Friday 31 December 2010

Kaki King - Junior / The Corin Tucker Band - 1,000 Years

I've actually talked about the difficult positions musicians are in, negotiating the expectations of an assumed and occasionally very outspoken audience and their own desires and aspirations, with someone who makes music, since I always feel like the worst person ever when a record released by an artist I've always liked doesn't appeal to me as much as a previous one did.
 I actually have no idea how much either of the two artists negotiated expecations consciously during the creation of the respective records. Kaki King used to make beautiful and complex songs that were mostly carried by her incredibly skillful guitar playing and occasionally, her voice. Corin Tucker used to play in what I've named again and again my favourite band of all time and my biggest regret, music-wise, because I'd never actually seen them live before they went on indefinite hiatus in 2006.  So actually, this isn't about anybody else managing my expectations, it is about me, going into both of these records open-minded.

"About a 1,000 years ago you left / I felt nothing for centuries / I was lost"
1,000 years
I probably wasted about 40 minutes of my life trying to find traces of Sleater-Kinney in this record rather than appreciating the songs on this record as what they are: incredibly well-written, layered and beautiful. Corin Tucker's voice is still one of the most magnificent instruments, even though it feels more controlled here - with the exception of Doubt, where the voice is occasionally allowed to run free and the guitars set a quick pace, until there is an unexpected break, a short respite before the song finishes explosively.
There isn't a single weak song on this record. This isn't settling down, this is enjoying the fruits of a long and laborious process of development, of tuning musical abilities to perfection and still having the ability to create something new and compelling.

 It's not hard at all to immediately fall for Junior. The Betrayer already contains everything that makes this album great - a soft beginning, compelling mysterious lyrics about what seems to be a spy thriller, and then, a different, quicker pace. "I am the guardian / I am the only who knows / [...] it's up to me if I live or die". Death Head is the culmination of everything that makes Junior different from the previous Kaki King records - an unrelenting anthem that will, if you let it, stay with you forever. "Tell me if the damage here will last forever" - and then the high point of the record, Falling Day. I've listened to this record incessantly after it came out in the beginning of the year, never really knowing what to say exactly to convey this incredible sense urgency that comes from this record, until the final sad little love song that contains everything that makes a break-up terrible (and is almost as good as her cooperation with John Darnielle on Mosquito Repellent). "Good luck finding someone who can love you better than I."

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