07.03.13 — “Creator, Destroyer” by Angel Olsen

Angel Olsen

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Creator, Destroyer” by Angel Olsen (2011, from the Strange Cacti EP).

Today’s post is another of what will end up being a large group of posts about bands who I will look forward to seeing at this September’s Hopscotch Music Festival in downtown Raleigh. 175 bands. 15 venues. Three nights.

I had never heard of Angel Olsen until I started researching the Hopscotch lineup. To tell the truth, I didn’t quite “get it” the first time I sampled a couple of her songs. When I revisited her sample songs today, I was totally impressed. I was even more impressed when I discovered tonight’s song. And still even more impressed when I saw a video of her playing the song in a city park. Look for that at the end of this post.

First, the song:
“Creator, Destroyer” by Angel Olsen

Angel Olsen is an indie-folk singer/songwriter currently based in Chicago. Originally from St. Louis, she started singing at a young age, and about the time she was 15, she noticed that her voice was very unique. Very different. She’s able to sing confidently and loudly in different registers. At times, she even sounds like she’s simultaneously singing in two registers. Like a yodeller. Her voice sounds a little different from song to song, and she garners a lot of comparisons to classic country music icons like Patsy Cline, and, oddly enough, Roy Orbison. Meanwhile, on other songs, it’s easy to make a comparison to the inimitable Sharon Van Etten. Certainly the style and sound of today’s song remind me of SVE.

As fate has it, Angel Olsen was recently signed to Jagjaguwar Records, which is also the home of the lovely Ms Van Etten.

I’m not sure what led to what, but Angel Olsen somehow ended up touring with Bonnie “Prince” Billy, and appearing on his 2010 album The Wonder Show of The World. She “got noticed” because of that, and later that year she released the Strange Cacti EP as a six-song cassette tape. It won critical acclaim, and in 2011, it was re-released on vinyl via Bathetic Records. A year later, that label released her debut full-length album Half Way Home. This spring, she moved over to Jagjaguwar Records, and she’s been touring pretty hard-core since April. Before starting another two-week tour of the east coast US, Angel Olsen will appear at Hopscotch. She’s playing a coveted 90-minute set at Fletcher Opera Theater on the first night of the festival — Thursday, September 5 at 9:30.

Tonight’s song is the last song on the Strange Cacti EP, and the more I listen to it, the more I love it.

Here’s a version of her performing the song live for a radio station:

While the radio studio version is much cleaner and brighter, there’s something really endearing about the tinny and distant sound of the EP version. I also adore the “Doot doo doo doot doo” bit that starts at about 3:19 of the EP version. We don’t get that in the radio station version.

I guess it’s essentially about being in a less-than-healthy romantic relationship. Lyrically, it’s all about the second half of the song:

Creator, you destroy me
You know my hunger well
And yet you starve me
Until I’m begging on my knees

And these are a few of very many things
I can’t begin to say out loud
If only this song could carry us on
But I know I’m only entertaining myself

I felt that even after I’ve been stripped of all my pride
There still remains a place for you to crawl up inside
To crawl up inside
To crawl up inside
And I’m out of my mind
Out of my mind
Murderous bitch, I’m out of my mind
I’m out of my mind
To be in love with you
The way that I’m in love with you
The way that I’m in love with you

Fuck this and everything we’ve done
Fuck you
Fuck you and your lies

Yeah. The “I’m out of my mind to be in love with you the way that I’m in love with you” bit is phenomenal. The love both creates and destroys her.

Of course she had to omit the “Fuck you” bits from the radio station appearance.

If you’re still not sold on this song, you need to watch this video. And I double dog dare you not to fall in love with Angel Olsen while you’re watching it.

There’s something about the crickets and the car mufflers that enhance the song a little bit.

Listen to the song a couple of times. Watch the video a couple of times.

You can buy a vinyl of Strange Cacti directly from the Bathetic Records web store here, or buy a digital copy from your favorite legal downloading place.

And don’t forget. Tickets are still available for the Hopscotch Music Festival. Go here for details. I’ll hope to see some of you at the festival, and more specifically at Angel Olsen’s set.

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use. View all posts by dlee

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