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Sunday , September 22 2019

Tycho takes new direction on ‘Weather’

Tycho takes new direction on ‘Weather’

Ritter’s ‘Fever Breaks’ engaging

Tycho, “Weather” (Mom + Pop/Ninja Tune)

California-artist Scott Hansen, better known as Tycho, is back with his fifth studio album “Weather”, one that begins much as one might expect.

Opener “Easy” is an instrumental, electronic track in the same vein as his previous work – atmospheric and upbeat. A woman’s voice pushes through, but her words are indistinct.

By the second song, though, the deviation from past albums is clear. “Pink & Blue” opens with Saint Sinner’s ethereal voice as she sings, “Oh pink and blue, yeah, you know I look good on you.”

Hearing vocals comes as a surprise. Tycho’s past work has been almost exclusively instrumental, falling on the brighter side of the down-tempo music spectrum. Samples of people speaking, such as a broadcaster giving a report, are used on albums like “Past Is Prologue”, but never before has he been accompanied by a vocalist.

On “Weather”, the vocal presence only gains strength as the songs continue, giving Hansen’s work an entirely new feel. When Sinner is paired with the ambient sound of Hansen’s usual electronic mixings, the album releases a tone that is reminiscent of The XX. Her voice is featured on six of the eight tracks, five of which have substantial lyrics – a big shift from Hansen’s Grammy-nominated 2016 album, “Epoch”.

The change is welcomed. The production value is uncompromised with Sinner’s haunting vocals adding another layer to Hansen’s unmistakable songwriting and genius production. Hansen, who transformed Tycho in 2014 when he added band members Zac Brown and Rory O’Connor, is showing once again that he’s unafraid to tamper with his formula.

It’s a fresh sound, one that shows Hansen’s intent to weather the storm and keep his fans guessing where his music will take them next.

Josh Ritter, “Fever Breaks” (Pytheas Recordings/Thirty Tigers)

Josh Ritter’s “Fever Breaks” is a work of stacked marvels, the result of an auspicious collaboration with Jason Isbell – who also produced – and his band, the 400 Unit.

In places raw, chilling and emphatic, while sensitive and compassionate in others, the 10 songs cover murder, love and politics while ruminating on the wonders and burdens of our existence and its expiry date.

Opener “Ground Don’t Want Me” is a brisk-paced story of murder and a frustrated search for rest, if not redemption. It is followed by “Old Black Magic”, where piles of guitars help illustrate the blinding, confused environment – “And I can’t see the lighthouse/And the lighthouse can’t scream.”

An unrelenting acoustic guitar underscores the intensity of “On the Water”, which urges its target to make their long-distance relationship an intimate one, while the thirsting “I Still Love You (Now and Then)” recalls an old flame who is far from extinguished in his heart.

Protest songs have benefited from the age of social media – which has expanded their reach – while also having to overcome short attention spans and sensory overload. So “All Some Kind of Dream” shrewdly wraps its political message in a graceful, acoustic arrangement, calling for compassion and appealing to the best in us in “darker days than any others I’ve seen.”

Also:

LOS ANGELES: Beatles fans got something Saturday night they hadn’t in 53 years: the sight of Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr playing together on stage at Dodger Stadium. Although McCartney himself is not a stranger to the venue, having last played there just five years ago, two Beatles taking to the outfield together was something that hadn’t happened since Aug 28, 1966, which turned out to be the Fab Four’s penultimate tour gig ever.

The former bandmates weren’t revisiting material quite that old. The two songs Starr joined McCartney for Saturday both post-dated the Beatles’ time as a touring unit: “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)” and “Helter Skelter”. (Agencies)

Although Starr did not close this reunion by announcing “I’ve got blisters on my fingers!,” as he did the recorded version, he still helped bring the thunder of the original to McCartney’s encore, bearing a big grin as he sat in alongside regular tour drummer Abraham Laboriel for the two numbers.

By Ragan Clark

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