In May we were happy to hear new music from Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood (The Smile), as well as Four Tet under his KH alias. There were a lot of great album releases including Alison Wonderland’s Loner, Flume’s Palaces, Warpaint’s Radiate Like This – to the point where it seemed like a very crowded month (which is reflected in our giant playlist, once more the biggest we’ve ever collected).
This May we also discovered a lot of great artists, among them Ariana and the Rose, Alexndr London, Bad Snacks, Illuminati Hotties, Eugenie, Triangulo de Amor Bizarro, Sinead O’Brien, Blu DeTiger, Arthur Moon, Thidius and Carla Morrison. You will find all of them in our May playlist, as well as a Spanish indie music takeover and a focus on the German band Silbermond. Below is our monthly retrospective:
Best Song: Alison Wonderland – Safe Life + Loner / Flume feat. Oklou – Highest Building / The Smile – We Don’t Know What Tomorrow Brings
Since we’ve reviewed Alison Wonderland’s Loner and talked about Safe Life, it has just stayed in our head, and in our humble opinion, it’s one of her best songs ever. Even less needs to be said about the title-track, Loner, a stirring song with an immense power that is one of the album’s most emotional moments.
Meanwhile, the best thing about Flume’s approach on Palaces (other than the wonderful visual art which we will return to a bit later) is that he seems to have allowed a lot of creative freedom to the artists he collaborated with. Sirens feels like a Caroline Polachek song, Escape feels like a Kucka song, and since Oklou was our favorite artist in 2021, it was only natural that Highest Building left an impression – it’s an Oklou earworm with added production mastery from Flume.
Finally, if you’ve missed Thom Yorke’s brooding synths, The Smile released a whole album, A Light For Attracting Attention this May, pairing them with Greenwood’s cinematic touch and Tom Skinner’s masterful drumming. We Don’t Know What Tomorrow Brings was a late entry on our list, and we only chose it because it’s an easy entry point into the magnificent album, where each track is very different, but equally captivating, feeling a lot more organic than most electronic music – most likely a result of Nigel Godrich’s production skills.
Best Album Release : Alison Wonderland – Loner / Flume – Palaces / The Smile – A Light For Attracting Attention
Choosing a favorite album was too difficult for us this month, so it just came down to what we prefer listening at a single point in time. Loner is the best album to cure your lows, while Palaces is best experienced as a visual album and is a total headrush of an experience. However, A Light for Attracting Attention is an obvious choice – while it’s the usual somber and complex album we’ve come to expect from the Radiohead duo, it’s also quite, quite good. Below are three music videos from each album, all of them visual wonders to behold.
Biggest May Surprise – Adèle Haenel Quits The Film Industry
Who said surprises all have to be pleasant (and for the actor’s fans, this wasn’t really a surprise, while it did probably come as a shock to most of the filmmaking industry)? One of our favorite actors, Adèle Haenel (The Unknown Girl, Love Battles, Portrait of a Lady on Fire) has decided to leave the film world behind, at least for a while, citing disappointment with the sexism and racism embedded in the system and Bruno Dumont (who recently released the Lea Seydoux-starring France) in particular as one of the problematic directors.
Best Artist We Discovered in May – Sinead O’Brien
A very hard choice to make here, but among the hundreds of songs we’ve listened to during May, nothing left quite as big an impression as Sinead O’Brien’s sprechesang, the great guitar work and the gritty poetry of her Kid Stuff. O’Brien’s lyrics and delivery are deliciously haunting, playfully mixing hard, direct truths with a kid-like, slippery approach at songwriting and structure. “That which is not lost is not gone” is not a catchphrase you can forget very soon once you’ve heard it in O’Brien’s voice.
Best May Music-Related Movie: Into The Blue/ Murina + All My Puny Sorrows + Emergency
Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic’s Into The Blue is our short-film choice of the month, an enigmatic, intimate look at jealousy and teenage summer games which morphs into something more sinister, but wholly captivating, leaving one breathless.
