Sunday, 12 April 2009

Lost in 2008's (pt II)

Now that we're waist high in April, this is the last I intend to hark back to least in terms of dedicated posts. It was a half decent music year and, although there may be a few more undiscovered gems, this year has proven to be more than a little bit special already. Spend much more time peering into the cracks of '08 and I'll be writing about this year's wonders in 2010......that's next decade and I don't want to get that far behind myself now, do I?

So the first two releases are those that prompted me to write this one, with the rest being honourable mentions. Last Charge of the Light Horse I've been posting about plenty recently, with good reason. I don't think I've touched on o'death yet, but I really should have. These guys have shot up my listening charts this week with their inexplicably catchy anti-country rock.....don't even know where to begin, so I'll kick off with Last Charge instead:

Last Charge of the Light Horse - Fractures - Buy

> This is an inspired, atmospheric album chock full of rootsy, unassuming American rock songs. Unassuming in the best possible way, in that they rely on quietly winding guitar lines, a the skilled but subtle underlying rhythm section, and honest, world-wise lyrics. Fractures could be played in the background and remain a pleasant listen, but it's when you dive in with headphones that the songs reveal themselves fully, revelling in a quiet complexity and deeper meaning that more than rewards the efforts of the more careful listener. There are obvious influences from the hey day bands of US roots rock but this is also an album I hesitate to recommend a specific song, because the whole should really be heard, but starting with Face-to-Face or 100,001 would give a happy introduction.....just use those headphones, please!

Stream: Last Charge of the Light Horse - A New Expression

o'death - Broken Hymns, Limbs & Skin - Buy

> Right from the kids with storms for faces on the cover, the cut & paste feel of the inlay design, and the morose monicker, o'death both disturb and enthuse from the outset. As it turns out, this is an effective preparation for the listen ahead on this album, which is jarringly fast and loose. From the rattling alt-country stomp of opener Lowtide through to the down-home, free form fiddling that closes on Lean-To, the whole effort is a fast, raw, and disconcertingly dark experience. It threatens in a most incoherent manner but retains a consistent sound, somewhere between Th' Legendary Shack Shakers and (a far more unhinged) Murder by Death. Whatever's going on here, it's best not to dwell too long upon it for fear of the lingering insanity. Instead, just let is wash you along and the listen is all the more intense.

MP3: o'death - Lowtide

The Black Keys - Attack & Release - Buy

> I first saw this Akron, OH duo support Kiwi flash-in-the-pans The Datsuns, in the wonderful little Grog Shop. Needless to say the locals blew them off the bill but for some reason I never went back to make a purchase of the many releases since. Better late than never, however, as this is a great slice of bluesy rock. They make a superb racket for a duo and have an album full of memorable tracks, which will now cause me to backtrack through the rest of the releases. Like a train between Manchester and Liverpool, I may take inexplicably varied amounts of time to make some journeys but, regardless, j'arrive.

MP3: The Black Keys - Strange Times

The Cure - 4:13 Dream - Buy

> Alright, so this probably didn't pass many fans by, but I generally don't follow The Cure in great detail and so this one made only a cursory blip on my '08 radar. It found a way into my hands last month, though, and is really pretty good. Harder-edged than I expected, the songs keep one interested and have an energy that I never really associated with the band. And,, of course, that I'll be likely to check back with my mate who adores these fellas to learn a bit more, so that's got to be a good sign.

MP3: The Cure - The Reasons Why

......and to transition nicely to 2009, a link to the excellent Kemado Records. They have info on o'death but also have a fantastic roster, including Dungen, The Sword, Langhorne Slim, and Marissa Nadler. The latter has her new album out as of last month, which is likely to be another easy to miss but cracking release. Check out River of Dirt from their site for proof. There, seemless non?

MP3: Marissa Nadler - River of Dirt

Now playing: O'Death - Mountain Shifts
via FoxyTunes

"the sun
burst bleeding
bright flashes of air
and although I'm naked
never before did I care"


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