Cœur de pirate

Cœur de pirate

Long, long ago, in the distant past of 2009, I wrote a short post about the debut album from Béatrice Martin as Cœur de pirate and I assure you reader, even today the songs from that album are special. I have a kind of nostalgia about not just those songs and that recent-yet-not-recent time but the way hearing those songs felt then, the echoes they throw from then to now. There are songs and albums and artists that are your favorites and you would call them your favorites perhaps out of careful consideration or soul-searching and they come easily to mind when someone asks you to name them. I don't think of Cœur de pirate this way, though I adore a wide and ever-widening swath of her output. There's a different kind of song or album or artist, no less critical but often less obvious, that anchor your taste; foundational components of the ethereal equations that describe the dynamics of a system that together encompasses "what you like". Comme des enfants is that, for me. Cœur de pirate the album and artist is that, for me. There are other piano-heavy artists, there are other non-English vocalists, even the occasional chanson française, the elements that make up the sound are not themselves unique within my experience, but the combination of Cœur de pirate in that place, in that time, staked a position that remains just as apparent to me now as ever. When I hear it, I see this spot where Cœur de pirate landed and I know that's where I am again.

Last night at 11:30p I learned that there was a new Cœur de pirate album and I immediately smashed the buy button on Bandcamp so hard it knocked the phone right out of my hand. I decided to take in the new album in the morning and so it sat in the cloud, all night, waiting for me to press play. This morning the wait was over, I downloaded my nerd-grade FLAC files and started the album playing on my home hifi while I milled about, and the opening piano notes were beautiful, hopeful, if sounds can themselves be hopeful, and I felt very good about my decisions. The song continued, as songs do, and the piano work was gorgeous and the tune was lovely and yet something. Something. The next song started and it was similarly wonderful and the piano was still there and still wonderful and yet something.

Something.

Where...was her voice? The piano was carrying the melody, the piano was carrying...everything. The third song began and the piano was alone again and there was no more milling about, there was sitting down, there was paying attention. So beautiful and stark, so sharp and striking, melancholy and powerful. It's utterly, truly lovely. The entire length of the gone-too-soon album is distinctly lovely. There's gravitas in solo piano that is unmatched in single instrumentation and her compositions amplify that. The mastering is superb, it rings with clarity, it surges and flows with dynamics unique to beautiful piano music. It feels close and personal, and always melodies that are unmistakably Cœur de pirate. I still hear her voice even though it isn't there.

I wrapped up the first pass and I found myself wondering how this beautiful thing had happened. I felt sure there must be a reason, and I was right, there is a reason. It's awful and I feel for her, my sincerest hope is with her for a full and speedy recovery of her enchanting singing voice which I unquestionably miss, yet here is this beautiful thing, this beautiful music, une si belle musique. I cannot help but feel grateful to have it.

C'est la vie, je suppose.

Isle-aux-Coudres
Saint-Irénée

Where to find Cœur de pirate:
Twitter: @beatricepirate
Website: coeurdepirate.com

Aly & AJ

Aly & AJ

Maybe you remember Aly & AJ. I did. Vaguely, anyway. I remembered Radio Disney pop that was not my bag. That's a pretty simplistic hand-wave at a back catalog that includes a gold record, but it's what I remembered. Imagine my suprise, then, when I found an Aly & AJ song in my Spotify "Discover Weekly". I was very confused.

I played the song.

I am no longer confused.

While it somehow hasn't managed to commandeer every post I make here, it is nevertheless true that I have developed a strong propensity for 80s-esque synth-heavy pop music. Strong. I've quite literally worn the figurative tread off a playlist unimaginatively titled "The New 80s"; it's a genre I'm quite enamored with in general. I mention this because, as it happens, this is the angle through which Aly & AJ enter the frame.

Coming off a ten year hiatus since their last album as Aly & AJ (and some steady acting work for both, you may recognize Aly from "iZombie" or "Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television" and AJ from "The Goldbergs") they've returned with "Ten Years", a four song EP appetizer for a forth-coming full-length album. A solid combo of strong shots to the synth-pop breadbasket, "Ten Years" isn't blazing any new musical trails but it delivers where it counts. I both honestly and surprisingly enjoy every song on this EP, but Promises. Promises has it. Boy howdy. I can say with confidence that I'm anxiously anticipating whatever their full-length album turns out to be.

