Ever heard a music writer use the word “angular” before? How about “ephemeral”?
Music writers are pretty easy to mock for their rote vocabulary, but their lexicon is strained to the last syllable. Only so many words in the English language can capturing the sensations music evokes, and missteps are easy to make.
Creative art deserves creative critique, though, and it’s important to hold writers accountable for the effort they put in reviewing music. Music is made with excruciating effort, and it should be analyzed with the same. However ephemeral that effort may turn out to be.
Andy Cook -- “Don't Drink the Water”
Andy Cook’s latest EP, In Space, is a brief, malign collection of ballads and burners. Songs like “Wings” and “Reasons for Being Afraid” reckon with dark and delicate truths, but it’s the third track here, “Don’t Drink the Water,” that pumps a greasy, grinding force into the collection.
This week, Cook released the video, directed by Mariah Crabb, and it provides a glimpse into the process of making In Space. Cook also offered some context in an email: “The idea behind the song and the video is that we so often get overburdened by what others want us to be …. In the end, we may just need to go back to what we want to be, and walk away from the rest.”
No idea what the cat in the sink has to do with that message, but it’s a fun addendum to a song that tackles a pretty heady topic. Cook will open for Jennie Lawless and Sleeping Jesus at Icehouse tomorrow night.
Christopher Michael Jensen (ft. Cappie) -- “Wilted Hopes”
Christopher Michael Jensen’s lyrics have always felt like free association, with an element of poetry to them that’s endeared the Minneapolis rapper to the Twin Cities' conscious hip-hop fans. On his new video, “Wilted Hopes,” Jensen goes behind the camera to edit together a video that comes off as impressionistic as his lyrics.
“Wilted Hopes” is a breezily rapped reflection on life and the lessons hardship teaches. Cappie helps with the chorus, while Andre Mariette provides the steel-drum-laced beat that drives the uber-positive vibes. All the while, rainy images of wilting roses and beachside strolls play. CMJ’s next show is at Keller Bar in St. Cloud on July 7.
Brian Just -- “She”
This time last year, we premiered Minnesota virtuoso Brian Just's video for “Changing Traffic Lights,” a sorrowful-yet-cheerful tribute to his father and the passage of time. Nearly a year to the date later, Just has returned with the sentimental sister song “She,” capping the journey with a blithe hymnal set in the mood of summer.
“In some ways this video and song represent everything the opposite,” Just explains. “The desolation of the winter from the ‘Changing Traffic Lights’ video is now the beautiful blue waves of the Minnesota lakes. But damn, we are still all alone on the water aren't we.”
We are indeed, but it’s gorgeous overtures like this that make the sadness and loneliness seem universal. Just’s happy retro-rock jaunt shows how the darkness sleeps in even the most promising afternoons on Bde Maka Ska.
Maksha -- “Being Good”
What do you get when you cross moody, atmospheric electronica with an educational video about plants from the 1920s? An oddly stimulating piece of mixed music media from St. Paul producer Maksha.
Maksha describes his music as “nature trap,” which is transparently incarnated in the video for “Being Good.” Maksha created the video to “bring up the feelings of wonderment in our growth,” something he accomplishes by placing his swirling, hi-hat-happy beat over archival footage meant to enamor children with the germination of plants. It’s a totally unexpected pairing that creates a genuinely stirring YouTube experience.
William Wade -- “U.F.O.”
21-year-old St. Paul rapper William Wade has been watching a lot of Fargo, it seems. In his video for “U.F.O.,” Wade channels the anonymous lights in the Minnesota skies to create a metaphor for his otherworldly rap skills.
Big credit for the extraterrestrial atmosphere goes track producer Phami and video directors Northern Nights Productions, whose combined aesthetic make Wade’s video feel reminiscent of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It’s Wade’s no-chorus rap stream that anchors the whole piece in reality, showcasing a young talent just finding his voice in the Twin Cities hip-hop scene.
Dream of seeing your video appear in Local Frames? Email writer Jerard Fagerberg at [email protected]