AUGUST: Aldous Harding – Party

If you were to ask me what are my most listened to types of music it would go like this: 1) Hip Hop, 2) Folk, 3) Dance. In the middle there is arguably a bump in the road with folk but it for a number of reasons it works for me and has for a very long time. I’d actually argue folk is ahead of hip hop at times.

 

Parking that top 3 and delving more into folk I noticed a year or so ago that my folk collection was heavily swayed towards males. One could say that about my hip hop collection but there is reason for that.. there are (in my opinion) many more males with better talents that females as a whole within hop hop. Folk on the other hand is a fair split. So logically I started to delve deeper into folk to find more females that I liked. Of course there is everything from Joni Mitchel, Laura Marling, The Staves, but I needed to dig deeper like I have to find male artists. Where I often came short wasn’t great songs but in fact strong consistent albums.

Brother Joseph has introduced us all to two fantastic Female artists over the last few months with his contributions and with my selection I hope it continues with Aldous Harding.

I very much want to leave this album to sink in with you like it did when I came across it a few months ago, so I don’t want to delve into it too deep except for saying that I have found it an album that gets better with time. So what to tell you then; well she from New Zealand, she’s on 4AD records and at the ripe age of 27 she sings beyond her years. At times you could compare her to Kate Bush, others Bjork apparently.

For me this album brings a beautiful calm with honest and at times some surprisingly dark lyrics. Her haunting yet happy at times vocals give her lyrics credit. This also is a complete album of music.

 

So enjoy brothers, and happy August… or should I say Aldous (sorry, I had to do it).

 

15 comments

  1. misterstory

    What a funny bag of stuff this is. I’ve had this on end to end a number of times and I generally like it. I’m not loving it yet but that is not to say that I won’t. I love ‘Blend’ and I love ‘Imagining my Man’ I love love love them. Totally.

    My issue with the other tracks is that she sounds totally different on every track which is a little jarring? I think this will bed in with more listens and I like what I am hearing enough to stay with it. As you know, I like my female singer song writers and this is right up my strasse.

    My other issue is calling a song ‘What if the bird aren’t singing their screaming’ I’m a bit offended by the deliberate quirkiness. I assumed the title would not show up in the lyrics but they do, they really do. Hmmmmm.

    …. Oh and Perfume Fucking Genius sings backing vocals? I’m on board for more.

  2. David Allison

    OK, well I FUCKING LOVE THIS. I knew NOTHING about her, not a thing. And then I watched the video to Blend:

    That was me hooked. Wow. She’s amazing. You know how the Julie Byrne album never really landed with me – that it felt like polite folk doing nicely what it does. You know how I said I thought it missed something? Well, this, for me, is everything that was missing from that album. It’s not straight down the line folk. It’s got so many kinks in it. And obviously, she has soooo much personality and that just really shines through.

    Kookiness in your female singer songwriter is a tricky beast. There’s probably a lot of sexism involved in constantly comparing them to their predecessors, and I think guys get to do and be what the fuck they like without half the baggage. But obviously the ghost of Kate Bush and Bjork hang heavily on those going off the straight and narrow. When the kook volume goes too high, it get quite unbearable (*cough* Fiona Apple) or seem quite mannered (*cough* Regina Spektor). And even when you’re dealing with obvious genius, it can feel more like a chore than a pleasure to get through their work (*cough* Joanna Newsom).

    But my god, when an artist gets it right, it can feel like nothing else. There is a singularity at work in this album, and that singularity clearly comes from an artist who knows who she is and what she wants to say. The arrangements are sparse, but the songs are so strong and muscular that they just shine. And she has such a knack of adding something special – those three part harmonies on ‘Party’. That ‘Hey!” on ‘Imagining My Man’. And the way that ‘Blend’ actually doesn’t sound like a folk song at all – you can hear that hidden groove driving it forward that makes it sound almost funky.

    This is my favourite AOTM for some considerable time. Thanks Brother Nolan. It’s a gem and so is she. So when’s she touring…?

