Tuesday, 31 May 2011

World Without End - Bob Frank And John Murry

Hands down this is the most maudlin album I own. I own records by Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Nick Drake and nearly everything Mark Kozelek has ever released but this is the darkest of the lot. It's not subtle about it either. Not the most ringing endorsement, but depressing, sad music is not a bad thing. There have been sad songs since the dawn of music. Sadness is an emotion and what is music but a way of expressing emotions? Just because something is upsetting doesn't make it any less valid than something uplifting and happy.

The albums premise is a simple but grisly one. Each track recounts a murder, most of them based on true stories. The tracks take their name from the victim or perpetrator of each killing (with the exception of Tupelo, Mississippi) along with the year of the death in question. Murder ballads are nothing new to country music. The genre has a long tradition of songs about death in its many forms. The thing that makes this album so special is that not only are they new songs, instead of ones culled from the big book of murder ballads, but they are genuinely eerie.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Tell Me A Tale - Michael Kiwanuka

Today I take a break from my usual remit of bringing you lost and forgotten albums and try something a bit different, but still mining a similar vein. If you are anything like I am, music is very strongly connected to emotions, people, places and certain times. Usually these connections happen by chance and it’s not really a conscious decision. I’ve decided to change that. I don’t like the fact that my subconscious is making these links for me. I don’t trust it not to link some of my favourite songs with painful memories or to soundtrack the happier times with a third rate Britney Spears single. So I have made a conscious decision to have emerging British singer/songwriter, Michael Kiwanuka’s soon to be released song “Tell Me A Tale” as my soundtrack to this summer. Now I know I usually write about stuff that no one has paid attention to for a while and it may seem like I’m unfairly saying that this song will just disappear. I’m not. In fact I’m pretty confident that this is solid gold hit material. But, Michael is a new artist and the track isn’t out until later this year so technically it still counts as something you haven’t heard….yet. Also this is my self indulgent music blog and I’ll write about what I want thank you very much!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Get Saved - Pilot To Gunner

The second (and possibly last) album by Pilot To Gunner is one of the unheard gems of the early 2000's indie rock scene. Because they were a fairly new band from New York, that wore black t-shirts they were often unfairly lumped in with a lot of Emo bands that were becoming popular at the same time. The combination of loud guitars, shouted lyrics and angst got them tarred with the same brush as quite a few, lets just say “lesser” bands. The album's artwork doesn't really help them to ditch the tag though. That swirly font and the bright pink contrasting with the black and white photo of the band bound and gagged, is pretty typical of the vast number of commercial Emo albums that were appearing around the time. But Pilot To Gunner's lyrical content was rather more socially and politically orientated than most Emo bands. Very few of these songs seem to be introspective. The vast majority in fact are all about knowing what’s going on around you.