Monday, August 15, 2022

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Sound Notes

Guided By Voices



“Please Be Honest”



It’s impossible to definitively say what Guided By Voices actually is. Guided By VoicesThere was a time when you could define it loosely as “Robert Pollard and a semi-rotating cast of musicians,” but “Please Be Honest” is an album that features Pollard by himself. And since Pollard has released solo albums in the past under his own name that sound very similar to “Please Be Honest,” there is no clearly-defined reason why this album belongs in the Guided By Voices universe, while, say, “Superman Was  Rocker” does not. But for what it is, “Please Be Honest” does manage to feel like a vintage Pollard effort. It is full of weird, lo-fi tracks that alternate between wildly imaginative (“The Caterpillar’s Workforce”) and wildly disappointing (“Sad Baby Eyes”). New Guided By Voices albums are odd ducks, because Pollard has reached a level of esoteric oddity in which only long-time fans will be genuinely interested. But the results are often lukewarm enough that the same fans are apt to be disappointed. CV

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Rufus Wainwright

“Take All My Loves: 9 Shakespeare Sonnets”

Deutsche Grammophon


Rufus Wainwright has built his reputation on operatic, florid, memorable albums, but he might have reached his highest point with his latest take on The Bard. Rufus WainwrightThis is not Wainwright’s first brush with Shakespeare’s poetry — he worked with the San Francisco Symphony in 2009  — but in “Take All My Loves,” Wainwright’s love for the source material is laid bear. Wainwright punctuates each sonnet with soaring harmonies and wall-of-sound instrumentation over spoken word recitations from contributors like Helena Bonham Carter and Carrie Fischer. The title track (Sonnet 40) and the heart wrenching “A Woman’s Face” (Sonnet 20) are must-listens, but “Unperfect Actor” (Sonnet 23) might just be the best track on the album and one of the best single listens of the year. CV

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