Review : Zee Avi - Zee Avi
PastemagazineThe marquee-style album title is telling here: Kuala Lumpur-based strummer Zee Avi is being offered up by Jack Johnson’s Brushfire imprint as exotic vaudeville entertainment from the other side of the world, and justifiably so. Her arrangements are music-hall clever, her erudite lyrics reference the most arcane subjects, and her flapper-vampy voice camps up everything to the point of burlesque. While a backbeat patters out some scratchy blues, the brainy Avi watches a lover succumb to opium addiction, blithely trilling, “He used to love German Expressionism films / But now he drinks until he falls … the poppy took my baby away from me.” In the gentle uke-plucked “Just You And Me,” she outlines the beginning of a breakup with a lilting, “You were sitting at the coffee table where you were reading Kierkegaard / Minutes later you proceeded to say something that almost broke my heart.” These words would sound pretentious in most songwriting canons, but Avi sounds natural and unaffected—she’s a well-educated kid who’s not afraid to show it. Her name deserves to be on that marquee, in headlining lights....full text
UndertheradarmagBig money says Zee Avi's new self-titled CD will be available in Starbucks before you can say Accessibility Meets Post-Colonial Hip. Lucky for us, this won't be one of those Putumayo 'It sounded good in the store' purchases.
For my narrow American mindset you couldn't construct a more exotic background-Avi grew up in Borneo and Kuala Lumpur-but her sound is significantly less foreign than you might expect. She sounds like an excellent, once in a long while coffeehouse troubadour-she could be from Kinshasa or Hoboken, it really doesn't matter.
In fact, part of what Zee Avi accomplishes here to is to reset antiquated notions of the gap between cultures, at least in her generation: especially on her song "Kantoi," where she mixes her native tongue in with flat, unromantic American English lines like "My phone was on silent/I was at the gym." What had seemed exotic or idyllic is revealed as genuine....full text
NytimesIggy Pop as a chanteur, crooning and contemplating life with autumnal bitterness and resignation? That’s his unexpected guise on “Préliminaires” (Astralwerks); he even sings “Les Feuilles Mortes” (“Autumn Leaves”) in mediocre French. The album was sparked by Michel Houellebecq’s novel “The Possibility of an Island,” a time-hopping narrative about a savagely comic entertainer, his beloved dog and their clones from the distant, emotionless future. The songs touch on its plot — particularly the dog, in “A Machine for Loving” and the New Orleans jazz romp “King of the Dogs” — and also ruminate, like the book, about sex and mortality, more quietly than usual for Mr. Pop. But after the novelty wears off, the keeper is his typically blunt “Nice to Be Dead” — ”It’s nice to be underground/Free of the ugly sounds of life” — which happens to be the album’s one electric-guitar rocker....full text
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