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Antony & the Johnsons
I Am a Bird Now
It’s easy to dismiss Antony as just the latest over-hyped outsider artist. Between the high-profile guests on Bird, the UK Mercury Prize for album of the year and the recent celebrity-packed concert at Carnegie Hall, it’s all become a bit much. Still, you just can’t disregard his voice. Like the gender-ambiguous spawn of Nina Simone and a theramin, it gives each of his gospel-infused songs a despairing, childlike quality. His tenderhearted wailing won’t appeal to everyone, but at least it’s unlike anything you’ve heard before.
Before the Poison
With all the hard drugs, disastrous love, and the wreckage of stardom, it’s no secret that the rock’n’roll lifestyle is a tough one. Marianne Faithfull fits the bill of rock survivor like a black leather glove, and her newest proves her stronger and darker in the aftermath. Collaborations with PJ Harvey, Nick Cave, and Jon Brion help showcase Marianne’s new-found mastery over the wizened, barren sound of having seen too much. Solid production rounds it off as her best album in decades.