On her album Marry Me, St. Vincent sang, "I'm walking through landmines" in an effort to describe the feeling of pacing through a devastating love affair.
Now, a decade later on her new LP Daddy's Home, St. Vincent is still placing the sharp, piercing angst of emotion into songs that are both delicate and explosive. Here, she's smoother and sleazier than perhaps ever before, blending a barefooted California ambiance with sordid New York gloom. Daddy's Home is a relentlessly sultry album that feels vaguely reminiscent of a snake lying coiled in wait, a vixen waiting in the wings to jump on a married man, or a landmine waiting to explode.
St. Vincent — AKA Annie Clark — has metamorphosed into so many characters across her career and her music that it's hard to keep track of them all. She's been an android-like LA starlet and a "near-future cult leader." She's been the subject of many a thinkpiece conspiracy, famously giving interviewers a hard time and also often fielding rapacious editorializing of her life.
From her relationship with Cara Delevigne to her position as the archetypal "woman in rock" to the brief controversy that swirled when it was revealed that her father was involved in a $43 million stock manipulation scheme, St. Vincent has always been a character.
And yet she's also always been the one writing the story and holding the camera. On this album, she shapeshifts yet again, this time stopping along the way to directly address her most personal fear and shame and becoming more powerful for that.
Call Her Daddy
The album's title, Daddy's Home, is perhaps a reference to the fact that Clark's father was just released after spending 10 years in prison. But it's clear that here St. Vincent is also referring to herself as "daddy," with all the layers and levels of power that entails. On the title track, she sings, "Yeah, you did some time, well I did some time too." She isn't a victim, and she's also no angel.
She's also not one to shy away from the grit and detritus of daily life — the hard partying, the drunken mornings, and the tangles of regret and love that spin through each of these songs, which span wildly different themes but often return to the grit and glamour of 1970s New York, in its equal parts beauty and terror.
In promotions, St. Vincent framed this album as her deep dive into '70s soul, and this is most definitely the case. One of its highlights is the extraordinary six minute opus-like "Live in the Dream," a song that instantly evokes comparisons to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon in its masterful use of effervescent synths and trippy guitar.
It seems to be about finding someone you love passed out on the floor, holding them in your arms and nursing them back to life. As she drones, "I can't live in the dream / the dream lives in me," you feel both her ache and her power. Perhaps they are the same, drawing strength from each other.
Coincidentally or not, she name drops "dark side of the moon" on the next song, the aptly named "The Melting of the Sun." The song is apocalyptic enough to be a successful metaphor for the climate crisis, yet it's also studded with reference to the psychedelic greats of the 1960s and to some of the most powerful female artists in history. Joni Mitchell is name-dropped alongside Marilyn Monroe and Nina Simone, and ultimately the song is a tribute to women who have spoken out about systems of power.
St. Vincent - The Melting Of The Sun (Official Video) www.youtube.com
For all its drama and benzo-faded haziness and masculine energy, the album feels strongest when it's about feminine power and growth. When St. Vincent sings, "Girl, you can't give in now / When you're down, down and out," you can't help but feel genuinely uplifted.
Throughout the album, she plays with vintage iconography and feminine archetypes — the shameful high-heeled return home on the downtown train, or the march to the wedding in the white dress. And yet you get the feeling nothing is too serious, and nothing is permanent.
St. Vincent - Down (Official Video) www.youtube.com
On the last track of the album, she calls forth another legend of '70s New York. The track "Candy Darling" is about Candy Darling, the actress and trans woman who served as a muse for Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground, among others, inspiring Lou Reed's iconic "Candy Says."
"I just got pretty obsessed with her," St. Vincent told NME. "I had a friend who was friends with her, and was at her bedside when she died, and I just started thinking about her. I just kept picturing that we were all on the platform seeing her off and she was taking that last uptown train to heaven, slow motion waving with the tiniest bit of subway wind in her hair." Elsewhere, she said, "I just kind of became obsessed with her version of grace."
On "The Laughing Man," a druggy and oceanic ballad that sparkles with backing vocals, she sings an instantly iconic lyric, "If I'm dying, I'm gonna die laughing." Laughter and death are friends here, sitting side by side in the back of a smoky bar. Everything is ephemeral: identity, gender roles, time. Sometimes you just have to have a little fun with it, St. Vincent seems to say here. Put on the mask, and join the dance.
A Summer of Love and Longing
Musically, Daddy's Home is St. Vincent at the top of her game, channelling Bowie with one arm, Pink Floyd on the other, and merging it all with some of the wild abandon of Fiona Apple's Fetch the Bolt Cutters.