Kusijanovic recently made a full-length feature out of this film, called Murina, with the actor playing Julija (Gracija Filipović) reprising her role. What you should know about Murina is that it’s not a sequel – not quite – but knowing what happened in Into the Blue will probably provide the biggest source of tension in Murina‘s climactic escape sequence. If at first it feels as if Kusijanovic is remaking Luca Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash, in its final thirty minutes, Murina remembers the water – and honestly, it’s one of the year’s best films because of it.
It’s almost as if Kusijanovic made an alternate Julija just to have her side by side with the younger one, in order to investigate what leaving the island would achieve in her case (very little; home always calls you back). In Murina, it’s feels like this Julija – who has never left her home – is “growing in reverse,” becoming more like her younger, rebellious, alternate self, with the actor actually being older than in Into the Blue achieving an uncanny effect. The experience of seeing the two different versions of the same character back-to-back is far better than even seeing Rachel Lang’s Ana trilogy in one go.
To us, the real stroke of genius from Kusijanovic would be to revisit this character a third time: an adult Julija that “forgets” her teen self (as such, the movie would also not be a sequel to Murina), but has traces of her personality left. It would be interesting to see where Julija’s newfound sense of power and independence takes her, or simply what story Kusijanovic will choose to tell, especially if she will place her character in an urban setting without the obvious option of escape – the water. Will she just end up like her mother if she stays on the island? Will she become the Julija of the first film – leave, only to return and face the blue once more? Either way, Kusijanovic and Filipovic have struck gold twice, and they are probably this author’s favorite Balkan actor-director pair right now. Nothing else has even come close in the past years.
A movie that seemingly celebrates death and defeat, All My Puny Sorrows is a series of writerly anecdotes about dying that sometimes feel too “writerly“… and yet never since Alan Ball’s Six Feet Under have I laughed so hard at the victorious linguistic handling of death. This is the most quotable movie of the past years, and Alison Pill brings a lot to it, just like she did with her In Treatment character. “You have a low-grade understanding of despair” really needs to be put on a t-shirt. I fell in love with the movie after this exchange (“Remind me what the bedrocks of civilized societies are?” “Libraries.” “Read any good books lately?” “No.”), and the following (“It seems you have enemies who love you.” “I hate you.” “I hate you.”) just cemented that love. A movie that quotes from Pessoa’s Book of Disquiet, from D.H. Lawrence and from Coleridge himself can’t be a bad movie in my book.
Lastly, we just have to mention Amazon Prime’s fearless and novel mix of comedy, thriller and drama, Emergency. Although there have been better comedies than Booksmart, one cannot deny how influential that movie has been in the past two years. Judging from that angle, the first twenty minutes of Emergency are probably going to be talked about for a long while, and more mainstream comedy will mine some fresh territory because of it. The movie’s thriller portion (all based on the protagonists’ fear of getting shot and arrested, in that order) paves the way for some potent character drama, and Emergency‘s lead trio is just one of the most relatable in quite some time.
Best Tv Show – Undone season two
Undone, one of Amazon Studios’s true masterpieces, an emotionally satisfying and visually thrilling cosmic journey, finally carried on with its second run this May. This season loses some of the trippy charm of the first series in the beginning, but it roots the story in Mexican culture and amounts to a far more intimate affair. The massive cave-cliffhanger of the first season is resolved, and this time it’s a whole new storyline seamlessly mixed in with the old one, as Alma and Becca team up to discover their mother’s secret while living in the aftermath of Alma’s fate-altering encounters. Undone‘s animation is simply stunning, and the wallpaper-worthy backgrounds might make you hit the pause button several times per episode.
