Thursday, May 06, 2004
The getting of wist...
posted by SMc at 9:16 AM
In scanning the music reviews some adjectives will shout louder than others. In reallyrather's case 'wistful' is always a signifier. This blog's record collection contains an inordinate amount of wist. Ordering by mail, reallyrather half expects to incur postal excess due to the sheer weight of wist with which many acquisitions are freighted. Though some might argue it's splitting hairs, 'wistful' rates better than, say, 'dreamy'. Happy/sad sides of the same coin maybe, 'wistful' somehow holds out the prospect of economical, honest reflection, of a thoughtful attitude whereas 'dreamy' promises a vacuous escapist drenching; that way lies languor, torpor.
Genderwise, female wist carries the greater tendency towards dreaminess. Back in Dec02 this blog flagged up a debut album by Lovers (from Athens, Georgia) featuring the songs of Carolyn Berk which walked the line between wistful and dreamy. With rather too many tracks doing that typically dreamy thing of going on a bit too long, Star lit sunken ship was kept broadly onside by amongst other things some stirringly deployed cello. It was obscure back then and an almost total lack of promo activity & website inertia saw that it remained so. reallyrather has continued to dip into it but has long since given up the info trail assuming that Lovers had quietly died. But lo! Out of nowhere a follow-up, The garden and the gutter, has this week emerged. And there are shows - more amazingly yet, they're in London! Probably just Carolyn solo, they are:
May 9 Bodrum Cafe
May 12 Big Note at Hope & Anchor
May 13 Vespa
Another album presently destined for unjust obscurity but offering a still more appealing take on the wistful-dreamy continuum is Mascott's recent second, Dreamer's book. Kendall Jane Meade is the creative force here but her sound is realised super-attractively by a core band with production assists from the likes of Adam Lasus (The Trolleyvox), Gary Olson (Ladybug, James William Hindle) and, most prominently, Al Weatherhead (Champale, Sparkehorse, Clem Snide, etc).
Loads of people do it but reallyrather would argue that it's rarely a good idea to use a longish, slowish track as an album opener. The case for the defence however could call in aid something like Bluebirds in heaven, a smoothly seductive sigh which stays crucially the right side of lush. Like several tracks here, it's also distinguished by some great-sounding cymbal percussion (kudos Jud Ehrbar the drummer and Mr Weatherhead). The title track is pure strummy loveliness with backing vocals which are as gorgeously just-so as you might expect from people with names like Phoebe Summersquash and Rainy Orteca.
A Dave Derby co-write, Turn on / turn off picks up the pace a bit with some nicely kicking drums and a gnarled guitar sound which also recurs later on, most successfully on the wall-of-sound closer, Song from a dream. But the stars of the show are the scintillating Kite which has a fittingly airborne feel, Meade's gliding vocal riding brisk cymbal & rimshot percussion while raindrop guitar notes splash down, and The write-up which features some of the best, most personal-sounding lyrics here:
I can't see a thing today
You know I've got a near-sighted mind
But I'm not blind
Dreamer's book dips into ordinariness once or twice but the best moments' bell-like clarity and Meade's up-close vocals and understated personality make this a single thumbs-up. You don't need to hear it but you'll like it if you do...
Mascott | Red Panda Records
Pernice Brother Thom Monahan is another who crops up in the credits on Dreamer's book. He's also produced the debut 'tender and accessible musings' of Californian 'psych-folk warblers' Vetiver. Find out for yourself when they do a little Rough Trade in-store 5pm Wed May 12. If you can't be bothered there's more on their sounds here. So, Vetiver's here, Devendra Banhart's here - surely their mutual friend (and best of the lot of 'em, quite frankly) the captivating Ms Newsom can't be far behind?
It's raw, apparently, and death-obsessed. It's certainly Texan and it's seems likely to be last we'll ever hear from the magnificently ragged Little Grizzly. The final album When It Comes An End, I Will Stand Alone is set for release on Woodson Lateral Records June 22...
...and who can fill the void? Maybe Austin's Lil Cap'n Travis, slightly more classic pop-inclined but still unmistakebly Texan. New album In all their splendor is just out on Glurp...
Lil Cap'n Travis | Glurp
And finally, see/hear M. Ward in session earlier this week over at KCRW...