Produced by none other than Jack Antonoff, the album is a swirl of massive synths, sitars, beachy guitars, and ambient vocals that sometimes sound like gospel hymns, other times like screams. It's music made for dancing and sobbing all at once, or perhaps both at the same time. The slow-burning "My Baby Wants a Baby" is perhaps one of the bitchiest danceable numbers in recent memory.
It's hard to pin any of it down into a single narrative. There's something cinematic about it all, something undeniably retro and classic, and maybe that's the point: She's reflecting on her childhood, her father, and the bygone days of glam '70s New York and psychedelic 70s California. She is the film star and the pill-popping mother, the young musician who doesn't want to be a father and the criminal father. If she was once walking on landmines, this album is St. Vincent walking through the ruins of a past explosion, recalling those sensations and channeling the scars they left into song.
And yet somehow, this disjointed retro blur feels perfectly suited to our current moment. "[It's] post-flower-child idealism, but it's pre-disco," Clark said of her inspirations for the record. "It's this period of time that I feel like is analogous to where we are now. We're in the grimy, sleazy, trying-to-figure-out-where-we-go-from-here period."
As we emerge into a summer of post-vaccine love, there's a lot of trauma and growing to be done, and lot of love to give and find amidst it all. It might be too inaccessible to fully embed itself in the tapestry of cultural memory, but if Daddy's Home becomes a classic album of this time in history, it wouldn't be all that surprising.
Amidst all the pills and jewels and speed and longing, there's a strange but true kind of love to be found on this album, and perhaps in this moment in time as we reunite after so long. "You can't hide, no you can't hide from me," St. Vincent sings on "...At The Holiday Party." After a year of hiding, the lights of others' perceptions might feel blinding; they might call forth ghosts of our past. The best we can ask for is rich and elastic music to guide us through the ride into the future.
UFOs or UAPs have been observed for decades without a clear explanation. Will we finally get one next month?
On Sunday night, an episode of 60 Minutes aired that has since brought an old debate back to light.
Multiple former Navy pilots and the one-time head of the Pentagon's since-abandoned Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) appeared on the show to share accounts of their personal encounters and their broader thoughts on apparent flying objects that seem to defy our understanding of the physics of aerospace.
Navy pilots describe encounters with UFOs www.youtube.com
While they didn't reveal anything that enthusiasts on the topic didn't already know, the consensus among them seems to be that we, as a society, have been overlooking something very real, mysterious, and potentially dangerous. The UFOs in question move like no known aircraft — several times faster than any jet and able to reverse directions on a dime.
The way they move is almost unfathomable. It's far beyond the theoretical limits of what a pilot could even survive — a human pilot, anyway.
As seems to happen every few months of late — when a new video of a flying "tic tac" comes out, or when a former Israeli "Space Security Chief" claims that the US government is in contact with a "galactic federation" — social media lit up with talk of aliens. By Monday morning, "UFOs" was trending on Twitter, with the trend summarized in part by the phrase "a debate about the existence of UFOs reignites."
But that's not right at all. There is no debate as to whether UFOs exist — we know for a fact that they do. The only debate is over what they are.
UFOs and UAPs
In fairness to Twitter, for a long time the official position on the topic of "Unidentified Flying Objects" was silence, leading to conspiracy theories about "men in black" covering up the truth. Neither the military nor the government of the United States was willing to acknowledge that there was anything flying around that we didn't fully understand. Strange, inexplicable objects moving through the sky were the stuff of crackpot theories and hushed pilot stories.
But that level of secrecy is no longer tenable. Since 2017, when Christopher Mellon, a former high-level defense department official, shared declassified videos of UFOs — more officially referred to as "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena" (UAPs) — with The New York Times, it has become impossible to deny that pilots commonly encounter things that we can't yet explain.
Two former pilots speaking with 60 Minutes described seeing an object that seemed to be engaging with a patch of roiling ocean. As they watched, it suddenly changed directions, rose up to meet them, then vanished — only to reappear on radar moments later...at a distance of 60 miles.
While that's a particularly dramatic example, Lieutenant Ryan Graves claims encounters with UAPs of various descriptions occur on a daily basis along the Atlantic coast of the US. Whether that's entirely accurate, it's common for pilots to see strange things around them in the sky, sometimes seeming to perform impossible aerial maneuvers.
On their face, these stories seem far more credible than your average claim of alien abduction. But without clear evidence in the form of videos and various forms of detection, it would be easy to dismiss these experiences as some form of illusion.
After all, atmospheric refraction has been known to cause the sun to appear in the middle of the polar night, and rare air currents can transform a cloud into the shape of a flying saucer. Certain frequencies of vibration — perhaps produced by jet engines or the rush of air past a fuselage — can vibrate the fluid inside an eyeball, causing people to see strange phantoms at the edges of their vision, and the movement of flight can be so disorienting that pilots are commonly made to feel that down is up.
