söndagen den 12:e februari 2012
söndagen den 15:e januari 2012
måndagen den 9:e januari 2012
When you’re young and into music, you’ll eventually discover albums that will spin your preferences into a whole new direction. That’s something that never really happens when you’ve become a more mature music lover. Last time I fully experienced it was 13 years ago when I was 19. During early winter of 1998, while I was going by car with my best friend through the small Swedish industry town where I was living was when I heard Mercury Rev’s third album Deserter’s Songs for the first time. Though I’ve considered music as my biggest passion, both before and after that moment, Mercury Rev did, after some intervention, turn most of my previous favorite music into rubbish. When thinking today about favorite albums I could easily mention a few solid contenders, like Transfiguration of Vincent, Bryter Layter, I See a Darkness, Come on Die Young or Sleigh Bell's Treats from 2010. They would all fit in, but are without exceptions results of a natural progress of me following a certain musical path. Neither of them have ever made me try to turn the Atlantic liner that your accustomed music taste is. Not like Deserter’s Songs. Rather sadly actually, I’m thrilled by the idea of ditching the thousand or so albums I’ve bought over the years and begin on a blank page as a fan of speed metal or Eurovision Song Contest.
I might not do that though, because when I hear the strings of the very first seconds of Deserter’s Songs, it affects me so profoundly with memories the same way a certain scent or taste can. Like how a really good meringue can bring me all the way and time back to my grandmother’s kitchen. Likewise, Deserter’s Songs’ huge and organic arrangements brings back much of the feeling of approaching Christmas when being 19, a few years from being really exciting like when you’re a kid, but close enough in mind to give you a comforting, yet melancholic chill.
On a musical angle, you have to remember that 13 years ago, albums did rarely sound this way. If not for else, just in sheer fear of being classified as symphonic rock. Even if the band started with doing some really neo-progressive stuff, I hear no or little echo of Pink Floyd in this album. The production is quite freaked out at times (hell, it takes only two minutes before a musical saw enters), but the song structures and the performance is closer to references like The Band with a Tim Burton filter. The single Opus 40 from the album features a BBC session as bonus tracks where material by among other Neil Young and Bob Dylan is covered. When you hear how well the Rev’s tone suits the songs, it makes the folk roots even more obvious than the fact that Levon Helm and Garth Hudson from The Band actually appear on the album.
Though both Deserter’s predecessor See You on The Other Side and its follow up All is Dream have their big moments, it’s obvious that all the stars were in the right positions when the Rev’s grand opus was made. Their last decade has been a disappointment to say the least, they just seem to lack songs nowadays. On Deserter’s Songs on the other hand, they had material with such quality I think they had unlimited options how to arrange them.
I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to the brief piano intro of Goddess on a Highway and getting chills down my spine knowing that the sturdy beat and the hook of a perfect pop song were about to come. A familiar situation throughout the whole record, anticipated and unique small bridges and solos enter and take place without outshining the songs fundaments. The same goes for the way the individual tracks, despite each one carrying its own universe, together form such a well compiled overall feeling. It’s consistently pierced with highly dynamic instrumentation, as much rooted in pop as in jazz and classical music, ready to shatter what’s been built up, always close to drift off in a long and odd solo, always connected to the songs’ core. Other highlights, just to mention a few, are the psychedelic and deeply melancholic song The Funny Bird, the ethereal opening track Holes with the singer Jonathan Donahue chanting about holes “dug by little moles”. Not to mention Adam Snyder’s organ solo in The Hudson Line together with the woodwinds of whom the title refers to, Garth Hudson.
I hope people still take time to discover this album, because it’s an open minded, yet highly accessible piece of art. It would’ve sounded as intriguing, unique and good if it were released today, side by side with Fleet Foxes and My Morning Jacket instead of its contemporaries back in ‘98 like Lauryn Hill or Pearl Jam.
Deserter’s Songs’ echoes of December’s spirit are not only a result of the hook from the song Endlessly, shamelessly yet brilliantly stolen from Silent Night. It’s about the whole package, the choirs, strings and Donahue’s flawless, high pitched and hugely affecting voice. With the speed of last Christmas and its predecessors in fresh mind, Deserter’s Songs blends in perfectly.
lördagen den 17:e december 2011
Homofobi i Nashville
KD Lang kom ut som homosexuell redan 1993. När Chely Wright sjutton år senare valde att göra detsamma i och med sin självbiografi Like Me (2010) är hon inte som självutsagt den första countryartisten att göra det men är ändå en i en försvinnande liten skara. I boken beskriver hon hur identitetssökandet under uppväxten och som vuxen till slut satte fingret på ett djupt problem som Amerika i allmänhet och countryindustrin i synnerhet har med acceptansen av homosexuella.