The three-day Pitchfork Music Festival has a heavy influence extending beyond Chicago’s small Union Park, where it takes up residence every year. It's a trendsetting fest put on by a trendsetting media outlet, and it has a knack for propelling new bands into the indie spotlight alongside the already established headliners.
So, this year, when the fest takes over the city from July 19 to July 21, MOVE is giving those both near and far a little taste of that indie festival magic -- and an idea of what these up-and-comers are like live -- with coverage from start to finish.
To jumpstart the discovering (or rediscovering) of some of the hottest indie bands, we've got album reviews for a few notable acts on Friday’s schedule:
Frankie Rose – Interstellar
(Performs at 3:20 p.m. on the Blue Stage.)
With her 2012 release, Interstellar, vocalist and guitarist Frankie Rose has delved into a new and exciting realm of indie rock. Interstellar has been deemed “best new music” by Pitchfork Media, and for good reason.
From front to back, the album retains a dreamy underwater feel that is propagated by Rose’s drawn-out and echoing voice. With the addition of droning synthesizers, simple percussion and tastefully placed guitar riffs, Interstellar gives birth to a sound that seems oddly appropriate for an adventure down the California coast.
A glorious and creative sound moves the listener peacefully but deliberately along the “interstellar highway” that is so aptly mentioned in the title track, and it makes for an album that is more than deserving of high recognition in the indie rock scene.
4 out of 5 stars.
Angel Olsen – Half Way Home
(Performs at 5:15 p.m. on the Blue Stage.)
St. Louis native Angel Olsen has been gifted with the ability to express the pure angst of human experiences in a most eloquent fashion.
2012’s Half Way Home defines Olsen as a poet first, and a songwriter second. Not once does she allow the structure of a song to dictate how she lyricizes her introspective love ballads. Olsen portrays melancholic themes through the combination of soft acoustic accompaniment and a powerful voice that wrenches at a listener’s heart in all the best ways possible.
Half Way Home is at its best when the theme is at its most dismal. The mood occasionally, and less successfully, strays, but overall Olsen has created an excellent album for longingly staring out a rainy window. Half Way Home provides a platform for Olsen to show off her poetic mind, and thankfully we can all bear witness to it.
3.75 out of 5 stars.
Björk – Biophilia
(Performs at 8:30 p.m. on the Green Stage.)
Björk’s Biophilia is by far the most challenging and well-informed album being represented at the festival this year. The Icelandic singer’s 2011 release is beyond just an album – it’s an intuitive experience.
The ten-track Biophilia is a mental and musical exploration into many of the different natural forces of the universe -- it’s a work of art in all senses. The record ebbs and flows with different musical styles and influences. Starting delicately with some chiming and the light plucking of strings, Biophilia builds upon itself through three songs until reaching a climax of dubstep proportions in the lead single “Crystalline.” From there, the listener floats through outer space, shrinks down to a microbial level and even digs deep beneath the earth’s surface, all to eventually crawl back to the calm, nymph-like sound from whence Biophila begins.
Whether it’s the use of made-up instruments (what’s a gameleste?) or her eccentric start-stop style of singing, Björk constructs a string of sensations unlike any other. For the music connoisseur looking to be challenged, Biophilia will do just that. Björk has created an elaborate melting pot of ideas and sounds that pushes the envelope of artistic exploration.
Listen to it. Think about it. Experience Biophilia.
4.5 out of 5 stars.