There is so much that is strange about moving at hundreds of miles an hour through the high atmosphere — so much that is unlike the everyday, earthbound human experience — that it would almost be shocking if pilots didn't have some crazy stories. But when those crazy stories are backed up by video and, even more significantly, by radar and infrared detection, it's past time to take them seriously.
Aliens or Enemies?
But what the hell could possibly move the way these things do? The answer — for a lot of people — is aliens. The technology to defy everything we know about the physics of aircraft is necessarily so far beyond what we're capable of that the very concept of UFOs has long been synonymous with alien spacecraft.
As Luis Elizondo, the former head of the Pentagon's AATIP program, put it: "Imagine a technology that can do 6-700 g-forces, that can fly at 13,000 miles per hour, that can evade radar, and that can fly through air, and water, and possibly space. And oh, by the way has no obvious signs of propulsion, no wings, no control surfaces, and yet still can defy the natural effects of earth's gravity — that's precisely what we're seeing."
But wait, weren't we just using radar as proof that these objects exist? Now they can evade radar?
What Radar Jamming Has to Do with UFOs www.youtube.com
While some of the objects pilots have observed are either corroborated or only detectable at all by the most advanced forms of radar detection, others have only been observed visually. So…some aliens can evade radar and others can't? Is it the difference between an alien in a Nissan and an alien in a Maclaren?
Then again, not everyone involved agrees that we should be taking the possibility of aliens seriously. In the opinion of former Navy pilot Lieutenant Ryan Graves — who witnessed one of these objects himself off the Atlantic coast — "the highest probability is that it's a threat observation program." And he's not counting out adversarial nations like Russia and China.
Could it be that other nations, or perhaps our own military, have developed secret technology so advanced that we can't even understand what we're looking at? That the frameworks of ordinary aerospace technology don't even apply?
Maybe the Pentagon itself is concealing a breakthrough on the level of the Manhattan Project and hiding the expenditures in the wildly inflated budget of the F-35. Or maybe, if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
In other words, maybe pilots and military officials are not the people best equipped to assess these phenomena. By default, they tend to look at the little information we have about UAPs from a military or an aviation perspective.
To some extent, that makes sense. The only things we know of that maneuver through the sky at high speeds are military aircraft. But then again, is maneuver even the right word? How do we know these phenomena are moving this way on purpose?
Ancient peoples saw flashes of lighting and observed the crack of thunder and ascribed intention to them. Gods living in the sky were angry and were taking their anger out on the Earth, hurling destruction down at the world.
Now we have a better explanation: the buildup of static charge within a cloud, discharging into the Earth, and converting the air along its path into plasma. Whether or not we as individuals really understand the details of that process, we accept that this is the science of lightning, and we feel smug and smirk at stories about Zeus and Thor.
But what about the "flames of hell" that tore apart a church in the English countryside in 1683? Witnesses described a massive ball of fire entering the church in the midst of a thunderstorm, destroying pews and sending stones flying, before splitting in two, one half bursting through the window while the other disappeared inside the church.
Is there a scientific explanation for that? Well, maybe…
Ball lightning is a rare and little-understood phenomena in which "lightning" seems to form a ball, that can be tiny or huge, and have been observed entering homes, moving freely through windows, and either dissipating harmlessly or exploding violently. In 2014, ball lightning was even observed inside the cabin of a passenger plane in the UK just before lightning struck the plane's nose.
Generally occurring during electrical storms, there are a lot of theories of what ball lightning might be. But it's such a rare occurrence that scientific observation has been all but impossible.
In the early 2000s one lab demonstrated a possible explanation for ball lightning as a spinning ring of plasma contained by its own magnetic field. But then in 2014 Chinese researchers managed to get a spectrograph reading of what they think was ball lightning and found that it was composed of vaporized silicon, iron, and calcium — basically dirt turned into a glowing, high-energy ball of gas by a lightning strike.
Ball Lightning: Weather's Biggest Mystery | Answers With Joe www.youtube.com
To put it simply, we really don't know what ball lightning is. There are a number of theories, but nothing resembling a scientific consensus, and it's entirely possible that the term ball lightning could refer to multiple phenomena.
Because we don't know what it is, there's room for wild speculation from "flames of hell" to gaseous dirt, or hell, why not aliens — weird, spherical, exploding aliens.
The Endless Variety of Uncertainty
There's such a tremendous amount about the universe that we don't know that, if we want to, we could find evidence of aliens all around us. And with the vastness of space that surrounds our little solar system, it would be silly to assume that there aren't other civilizations out there somewhere.
