Tuesday, February 26th, 2008
All The Lost Souls Welcome You To San Francisco
Photo by Piper Ferguson
When Mark Eitzel of American Music Club described the band’s new album The Golden Age, released last week, as having an “overall sound… lighter than on previous AMC recordings”. Some, such as myself, interpreted this as meaning that the record would be of the upbeat, pop variety as opposed to the agitation and anger that informed 2004’s comeback record Love Songs For Patirots.
But no, as the gentle acoustic fingerpicking that opens “All My Love” reveals, it doesn’t mean that Eitzel is feeling happy – just mellow. The overall vibe of Golden Age is reminiscent of the quieter moments of their 1991 masterpiece Everclear, less the darkness lurking in the corners. It’s probably too much to assume that Eitzel’s famously mercurial temper has been tamed but his gentler, clear-eyed self is definitely on display here. Lyrically he’s still melancholic at best and fatalistic at worst, but always delivered with a wit and wry turn of phrase that sugar-coats the bitterest sentiment. I have always maintained that Mark Eitzel is one of the finest rock lyricists of the past two decades and The Golden Age does nothing to dissuade me from that opinion.
Musically, things are built off a primarily acoustic base with newcomers in the rhythm section Sean Hoffman Steve Didelot also step in quite ably in replacing Danny Pearson and Tim Mooney – no mean feat. But if Eitzel’s words provide AMC’s heart, it’s Vudi – the only other remaining original member – who is the band’s blood. As always, he manages to inject the perfect electrical guitar adornments overtop, underneath and in the spaces in between, only occasionally allowing his fretwork to breach the placid surface of the record like a sea serpent rising, all menace and foreboding, before again sinking back into the depths leaving things serene but shaken. Even though the album’s tempo rarely rises above a canter, Vudi ensures that The Golden Age remains, unquestionably, a rock album. A beautiful, gleaming rock.
The Golden Age unfolds at a slow, languorous pace both over its 55 minutes and across repeated listens but is more rewarding each time through. If Love Songs was the sound of a band announcing themselves as still vital even after a decade in mothballs, The Golden Age is even more impressive in that they don’t sound like they’re trying at all but prove it again anyways.
American Music Club touring Europe and North America this Spring and play Lee’s Palace on April 17, their first Toronto show in 14 years. Do not miss it.
MP3: American Music Club – “All The Lost Souls Welcome You To San Francisco”
MP3: American Music Club – “I Know That’s Not Really You”
MP3: American Music Club – “All My Love”
Stream: American Music Club / The Golden Age
MySpace: American Music Club
MP3: Shearwater – “Rooks”
Mates Of State will release their new album Re-Arrange Us on May 20.
Drowned In Sound contemplates the works of Manic Street Preachers, album by album. Absolutely correct about Know Your Enemy but I gave Lifeblood another listen just the other day and it’s not so bad at all.
Also on the stream but out today is Beach House’s Devotion from which another MP3 is now available, if you need some take-away. The record was ordained “Best New Music” and The Baltimore Sun also has an interview with the band, who’re at the El Mocambo on March 28.
Stream: Tift Merritt / Another Country
When I was in high school and just getting into music outside the mainstream, my cousin had a job at Option magazine and got me a subscription. For a couple years, I got these wonderfully thick and glossy magazines covering artists I’d never, ever heard of… like Uncle Tupelo, PJ Harvey and Liz Phair. Periodically, when I’m at my parents’ place, I go through those issues and marvel at the stuff that I’d discover and cherish years later that I’d already been exposed to, if just in passing, so long before. My point is that my first issue featured Meat Beat Manifesto on the cover and they’re at Lee’s Palace on April 23. Tickets are $16.50, their new album Autoimmune is out April 8 and yes, this paragraph was utterly self-indulgent. What of it.
Mark Kozelek has a habit of releasing records with his band, Sun Kil Moon as he is with April, out April 1, and then touring them as a solo act, as he is when he plays Lee’s Palace on June 10. Tickets $15.
And finally, Radiohead will be at the Molson Amphitheatre on August 15 (via MuchMusic). Some of you may recall that the last time they had August date at the Amphitheatre, some five years ago, the eastern seaboard lost power for three days. Now I’m not saying that one necessarily had anything to do with the other, but when you’re picking up your ticket (no, I don’t know when they go on sale), you may want to get some bottled water while you’re at it. Y’know, you never know.