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Wednesday, December 28th, 2005

Stargazer

I made an inquiry back in August about Edinburgh’s Zephyrs, tantalized by a description I’d read somewhere about them being described as “the epic grandeur of Mogwai with the country-rock of Gram Parsons“. I subsequently acquired their second album When the Sky Comes Down It Comes Down on Your Head and was, frankly, a little disappointed that it wasn’t an epic post-rock record featuring pedal steel guitars (though apparently Mogwai have incorporated some of that on their new one Mr Beast…).

I found that When The Sky… sounded like a less-focused, even gentler Mojave 3 (if you can imagine that), a comparison helped out by Rachel Goswell’s contributing vocals to one track. Oddly, if there’s a Mogwai comparison to be made, it’s not in thundering quiet-loud dynamics but in the low-key vocals of Stuart Nicols, whose delivery reminds me of another Stuart – he of the Brathwaite persuasion. So as I said, I was initially disappointed because of unrealistic expectations on my part, but have grown quite fond of its laid-backness and general prettiness – enough to want more. So thanks to ebay I was able to get a copy of their 2005 release Bright Yellow Flowers On A Dark Double Bed in my mailbox just before the holidays arrived.

Two albums on from When The Sky…, the recipe hasn’t changed much, but the presentation has. The production is much drier and has a more “live” sound, which plays down the spacier vibe and plays up the folkiness – there’s even a couple of numbers that could be considered “rocking”, at least relative to the rest of the album. But overall, like its predecessor, it’s mostly quite pretty but a bit of a grower and less sonically interesting. They conventiently provide an easy point of comparison between the two records by including When The Sky’s “Stargazer” as a hidden track, re-recorded in the same style as the rest of the album. I don’t have mp3s of either to post, but their video for the song, circa the original version, is online and really quite beautiful. There’s also a live version “Lacua Head” from their 2003 album A Year To The Day (which I’m in the process of hunting down) that actually does have some of that post-rock vibe I was looking for, and Epitonic has a track from their 2002 EP The Love That Will Guide You Back Home available for download. There’s also a short film documenting the making of Bright Yellow Flowers called “The making of So Called Beau”, which I haven’t watched and thus can’t really comment on. But it’s there.

Video: The Zephyrs – “Stargazer” (MOV)
MP3: The Zephyrs – “Lacuna Head” (live)
MP3: The Zephyrs – “Obeyessekere”

But yes. The Zephyrs. They’re aptly named – the word means “a light breeze” – but quite nice even if not especially weighty.

Billboard talks The Believer with Rhett Miller. His second solo effort is out February 18.

Tom Verlaine talks to Guitar Player, but not about Television. Still, anytime you’ve got Verlaine talking shop, it’s worth a link.

The New York Times looks at how the internet has helped out the independent record label.

This is why I love Goldenfiddle.

Did you know the jive talking dudes from Airplane! had their own website? Well they do. And The Toronto Star has an interview with them.

np – Sarah Harmer / I’m A Mountain

By : Frank Yang at 9:06 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Sean says:

    Your feelings re The Zephyrs’ records are basically mine – quite pretty, but nothing superduper yet.

    HOWEVER, caught them at a tiny gig in Edinburgh a few weeks ago and was really, really taken with the whole thing. The same loveliness but shot through with some shearing noise, lots of feedback and twisty squeals of guitar. WHen I emailed the band to say how much i liked it, they said something about the amps being broken or something, so i still don’t know how much of that (glorious) noise was intended, and how much was accidental!

  2. Andy says:

    Oh man I love The Zephyrs and love those albums obv a bit more than you! Stargazer might well be one of my top five songs of all time.

  3. spencer says:

    ha. too kind. thanks, chromewaves.
    that tom waits cover is great stuff.
    i missed his birthday recently. tony pierce did a nice little write up on him, if you can find it. tom’s 59 now, me thinks.

  4. Matt says:

    voxtrot at sneaky dees on april 13th!

  5. Frank says:

    Andy – I like The Zephyrs very much when I’m in the mood, and that mood comes and goes. But I am definitely a fan and hope they will yet make the album that really blows me away.

    Matt – awesome news, been hoping for a local date.