On Alewife,” Clairo sings of the time a friend stopped her from committing suicide in eighth grade, and though the lyrics hold a heartfelt bluntness on their own, it wouldn’t cut as deep if her voice wasn’t so consoling and nonjudgmental.
clairo pretty girl – Immunity Review A Winning Debut
Clairo—aka 20-year-old Claire Cottrill—has been through a lot already. Unfortunately, the album doesn’t offer a definitive conclusion on that front either way, as its highs—vintage Crazy Horse guitar workouts, a small handful of charmingly intimate ballads—are intermittently marred by the same sort of problems that have characterized Young’s recent solo work. This includes particularly tuneless vocals and a tendency toward clunky, Facebook uncle-level environmentalist and political ranting. An accompanying making-of fly-on-the-wall documentary, Mountaintop, is similarly schizophrenic, seemingly devoting about as much time to Crazy Horse effortlessly falling into their usual groove as it does to a cranky Young chewing out his engineers over a faulty monitor.
It’s the kind of song — with so many emotional vectors, so much technical vision — that’s going to mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, despite its specific subject matter. For me, it’s the way it captures the colossal, frightening intimacy of an interdependent relationship. For someone else, the casual tone of her lyrics, despite the song’s sonic weight, might speak to the comical senselessness of physical suffering and the way it can complicate love.
There’s a slight defensive streak to several tracks that could well be the result of suspicions about Clairo’s success so far. After Pretty Girl” took off, some observers pointed with disdain to the fact that her father has worked as a high-level marketing executive for Coca-Cola and Converse — youth-oriented brands whose dark arts of persuasion, the thinking went, likely informed her seemingly off-the-cuff presentation.
Claire was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the daughter of marketing executive Geoff Cottrill. According to her, “Pretty Girl” was inspired by 1980s pop music, and that although she was tagged with the “bedroom pop” label, it was not her intention to make that style of music. After the popularity of “Pretty Girl”, Clairo signed a record contract with Fader.
Less than a week after finishing her freshman year at Syracuse University, the singer, songwriter and producer Claire Cottrill, who performs as Clairo, was in the back seat of a chauffeured S.U.V., eating Chick-fil-A and living out the surprising mundanity of her music-industry dreams.
Gira reportedly approached the recording of Leaving Meaning differently than he did recent Swans efforts: Instead of having a set band, he recorded these songs with a collection of musicians picked to bring each to life as he envisioned it. But despite the shift in method, the album sounds much like the group’s last few outings. The songs fall somewhere between drone and folk, like standard ballads played by a band from hell. Rhythms plod and melodies buzz, affecting the listener physically like infrasound. In the band’s early days, Gira sang with a throat-shredding intensity that made him sound like an exploding demon, but here he’s adopted a different persona, singing without affect, like a grim archivist of the apocalypse.
As well as connecting her with Dave Fridmann – famed producer to MGMT and The Flaming Lips, who gave a grizzly guitar-driven mix to ‘North’ and ‘Sofia’ – Rostam also recruited another of Clairo’s musical idols, Danielle Haim, to play drums (on ‘Sofia’, ‘Impossible’, and ‘Bags’).
For the next few years, while attending a Boston-area high school, Cottrill uploaded modest covers and snippets of songs she’d written herself to websites like Bandcamp and SoundCloud Her musical heroes were the wry indie songwriter Frankie Cosmos, the velvet-voiced crooner Norah Jones, and, eventually, the DIY rap collective Brockhampton. YouTube, in particular, became a secret space” for Cottrill and her music. This might seem paradoxical, given that it was the platform by which she made her videos visible to the public, but few enough people watched them that her YouTube channel felt like a semi-private diary. And anyway she didn’t talk much about it with her friends, so she could cultivate a persona a little different from the one she had at school. Then, one day last summer, something unexpected happened. One of her videos went viral.
In those respects, Clairo’s latest record Immunity,” her first full-length album, is quite the opposite. The cuts on Immunity” do not pop out so much as they glide from one to the next. At its best, this stylistic approach solidifies an emotional arc that befits a full-length project. Just as Clairo lets the album lull in the outro to Softly,” she pulls listeners back in with a powerful guitar intro to Sofia.” But at its worst, this approach renders some of the album’s tracks forgettable. Her song North,” which blends electronic music and guitar rock, gets lost between Closer to You” and Bags,” which each focus on either the former or the latter quality, respectively. In addition to her pacing, Clairo has also upended her production style. Out are her Casio drum beats and muffled vocals, in are refined harmonies and lush soundscapes.
Beyoncé’s The Lion King: The Gift debuts at #2 with 54,000 units and 11,000 in sales. It’s her ninth top 10 album as a solo artist and third in 2019 alone following the live album Homecoming and her 2016 opus Lemonade, which surged back up the charts after being released to non-Tidal streaming services. She’s the second artist to land multiple albums in the top 10 this year following Future, who did it with The WIZRD and his Save Me EP. The rest of the top 10 comprises albums from Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X, J. Cole’s Dreamville crew, Chris Brown, Lizzo, Khalid, Post Malone, and — entering at #10 with 23,000 units and 12,000 sales — Nas’ The Lost Tapes 2. It’s his 13th top 10 album.
