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Beat Jab: New Gotye & Sharon Van Etten



Beat Jab offers reviews in prose poetry form from 2011 Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Emerging Author Award winner Micah Ling.

Making Mirrors

If you don’t know Gotye, start here. After all, music videos seem to be a dying art, and this one is pretty great. This song is pretty great. It was recently featured on Spotify as a top played track; that’s how I found this band. But I couldn’t quite pinpoint why I liked the sound so much. A friend mentioned that the sound is like The Police; hell, Wally De Backer even looks like Sting. Gotye (pronounced gore-ti-yeah) not only has a sound that has you reeling from all things you love about great bands that are no more, he also has incredible lyrics—stories and characters that you’ll relate to. “Somebody That I Used to Know” is cutting: both sides of a familiar argument. But you can be happy to these songs or angry to them—they tend to work with your mood. (Except “State Of the Art,” which is always just kind of hilarious, and awesome). The songs are all pretty short…the kind of album you might listen to a few times before really hearing it. At the same time, each song is unique; “Smoke and Mirrors” rocks the percussion. You can space out to this album, bum around to it.

Sharon Van Etten - SUBMITTED PHOTO

Sharon Van Etten

Sharon Van Etten is the real deal, and Tramp is the first great album of 2012. It’s the album we waited for through dark winter days, and Tramp delivers on every promise made by Van Etten’s maddeningly short, cheekily titled debut album epic. You may have heard Van Etten deals in heartache. But blessedly, Tramp is devoid of whining. Van Etten avoids melodrama while spilling secrets and dreams and sadness that lesser artists would coat in cheap histrionics. Rarely are such powerful, poetic lyrics elevated so much by an artist’s voice. “You’re the reason I’ll move to the city or why I’ll need to leave,” she sings on early standout track “Give Out.” Her strength is writing lines in the present tense while imbuing the words with the seasoned voice of experience. It’s like she’s done what we’ve all wanted to do at one time or another: go back and relive some terrible experience with the chance to change the things that made it hurt so much. Her songs transport us backward in time. They give us options. And more often than not they remind us that changing those moments would fundamentally change the people we are today. She'll be here for a show with The War On Drugs on April 1.

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