These Artists Are Demanding More From Their Audiences

Julia Holter and My Brightest Diamond create rich sound experiences.

Album Reviews

Julia Holter
Aviary
Domino

My Brightest Diamond
A Million and One
Rhyme & Reason

Is it better to challenge your listeners or make nice with them? In recent years, Annie Clark (St. Vincent) and Merrill Garbus (Tune-Yards) have created more accessible music by tempering their eccentricities without abandoning the qualities that made them interesting in the first place.

Others, including Julia Holter and Shara Nova (My Brightest Diamond), offer their listeners a more demanding experience. Holter’s previous studio album, 2015’s gorgeous “Have You in My Wilderness,” epitomized elegant chamber pop, offering luminous, piano-based tunes that showcased her soothing voice. While she still sounds like herself on the 15-track, 90-minute “Aviary,” the end result is less commercial than before. Songs often meander and resist resolution, blending understated dissonance, quiet noise, and instruments ranging from synths to bagpipes, along with more familiar inviting melodic touches. It all feels like an intriguing, fuzzy dream that mesmerizes without providing easy comforts.

For her latest album as My Brightest Diamond, Shara Nova (formerly Shara Worden) puts her classically trained voice to commanding use on a jittery set of dance-inclined raveups and woozy ballads. Shouting, chanting, and crooning with cool flair, she tells stories of angst and self-fulfillment, coming off as a sweetly crazed yet benign spirit who takes a brisk, occasionally harrowing psychic tour but gets home safe and sound.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.