Review: Björk’s Utopia

Since the beginning of her career, Björk has been a singular voice in music. Interested equally in the performing and technical aspects of her craft, her albums haven’t been listening experiences as much as they’ve been ornamental puzzle-boxes for listeners to solve. Sometimes, this has yielded great results. Homogenic, with its icy asceticism, is one of the best albums of all time while Volta, released 10 years later, was an unmitigated disaster (Björk herself has publicly distanced herself from the album). Twenty years after her highest point and 10 years after her lowest, Björk is, once again, at her idiosyncratic best. The most welcome aspect of Utopia is the return of Venezuelan producer Arca. His work with Björk on her […]

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Album review: FKA twigs “M3LL155X”

UK artist FKA twigs followed up 2014’s critically acclaimed album LP1 with a five song EP, M3LL155X (it’s pronounced Melissa—don’t worry, you’re good). The EP is short—short enough to listen to its entirety on a break from your summer job bagging groceries in your hometown. However, what the album might lack in length, it makes up for in quality songwriting and terrific production. Those unfamiliar with the creative wheelhouse of FKA twigs will first be struck by the trippy and ambient production that she often performs in front of. On M3LL15X, FKA twigs replaces Arca (Kanye West, Björk) and Clams Casino (A$AP Rocky, Lil B) as her principal collaborators, and features famed Beyonce-workmate BOOTS, who has credits on nearly every […]

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Bluesfest: The Yips Interview

Last month I wrote an article about Bluesfest and the opportunity it brings for local artists, specifically focusing on New Swears. One of the topics of discussion with New Swears was how tight-knit the local music scene within Ottawa was—nearly every band is familiar with and actively supports one another. This month I managed to meet up with The Yips, a local group who produces some truly outstanding gothic punk music, described by the band themselves as “Ouija rock.” The Yips are not only seriously talented musicians but, along with the New Swears, some of the most friendly and honest people I’ve met (not to mention downright hilarious). The Charlatan: The main focus of this interview is to get an […]

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Album review: ‘Vulnicura’

Björk Vulnicura Disturbed by One Little Indian It is unfortunately fitting that an album about vulnerability and losing control leaks days after its announcement, leading Björk to bump Vulnicura’s intended March release date to January. The leak was a blessing in disguise. Björk’s most recent works have often focused on gimmicks such as Biophillia’s iPad app. With Vulnicura, the focus can be entirely on it. The album chronicles the ending of a relationship but never simply feels like “Björk doing a breakup album.” Instead, the opening half is doubtful and insecure, while the second becomes playful and hopeful. Gorgeous opener “Stonemilker” dreams of emotional respect as Björk begs, “We have emotional needs / I only wish to synchronize our feelings,” […]

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Festival Blog: Day nine delivers an eclectic lineup

The ninth day of Ottawa Bluesfest was certainly not one for the faint of musical heart, with one of the more eclectic daily lineups taking to the Bell Stage. Björk (one of the festival’s biggest names and Iceland’s Queen/chief export) was in town to headline the Saturday night festivities, while also bringing a few eclectic opening acts along with her. American rapper Mykki Blanco was first up, bringing his lyrically aware, cross-dressing persona to life on the hot afternoon. Dressed in a pair of silk boxer shorts and pink seashell-shaped pasties, Blanco leapt around the stage to the delight of the surprisingly tiny crowd. While it wasn’t the most striking rap act of the festival I had seen, it was still enjoyable […]

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