Witness

Album by Benjamin Booker

 

New Orleans songwriter Benjamin Booker showcases ambitious talent in his second album, Witness, delving deep into his love for eccentric soul, R&B and blues. Witness draws on a variety of influences— from William Onyeabor’s 70s African psych-rock to Freddie Gibbs and Pusha T—while still invoking the garage-punk intensity that marked his eponymous 2014 debut. The title track is Booker’s most pithy song to date and features guest vocals of Mavis Staples. As noted by NPR, “[Booker] — who’s favored a sound like the blues, soul and rock ‘n’ roll mixed with gasoline and a lit cigarette — leans into more explicitly gospel territory here, letting his strepitous guitar take a backseat to an upright-piano melody and choral harmonies.” All ten of the album’s tracks were penned by Booker, produced by Sam Cohen (Kevin Morby) and mixed by Shawn Everett (Julian Casablancas, Alabama Shakes). (ATO Records)

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Like Art

Book by Glenn O'Brien

 

“‘Like Art’ was the title of my Artforum column that ran from 1985 to 1990, but it was also my philosophy of advertising. Advertising was like art, and more and more art was like advertising. Ideally the only difference would be the logo. Advertising could take up the former causes of art—philosophy, beauty, mystery, empire. We were clearly living in a time of extremist hypocrisy where various forms of creative work descried one another. Price-gouging painters looked down on lowly craftsmen and entertainment journeymen. Millionaire rock stars adopted a quasi-communist stance, emphasizing the anti-commercial aspect of their work.”— Glenn O’Brien

Influential writer, editor and creative director Glenn O’Brien built his life on a shrewd understanding of art as well as advertising. Beginning with his appointment by Andy Warhol as editor of Interview, O’Brien went on to become a social fixture in downtown Manhattan for the remainder of his life, wearing many hats including that of his Artforum column on advertising, which ran from 1984-90. Here, O’Brien covered a broad range of topics with perceptive gusto, including advertising in Japan, the Buy American campaign, Burger King, tobacco and alcohol ads, condoms, Max Headroom, computer games, the interplay of advertising and art, etc. Published just one month after his death, O’Brien’s book Like Art compiles all of his Artforum articles, as well as a preface by Jeffrey Deitch, an introduction by O’Brien himself and previously unpublished dialogue on consumer culture. (Karma) Images: Courtesy Karma, New York

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Alice Neel, Uptown

Book by Hilton Als

 

Fascinated by the diversity of mid-20th-century New York, renowned painter Alice Neels created portraits of people from all walks of life, including among her subjects a great number of African Americans, Latinos, Asians and other persons of color too often neglected in Western art. These portraits were candid, intimate, often humorous and by nature engaging with the political and social climate of her times. When author Hilton Als set out to gather Neel’s most poignant portraits of American minorities in his book Alice Neel, Uptown, it was in his words “an attempt to honor not only what Neel saw, but the generosity of her seeing.” Alice Neel, Uptown features both well known figures such as playwright, actress and author Alice Childress; sociologist Horace R. Clayton Jr.; and community activist Mercedes Arroyo, as well as anonymous individuals like children, families, a taxi driver, a ballet dancer, a nurse and a boy who ran errands for Neels. Als pairs each portrait with a history of its sitter, as well as his own extensive insight into Neels work. (David Zwirner Books)

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Rocket

Album by Alex G

 

Rocket, the most recent album by singer/songwriter (Sandy) Alex G offers 14 tracks of indie pop rock. Rocket is the Philadelphia-based artist’s eighth full-length release—an assured statement that follows a slate of humble masterpieces, many of them self-recorded and self-released, stretching from 2010’s RACE to his 2015 Domino debut, Beach Music. Rocket’s sessions began shortly after Beach Music’s ended, with Alex tracking songs at home, by himself and with friends, in the gaps between a hectic 2015 and 2016 touring schedule, on top of making time to contribute to Frank Ocean’s Endless and Blonde. Rocket was mixed by Jacob Portrait (Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Bass Drum of Death), who also lent his hand to Beach Music, giving the album a fine-tuning that retains the homespun personality of earlier efforts. (Domino Recording Co)

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She-Devils

Album by She-Devils

 

With their self-titled debut album, She-Devils duo Kyle Jukka and Audrey Ann Boucher invite listeners into their world of surf rock and swirling sonics. Inspired by the likes of Iggy Pop and Madonna, with a romantic flair of ‘60s yé-yé, their distinct style reflects She-Devils aim to follow creative instinct and autonomy in their music and videos. Audrey explains: “I’ve always seen music from the perspective of an artist or music lover rather than that of a musician. When I sing over a loop, I don’t feel like I’m in control of what I do, or that I am cerebrally engaged with making music, it’s more like my subconscious is completely taking over my mind and it just comes out of my dreams.” The album takes your senses on a fantastical ride full of aesthetic delights and synthesized chaos. (Secretly Canadian)

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Party

Album by Aldous Harding 

 

 

Two years after her eponymous debut, Aldous Harding releases Party. With each track, she whispers to listeners in her gentle gothic-folk style and delivers a charismatic combination of hubris, shrewd wit and quiet horror. Disarming in its desolate imagery and stark instrumentation, it deals with the raw materials of life: death, birth, grief and love. Party introduces a new talent to the stark and unpopulated dramatic realm where Kate Bush and Scott Walker reside. (Flying Nun)

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Generation Wealth

Book by Lauren Greenfield

 

Generation Wealth, the most recent photobook from Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and photographer Lauren Greenfield, is not about actual wealth but the illusion of it. A renowned chronicler of consumerism and cultures, Greenfield examines the perception of wealth over the last 25 years as a consequence of a global boom-and-bust economy as well as pervasive pop culture influences. Taken in major consumer hubs such as Los Angeles, Moscow, Dubai and China, Greenfield’s photographs document how consumers attempt to bridge the gap between what they want and what they can actually afford, in an attempt to simulate the life they desire. “The work is really about aspiring to wealth and the influence of affluence and about our values more than what we actually have,” says Greenfield. Generation Wealth archives Greenfield’s third collaboration with the Annenberg Space for Photography, an exhibit featuring 195 photographs and 42 interviews as well as multimedia projections and short films. (Phaidon)

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Powerplant

Album by Girlpool

 

California-based band Girlpool returns with their second album,Powerplant. Now 21 and 20, Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker confront projections, despondency, apathy, romanticization, love, and heartbreak with a more devastating emotional pragmatism than before. The decision to add percussion is a departure from their original sound. “The songs we were writing had the potential of getting really climactic,” says Tucker. “I think percussion adds a new part of the musical dynamic that we want to explore.” (Anti-Records)

›› ISSUE Feature: Live performance and interview with Girlpool

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