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Kate Bush

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Despite its being comprised of reworked versions of songs that originally appeared around two decades ago, Kate Bush regards her Director’s Cut as a new album in and of itself.

And she’s right to: There’s a consistency and homogeneity about the 11 tracks (seven from The Red Shoes, four from The Sensual World) which echoes her work on Aerial, and which lends the project a character entirely its own.

This is largely due to her re-doing all the lead vocals, which has imposed a warmer, more reflective tone on proceedings. Sometimes that reflection borders on the mournful, imbuing the set with a heady emotional weight, far removed from the strangeness and near camp that used to be her trademark.

An early highlight is The Song of Solomon from The Red Shoes. Bush repositions her most emotional bold, straightforward songs (“don’t want your bulls**t, just want your sexuality”) as teetering on the edge fragile, thanks to tinkling guitars which mimic the transparency of a love that is close to collapse. There’s also the first goose-bump inducing moment of the album; The Trio Bulgarka’s stunning, mid-point entrance.

Clearly the album’s centerpiece is the trio of This Woman’s Work, Moments of Pleasure, and Never Be Mine. Arriving one after the other, the songs use their new, airier arrangements to allow the full emotional punch of the lyrics to land squarely.

The much loved classic, This Woman’s Work, is re-made with Bush controversially replacing piano with an electric keyboard and a haunting wash of synthesizer. With the knowledge that Bush is herself now a mother, this tale of soon to be parenthood is given a new gravitas, resonating in a deeper way than the original.

Things hush to a funeral pace, as Moments of Pleasure sees Bush alone with her grand piano, erasing all traces of Michael Kamen’s previous orchestration. Her vocals are almost unbearably mournful, bringing out all the sense of loss in the song and replacing the sense of wonder in the original.

What got lost in the original murky production of Never Be Mine is re-captured on this tale of unrequited love. Lines like “the thrill and the hurting’” really hit home. Vocally she sounds most like the Bush of old and when The Trio Bulgarka reappear, it’s stunningly beautiful.

For Kate’s legion of devoted fans, Director’s Cut could be a difficult pill to swallow. Many hold her work in such high regard that the prospect of revisiting her canon in this manner is akin to near blasphemy. Those fans would be doing themselves a disservice. Kate Bush has crafted a portrait of where she is now, where her songs sit with her now. It is a stunning portrait of a true artist grappling with the later half of life by looking back on the earlier.

Director’s Cut is released May 17th on iTunes and other digital retailers.

CD Reviews

Transistor-on Takes “The Way Back Down” on EP

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Transistor-on calls their goods “fuzzed out reverb music,” and in the spirit of post-rock, EP The Way Back Down is full of that melodious texture and sensation. Recorded at The Cottage with Damon Moon, The Way Back Down is a mere four tracks. But those songs make a satisfying sampling of a band with a big future ahead.

Atlanta duo Joey Piersante and Chris Armistead offer up a hazy fugue state that is the blueprint for this coming summer, showing that they can run with the best of the lo-fi crowd with their unique rhythms and finger-picking. The minimalist use of instruments that whip up the dream poppy wall of sound succeeds in taking the listener in a layered, chill journey.

Tracks like “Calling Out” and “Solar Flare” are so catchy (the former with its title refrain; the latter with its main guitar melody), that they etch onto your brain and trick you into thinking these are songs that have been around for maybe 20 years or so already.

Reviewers are throwing out comparisons—and they’ll continue to—of Transistor-on to Explosions in the Sky. The similarities are there for sure; both bands share a genre, after all. But saying only “they remind me of Explosions in the Sky” overlooks the fact that Transistor-on are stepping out in earnest on this EP, sounding comfortable in their skin without being jaded. Plus, having smoky vocals on the tracks adds to the spacey miasma and mystery that serves as the overarching feel of the record. The singing on “Empty Planet,” for example, highlights the track’s slow burn into its rocking guitar-driven crescendo.

Though the last piece on The Way Back Down is called “Exit,” by no means is that a harbinger of the band’s future. Transistor-on closes with a sure-footed tapestry of distortion and crisp rhythm, wrapping up a consistent and skillful release that definitely marks their arrival.

The Way Back Down is available to stream on SoundCloud or for purchase on iTunes. The gorgeous photo cover by Richard Casteel.

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Muse “Drones” Review

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Emily Hearn Saves Time in a Bottle on “Hourglass”

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Emily Hearn’s sonic journey on Hourglass shows that she is a woman coming into her own, figuring out the knots of past heartache, the bliss of newlywed life, and the passage of time.

Time acts as the overarching narrative on the record; Hourglass spans the two years following the Athens, GA native’s debut Red Balloon and 2013 EP Promises. “We fall in or out of love as time moves us,” she explains. “We learn life-changing lessons as time goes on. We figure out how to handle important relationships as time shapes us. We decide who we want to be and what we believe as time reveals our priorities. And ultimately, we grow older as time goes by.”

Hearn sings wistfully “Oh, to be young, and to have time” on the third track “Oak Tree,” longing for the naïve feeling that time would never move forward, or at least not so fast. She frets over seeing her parents age so quickly. The existential worries of a twenty-something come delivered in a package of a catchy, infectious chorus and clap-along-able melody.

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