Reviewing Everything That Happens To Be Stacked Up Against or Near The Stereo, Installment 2
Some catching up to do since I listened to a lot of records while baking cookies this morning. When the weather's cold you gotta immediately start baking cookies. I tried icebox cookies this time - ones where you make the dough and refrigerate it for a period of time. Lemon coconut icebox cookies. They are even better than they sound.
Blodarv, Soulcollector (Northern Silence, 2004): both an LP and a 7" are tucked into the hi-gloss sleeve, but the 7" isn't extras/"bonus tracks" - it's just the songs that wouldn't fit on the LP. The first time I listened to this I couldn't get with it, even though the backstory behind the Blodarv dude (Blodarv being one among the legions of one-man suicidal black metal bands presently dotting the landscape, if by "dotting" we mean "as in a Seurat") is interesting, and predisposes me to something more than my initial reaction ("fantastic, another one-man metal dude with a Tube Screamer, a Metal Zone, and a Fender Deluxe"). I want here to say something about the physical tenacity of LPs: if I hadn't been looking at the album, I might not have played it again for some time, but the sight of it compelled me, so I played it again. Turns out that there's some real texture to this - it's subtle, which is a weird thing to say about an album on which there are exactly zero clean guitar sounds. But the mood this guy's reaching for is his, nobly his. It's pretentious, but hard-won pretentiousness is its own kind of realness once you've learned the secret handshake. The guitars, meanwhile, underneath all that borrowed tone, are played elegantly - there's a real emotion in there, and it's the center of the album. I predict that by this time next week I will be contemplating a self-made Blodarv t-shirt.
Denial of God, The Horrors of Satan (Painkiller Records, 2006; status: in a relationship): a double-LP worthy of the format. Starts out decent enough but doesn't feel like anything special, then gets air on side three and promptly begins executing 720s. The songs get longer, the riffs get bigger, the evil emerges from the crypt. Stuff that the first disc had only hinted at suddenly takes form. I banged my head and felt no pain. The spiritual forefathers of these guys are Glenn Danzig and King Diamond and they've clearly studied their Immortal collection, but they're also kin to several thousand bands that never got out of the garage: there's a rough passion here that'd be hard to sand down.
David Grubbs, An Optimist Notes the Dusk (Drag City, 2008): look, I just love the music David Grubbs makes. So I love this. I agree with everybody who says that the way he tries to make a very dry style of poetry mesh with some pretty picturesque songscapes doesn't always work, and almost never immediately works, but I think a little digging is worth the effort. If a press kit told me to compare a songwriter's work to painting, I'd laugh and throw the whole package into the trash, but with Grubbs, painting is the exact analogy: there's a big-picture broad-canvas feel to what he does, a landscape quality to the finished product. His songs take me places. His guitar style is unique. This record made me feel some things that other records wouldn't know how to try aiming for. And it ended with some drones. More records should end that way. It's nice.
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