JD Samson (Le Tigre, MEN) Talks CocoRosie’s Tales of a Grass Widow

This isn't my first review of a CocoRosie record. I have sat alone with my best headphones and thought. Just like this. And I have choreographed...

This isn’t my first review of a CocoRosie record. I have sat alone with my best headphones and thought. Just like this. And I have choreographed my fingertips along with each rhythm and drop, just like this… before.

So there is recognition first. I’m back. This works. Quickly eased into and had thought provoked by… this is CocoRosie acting as CocoRosie on their friendliest day. With genuine smiles and good strong hugs. And a big, deep, breath. Of course, not without their deepest, darkest glooms. But those are held for a moment. And you must wait for that reveal. Until it is safe.

Fuck. While the music is playing. The beat continues and I’m surprised but not surprised with. Antony. In the best way I know him. Friends. Good friends. Who are hugging him too. Beats steady. And for some reason I cried the last time I wrote a review for this band. This time it’s not because the songs are sad (per se). But because they are, well, strong. Enough for women. And I totally forgot about men.

Sounds as gritty as they are smooth, I’m addicted to the rhythms. They do a good job. With movement. From one kick drum to the next, sampled percussion finds its way from within each bar. They’re at half-time and I’m at double. Inching over every 1, headed too fast to the 2. And I keep getting tricked. But that’s what this band is about. Giving, taking. Teasing. In the art of most struggles, relationships, sex. Conversations. It’s a dance and one filled with effort. But that’s exactly what makes it art more than music.

Not only hearing progressions but words. Ideas and concepts. Layers. Building. Or breaking. And this. I’m rocking in my chair as the beats, surviving through the complicated jungle of ideas and dreams, that feel personal but somehow well understood.

And yes maybe there are moments of the obvious. This is the end of time, but to me, this is just what we need. A hymn of sorts. We can all sing together. Let’s just hug and say goodbye. Sadness meets delight and then quickly fades to silence. Conceptual but satisfying, and soon we are off to the next idea. Slammed into the one which we have lost the fight to. “The harmless monster.”

This is where the smoothest, easiest beat borrowed from r&b or hip-hop meets classical/experimental. We are allowed to recognize that rhythm. Feel it deep, and somehow it gets pulled out from under us. We are kept moving as their harmonies fill in the spaces where the beats have gone. And we are as vulnerable as they are. Moving. Without the beat. Only the memories. And we are off onto the next journey.

The innocence of nursery rhyme melds with the experimentation of women with confidence. Melodies dance with others from a different time. Child-like voices meld with adult understanding and try new things. Children face life as adults. They grow. And we do too. It stops just when you start. And it’s time to think…why? I congratulate CocoRosie on giving what they want. Instead of what you do. And masking it all like it’s what you wanted all along.

This isn’t a record in which you must find a single. It is a record in which you must listen as a single, human. And find yourself in each and every cavity. Peninsula. And each and every chapter of our time. Your time. Alone.

As a lover of beats and rhythms I am purely satiated. And as a conceptual artist I am set to work. My brain and ears can finally labor together, and for this I am free. As a thinker, this isn’t a record I will listen to quietly in the background. This is a record I will listen to and discuss internally. A record that feels me listening to it and keeps me at bay. Making eye contact from across the room without letting anyone notice.

But for the rest. Perhaps. The perfect sound for listening while you work. Or working while you are listening. It can be both somehow. And that is the feat.

I’m thinking. Two sisters. Their harmonies fit together like they were meant to be. And their memories. Same literal happenings, different experiences. They fit together somehow in this easy puzzle that rests gently on each other. Rubs up against the other. But then gets released into the wave of the fit. And again we are simply laying, and our heads are rocking as they are. Were. And will continue to do.

What I feel like I’m left with at the end is a record that is deeper than the shallow I usually hear. A land that’s happy to have its vital organs back. And I’m happy because for thinkers we have lost a lot of artists to the game and this is… a game well played.

JD Samson is a musician/producer/artist living in Brooklyn. She is one third of feminist punk band Le Tigre and lead singer of the band MEN. She currently teaches at the Clive Davis School of Recorded music at NYU. You can follow her on Twitter here.