So here it is. Just one. There's only four, you need to go do your duty to music and pay them what you owe to get the others.

Promises

Where to find Aly & AJ:
Twitter: @alyandaj
Website: alyandaj.com

Bomba Estéreo

Bomba Estéreo

This gigantically tall image was the only one sufficiently excessive to encompass the towering wall of sound pumped out by Bomba Estéreo. Their brand of club-banger cumbia is an all out assault: hot guitar licks, sick beats, razor-sharp vocals with a mix of traditional instruments and electro-magic that rises together into a whirling tornado of the absolute hottest fire.

Bomba Estéreo is no newcomer to the musical scene. You may (I did not, my shame is great) recognize them from their smash hit Soy Yo from their previous album, or the music video of said track which racked up a bananas view count on its way to becoming a cultural touchstone, but their story goes much further back to 2005 and Simón Mejía's interest in electronica-influenced takes on classic cumbian styles. A single track on the earliest Bomba Estéreo album featured vocalist/rapper Li Saumet, but you'll find her infectuous energy on every track since and it is truly a wonderful thing. Her rapid-fire Spanglish flow is absolutely top-shelf showcased on Money Money Money, but her melodic coverage on semi-balad Siembra is superb and you throw in the feels-laden delivery on Duele and the conclusion that we're dealing with a standout talent is unavoidable.

Though my forays into música reggaeton y cumbia y samba are small in the totality of hours I spend between two cans, stumbling into unreal albums like Ayo makes me think I should spend more time here. I'm certified addicted to this album right now. What if there's more of this out there? What if I'm missing it, you know?

Yo presento los dos, como es mi manera. Escúchalos a todos, no te arrepentirás.

(Yes I had to Google Translate to get that out. The memories of the parts of Spanish I would need in order to build that from scratch, like the imperative and conditional future tenses, have left me for good, I fear.)

Duele
Química

Where to find Bomba Estéreo:
Twitter: @bombaestereo
Website: bombaestereo.com

Charly Bliss

Charly Bliss

Guppy (makes 1 album)

Ingredients:

  • 1 part Weezer
  • 1 part Charlotte Hatherly
  • Veruca Salt
  • Artisanal Kay Hanley

In a shaker, combine Weezer and Charlotte Hatherly over a handful of cool as ice, shake gently. Rim a high-ball generously with Veruca Salt, pour the shaker contents through a strainer. Add two liberal splashes of Kay Hanley before garnishing with a Cherry Bomb. Serve thrown directly in the face.

Pardon my language, but:

This. Fucking. Album.

Charly Bliss is absolutely killing it. They've recaptured a kind of earnest, crunchy power pop/punk that I haven't had a craving for in years. In a post-Blue Album time-frame, there are certainly plenty of bands that aimed to do this, but you can count on one hand the few that even knocked on the door. Charly Bliss kicked it in. They live here now.

As proscribed by the rock gods and set down in the before-times, Charly Bliss is correctly a four-piece outfit: sibling duo Eva and Sam Hendricks on guitar and drums respectively, Spencer Fox on second guitar and Dan Shure on the bass. Eva pulls lead vocal duties combining an intrinsic hard-candy sugar with the sharp glint of a razor. Applied to her borderline-oversharing lyrics and the occasional scream/squeal for punctuation, the result is infectious in the very best way. As a musical entity, it's difficult to explain how they walk this tightrope hanging over a bottomless chasm of "merely nostalgia" without a single misstep, but you can hear it for yourself. Their sound isn't replicating something specific, they've absorbed a fundamental quality that makes it genuine. It feels contemporary to Weezer but it doesn't feel like they're playing Weezer songs. It feels adjacent to Letters to Cleo but they're not Cleo songs.

Basically it's a miracle. This is a miracle album. Quality is bursting from every seam. A veritable cornucopia of brilliance. I'm out of words. The ones I used don't really feel entirely adequate. Black Hole is amazing. Ruby is amazing. Look, they're all amazing, I'm serious. Do the needful. I even added a Bandcamp link so you can give your sweet sweet dollars slightly more directly to the band.

I can only do so much for you, it's your time now.

Go.

Black Hole
Ruby

Where to find Charly Bliss:
Twitter: @charly_bliss
Website: www.charlybliss.com