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Janelle Monae: The ArchAndroid


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#1 Tyler

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 05:49 PM

My brother turned me on to Monae's Metropolis EP (yes, inspired by the Fritz Lang movie) last year, and this NPR story about her upcoming full-length project "The ArchAndroid" has me interested. It sounds like she's continuing in the same vein musically and thematically that she established with "Metropolis." You can listen to the entire album on her MySpace page right now, presumably only until it's released officially next week.

#2 Andy Whitman

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 09:25 AM

No comments on this one, even though the Album of the Year coronation is pretty much a foregone conclusion? Don't believe me? This is the highest-rated album on metacritic in several years.

So I'll open the comments by stating that I'm the wrong person to be commenting about this album. I'm simply not a fan of groove-oriented R&B, at least as it's been practiced since, oh, the dawn of disco. But I'll qualify that by noting that I am nevertheless extremely impressed by the ambition of this album. It's huge in every way, from its epic length, to its ridiculously absurd sci-fi concept, to its utter mastery of genres as seemingly disparate as classical, hip-hop, prog rock, doo-wop, and heavy metal. I just wish I had more love for dance-oriented music. As it stands, my guess is that this is as jaw-droppingly creative as it ever gets.

#3 Josh Hurst

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 12:38 PM

I like it pretty well. To me it sounds like Prince by way of Stankonia, with some showtunes thrown in to boot. Not all of it works-- particularly not the Of Montreal song-- and I'm not sure what it's all supposed to mean, but its boundless energy and sustained momentum make it very impressive indeed.

#4 Scholar's Parrot

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 10:56 PM

Her performance on Letterman last night was electric:

http://www.soulcultu...etterman-video/

I'm loving this album, too. But yes, not so sure about the Of Montreal song.

#5 techne

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 10:59 PM

saw her on letterman last night (a lot of james brown-isms) and she was fun!

#6 Greg P

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 11:20 PM

That Letterman appearance was one of the most electric performances I've seen in a long, long time. That band was out of control awesome-- I mean I haven't heard a rhythm section like that in ages-- and she was on fire.

#7 Tyler

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 07:44 AM

Letterman used to have a running gag with the James Brown cape thing, too.

#8 Josh Hurst

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Posted 23 May 2010 - 02:43 PM

The ArchAndroid comes with several handy, built-in reference points: She’s currently touring with Erykah Badu, with whom she shares a rather kooky and eccentric view of what soul and R&B music entail, and her album features a spot for Big Boi, which makes sense given how Stankonia‘s molten energy and electric thump seem to fuel parts of this album. More than anyone else, though, I’m reminded of Prince– specifically, the Purple One in all the rambling, ramshackle glory of a record like Sign O’ the Times via the arty structuring of Parade, wherein Monae’s songs veer wildly off the beaten path without ever derailing the album or slowing its momentum, swinging furiously from funk to rock, from hip-hop to European folk, all with the theatrical spin of a Broadway geek and the natural sophistication of a studious composer. What has garnered Monae’s album so much attention is its wide-ranging eclecticism, but what makes it so easy to love is how effortless and graceful it all seems.

That’s particularly surprising given its high-concept structure as a song cycle loosely based around the early sci-fi landmark film Metropolis– just the kind of cinematic focal point that one could imagine inspiring a Prince album, only to be basically discarded once the songs begin to tell their own story, which is somewhat the case with The ArchAndroid, a piece that does make some references to its sci-fi origins but mostly exists on its own terms as its own story, a set of songs that kinda-sorta revolve around themes of self-discovery and, in its second act, the search for love. It’s broad and archetypal in a way that leaves room for plenty of flights of fancy on Monae’s part but occasionally leaves the record feeling like its flash and glamor are in service of themes that are simply stretched too thin here; then again, I’m content calling the album style for style’s sake, and on those terms it’s quite a feast.

#9 Joel

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Posted 17 June 2010 - 12:49 PM



OK, I'm pretty sure I need to get this record. I can't stop thinking about this awesome video for "Tightrope."

#10 Tyler

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Posted 24 July 2010 - 10:51 AM

I swear I can hear music from Sherlock Holmes in the "Suite II Overture."

#11 Tyler

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Posted 14 August 2010 - 09:45 AM

And I *love* the Maya Deren references in the official video.


I didn't catch that before.

Monae on the meaning of "Tightrope":

[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4AE7r51Dqc&feature=related"]http://www.youtube.c...feature=related[/url]

#12 Josh Hurst

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Posted 14 August 2010 - 09:48 AM

Interesting to note that, according to MetaCritic, the two highest-reviewed albums of the year are Janelle Monae's-- which features Big Boi-- and Big Boi's, which features Janelle Monae. Guess we know who the king and queen of 2010 are.

#13 Josh Hurst

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Posted 18 August 2010 - 05:03 PM

I've gone from merely enjoying and appreciating this album to really loving it; it is, indeed, one of the most blindingly ambitious and creative albums of the year.

And I'm going to be, I think, the first person to say this: The song with Of Montreal-- derided by critics everywhere as the album's one weak link-- is really not that bad at all. In fact, I'm fairly amazed at how well it works within the fabric of this album.

#14 Joel

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Posted 30 May 2011 - 03:39 PM

Currently killing it on tour.



#15 Tyler

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Posted 30 May 2011 - 03:52 PM

She's going to be in Indianapolis (an hour away from me) in September, opening for Katy Perry. Posted Image

Edited by Tyler, 30 May 2011 - 03:59 PM.


#16 Ryan H.

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Posted 30 May 2011 - 04:55 PM

She's going to be in Indianapolis (an hour away from me) in September, opening for Katy Perry. Posted Image

Weird.

I need to see Monae in concert. She's tremendous.

Edited by Ryan H., 30 May 2011 - 04:55 PM.


#17 Scholar's Parrot

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Posted 30 May 2011 - 05:28 PM

Currently killing it on tour.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWhgjbKLCNg&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL


My. God. I must see this live.

#18 Joel

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Posted 30 May 2011 - 05:54 PM

She's going to be in Indianapolis (an hour away from me) in September, opening for Katy Perry. Posted Image


In almost every review I've read of Monae's tours -- specifically one she did opening for Of Montreal, and the current one with Bruno Mars -- the critics have opined something to the effect that the other bands shouldn't have even bothered taking the stage after her.

#19 Tyler

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Posted 30 May 2011 - 06:55 PM


She's going to be in Indianapolis (an hour away from me) in September, opening for Katy Perry. Posted Image


In almost every review I've read of Monae's tours -- specifically one she did opening for Of Montreal, and the current one with Bruno Mars -- the critics have opined something to the effect that the other bands shouldn't have even bothered taking the stage after her.


That's the impression I've gotten, too. If it ends up getting Monae a larger audience than she would by headlining smaller venues, then good for her. But I would really like to see her do a full live set, not an abbreviated opening one.

#20 Joel

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Posted 04 June 2011 - 01:56 AM

I just paid fifty dollars to watch Janelle Monae (with a 16 piece band) play for one hour.

It was worth it.

That is all.