Saturday, 22 January 2011

Iron & Wine - Kiss Each Other Clean (4AD)

Sam “Iron & Wine” Beam’s lyrical image adventures have been positively growing from strength to strength since “The Creek Drank The Cradle” in 2002. Following “The Shepherds Dog” (2007), which truly captivated Sam’s musical muse through Calexico and African guitar bands, “Kiss Each Other Clean” appears to be a lot more focused, though the true inspiration is obvious to anyone who knows Sam’s work and is still as moving as any Iron & Wine album for anyone who takes the time to listen. Captivating both instrumentally and lyrically, whilst being the most pop-leaning release from Iron & Wine, Sam seems to have set out to create a perfect replica of the albums our parents would listen to in the car through the late seventies and early eighties.

The track “Walking Far From Home” opens the album with such exquisite yet repetitive imagery where Sam seems to battle the emotions through his journey, which is finally concluded with “It came like a call from the Lord” almost like a revelation. The religious theme is carried through to “Me & Lazurus”, but that is where the similarities of the two songs end, with the gentle soothing harmonies being replaced by a raw funk groove as Sam contemplates over second chances and lost opportunities. The story throughout the album is quite simple to follow and once we reach the tale of lost love which is looked back upon without anger in “Tree By The River”. The rest of the album seems to follow this suit before returning to the same melodic tones from the beginning, to only have a whirlwind return of the jazzy funk tones with the final song “Your Fake Name Is Fine With Me”.

The fact that this album is so pop-leaning does not mean Sam has faltered with the pen at all, the lyrics throughout are amazingly stunning as always, away from the instrumentation there is still a vast amount of Iron & Wine storytelling throughout, this can especially be heard through “Monkey’s Uptown” - ‘I knew you well, I know you best, A baby mouth denied the breast’ - and the leaning makes this album so much more accessible to so many listeners who just haven’t enjoyed this lyrical genius until now. Cryptic writing is Sam’s forte, but with the edge to still allow feeling to be felt throughout an entire album. With a sense of belonging and yet being so distant, whatever Iron & Wine brings us it’ll never fail to be very ‘far from home.’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3_6srzX3Fg

Thursday, 4 November 2010

John Grant - Bella Union - 2010

To get me back into the reviewing era, I start with one of my top albums this year, John Grant's Queen Of Denmark released on Bella Union in April 2010.

The first time I heard anything from this album was the ever famous "Marz" which is always wrongfully titled "I wanna go to Marz".... The piano at the beginning of this song seemed to flow over me like clouds of cotton candy (little did I know what the video was going to end up like or I may have used a different analogy when I was harping on about it....)...Then cue John's voice and the feeling of sheer bliss is at least quadrupled.... The mix of this majestic baratone and the wind instruments towards the end.... A lullaby created from a menu of his youth "Marz" was the starting point of what I can only imagine to be an imense solo career for John.....

Following hearing "Marz" at least 100 times I couldn't wait for the album release, needless to say... It was on repeat for so long when I did change the disc I actually felt disorientated....

The album dwells on John's past, his heartache, his male insecurity... And I think that is what made it even more beautiful to me.... A talent that is not TV produced these days is hard to find.... A rare gem, a diamond in the rough.... And yet here it was.... I could feel the emotions through my speakers, but he wasn't raving about himself, he wasn't being a "big shot", he wasn't letting fame go to his head, he is still a human, another rare thing these days..... Talent, charisma and most of all humble....

The next song I stuck on repeat was "Queen Of Denmark" - after witnessing the full album nearly at Union Chapel not long before I got the album I was nuts about this.... It was so different to "Marz" and yet just as fabulous.... A fighter song... Yet you can still feel the emotions John was going through as with the whole album....

"Sigourney Weaver" is one of those songs I couldn't decide if I liked or not at first... I doubt I listened to it like I should have to be honest... I was so hung up on the previous two... However, my attention was caught by "and neither could that other guy" (if you heard it, you know what I mean)... I'm pretty sure it is not meant to, but this song makes me smile, I think it is brilliant... I know there is more to the lyrics than goofing off movies... But... I love that about it... I can ALWAYS smile to this one.... Same as "Chicken Bones"... I mistakenly had this playing when my younger brother was round my house.... Needless to say he pointed out how many times John swore in it.... It's now his and my song.... A joke towards our parents.... We try not to think about any emotions but our own with some of the songs.... And this one makes us giggle.... It brings us so much happiness.... To be fair the whole album does when we are together....

"Jesus Hates Faggots" is a song I couldn't personally relate to, but I could hear what was coming through, society being harsh on anyone different, every culture, every religion, every country, has different beliefs, ways and it can relate to anything in life.... Down to being bullied at school... Anyone can relate to this really... Another brilliant piece.... And so fiesty, the emotions again are so strong throughout this whole song.... I could probably go on and on about the marvel that was introduced to me this year.... But if I told you everything.... You wouldn't listen yourself ;)

I have to mention the bonus disc though.... So so so different to the album, and yet, still stunning (how many times have I said that already?) You can still hear the blissful vocals John produces, but in a totally different musical environment, "Supernatural Defibrillator" blew me away.... I was stunned & shocked but in a good way, if you are buying the album, I absolutely recommend getting the 2 disc version (I have both, but that is just purely that I rushed out to get it and then it was released with the second disc... But I will be buying another copy ASAP.... No collection is complete with the LP too)

I would almost definetely give Queen Of Denmark 4.5/5 at least, of course this is just my opinion but I can fall asleep to this no matter where I am.... Its so soothing, yet heartbreaking... A real flurry of emotions wrapped up in a single CD.... I eagerly await the release of his next album!

video

First things first


Well, this is the start of a new era for me, a time for me to share my personal opinions on music that is being unleashed onto the world in today's society (and lets face it, sometimes it is very difficult to even find something called "music") but I do okay, I have my methods and the great people's out there that know what I like....


I won't be reviewing everything on here, that would take up all my time and I do have to work, but once this is up and running, writing a piece a night should be a breeze.... It's just getting it to that stage! So bear with me....


Genre's I am generally into and will most likely be reviewing are... Indie, Folk, Rock (and of course all the sub genre's like indie-rock etc because they are that bizarre these days there are probably more genres than artists!)


These are all of course biased reviews, and are just opinion, but hey, if you like something I like, 9/10 times you'll like other things I do :)