Currently Listening to…

by Cate

Patti Smith, Grimes, Nick Cave, Lou Reed, Chromatics and more…

I have been a fan of punk poetess Patti Smith since I bought a copy of Horses in 8th grade. Horses remains near the top of my all-time favorite albums list but recently, my mood has focused my attention squarely on her third album, Easter. The record was Smith’s follow-up to her critically panned sophomore effort, Radio Ethiopia. Patti and Lenny Kaye share songwriting credits on most of the tracks (excluding, of course, “Because the Night,” which was co-written with Bruce Springsteen) and it is among her most raucous recordings. As always, the Rimbaud references and religious iconography are abundant but here Kaye and Smith allowed their inner Keith Richardses to emerge in all their primal, cocksure glory.

Grimes (aka Claire Boucher) grabbed my attention last year with her single “Vanessa.” Her most recent album, Visions, has been on heavy rotation in my home lately and I have been recommending her to anyone who will listen. I love her lisp-y delivery, her Kool-Aid-dyed hair and punky kid sister vibe.

Lovers of M83’s dreamy electro-pop work should check out the latest album from Chromatics, Kill for Love. In addition to some truly beautiful original songs, the record features an eery, heavy hearted cover of Neil Young’s “Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black).”

Oh, Lou. I am such a massive Lou Reed fan that there is no way for me to be objective about his work. I love everything from the first Velvet Underground album to his late-’80s albums (as well as a few of his more recent ventures, although Lulu was a real test of my love). My obvious fangirlism notwithstanding, there is no denying that Berlin is one of the greatest albums of the last fifty years. It may be aggressively depressing but it is also lush, devastating, and potently beautiful. Most of the record is comprised of Velvet Underground cast-offs and rewrites but this is an unmistakeable Reed solo work. The closing track is one of the album’s many highlights. Producer and arranger, Bob Ezrin built swells of strings around Reed’s signature talk/sing vocals before delving into orchestral bombast. This song sounds best blaring at top volume–preferably loud enough to garner complaints from the neighbors.

It is a bit of a cop out to use “Deanna” as a representation of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, given how much incredible music they have created over the past three decades but this video encapsulates Nick’s sleazy charm perfectly.

Philip Glass’s record Glassworks is incredible and haunting. Every time I listen to it, I hear something new and discover another reason to love and admire it.

Keith Morris. Enough said. (Circle Jerks covering the Creation)

Serge Gainsbourg’s career spans genres and eras but his score for the 1970 French film Cannabis has been mostly forgotten by all but his most ardent admirers.

Patti Smith is, always has been, and always will be painfully cool.