These Artists Are Demanding More From Their Audiences

Julia Holter and My Brightest Diamond create rich sound experiences.

Album Reviews

Julia Holter

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.

One More Thing

And it's a big one. Mother Jones is launching a new Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on the corruption that is both the cause and result of the crisis in our democracy.

The more we thought about how Mother Jones can have the most impact right now, the more we realized that so many stories come down to corruption: People with wealth and power putting their interests first—and often getting away with it.

Our goal is to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We're aiming to create a reporting position dedicated to uncovering corruption, build a team, and let them investigate for a year—publishing our stories in a concerted window: a special issue of our magazine, video and podcast series, and a dedicated online portal so they don't get lost in the daily deluge of headlines and breaking news.

We want to go all in, and we've got seed funding to get started—but we're looking to raise $500,000 in donations this spring so we can go even bigger. You can read about why we think this project is what the moment demands and what we hope to accomplish—and if you like how it sounds, please help us go big with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend


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.


Support our journalism

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