Tuesday Tunes: New albums from Steven Wilson, Iron & Wine and The Flaming Lips

The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) by Steven Wilson

Steven Wilson is one of the busiest people in the music business, almost constantly either working on a new album with one of his various bands (Porcupine Tree, Blackfield and Storm Corrosion to name but a few), or helping produce, mix or remaster albums by many other progressive rock bands new and old. This is his third solo effort, less than two years after the highly successful Grace For Drowning, and if you liked that work you’ll love this. It has six songs, averaging close to ten minutes a song and jumping around in genre between prog rock and jazz and everything in between. Each song tells a story of sorts, all of which are of the usual dark themes one would expect from Wilson. I absolutely love this album, and it is definitely going to be in my top ten albums of the year. If you’re looking for intelligent music, go no further than this! The clip I’m including is of the song Luminol, being played live last year long before the release of the album – even at this point the song was pretty tight:

Ghost On Ghost by Iron & Wine

With his last album, Kiss Each Other Clean, Iron & Wine moved away from his folk roots and towards a more 1970s pop sound. With this, his fifth (or is it sixth) offering, he continues this direction only adding more elements of jazz and even funk into his music. While many who have been listening to him from his earliest beginnings a decade ago might be disappointed by this new turn in his sound, I personally love it, and love the fact that he was daring enough to try something so different. The song I’m going to include is called Lovers’ Revolution, and is a pretty good example of what to expect from the rest of the album:

The Terror by The Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips are a very strange band. They always have been very weird and quirky, and have been about as alternative as you can get, but I quite liked a number of their albums, particularly last decade with the likes of The Soft Bulletin, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots and At War With The Mystics. But then they released Embryonic, and things just got a bit too weird even for me. The Terror is one of those albums which addresses all sorts of interesting existential issues, and had so much potential as a concept, but simply isn’t pleasant to listen to, which I tend to think is the primary objective of music. I like to be challenged with music (Steven Wilson is awfully good at this), but I just listened to this with a look of despair and confusion on my face. Perhaps some Flaming Lips fans will love this, but it isn’t for me. Not terror-ble (sorry, I had to make the joke), but nothing amazing. The clip I’m including is at least entertaining to watch, and is of a song called Try To Explain:

Are you a fan of any of these artists? What are your thoughts on their new directions?

3 thoughts on “Tuesday Tunes: New albums from Steven Wilson, Iron & Wine and The Flaming Lips

  1. I had no idea Iron & Wine have a new album out! I saw him/them perform about two years ago, as he was transitioning to a fuller sound, and it was amazing. The new song you posted is definitely differently from the earlier stuff, but I really like it! The ’70s feel is great — I love that brass!

    And Flaming Lips! I really like Yoshimi, but some of the other albums are more difficult. I’m all for artists expressing themselves and being experimental, but it doesn’t always make for the most listenable music… and I’m not cool enough to always enjoy listening to music that doesn’t sound nice.

    • The Iron & Wine album has been quite a sudden event – I think he only announced it a couple of months ago, and sneak previewed a couple of songs online. It literally was only released last Friday in Australia, and I assume over the last week the rest of the world too (it’s weird, while we get movies months later in Australia, we often are the first to have music albums released), so yeah it’s a very new release this one. I’d love to see him live sometime, and I imagine he would have been amazing when you saw him on that tour! Let me know your thoughts on the rest of the album when you hear it, but I’d say you’ll like it if you like that song I posted! 🙂
      As for Flaming Lips, sounds like we’re much on the same page here. That’s what I think too – I think some people like to get all pretentious and intellectual about it “oh, it’s not about how it sounds, it’s about their expression blah blah blah”…sorry but for me music is actually about how it sounds. Artistic expression is important but if you can’t do it without making the music listenable, you’re kind of failing. It’s like an artwork that can only be appreciated by being blindfolded while you look at it. The Flaming Lips have had some brilliant moments with their experimentation but I don’t think this new piece is one of them. 😛

  2. Pingback: Music Monday: Riverside, Gazpacho and Amplifier | Wanton Creation

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