Every week, I’ll share two albums I’ve been listening to. Feel free to list your favorite recent releases in the comments below.
Tweet your current favorite albums to @SeanMPhipps or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to Wikipedia, "Lux" is “ the SI unit of illuminance and luminous emittance, measuring luminous flux per unit area.” Oh, OK then! "Lux" is also the title of avant-garde composer Brian Eno’s 25th studio album. The album consists of four tracks of ambient music, each just less than 20 minutes long. The compositions were written to accompany an Eno art exhibit.
What the critics think:
A return to ambient music, "Lux" has generated overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics since its release on Nov. 13. The AV Club says of "Lux" that “Eno has launched himself back into the firmament with ease—and with a renewed sense of grace.” Musically, the album conveys a “sense of drift,” according to Thom Jurek, a reviewer for All Music. He says, “Each section fades and disappears; the next emerges, quietly, unobtrusively, into another tonally and texturally different one that contains only the trace memory of what transpired previously.” The New York Times describes "Lux" as “killingly beautiful,” saying, “... We tend to look for controlled narrative, clear hooks and signposts and signifiers, and some sort of emotional path to learn more about its creator, whereas [Eno] likes to suppose that none of this matters.” Other reviews include NME, Drowned in Sound and Pop Matters.
What I think:
I tackle ambient music much like I would a novel. "Lux" requires your attention initially, but you find yourself drifting—as one review stated above—in a world of your own conjuring. To me, the album almost induced the same feeling in me as the "Singing Bowls of Tibet": a sort of healing tension, if that makes any sense at all. I’ve listened to "Lux" three times now, with headphones, and each time, I’ve almost fallen asleep. This isn’t a record for weekend joyrides, but instead an album of solitude and introspection. "Lux" is an illuminating light from a brilliant contemporary artist. It’s Eno, man. Brian friggin’ Eno. Highly recommended for a winter evening.
Jake Bugg is an 18-year-old English songwriter whose self-titled debut album reached No. 1 on the UK charts when it released on Oct. 15. A U.S. release date has not been announced. Bugg’s songs are described as a mixture of The Kinks, Dylan, Donovan, Oasis and Hendrix. He sounds straight out of the 1960s. Wonderful.
What the critics think:
Nine out of 10 stars for Jake Bugg’s self-titled release, according to NME. The publication describes Bugg as a “frighteningly talented songwriter” and “the real deal.” “His cues may not come from anywhere unexpected,” they said, “but it's what he does with them that counts.” A review in Mojo's November magazine says, “The teen delivers poetic social realism.” Clash Music says, “Imagine Donovan singing about White Lightning, and you’ve got Jake Bugg.” They also say Bugg has a “... distinctive sound that’s certain to have mass appeal" and that "this teen troubadour is set to smash it.” Finally, BBC Music likens Bugg’s voice to that of Gene Pitney ("Town Without Pity"/"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"), calling it “... a piercing, precise tool, which lifts him above the laddish milieu. Ubiquity may beckon.”
What I think:
Wow. Folk music is kind of my bag, and Jake Bugg is completely folk (with a little rockabilly/psychedelic thrown in the mix). Jake Bugg really wears his influences on his sleeve. The 14 tracks on Jake Bugg all make me wonder if I’ve heard them before. I haven’t, but they all have a certain familiarity, which makes for an incredibly fun listen. This is very, very good music across the board. I cannot believe this singer is only 18 years old, and, at the same time, I can absolutely believe it. The songs (especially "Country Song" and "Broken") contain a worldly innocence that almost makes you uncomfortable. I have no idea how American audiences are going to react to Jake Bugg, but I can’t wait to find out. And a final note: Jake Bugg reminds me of a very young and English Josh Ritter. Watch the video for "Trouble Town."