Filed under: feature, words in edgeways | Tags: alex ramon, allison moorer, crows, interview
Released this week, Allison Moorer’s seventh studio album Crows finds the Alabama-born singer-songwriter in rejuvenated form, turning in a thematically rich set of songs that take her into a sonic space she hasn’t really explored before. Produced once more by Nashville producer R.S. Field, who helmed her stately 2002 release Miss Fortune and contributed to its follow-up The Duel, Crows is a classy collection that, at its very best, exudes reflective Southern soul and a sensual grace that mainstream country artists just can’t rival. Wears The Trousers caught up with Allison over email recently to find out more…
Much like her sister Shelby Lynne, Allison Moorer is one of those artists who often seems to have been on the verge of a major mainstream breakthrough without ever quite achieving it. Moorer first came to prominence in the late ’90s when her timeless ballad ‘A Soft Place To Fall’ was featured in Robert Redford’s film ‘The Horse Whisperer’ and later put up for an Oscar. Since then, she’s released a string of albums which have expanded the traditional-yet-fresh palette of her debut Alabama Song into areas of rock, pop and soul. And yet, while consistently well reviewed, her albums have never received quite as much attention as they deserve, placing her in a slightly odd position as an artist. Too unpredictable to fit comfortably within the bland mainstream yet too conventional to be considered ‘alt.’, Moorer’s work exists somewhere in between, never achieving the commercial clout of a factory-produced country diva nor the critical (over-)acclaim of a Lucinda Williams.
Filed under: feature, special | Tags: aimee mann, albums of the decade, alex ramon, amy winehouse, beth gibbons, bjork, camille, cat power, charlotte richardson andrews, chris catchpole, diane cluck, fiona apple, goldfrapp, joanna newsom, lisa germano, loria near, mavis staples, MIA, neko case, nina nastasia, patty griffin, peaches, pj harvey, regina spektor, rhian jones, robbie de santos, rod thomas, shannon wright, terry mulcahy, the knife, tomas slaninka, tori amos, wears the trousers magazine, yeah yeah yeahs
Here’s the fourth and final part of our albums of the decade countdown, 25 albums so fantastic they should have sold millions (and, lo, some of them did!)…
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Maps Of Tacit
[Touch & Go / Quarterstick, 2000]
Distilling everything that was good about her former band Crowsdell and her first album flightsafety, and stripping them of their twee chirpiness and indie-pop sensibilities, Shannon Wright created her finest, and darkest, work in Maps Of Tacit. A multilayered tour de force, the guitar is aggressive without being brash and the creepy, stirring piano swirls with all the innocence and foreboding of a decaying calliope; the overall effect is both intricate and cinematic. Together with some creative use of sampled sounds, dense poetic lyrics and Wright’s alternately silky and caustic vocals, it all adds up to a delightfully chilling labour of love.
Filed under: feature, special | Tags: alan pedder, albums of the decade, alela diane, alex ramon, anais mitchell, ane brun, ani difranco, bat for lashes, bjork, broadcast, charlotte richardson andrews, chris catchpole, feist, fever ray, florence and the machine, gillian welch, hildur guðnadóttir, hope sandoval, jenny lewis, joan as police woman, kate bush, katy knight, kristin hersh, laura marling, marissa nadler, martha wainwright, portishead, rhian jones, robyn, rod thomas, shelby lynne, st vincent, the innocence mission, the warm inventions, the watson twins, tomas slaninka, wears the trousers magazine
Here’s the third part of our albums of the decade countdown, running from #50–26.
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[Rough Trade, 2002]
Casting aside the disparaging comparisons to “Kate Bush on crack” bestowed upon her in the wake of Queen Adreena’s debut album Taxidermy, KatieJane Garside upped the ante with Drink Me, tearing whatever hinges that were still attached right off with a blisteringly manic grunge-metal fervour. Among her Wonderland’s re-energised malice, the softer moments found Garside’s raging voice shrunk mouse-high, whispering seductively as if through the keyhole, or chillingly into a void. Richly imaginative and manically enjoyable, Drink Me remains one of the decade’s most vigorous and visceral thrills, disturbing to the very last note.
