forwards and reversed), I've reached the conclusion that while some of the vocals are indeed reversed and one portion actually does seem to be regular English ("Tonight's the night, I waited 'til the end" etc.), much of it is just gibberish - she truly lets us see the depths of insanity and it sounds wonderful. The synth part in the middle just before and during the regular English section is truly the climax, and as great as it is on Visions, it's even better live with new percussion and harmonies. "Nightmusic" is without a doubt one of Grimes' best.

The final full song before we reach the album's outro is "Skin," with its muted instrumentation. It took me a while to give this song a full chance since Grimes' voice is almost unbearably light in the beginning, but she slowly comes down to a more normal level during the first verse. Instrumentally it depicts loneliness very well, and lyrically... This song resonated with me on a very emotional level. The best part impresses me every time I hear it: "And you can't, and you can't, see the wind in the trees / And you can't, and you can't, see the wind in the leaves / And you can't, and you can't, see the weight in the dark / And you can't, and you can't see the weight in the heart."

"Know the Way (Outro)" kind of reminds us that we probably know the way to leave Visions and come back to reality even if we don't want to... I didn't want to. Grimes created a whole other world with this album and I love every moment of it. It's this perfect combination of light and dark, and even when I can't understand a word she's saying, the songs still manage to resonate with me. There are so many layers in her music, so there are so many ways to love it. And even though Boucher's voice is so unique and memorable, she never makes it the spotlight: It's another instrument in her wonderful sound collage.

No one else sounds like Grimes and artists rarely release albums as creative and good as Visions. By now I have I have become a huge fan, and I anxiously await her next LP, which is to be released as a surprise sometime this month. Until then, Visions will continue to be replayed.