It wasn’t long before she was hanging with Billie Eilish and Mallrat , but as happens with many Gen Z stars whose popularity escalates rapidly, Clairo’s artistic credibility started being scrutinised. Questions were raised about whether somebody was doing the heavy-lifting for her; gendered suspicions that frankly wouldn’t have happened if she was a young dude.
BK: It was more of pop-punk phase! I listened to a lot of Green Day and Blink-182. Man, I still love Green Day though. That whole Dookie album rocks. I still love the Smashing Pumpkins, too. I don’t think my playlist has changed a lot.
The immediate honesty is also Cottrill’s way of reintroducing herself to a world that already thought it knew who she was. Two years ago, Cottrill went viral with bedroom pop song Pretty Girl,” and its lo-fi webcam-esque video. Its tongue-in-cheek feminist message (I could be a pretty girl, shut up when you want me to”) has now clocked up almost 40 million views on YouTube, but Cottrill never checks on those numbers. She hasn’t for a very long time. Her career wasn’t supposed to happen this way. She made the song in an instant, and uploaded it just as quickly.
Wilco gets a lot of credit for being weirder than they actually are. Incorporating elements of genres ranging from krautrock to electronica, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost Is Born —two of the most indelible rock album of the aughts—suggested the band would continue to evolve beyond their alt-country origins. Since 2007’s Sky Blue Sky , though, they’ve pretty much been returning to the same well over and over again, blending together light electronic elements and straightforward rock structures, with guitar pyrotechnics thrown in to show off Nels Cline’s undeniable chops.
Singer-songwriter Sidney Gish is another local who’s built a career independently, largely driven by internet presence: as a 20-year-old Northeastern student, she self-released her second album, “No Dogs Allowed,” to Bandcamp with a complete lack of fanfare. But her disarming, idiosyncratic songs — which pack in smirky references with the efficiency of an “Arrested Development” episode, paired with looping guitar and indie-pop melodies — created fast buzz on social media, leading to a Pitchfork review and feature in NPR Music’s Slingshot” series over the next few weeks, with all the attention ultimately leading her to tour with big indie names like Mitski and Hop Along, among others. It helps that Gish’s online presence is as creative and funny as her songs, and that her meme-savvy following rewards entertaining content with retweets and social media shares, but social media only works when it boosts creations that resonate on their own.
The three song combo of Bags,” Softly” and Sofia” is where Immunity really hits its stride. Bags,” the album’s lead single, is the record’s clear standout with Clairo’s velvety vocals recorded and mixed to perfection. It’s hard to think of a more satisfyingly crisp vocal track from the past year than the one Clairo delivers here. Softly” and Sofia” are some of her most instantaneous and stomach butterfly-inducing songs with the former accented by a children’s choir (further underscoring the earnestness and innocence of young love) and the latter offering a surprise Strokes-y intro and videogame-like synths.
Immunity is named after the resilience Claire’s found in herself, after years of struggle. “It’s about the capacity I’ve found to turn negative experiences and feelings into something positive. I’m honoring the sad songs that need to be felt, and the happy songs that need to be felt” she says.
Clairo is this kind of character. Claire Cottrill, a Massachusetts native on the brink of 21, has spent the past two years building up from a viral YouTube presence to a full-scale music-industry onslaught — a transformation completed by her debut album Immunity, out tomorrow. Ever since her 2017 breakout hit Pretty Girl,” a GarageBand bedroom-pop track with a homespun webcam video to match, she’s been a world-straddler. Whereas some artists distill their inspirations into sleek new forms, Clairo blurs them to the point of mirage.
The Immunity closer tells the story of a time Claire spent intensely debilitated by her arthritis, being cared for by her boyfriend, who’d drive her to class and carry her up the stairs to her apartment. With delicacy but brutal force, it registers her shame at not being the “kind of girl” she wishes she could be (“We’re young, you’re supposed to be frolicking together and being cute”); her unspeakable gratitude; her suspicion that dependency isn’t the same thing as intimacy; and her despair at feeling isolated in her pain, despite all her partner’s love.
Cottrill has been accused of being an industry plant” because of her family connections and alleged bankroll. Critics say that Geoff Cottrill, a former Converse chief marketing officer, is responsible for Clairo’s success. They accuse the artist of cultivating a disingenuous, DIY persona that is nothing more than a marketing ploy. I’d like to give her more credit than that: She is clearly a talented songwriter and vocalist, and there isn’t that much evidence that her success has anything to do with her father’s industry ties. In this day and age, fame is a lottery. Cottrill has won.
The penultimate track, Every Woman,” serves as Vagabon’s de facto closing bell. Its lyrics nod to the #MeToo movement, but its overall message is much broader. We’re not afraid of the war we brought on,” Tamko sings in the final verse, And we’re steady while holding you all.” Representing a new generation of women and people of color, Tamko democratizes art in her own way, and moments like these tie her music back to the instapoetry movement, flitting between topics of love, feminism, and cultural identity with relative ease.
