Friday, July 20th, 2007
Be Good Or Be Gone
While I said earlier this week that I hadn’t heard any of this year’s nominees for the Mercury Music Prize, this didn’t mean I didn’t have opportunity – I had a number of the nominated albums lying around so I’ve since gotten acquainted with a few of the albums. And since the point of these sorts of events is to get people to listen to the albums that have been deemed worthy of recognition, I gave them a listen.
First up was The End Of History, by Irishman Fionn Regan. Released back in Ireland and the UK last Summer but only getting a North American release last week, History is an unassuming record on first listen. Most songs are stripped down to just Regan’s voice and guitar, both of which are pretty but not head-turning on their own. When there are production flourishes, like a harmonized vocal on a chorus, gentle percussion or a touch of strings, they’re similarly low-key and spare but the economy of it all is effective in accenting and emphasizing Regan’s songs.
And it’s in the songwriting that Regan’s strengths lie. From the upbeat to the sombre, Regan has a flair for understated but effective pop melodicism and while his lyrical prowess isn’t such that you’d call him the next Leonard Cohen, his introspective verse is deft, evocative and literary and only occasionally cloying. But most importantly, his words a’re almost perfectly matched with the musical accompaniment and the net result is something considerably greater than the sum of its parts. Listed at 10-to-1 odds to win the Mercury, I don’t expect History is anyone’s dark horse to win it but the extra attention it will get from the nomination is deserved. At the core, it’s still guy with an acoustic guitar folk music, but it’s good guy with an acoustic guitar folk music and I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for anyone who recommends Paul Auster’s Timbuktu in the lyrics.
Regan is in town at the Rivoli next Thursday night, July 26, and courtesy of Filter, I’ve got a pair of passes to the show to give away as well a copy of End Of History on vinyl. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to see Fionn Regan” in the subject, and your full name and mailing address in the body. This contest will close at midnight, July 21.
Paste reports that the deluxe version of Son Volt’s The Search, previously only available on iTunes, will be released as a limited edition (1000 copies only), double-LP called Chant And Strum and comprise all 22 songs that the band recorded during the sessions for the album. It will be released July 31.
Spinner congratulates Joe Pernice on signing a deal with a division of Penguin Books to publish his first novel. They also recently declared “Chicken Wire”, from Overcome By Happiness, to be “The Most Exquisitely Sad Song In The Whole World”.
Ryan Adams talks at length to Harp about Easy Tiger, doesn’t go crazy once. Remarkable. SF Weekly also finds him in an amiable mood and I Am Fuel, You Are Friends has a mittfull of alternate takes from Easy Tiger to share. Share with you.
CMJ reports that DeVotchKa’s wonderful 2004 album How It Ends will get a European release on August 6 but more excitingly, a new studio album is on tap for 2008. YourHub.com has an interview with bassist/sousaphonist Jeanie Schroder.
Ben Bridwell complains to Pitchfork about his disdain for folks videotaping and YouTubing Band Of Horses shows. Everyone who’s planning on seeing them at Lee’s Palace on August 11, be forewarned. Their second album has a name and release date – Cease To Begin will be in stores October 9.
Black Mountain will be at the Horseshoe on October 5, Menomena and Illinois are at the Mod Club on October 13 and The Ponys, in town just this past Wednesday, return October 15 to open for Spoon at the Phoenix.
Dear Apple – get your shit together and send me my laptop, already.