    • misterstory

      Wa Hey! Boom. Etc. Congratulations. I have had a really tough day I am knackered and was trying to find a bit of positivity in the world to cheer me up. That was it. I am smiling from ear to ear for you Brother Guy. I remember the feeling so well. Eat it all up, wrap yourself up in the magic of it all Guy. I wish you and your new family every possible good thing that can ever be!

  3. misterstory

    I did not see that coming. Brother David’s write up was a complete shock to me. And I have to say, I disagree with almost every word (no offence of course, difference of opinion is all good).

    Aldous Harding owes a huge thank you to all of the artists that you *coughed* at. The standout track for me is ‘Imagining My Man’ … but, I am sorry, that could have appeared on Fiona Apples ‘The Idler Wheel …’ and nobody would have noticed. Kate Bush is the link between the two but on that track, they came to the same creative conclusions from the same source, Fiona just did it 10 years earlier. And on at least three of the tracks Aldous is doing a vocal and melodic imitation of Joanna Newsome. However, I only know this cause I love ‘The Idler Wheel ….’ by Fiona Apple (it has one of my favourite tracks of all time ‘Werewolf’) and I adore Joanna Newsome. She has accompanied me through pretty much all adult life events possible … but I get that she is an acquired taste.

    I think it is clear that Ms. Harding wears her influences very clearly and transparently. For me however, her mistake is that she did not distill her influences and weave them into her music, for me, she indulges in pastiche of each artist on different tracks resulting in the jarring effect that I mentioned previously. Stacey thought we were listening to a playlist of different artists when I played the album. She thought one track was a Leonard Cohen cover.

    Which leads me to my next comment, which is that I do really like this album. I just totally disagree with David on why.

  4. David Allison

    Oh I love a good scrap. Bring it on!

    Sorry Brother Joey, I didn”t realise I’d inadvertently step on so many of your sacred musical cows. I do love Newsom, by the way, but do I ever listen to her? I don’t know that I do. Man, I’ve tried with Apple, but there’s something about her I just don’t like. I don’t know what it is. Anyway, I’m obviously not saying that she has no merit, I’m just respondong personally to this album and trying to work out why I find it so appealing when I’ve struggled with some not dissimilar artists. Funny old thing, taste, huh?

    I don’t agree at all that Harding is wearing her influences without having her own voice. What I like about her is how diverse the album is and how much she’s trying out different things. Also, she really knows how to write a song. That’s what stands out to me way more than who she does or doesn’t sound like. I mean, Blend is just perfect. Come on.

    Anyway, look forward to some more heated debate 😉

  5. misterstory

    Here it is …

    Fair enough (insert shrugged shoulders emoji but can’t find one).

    I have listened to this more and as I said I do like it but I’m still not feeling that she has much of a singular voice. The album is so diverse its impossible for me to find ‘a’ (singular) voice (her literal ‘voice’ changes from track to track) . There is also something that makes me ‘uncomfortable’ too … like a really good film …. that you never want to watch again! You know the one that creeps you out? I guess for something to create this kind of emotional response it must be doing something right!

  6. David Allison

    I’m still loving it. But it’s interseting you mention it’s ‘uncomfortable’ – it is at times, I know what you mean. But I’m really drawn to that. But do you not find, for example, Joanna Newsom uncomfortable? (I’m not comparing them btw, just wondering)

  7. whyohwhyohwhy

    Afternoon brothers. Thanks for all the love on here, it feels simultaneously like I’ve had a daughter for months and like it’s still amateur hour, but bloody hell, it’s something else…. ❤

    As a consequence, music listening took a back seat for a while but I’ve gravitated towards more relaxed music so this landed at the right time. As you all know, I’m no “folk” fan (what is folk, anyway?) but this has washed over me in a lovely way. I’ll not sure what staying power it has but I’m enjoying all the similar albums we’ve done because it’s some calm in a trying world.

    I particularly like Blend, Party and Living The Classics.

    Good work. A solid and pleasing 6.5/10.

    • David Allison

      I’m still loving this. Keep coming back to it. Such a diverse set of songs. Yes, she’s a bit odd, but I bloody like that. Reminds me of Kate Bush in that she doesn’t mind if she sounds slightly unhinged when she’s delivering the vocal.

      She’s playing the Brudenell in Nov and am seriously thinking of going, if anyone cares to join me…

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