Tag Archives: Marie Davidson

The Best Albums of 2018: #20 – 1

best of 2018 20-1Let’s be honest for a second: No one clicks on these lists for the introduction. I don’t blame them! This is usually just the place where some routine throat-clearing goes, before we get to the main event. It’s also the place where I confess to the amount of anxiety involved with putting together a list like this—last year, I said, “Right now, there’s probably someone in their bedroom in Buenos Aires, making a record on their computer that is going to end up on next year’s list. So as comprehensive as we’ve tried to make this list, we realize that, even at 100 albums, we’re only scratching the surface of what’s available.” Guess what? That’s still true in 2018. That said, the albums that made the cut, to us, represent the breadth and scope of the many worlds available to discover on Bandcamp, and feel like the best musical summation of the last 12 months. When we make this list, we’re not only trying to assess the year’s best music, we’re also trying to tell the story of 2018, album by album, song by song. As always, being a part of Bandcamp Daily in 2018 was a true joy; we took a look at Extratone, the world’s fastest musical genre, got familiar with the New Face of Death Metal, and spent time with artists like Yugen Blakrok, Suzanne Ciani, and Kamaal Williams. Once again, the world of music is bigger than any one list can possibly contain, so consider this a starting point on the neverending journey to discovering new sounds, new scenes, and new voices. Alright, that’s enough throat-clearing. Let’s get to the list.

—J. Edward Keyes, Editorial Director

Best of 2018 Schedule:
December 10: #100 – 81
December 11: #80 – 61
December 12: #60 – 41
December 13: #40 – 21
December 14: #20 – 1

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Of Eminem and EDM Ennui: Producer Marie Davidson On Her Confrontational New LP “Working Class Woman”

Marie Davidson

Photos by Etienne Saint Denis

“So, frankly, is this album about taking risks?” Marie Davidson asks at the beginning of her latest solo LP, Working Class Woman, her raspy French-Canadian accent dripping with sarcasm. She’s quoting a journalist verbatim, just as she impersonates wannabe groupies (“Yep, yep, uh-huh!”), dubious haters (“I think she’s faking her accent”), and overly keen scene sharks (“Can I help you roll your cables?”)—each of whom are subjected to Davidson’s electric, acidic satire in the album’s dizzyingly meta opening monologue, “Your Biggest Fan.”

“It was fun to make, and I hope people have fun listening to it,” says Davidson over Skype from her Montreal studio, reflecting on the darkly amusing track that sets the album’s unique tone. “Everything in that track is either something people have told me or said about me behind my back. That being said, I’m not special, and everyone talks about everyone, and everyone has to comment. It’s like or dislike.”

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In the current, largely self-serious electronic music landscape, Davidson is taking her own kind of risks—galvanizing Italo-disco, post-punk, techno, and no wave into a distinctive, DIY backdrop for her neurotic monologuing. Her understandable contempt for the patronizing urchins of nightlife is softened by her self-aware lyrics; like all the most effective satirists, she is not afraid to portray herself as both vicious and vulnerable. The source of inspiration for this is as refreshingly unlikely as Davidson’s own music.

“I was a big fan of Eminem when I was in high school, and I kind of never lost interest in him,” she explains. “I like it when he’s being funny and sarcastic, putting on his persona—the lyrics and the dissing—I find it one of the funniest things in contemporary music. When he gets all emo, he loses me, but he’s still touching. There’s a reason why he’s still on top, why people still care, you know? I really like the whole thing about the persona. What he does with the Slim Shady thing, it’s cathartic. And what I do is also cathartic.”

Like Marshall Mathers in his heyday, Davidson is focused, funny, and creatively relentless. Complementing her solo work, she performs alongside her husband, Pierre Guerineau, as Essaie Pas, and David Kristian, as DKMD. She’s also been touring the tellingly-titled live A/V project, Bullshit Threshold, in collaboration with the artists John Londono and Gonzalo Soldi.

After being interviewed for her previous three LPs, including 2016’s breakthrough Adieux Au Dancefloor, some journalists seemed to have a misleading perception of Davidson as some sort of dancefloor Luddite (“Marie Davidson Does Not Own A Computer,” reads an Impose headline). True, Davidson journeys to her Montreal studio for the internet connection to conduct our conversation, but she understandably dismisses this angle. Despite the creatively-motivated decision to rid herself of the internet at home, she still carries a smartphone and has to resist the usual temptations. “I think social media is a real addiction now,” she says.