Best Visual Art – Jonathan Zawada (Palaces)
There isn’t anything that looks quite like Flume’s Palaces outside of Andrew Thomas Huang’s colorful shorts and videos. Zawada‘s position as creative director on Flume’s videos results in a wonderfully abstract experience, a colorful world populated by parrots, joyless feasts, vestiges of human life and success, and the juxtaposition of wilderness and civilization. Death and decay have never felt more alive than in Zawada’s works, and the highlight is Jasper’s Song, with vibrant transitions that make it seem as if we’re watching 3D waveform visualizations before being invited to the final feast of man.
Best Music Video: Flume – Palaces
Flume’s Palaces video feels like both a heartrending goodbye (“I float beyond the exit“), as well an invitation to rediscover the beauty of nature. Jonathan Zawada, a former web designer and programmer, introduces elements of big data and real-time analytics just as the song takes flight into its more rhythmic portion. If we’re not quite sure that the video is as damning as Steve Cutts’s controversial Man in portraying mankind as a destructive force, it just works far better than that one, and after staring into a bird’s eye for a whole minute, it can be described in two words: sorrowful and final.
Best Video Art-Related Treasure Trove May Discovery: Directors’ Library
Flume’s Palaces was included in the Directors’ Library selection of groundbreaking music videos, a decision we wholeheartedly agree with and the perfect opportunity for you to watch some of the past years’ most visually stunning videos, including 070 Shake’s Skin and Bones (below) and Röyksopp’s Profound Mysteries series. A website which features film and TV reviews and a beautiful catalogue of shorts and music videos which makes it quite easy to spend at least a couple of hours on browsing through them.
Best Performance Art: Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith & Emile Mosseri – Green To You
A haunting ode to urban self-discovery, Green To You is brimming with a sense of adventure and joy, as dancer and choreographer Genna Moroni (who has previously collaborated with Marina, Tokimonsta and Haim) seemingly rejects the sometimes cold, alienating nature of Los Angeles (and men’s suits which cost $49.99) in favor of warmth, feeling and movement.
Best Live Performance: The Smile Live In Zagreb
Youtube channel Radiohead_info has a great recording of the Zagreb performance of The Smile (Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood and Tom Skinner) from the 16th of May 2022, in the form of a playlist comprised of 15 songs. There is even a bonus track, Just Eyes and Mouth, and as Thom himself puts it, “it’s really good”. The Smile are expected to continue their European tour all throughout the months of June and July. If you still want to listen to more live performances, we’ve put together a playlist of our own, featuring great turns by Fenne Lily, Sinead O’Brien, Illuminati Hotties, Anomalie, Pom Pom Squad, Flume and Mothers.
Catchiest Non-May Songs: Madi Diaz – Crying In Public (Muna Remix)/ Blu DeTiger – Figure It Out + Vintage
Muna have transformed Madi Diaz’s acoustic track Crying In Public into a high-energy explosion of emotion, together with high-pitched vocals and samples and the highest BPM you could ever imagine this particular track to still able to function as a song about crying (and it does a lot more than that).
Meanwhile, after hearing that Blu DeTiger was Caroline Polachek’s bassist and after listening to Kitten and discovering that the DeTiger siblings have left the project, we’ve checked out Blu’s discography, and it’s just the most effortlessly cool songwriting we’ve heard (and seen) in May, definitely having with the most impressive bass sections. Figure It Out and the fan-favorite Vintage stand out as true statements of intent for the artist, who has also collaborated with Chromeo and The Knicks.
That’s it for May! We have compiled a playlist for this past month, and it’s available if you click on the link, as well as below (although clicking is better, because Youtube only lets you see a maximum of 200 songs when embedding a playlist, and ours actually contains over 300 tracks this time).
Featured Image is Flower Moon by Bonnie Binkert Melody
About the artist (source: pixels.com)
I have long been a student of art history and the Asian aesthetic and culture. My works, mostly in watercolor with collage elements, incorporate found materials and fine Japanese Mulberry and Washi papers.
More works by Bonnie Binkert Melody
Watching Material: The Super Flower Blood Moon In Pictures