Month: February 2008
Another unique voice that you’ll love or hate (although going by the comments to date on the blog, it seems that you’ll all love it….)
Two Gallants, a two-man band from San Francisco, do a natty line in melodic folk rock, exeplified by “Despite What You’ve Been Told”,
with an insistent plucked guitar line, punctuated with Adam Stephens’ falsetto and drumming by Tyson Vogel that errs more on the side of a melodic accompaniment rather than an overpowering beat.
And how can you not love a song with lines like “But you know by now it’s half past late, and I only came here for escape. But you, you’re just my next mistake, like me to you ” and “I should set the steel trap of your thighs, and dive right in”?
Sorry for the dreadful, dreadful, dreadul joke in the title.
This song fascinates me. I saw the video highlighted on Last.FM, and being honest, it’s dreadful. Cheap and cheerful? Cheap, anyway….
However, the song itself….haunting, with a fascinating history. Sung by Sam Amidon (originally called samamidon), he’s taken a traditional Appalachion tune (the exact song and lyrics differ – it seems to be a combination of “Pretty Saro”, from 1911, and elements of another song, “In Eighteen-Forty-Nine”, from 1928, modified by Amidon.
“In Eighteen-Forty-Nine” itself contains fragments of a number of songs, including most of “Pretty Saro” itself).
“Pretty Saro” is a traditional Appalachian song dating back who knows how long. Variations of the tune were collected by song catchers in the early 20th century, with different settings (1749 and 1849), different names (Sarah and Molly), and different melodies, but the song’s story has remained constant: An immigrant, alone and anonymous in a new country, misses his true love back home.
Whenever and wherever it’s come from, Amidon has taken this, and really made it his own – gently plucked guitars and a light horn section over his trembling voice makes it utterly timeless.
Apologies for the length of time between posts – moving apartment and a non-existant worklife balance for the last few weeks put paid to any updates, but I’m back, and am endevouring to update A LOT more regularly. Stick with me – I promise it’ll be worth it.
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve become a much more active member of Last.fm. In one fell swoop, I reached out to a number of people in my “neighbourhood” (people with like-minded tastes). My music compatibility with a number of these folks is ridiculously high, and from there I got involved in a number of rather excellent groups. My next few posts (and a huge number in the future, I’m sure) will come directly from this source.
First up, I was recommended Bon Iver. My first listen of his song “Skinny Love” brought a muted reaction – a bit of a “meh” feeling – until 1 minute 30 seconds in, and that guitar & vocal change. This song is now one of my most-listened to since I got it, and is the definition of a “grower”. And you can’t not love a song with the line “I’ll be holding all the tickets, and you’ll be owning all the fines”….
The background for this album is also indicative of the overall vibe – from Bon Iver’s VIRB page:
It wasn’t planned. The goal was to hibernate.
Justin Vernon moved to a remote cabin in the woods of Northwestern Wisconsin at the onset of winter. Tailing from the swirling breakup of his long time band, he escaped to the property and surrounded himself with simple work, quiet, and space. He lived there alone for three months, filling his days with wood splitting and other chores around the land. This special time slowly began feeding a bold, uninhibited new musical focus.
This slowly evolved into days filled with twelve-hour recording blocks, breaking only for trips on the tractor into the pines to saw and haul firewood, or for frozen sunrises high up a deer stand. All of his personal trouble, lack of perspective, heartache, longing, love, loss and guilt that had been stock piled over the course of the past six years, was suddenly purged into the form of song. The end result is, For Emma, Forever Ago, a nine-song album comprised of what’s been dubbed a striking debut by critics and fans alike.
Bon Iver (pronounced: bohn eevair; French for “good winter” and spelled wrong on purpose) is a greeting, a celebration and a sentiment. It is a new statement of an artist moving on and establishing the groundwork for a lasting career. For Emma, Forever Ago is the debut of this lineage of songs. As a whole, the record is entirely cohesive throughout and remains centered around a particular aesthetic, prompted by the time and place for which it was recorded. Vernon seems to have tested his boundaries to the utmost, and in doing so has managed to break free form any pre-cursing or finished forms.
For Emma’s tracks consist of thick layers draped in lush choral walls, with rarely more than an ancient acoustic guitar or the occasional bass drum providing structure. Vernon sings the majority of the record in falsetto, which painfully expresses the meanings behind its overt, yet strangely entangled words. This newfound vocal path acts as each song’s main character and source of melody.
Despite its complexity, the record was created entirely by Vernon with nothing more than a few microphones and some aged recording equipment. This homemade aspect shows itself in sections as creaks and accidentals are exposed in the folds of the songs, but is hidden well by the highly impressive and almost orchestral sound that Vernon managed to produce by his lonesome, within the creaky skeleton of his father’s cabin.
Melancholic isn’t the word for this one….