New Music | Friday Roll Out: Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, CrowJane


Differences between artists are far and wide and CrowJane does stand apart from contemporaries. For the most part, the songs CrowJane delivers are wrapped in darkness and walk thin lines across closely related genres. She is an artist that’s a bit of a conundrum, as we never assume what will follow with each subsequent release. This week sees the release of her new 5-song E.P. Bound To Me (Kitten Robot), which shows a few varying sides. With only five tracks, we’ll speed past them one at a time.

It’s the cover of the E.P. though that just might keep your attention. The photograph of CrowJane, wrapped in vinyl – or leather, it could be one or the other – indulges us with nostalgia. A stunning view that harkens back to ‘80s Hagen and Siouxie Sioux. It offers an idea of what lies within. Opening the release is “Butterflies,” which is wrapped in keyboard washes, simply placed bass notes and thundering percussion. While her words are audible, CrowJane belts things out effortlessly. Guitars aren’t at the forefront, instead painting the song with additional coloring. Then there’s “Ides Of March,” which seems, well, a bit out of place. While I’m all for nostalgic reminiscing so long as its delivered with one’s own personality, it’s easy to be left sighing without relief. CrowJane seems to do her best Perry Farrell imitation and the song detracts, into 80s/90s arena rock mimicry.

Fortunately, we move forward with “Nomad,” filled with an essence of dread, the track is sonically powerful even before all instruments collide together one-third of the way in. CrowJane’s voice is commanding alongside the crashing drums & array of keyboards. Hands down, this track is possibly one of the best songs she’s ever written, as she storms through a sea of dissonance and melody all at the same time. Yes, I’m here for it. The surprise here though just might be “Destroy.” Now while she’s utilized keyboards and electronics, the music created has never sounded mechanized or mechanically driven. But here? Oh, it’s fascinatingly dark and pop-inspired without sounding derivative of anything. The electronic-punk drive of CrowJane is derivative unto itself! Ok, I’ve played it over and over again. The release ends with “Broken Angel,” which is wrapped in shadows as CrowJane seems to fight for her own life. In its two-and-a-half minutes, the track is drenched in melancholy, with multiple voices wallowing in the background. It works. All too well.

While Bound To Me may have a misstep, it doesn’t detract from CrowJane’s growth. We see it, we feel it, and we welcome it.


It may take a moment before recognition hits but when it does, BAM! Somehow I miraculously transform into chef Emeril Lagasse. Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe is a memorable character who played in 90 Day Men, the brilliant outfit hailing out of Chicago that released four albums and a handful of E.P.s. Lowe also performs under the Lichens moniker, releasing a number of full-lengths, as well as recording and releasing material under his own name. In short, Lowe has released more music in the past 20 years than the average musician. Grasshopper Republic (Invada) is his latest effort, an original movie soundtrack for the documentary of the same name, filmed in Uganda.

This isn’t Lowe’s first foray into movie soundtracks, as his most recent work includes the Jordan Peele directed, Candyman. But I digress, this is about Grasshopper Republic. Soundtracks can be tricky and this one is no different. If it’s songs you’re expecting, you might want to hear something else, but then again, you might be pleasantly surprised because this isn’t just meandering through forestry jungles or dark outbacks, the compositions here are relevant for the discerning listener. There are movements that are decipherable with song titles like “Beatle” as one can almost imagine the steps of tiny legs, rustling across leaves or the time it takes to organize every moment with “Preparation.” Without viewing the film, one can make out their own interpretation of the structures here. But some of the repetitive motions, much like “On The Road” create melodies that are infectious.

Here we can find Lowe’s brilliance within his keyboard work. The clamoring “River View” offers an idea, and sets the imagery of watery spaces traveled within. What may be mistaken as cacophony within the percussion is actually well-organized beats creating a unique rhythm and you’re not going to want it to end. There’s a lot to take in throughout the album, and there are moments where things begin to trip the light fantastic, and “Beetle View (Alt)” is one of those moments. It closes the album but this is a moment of ecstatic peace, as the repetitive motion drives in and out with sporadic instrumentation wrapped around its rhythm.

The Grasshopper Republic soundtrack is an intense listen. It’s a dense and thick release filled with 23 tracks that uplift, confuse, surprise, and intrigue. This is something that without a doubt, is set to challenge listeners.