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   Wednesday, December 10, 2003  
The sleevenotes give the instrumentation as:
hammond b3
pedal steel and..
..most excellently, tambourine.

Now, if you're anything like reallyrather you'll be halfway to buying it already without even knowing who it is. Add in the words 'Recorded and mixed at Type Foundry in Portland' and the deal's as good as done, right? Released Nov 4 but thus far largely (and criminally) unnoticed, leave a space in your year-end 'Best of..' list for the new album from Norfolk & Western. Dusk in cold parlors sees Adam Selzer & co. harness their dusky atmospherics to Selzer's best set of tunes yet. Fans of Iron&Wine, M.Ward, Tracker, The Mendoza Line, Richard Hawley even, your Christmas wish-list most definitely begins here.
While the banjo over soft, brisk brushes of opener A marriage proposal puts you immediately at ease, the occasional sprinkle of fuzzy electric guitar keeps you guessing. And, by their own standards, the band positively rocks out on a number called Disappear but that's just about as strident as it gets. Everywhere else it's pretty low-key but consistently lovely. Lambent, that's probably the word.
The sweet, sad-sounding pop of Letters opened in the bar is decorated with bells as is Oslo in which Selzer's husky vocal comes on like a wrecked 'n' repentant Conor Oberst. Matt Ward would be proud of Nowhere else he can go (nuff said) whilst Terrified is similar to sounds to be found on James William Hindle's excellent Prospect Park (which at last gets a UK release via Track&Field on 1 March). Like many of the songs here, the quiet pickin' 'n' strummin' of Jealousy, it's true is enhanced by the harmonies of Rachel Blumberg. rr was about to say 'lifted by' but that wouldn't be quite right since the tunes here are bouyant enough in themselves. And ultimately, choice instrumentation and sonics aside, it's this consistent melodic focus which makes Dusk in cold parlors an unreserved recommended Buy!

With such agreeable sensibilities, reallyrather sometimes wonders if Messrs. Ward, Selzer & co. couldn't record, ooh, something like the entire soundtrack of Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory and make it sound wonderful. But lo! - [theatrical double-take] - what's this?!: "We have also been commissioned by Fractured Discs to cover the Willy Wonka soundtrack in its entirety. No release date on that as of yet." Well, if anyone can do it/the Foundry man can/cause he mixes it with love/and makes the world taste good...

'Weezer's "The Sweater Song" reimagined by Gaudi ... Scott Levesque's wistful voice hanging over it all like Damocles' lesser-known flannel sheets ... Euclidian' -- Glenn MacDonald get his teeth well and truly into the new Wheat album, oh yes (translation: fairly fantastic)...

Having hesistated awhile over this, rr brings Hi, everything's great by Cali quartet Limbeck to the table. Hesitated for no other reason than there's very little to say about this collection - some things are just too straight-forward for their own good. What we have here is (mostly) driving guitar music, an uncomplicated amalgam of the likes of The Replacements and The Smithereens, with a dash of alt-rock in it's (few) slower paces. You know, the type of stuff played by amiable guys with tousled hair, checked shirts and, as they say, sneakers. Hey! Clean-sounding yet not antiseptic, rousing but not ragged. With it's soft hoarseness, singer Robb MacLean has a great voice for this kind of stuff. And what's he singing about? Of course, you've guessed it: cars & girls. Charting the ups & downs of spending weeks driving miles and miles across the States' great highways, the songs are literally mini-postcards from the road (lyrics coming on the back of a neat set of 12 included in the sleeve), with an over-arching and honest-sounding 'memories-are-made-of-this' theme.
The remarkable thing about it is that they're able to revisit this distinctly well-charted territory with such engaging freshness. And there's strength in depth here: if you like track 1 you'll like the rest at least as much. Drumming on the steering wheel and shouting out the choruses, this is definitely one for the road even if it is only the M6 just north of Coventry...
   posted by SMc at 12:04 PM |