The wry humor at the center of Working Class Woman is very much that of someone navigating a difficult relationship with their personal devices, among everything (and everyone) else. One of the most elegant and amusing disses on the album takes place amid the fractured electronics of the track “The Tunnel”: “I don’t need a VR headset to feel e-mo-tion,” she spits in the direction of a modern fad. “Reality is disgusting enough, and we all have to deal with it!”

Much is made of club culture’s potential to offer musical escape from the nagging pains of everyday life. Davidson—a dedicated dancer who spends much of her spare time raving—takes a far more representational approach. “I feel it’s a little bit childish to always seek out the transcendent fun,” she says. “Look at the world. Where’s the peace? Where’s the love? Where’s the unity? We live in a bubble, and yes, it’s nice. We can access and afford culture, but this is not the state of the world.”

Davidson’s tough-love approach to herself and others runs deep through both the musical texture and lyrical interjections of Working Class Woman. On “Work It,” a play on club culture’s enduring tropes around dance, sexuality, and commerce, she instantly transforms into a sort of ruthless life coach, demanding hard work as a route to “love yourself, free yourself,” although not before she’s kindly inquired if “there’s sweat dripping down your balls?” On “The Psychologist,” she employs a killer electro groove while dissolving therapy cliches in her lyrics. “Day Dreaming” finds her looking inwards to find existential friction. “A few years to live / Then you’re gone,” she intones.

While anyone might hear Working Class Woman and get the understandable impression that Davidson lacks patience with the more easily digestible facets of alternative culture, she also stresses that the Marie I have on the phone is probably “less severe” than the seething cynic presented on record, which is to say, her worldview is anything but pessimistic. Rather, she finds inspiration in the canon of “kindness, empathy, and intelligence,” as presented by a disparate pantheon of thinkers, artists, and scientists. The teachings of institutional psychologists Carl Jung and Alice Miller resonate strongly with Davidson, as do the journals of physician and trauma researcher Gabor Maté. She’s also a big fan of the filmmaker and author Alejandro Jodorowsky; his cult book Psychomagic—a shamanic manifesto which urges practitioners to perform everyday acts of surrealism in order to realize their true selves—is particularly enchanting to Davidson.

While, like all of us, Davidson doubtlessly desires to transcend, at the heart of the album and approach to music is a refreshing realism, measured in sweat and sarcasm, but keenly self-aware. In the weeks following the release of Working Class Woman, Davidson won’t be stalking social media in search of praise, or to drop in with the pep talk we’d rather hear—if she weren’t on tour, Davidson would instead no doubt find that transcendence outside of her head and into her studio.

“Oh yeah, I love it so much,” she reflects, surveying the space itself as we speak. “It’s the one thing that makes me happy. To get my cabling and my MIDI sequencing together, that’s what I like. To just keep going.”

-John Thorp

This Week’s Essential Releases: Hip-Hop, Electronic, Indie Pop, and More

7 essential

Welcome to Seven Essential Releases, our weekly roundup of the best music on Bandcamp. Each week, we’ll recommend six new albums that were released between last Friday and this Friday, plus pick an older LP from the stacks that you may have missed.

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Holodeck Records and the Thriving Synth Scene in Austin, Texas

Dylan Cameron
Dylan Cameron. Photo by David Bendan Hall
“I’m just trying to make art, and I hope some people care about it—but I can’t expect anyone else to care about it that much.” —Adam Jones

Thanks to the overnight success of Netflix show Stranger Things, the Austin, Texas synth scene, home to the show’s composers S U R V I V E, has slowly begun to attract more attention. Accordingly, it’s been a busy year for Holodeck Records, the small independent record label from Austin, who have been embedded in the city’s underground for close to five years. This year alone, they’ve released new albums from darkwave metal trio Troller and abstract noise artist Samantha Glass, and later this year will come new releases from ambient house producer Dylan Cameron and a special cassette release of S U R V I V E’s Relapse debut. Adam Jones, the label’s co-founder, is also gearing up for a fall tour with Troller, as well as shooting music videos for each of their album’s 10 songs. In other words, when the crowds come, Holodeck will be ready.

Jones, 32, founded Holodeck in 2012 with members of Pure X and This Will Destroy You. He had about five different musical projects he was involved with at the time, and each of those projects had members who had their own projects, and so on. After trying to shop records by S U R V I V E and Troller to other labels, the group decided the best way to get people to listen was to simply put the music out themselves.

“I’m just trying to make art, and I hope some people care about it—but I can’t expect anyone else to care about it that much,” Jones said. “If I want anyone to know about it, I’m going to have to make a lot of noise.”

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