Mo Kenney, Gabrielle Papillon and Jessie Brown make the personal the priority on the year’s best records.
Mo Kenney is reserved and unassuming, a quietly quick wit. She saves it for the stage, as the saying goes—her demeanour is not one of meekness or deference to any of the men in her band, but of a measured confidence that borders on laconic until she leans into her guitar, a 1965 Mustang she had painted powder-blue. Her playing evokes all the cheesy guitar words—”rips,” “shreds,” “wails”—but really it’s astonishingly dexterous and decidedly modest.
On September 29 Kenney released The Details, her third album with Joel Plaskett producing, and it is something new for her—scrappier and more electric, but also weirder. There are 14 songs; only two creep past three minutes, and five are under two minutes, punk-style.
“There’s a lot of records that have short songs like that, that I really like; that it kind of transports me to a different world, it’s not just like regular songs all the way through,” she says over a beer, flagging Guided By Voices’ Bee Thousand and Seth Smith’s New Problems as examples.
She demoed most of the songs—some have a Sufjan Stevens-like voice-memo quality—before heading into The New Scotland Yard with Plaskett last year. “I’m not comfortable that easily with people,” she says, “so it’s nice to feel comfortable doing that, something so personal.” [READ MORE]