Most Helpful First | Newest First
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Julia Holter - In the City,
California singer songwriter Julia Holter is three albums in and improving on each outing. "Loud City Song" is the album where she paints a much more accessible musical canvass. This does not diminish the fact that this is a complex and often celestial work which demonstrates a sharp musical mind at work. Those who own her previous albums respectively "Tragedy" and "Eckstasis" will generally approve of this new one since it rekindles some of the best moments contained in those records and develops them further. In doing so she has not lost her cutting edge and songs like the fragmentary avant garde jazz of "Maxim's II" will still leave the listener scratching their head and wondering what chemical aids were its source inspiration. It is a song easier to admire and love but there is plenty here in this album that draws its inspiration from the 1958 film adaptation of French novella `Gigi' to swoon over. Take the hauntingly beautiful "He is running through my eyes" where Holters whispery angelic voice shimmers across a tragic slow piano driven tale and that leaves you desperately wanting more. Its the sort of song that Kate Bush once used to write although its doubtful that she ever quite managed a opener like "World". This song is anchored by multi track vocals and barely seems to move its pace is so mesmerising. As the brass and string backing rise up all you can do is be dragged into its intimate meditation.
Holter is no stranger to covers not least her glorious version of Fleetwood Mac's "Gold Dust Woman" which she effectively deconstructed on Mojo's "Rumours Revisited album". Here she tackles "Hello Stranger", a 1963 hit single by R&B singer Barbara Lewis. It is one of the best songs of career thus far. Over a floating soundtrack of a wall of synths her voice echoes out like an enchanted sweet siren dragging you towards the musical rocks, with the tune exercising a vice like grip on your sensibilities. It is wonderful stuff and the album highlight. On another level "This is a true heart" is also unique for Holter easily marking her most commercial pop song to date. This reviewer hated "In the Green Wild" with a passion on first listens with its almost humorous spoken lyric over jazzy bass lines, but at the halfway point it morphs into an entirely different song with Holter's pop sensibility again at the forefront. After repeated plays the song crushes any resistance. The severity of "Horns surrounding me" is again one of Holters more darkly challenging moments although it is not beyond redemption. Finally the closing seven minutes plus of "City Appearing" is almost a summation of the whole album, at times playful and sweet, at others times stately and then a descent into a powerful post rock climax.
In "Loud City Song" Julia Holter has created an album that bewilders, surprises, beguiles and passionately stirs. She is an artist to be spoken of in the same breath as Julianna Barwick and Johanna Newsom. As such she may attract and repel in equal measure. This album however is her most mainstream work thus far and will be drooled over by critics for the artists audacity in mixing everything from cacophonous climaxes to ethereal ghostly soundscapes. If austerity is biting perhaps the un-initiated may wish to try it out before purchase through a internet network. For those already smitten it awaits your rapt attention.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mystical, Dark, Magnificent,
This new album be Julia Holter is really really good. Straight from the opening track to the end it captivates you. A word of warning though, this isn't an album you could ever call mainstream. It can be quite tough going, and isn't really something you'd put on in the background of a party. But if you give it a bit of your time, it sure does reward you.
It's been some time since I've heard such a gentle and majestic opening to an album. The opening track, 'World', starts with just Julia singing and a very simple accompaniment. Some more instruments join in as the track goes on, such as strings, but it never fells busy. It always feels sparse. It feels exposed and there's plenty of blanks, and I think it's great to hear something that isn't a wall of noise. You get the feeling that Julia Holter doesn't want to hide, and that confidence comes through, but so does the beauty of it all.
'Maxim's I' starts with a kind of hiss before some organ chords break through, followed by Julia's voice. It's less sparse than the opening, and is a bit warmer, but no less emotional or confident.
'Horns Surrounding Me' has a darker, edgier feel. It has whispers and a relentless bassline. The vocals are also delivered much more sharply with very few sustained notes. To say this is experimental would be an understatement.
'In The Green Wild' has an edgy bass riff that's accompanied by some rapid-fire vocals. You're never sure what the next track is going to bring until you listen to it, and that's one of the great things about this album. There's a track for every mood, and although it might take you a couple of listens to get the whole thing, it sure is worth it.
'Hello Stranger' is a kind of ethereal track that washes around, with Julia's vocals crisp and clear right at the front of everything. That's another great strength of this album. There's so much variation just in the vocals. In some tracks they're clear, some the lyrics almost spoken, and some they're almost impenetrable, just a faint whisper. I won't describe any of the other tracks of the album so that there's still some surprise there, but one of my favourite tracks is 'Maxim's II' just because of it's manicness.
I've read that this album is constructed around the french novel Gigi, and I've neither read it or seen the film, but from what I understand this an introspection of celebrity life. I'm not fussed what this album is about as to me it's a great album whatever. The feelings of the tracks are certainly indicative of celebrity life, there's highs and lows, and strange moments in between. This album hits every note it wants to.
To describe this album as experimental booths sums this album up, but also doesn't do it justice. It is experimental, in the way that there's some great ideas and a lot of the tracks feel very different. But it does feel like an album. It all fells like it belongs together, not apart. I'm certainly going to be giving this another couple of listens over the next week and hopefully it'll start to really sink in. This is one of the albums of the year.
In summary: it's tough, but it bloody good.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars more polished production than previous releases, but still an inventive work!,
This review is from: Loud City Song (MP3 Download)
Echoes of Steve Reich, unusual structures, inventive music layered intelligently to construct a beautiful set of songs, Julia Holter's voice is on the cusp of having perhaps too much 'affectation' in play, but it pulls back to become another instrument in the rich range of sounds that make up the compositions. An excellent album.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic,
This review is from: Loud City Song (MP3 Download)
I only found out about Julia Holter 2 months ago after buying her album "Tragedy", now I'm an enormous fan of hers already. This album is even better than Tragedy, she is amazing, a true force of talent.
5.0 out of 5 stars Julia Holter Loud City Song,
I think this album works best on the headphones when there is not a soul in the room . It works very well when you cut people off and put you mind into the music and just close your eyes when ever you play the play right the way through.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well...I love Julia Holter but...,
Extasis was a landmark. this new one by Julia is a very smart, intelligent and virtuosic record. But influences of Kate Bush and J Mitchell can be heard in tiny bits here and there.
I still think Extasis is better.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arrived within the time period,
Great album, as new. Julia Holter is such a wondrous artist. Glad to have this album in my possession. Thanks
Most Helpful First | Newest First