Filed under: feature, special | Tags: alan pedder, albums of the decade, alex doak, alex ramon, anja mccloskey, charlotte richardson andrews, cocorosie, diamanda galas, emiliana torrini, emmylou harris, erykah badu, espers, gossip, juana molina, julie doiron, kd lang, kirsty maccoll, le tigre, lucinda williams, meg baird, my brightest diamond, paul woodgate, peter hayward, róisín murphy, rhian jones, rilo kiley, rosanne cash, sarah blasko, sleater-kinney, soap&skin, the be good tanyas, the distillers, the dresden dolls, tUnE-yArDs, wears the trousers magazine
Here’s the second part of our albums of the decade countdown, running from #75–51.
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Of all the critical droolfests that failed to ignite on the commercial front this decade, Róisín Murphy’s second solo album is among the most inexplicable damp squibs. The ex-Moloko frontwoman may have shed the avant-garde experimentalism of her solo debut Ruby Blue in favour of full-on disco diva mode, set against a backdrop of thumping, shimmering state-of-the-art production, but it seems the world wasn’t ready to accept even Murphy’s toned down personality quirks. That’s a real shame for although Overpowered is not without its flaws, there is a sense of playful grandeur here that can easily toe the line with Goldfrapp at their most teasing.
Filed under: feature, special | Tags: afrirampo, alan pedder, albums of the decade, alex ramon, au revoir simone, carina round, charlotte richardson andrews, chris catchpole, hanne hukkelberg, invincible, josephine foster, laura veirs, leila, mariza, marnie stern, múm, meshell ndegeocello, metric, mika miko, mirah, missy elliott, nellie mckay, shiina ringo, stina nordenstam, tegan and sara, the cardigans, the indelicates, trevor raggatt, trey cregan, vivian girls, wears the trousers magazine, yo! majesty, yoko ono
As other people have already noted, among the rash of lists proclaiming the best albums and artists of the ’00s, the majority all had one thing in common: a distinct and depressing lack of albums by solo female artists and by female-fronted bands. We had anticipated a representation rate of between 20% and 30%, but it turned out to be even lower. NME and Rolling Stone awarded a lousy 12–15% of spots to women, and even Paste magazine, who often champion many of the artists Wears The Trousers holds dear, could barely scrape 14%.
In mid-November, eight Wears The Trousers writers and editors gathered around a table at the Candid Arts Centre in Islington, where we spent a long afternoon debating the 300+ nominations for albums of the decade gathered from all our contributors. More than six hours later, we had come up with a rough outline of the 100 albums we thought were worthy of championing. Inevitably, some painful sacrifices were made, evident in the fact that only three artists were permitted to have two entries in the list, and some additional fine tuning was required.
This week, we’ll at last be counting down those 100 albums, 25 at a time. Here are albums #100–76. Voice your agreement/disagreement/outrage in the comment box if you please.
Filed under: film & dvd, review | Tags: alex ramon, american masters, how sweet the sound, joan baez
How Sweet The Sound ••••
Screened earlier this week on BBC1, this American Masters documentary is now available in an excellent two-disc package which supplements the film with bonus content and a soundtrack CD of live performances. Given Baez’s centrality to American cultural and political life over the past five decades, the most surprising about the documentary is that it wasn’t made much sooner. While Bob Dylan’s career has been the subject of a multitude of docs and bios, essays and retrospectives, Baez’s work – both as artist and activist – has received comparably little scrutiny or contextualisation. Yes, her classic Vanguard albums have been carefully and conscientiously reissued and remastered (and supplemented by comprehensive liner notes by Arthur Levy), but it’s still been over 20 years since the publication of Baez’s autobiography, And A Voice To Sing With, and that book is no longer widely available.