Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Run Boys, Run

Howdy. Welcome back. Part 2 of the Big Rock Candy Mountain Top 10 Most Favorite Albums All Time of the Year Until I Change My Mind list.

Before reading on, head over to Hickory Wind for my preview of a band that's going to be showing up on this list later on this week. It's the post entitled "In Praise of the Bar Band".

Now that you're back from that, let's get started.

Buckner goes rock. I've discussed elsewhere that I don't believe that the Country tag fits Richard Buckner any longer, if it ever really fit in the first place (maybe "Bloom" qualifies). Maybe nobody considers him Country, even "alt-country". What Buckner makes is burnt desert music, seared and charred meditations on minutiae, rendered inscrutable by dense and imagistic lyrics. A word rarely used when mentioning Buckner albums is fun. And while this album may not push that word up the list of descriptives, it certainly sheds the doom and gloom tag, at least musically. Lyrically, he's still plumbing the depths. But the addition on instrumentation of former Guided By Voicers, and a Superchunker gives Buckner a new sonic palette to ply his obsessions. His voice is still formed by the cracked clay of the earth, but the jagged bursts of guitar skronk and amped tempo provides a different context with which Buckner can play. The album is brief, 10 short songs, but Buckner takes the quick in and out all the way to the pharmacy. It's his best, most cohesive album since "Devotion + Doubt". Just don't expect a rehash of that classic album. It's a different beast entirely, and I can hear the purists moaning. Which should just add to why this album is so swell.

On here previous two albums, "Catalpa" and "Escondida", Holland mined the creaky, rocking chair, sepia-tinted tones of old weird America. They were spare affairs, the focus on her vintage Sara Carter-esque voice. With her latest album, Holland picks up stake, loads the mule, and heads east, slightly, picking up a band on the way. Jazz informs this album, particularly the ghost of Billie Holiday, who's slurred and lustily lazy vocal style is suggested, but never imitated, here by Holland. The themes of loss and memory permeate this album, the flourishes of melancholy. Music for attics and speakeasy's after hours, when the dancing is done, and the last dregs drained, the couples stumbled out the door, and only the lonely remain, one for my baby, and one more for the road. That road being a dusty lane from the city to a mythic, Gothic South. In a time of spineless Southern-inspired jazz-lite wallpaper by the likes of Norah Jones and Diana (makes my skin)Krall, this is the real deal. The following is not the one you think it is. It even includes a nice reference to Freakwater.

Lambchop's main man Kurt Wagner has played with us. What began as a quirky take on oddball Country has morphed from Hank to Curtis Mayfield-influenced blue-eyed Nashville soul, to this, his most intimate album yet. It's a record that requires time spent. A dusk album, all crickets and fading lights, the gloaming. In the quick fix, ipod nation, I'm not sure how this album fits. Songs that meander, hushed and murmuring vocals, lyrics of the smallest movements. The slowest thing, the glass of whiskey, the rustle of leaves. Beauty in the heart of sadness.

Part 3 tomorrow, numbers 3-5.

Insert clever comment here.

1 comment:

Dan said...

I loved the Jolie Holland. You just helped to sell another CD.