I’m just as surprised as you are about this one…the year end list continues: Grimes/Visions
Let me begin this one by chronicling my relationship with this record. It all started, how everything in my life started, on the radio. Sirius XMU was playing “Genesis” over and over in heavy rotation. Then “Oblivion” joined it in the running for song I was most annoyed by this year. (Winner of that contest still undecided.) I ignored Grimes for a long time, having originally read about Claire Boucher as a Canadian with long blonde hair. Yup. That’s what it was in the beginning. I also remember seeing this photo EVERYWHERE and thinking it was dumb (yeah, well, I kind of still do.) Later I heard friends talking about her and then I bumped into my sister’s college friends at Radio City Music Hall when I was seeing JACK WHITE (yeah, apparently you can still ‘run into people’ in a city of 8.5 million). They told me their other big live show of the year was seeing Grimes. “We like her record, but we want to see what she’s like live.” Interesting take. I’ve seen some chillwave artists live and they were both HUGE mistakes: (Washed Out and I’m almost ashamed to admit that I, yes, have seen Youth Lagoon live. UGH. It was awful.) Toro Y Moi could be considered in the running of chillwave, although I’ve seen him twice and he kills it. (He is playing DC’s 930 Club in February for $20. FYI.) Although I’ve never seen a DJ/producer/electronic artist – whatever you want to call her – live. And after my recent effort at live hip hop and the above mentioned efforts, it seems unlikely. The music Grimes makes is either for strong drugs in clubs (ha!) or highway driving. I choose the latter. But that’s just me.
Back to Boucher, who is from Vancouver. She recently hosted afternoons with Jenny Eliscu on Sirius XMU and Eliscu asked her if she ever planned to work with a producer. She simply replied, which still makes me laugh, “I am a producer.” She played a ton of great music, too. None of which, of course, I can recall.
What made me go back to this record? It might have been that I discovered Boucher also did the cover art for Visions. I’ve always been drawn to ‘strange’ art, like Tim Burton and Ralph Steadman. Or maybe it’s because I try to be fair to all/most/some records and I always give them a second and third go-around. I started putting on Visions and it suited nicely as background music. It wasn’t until I heard the too short (at 1:48) track “Eight” [below] and it became my favorite. The song sounds down right terrifying, until her angelic vocals catch up to the track. It makes me want to thrash my body and also set it to an opening scene of any movie dollying across a landscape. Then I found a quote that perfectly sums up how I am feeling (and how we are are feeling) about her music. “[It is] the marriage between the voice of a human and the heartbeat of a machine.” Perfect.
She spent time working herself out on two previous records, Halfaxa and Geidi Primes. I recently listened to both of them. They aren’t as developed. Her songs hadn’t taken a shape on these records, they were more experimental and less focused. So it sent me right back to Visions, where she gets the big picture. For a week or so I couldn’t stop listening to this record. Over and over. Like many favorite records of the past, I came late to the game. But hey, at least I showed up.
Visions came out in January and has been talked about a whole lot since then. It’s been everywhere from on the radio (Sirius XMU and Alt Nation play it. I cannot speak for FM radio on this record or genre. It doesn’t seem like their ‘thing’.) We’ve seen Boucher frequent Stereogum, Pitchfork, and NME. Hell, even Rolling Stone put her on their year end list – while SPIN strangely didn’t (they’ve been making some strange choices. Also: their JACK WHITE choices aren’t good enough.) Have you listened to the lyrics from the single “Oblivion”? I’m beginning to get lost in them: Another walk about/After dark/It’s my point of view/That someone could break your neck/Coming up behind you/always coming and you never have a clue.
Boucher’s popularity, talent, and her ability to keep people captivated makes her seem old, like a fine wine. But she’s not. She’s 24. Every time she surfaces, it is with something more. Something more to challenge our eyes and our ears.
Watch the video for “Genesis.” Boucher is up front about being weird. She makes me want to grow my hair long. And maybe wave a sword around. But more importantly, everything about this video makes me like her even more. She is honest, strange, and beautiful. She’s Grimes.