BK: I think they are! With the help of music, they definitely are. Music is a form of expression and for myself, I see music as a way to get rid of feelings that bug me a lot. It’s very therapeutic. I think the more people speak out about it, the more people will start to listen and take us seriously.
The video is incredibly simple, with Clairo mouthing along to the song into a webcam as the lyrics scroll by karaoke-style, but something about it is inexplicably endearing. It’s a soft, teenage daydream wrapped in a sheen of millennial pink — a relic of ‘80s keyboard synth-pop as much as it is a brand new offering of digital age bedroom pop and vaporwave.
Fans clumsily packed themselves into a crowded Metro (3720 N. Clark St.) Sep. 28 to watch indie pop artist Clairo do what she does best — provide a chill environment and mellow tunes. The show kicked off Clairo’s first headlining tour after she spent time on the road opening for pop artist Khalid.
That’s the challenge Clairo will have going forward: What initially made her so endearing was that she did not seem like the sort of person who could (or would ever have to) command a stage in front of hundreds (or, when she opened for Dua Lipa earlier this year, thousands) of people. She was shy, mumbly, awkward—the kind of girl who would upload something from the heart and then immediately shut her laptop in embarrassment. The gig itself—a sold-out showcase” for a hot new pop star—felt a tad old-fashioned, or even beside the point. Is catapulting someone like Clairo from her bedroom to a generic spotlit stage the best way to show off what makes her unique? Probably not.
Claire Cottrill (born August 18, 1998), better known by her stage name Clairo, is an American singer-songwriter from Atlanta, Georgia. She was born in Atlanta, GA, where she lived for seven years, and then she moved to Bellevue, WA and eventually Carlisle, MA.
The Massachusetts indie-pop singer-songwriter and internet-breaker makes an impressive LP debut, with help from Rostam Batmanglij. Sofia” is about Clairo’s first crushes on women such as director Sofia Coppola or actress Sofia Vergara In this song she talks about a period of time where she was discovering her sexuality.
The singer, born Claire Cottrill, delivers on that early promise on Immunity,” which widens her sound without sacrificing the intimacy or the charm of Pretty Girl.” Co-produced by Clairo and Rostam Batmanglij — the former Vampire Weekend member known for his collaborations with Solange, Frank Ocean and Haim — the album features more hand-played elements than did the synth-y Pretty Girl” or Flamin Hot Cheetos ,” another old single with millions of streams on YouTube and SoundCloud; Danielle Haim plays drums on several tracks, while Batmanglij contributes guitar, bass and mellotron, among many other instruments.
There are stretches of the bass-driven opening track, Ambulance,” that suggest the soundtrack to a podcast about Theranos before shifting into a screechy, cyberpunkish second movement. Guitarist-keyboardist Ian Williams and drummer John Stanier eventually blend those two sonic ideas together as the song builds to its climax. The track’s distinct parts represent a microcosm of the album’s ethos: Every song features a plethora of ideas that, when it works, the band manages to weave together into a unified whole, with no gesture wasted.
The town that Clairo resides in outside Boston is the town of Carlisle, MA. It’s a small town with a dainty population of just 5,000 people. Earlier this year, she came out as bisexual via her Twitter profile. Now that it’s out there, she has said that she has finally come to terms with her sexuality. She feared being open regarding her sexuality in her small town. It wasn’t until meeting gay friends in college that she felt comfortable and open to figure herself out. She lyrically describes some of her self-discovery in her debut album, Immunity, released this past summer.
Clairo broke out in late 2017 with the heartwarmingly DIY viral video Pretty Girl ,” and her lo-fi productions and raspy whisper have since captured the attention of elder tastemakers and Gen Z superfans alike. The 20-year-old singer-songwriter has the sharp mind of a woman and the warm soul of a folk hero. She’s a humble but powerful presence, taking each chance to speak her mind, nurture her voice, support her peers, and stay open along the way.
In her book Our Aesthetic Categories, literary and cultural critic Sianne Ngai describes zany” as a type of artistic quality that reflects the exhaustion engendered by late capitalism. By that token, Battles makes some of the zaniest music imaginable, drawing on jazz, art rock, avant-garde classical, and electronica for its maximalist, experimental soundscapes. On their fourth album, Juice B Crypts, Battles and a handful of guests launch an all-out assault to overload the listener’s brain, and with mixed results.
The group’s playing is tight and sharp throughout, but Lenker is what makes Big Thief more than just a bar band. Her lyrics are spare and dark, with a poetic sensibility inspired by Anne Sexton and Raymond Carver. Her singing voice is as distinctive as her writing, with a tremulous warble that’s loaded with emotional resonance. Ranging from guttural yowling to barely contained explosiveness, Lenker’s voice is the perfect vehicle for Big Thief’s dark, pretty songs about personal and political wreckage.