But that uncertainty cuts both ways. Because there's so much we don't know — how rare life is, how difficult to achieve interstellar travel compared to other technologies, etc. — it's impossible to say whether it's more likely that we're being visited by aliens from distant worlds, advanced military spy drones, or time travelers from some far-flung future.
For that matter, UFOs could be humans from a utopian dimension where Al Gore was president, teenagers playing The Sims 36, or just a variety of atmospheric phenomena like ball lightning that may continue to elude our attempts to understand them for decades to come. For all we know, reality could be far stranger than we give it credit for, and it could be all of the above.
All we can be certain of is that we don't know, which is what makes UFOs/UAPs so interesting. But jumping to the conclusion that it must be aliens is no more sensible than blaming Thor when lightning strikes.
As Luis Elizondo put it to CBS's Bill Whitaker, "In some cases there are simple explanations for what people are witnessing, but … when you have exhausted all those what-ifs, and you're still left with the fact that this is in our air space and it's real, that's when it becomes compelling, and that's when it becomes problematic."
Last year the Pentagon relaunched its investigation into UFOs — now renamed the UAP Task Force — and the Senate Intelligence Committee has requested that the Director of National Intelligence and the Pentagon deliver a detailed, unclassified analysis to congress by next month. Whether that analysis will provide any answers remains to be seen.
- Aliens Are Real, Says Israeli Space Official - Popdust ›
- An Open Letter to the Aliens: Please Help Us - trueself ›
The legendary new age singer celebrates her 60th birthday today
Enya Ni Bhraonain deserves more flowers.
The iconic New Age singer remains, aside from U2, the biggest artist to ever emerge out of Ireland. Born into a musical family, Enya debuted in 1980 as the keyboardist and backing vocalist for Celtic folk band Clannad. Two years later she set off on her own and started working on her signature fusion of new age, folk, and classical music.From there she exploded. Her albums Shephard Moon, The Memory of Trees, and A Day Without Rain went on to sell millions of copies, the latter still standing tall as the highest-selling New Age album of all time. All that's not to mention she's been nominated for both a Golden Globe and Academy Award, cited as an influence by Nicki Minaj, and has sung her songs in over ten different languages. As we honor this absolute living legend on her 60th birthday, here are some of her songs that still absolutely slap.
Off her sophomore studio album Watermark, "Exile" puts Enya's cooing voice front and center. Starting off in a brooding minor key, Enya's voice builds and sweeps into a satisfying burst of blissful optimism by the track's chorus. "I'll wait the signs to come, I'll find a way," she howls. While much of Enya's discography feels bogged down by layers of instrumentation, "Exile's" minimalist backdrop serves as the perfect breeze to gently push Enya's voice along, and that flute solo is as epic as Frodo's journey into Mordor.
May It Be
Speaking of which, Enya's contribution to The Lord of the Rings soundtrack was truly epic. The closer for the trilogy's first film The Fellowship of the Ring, "May It Be" once again prioritizes Enya's soothing voice, with nothing but gentle strings fluttering behind her. Once again, she starts off minor then goes major, erupting into a restrained but uplifting chorus that perfectly encapsulates the ethos of LOTR.
One of Enya's biggest tracks, "Orinoco Flow," sparkles like fairy dust, the plucking pizzicato strings and infectious chorus create a wave of occult sounds as Enya saturates them in reverb. The track's best moment comes at its two-minute mark when the track breaks down into nothing more than light synths and Enya's multi-layered coos. It then switches back into the buoyant chorus without missing a step. All in all, "Orinoco Flow" is a transporting experience.
Another track off her legendary fifth record A Day Without Rain, "Lazy Days" basks in that lazy Sunday vibe in epic new age fashion as Enya sings "Lazy days, rolling away, dreaming the day away, don't want to go, now that I'm in that flow, crazy amazing day." Judging by the lyrics, it also partially sounds like Enya's having a mental breakdown, but I'm sure she's fine.
A fan favorite, the best part about "Carribean Blue" is probably how Enya's fans describe it. "That song resonates so close to the vibration of heaven," one Reddit fan said. Another song that's enveloped in reverb, this one features Enya's voice soaring over plucks of electric guitar and a steady pluck of a harpsichord. What's sick is that the song is just about how blue the sky is — "Caribbean Blue," to be exact. If you need a song to help you appreciate life, "Caribbean Blue" is a worthy contender.
Another masterful Enya track, "Only Time" is arguably her most well-known track. Off her iconic album A Day Without Rain, the track was frequently adopted by grieving American audiences after the attacks of 9/11, and was heavily used on multiple radio and television networks during coverage of the tragedy's aftermath. The theme behind the song still resonates and is still just as applicable today. I mean, who CAN really say where the road goes, or where the day flows, anyways?