17
Jan
11

Robert Pollard – Space City Kicks

On this very special January the 17th, we at Ears are Tourists have decided to give you, our special reader, the possibility to speak up about a new release. Since announcing the album at issue, Robert Pollard’s new effort Space City Kicks, we have recieved plenty of opinions. What follows is a compendium of thoughts on the lastest work by the indie magician of Ohio [sugary description required as to tone down the overall editorial agressivity of most reviews posted on here]

– – – – – – – – – – –

“I’d like to raise a question about Robert Pollard’s wardrobe and his general image. We know he likes to wear shirts with awkward roses sewed on ’em and that he used to party dressed as a washed up country dope; but this is too much. A shirt with a red heart stitched on its breast pocket? That’s painful. I guess he just stepped off his Carpet of Love. Quirks aside, I reckon this is the most decent Pollard photo in any of his covers yet. See, it wasn’t so hard not to look like a 60-year old man dying of cancer or like a cocky posh suburbs dad. The cover for Space City Kicks is quite decent, at least they put some effort into it, something that cannot be said of last year’s Moses on a Snail, a terrible sight, worthy of being sold in the filthiest of gas stations. I’m confused though by the placement of a suitcase next to Pollard. I thought he had already gone off to business in a previous release? What about” [text cut off due to severe hyperlink masturbation; also, writer confessed not having heard the record yet]

Amy Joubert, Massapequa, Long Island, NY

– – –

“What the heck, Bob. Man must be getting older becuz I barely required a dictionary to understand the song titles this time around. LOL. Thankfully the record is filled with good stuff. Not very obscure, but accessible material. There’s a couple of generic misfires (a tradition of Pollard) but it is solid. The Elephant Jokes album is still the best thing he’s done in the last several years. Now Bob since you’re such a rock star get your ass on a plane and tour the world, we’ve waited long enough to see your spacey karate-kicks!”

Macedonio Fernández, Buenos Aires, Argentina

“Bob’s been a good ole pal of mine for quite a few years now. Besides being the master of American ale drinking, the man can rock. He’s one of those 60s kids who grabbed the guitar at ten and started composing stuff right away, you know, same for me, I couldn’t contain the urge to play all by myself, but then I hit the road and went to Seattle. Bob however decided for reasons that are unknown to me to stay and rot in a shoddy town. No offense to Bob or anyone but you ever been to Montgomery County, OH? Place’s a friggin’ shit-hole. Oh and by the way, once, when pumped after a show (his body cannot get really intoxicated anymore), Bob confessed to me most of the songs he comes up with are in fact instilled into his brain by swift UFOS surrounding the Dayton area. Anyhow the man’s extraordinary as he showed in last year’s Moses on a Snail, which, as I already stated elsewhere, is a masterful recording full of substance and finesse. Bob continues to be a tremendous musician in his new album Space City Kicks. He succeeds best when he gets into a heavy metal vein – listen to the title track and don’t tell me you don’t dig those whamming guitars. Or in “Sex She Said”, he conjures up a decaying milieu which becomes progressively intense once more shredding guitars come in. “Picture a Star” is also ominous and hard, and “Getting Going” is one groovy rocking song. There’s some other tunes that I don’t particularly recall right now but that’s not important really, after all Bob’s at his best when being himself. I guess you have to meet him to experience that, his anima, such a great guy. That time we both went on stage and ripped The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” up was a personal milestone.”

Eddie Vedder, Seattle, WA

– – –

“Sigh. Here we go again, the quarterly commentary on the new Robert Pollard album. I really wish he would stop fucking around and trying to ruin his mostly creative songwriting. The man’s motivations are fucking murky, something which puzzles me to no end. I mean what the fuck, you’ve got brilliant melodies such as “Something Strawberry” or “I Wanna Be Your Man on the Moon” but you interrupt them to take pleasure in disjointed, unpleasant wrecks such as “Picture a Star” and “Children Ships”. The lo-fi charm of GbV is longtime gone, you hack. Not that I’m much of a fan of GbV, it seems there’s assholes who dig “Kicker of Elves” and other jokey cuts of theirs. I tried to swallow those Suitcase compilations and nearly puked. Preposterous stuff. Pollard should save the dark weird nonsense for his Circus Devils albums (which in truth nobody listens to) instead. In those GbV days if Pollard fussed about his 767 lo-fi bathroom guitar compositions I guess they either gave him a beer or let him place a couple in an EP or even in album (who cared, you knew you were going to skip that track anyway) but now there’s no Tobin Sprout or Doug Gillard or whoever to hinder his thirst for shenanigans and we get this mess. Nobody wants to hear “Spill the Blues” or “Into It”, it’s boring. Material like “Mr. Fantastic Must Die” or “Woman to Fly” prevents me from entirely giving up on Pollard but I feel like kicking him in the face.

PS: Also this review can be almost exactly applied to any of his post 2001 solo releases.”

Edward Bast, New York City, NY

– – –

“Pollard continues his streak of brilliant releases. One has to admire his guts, a rare trait in the music business nowadays. His records are quite the expedition into the realm of nonconformity, in which anything is valid, music is startling besides quality, there’s room for nakedness and for fury, for all kinds of human emotions. No current band is able to come up with hooks so sweet as those in “Something Strawberry” (psychedelic pop perfection) or “Touch me in the Right Place” (so instantly memorable) and sound so unforced and natural. The DIY, lo-fi quality of the recording implies honesty and lack of bullshit and benefits the quieter, folkier cuts (such as the beautiful “Gone Hoping”). His musical taste is clear and all over the place: from the Kinks to Judas Priest. The sonic assault these eighteen cuts represent screams for repeated listens: all Pollard albums seem harmless at first, take a while to get into your skin. Then you find yourself humming songs whilst cleaning your toilet or having sex with your wife or attending other bands’ concerts, tunes you aren’t able to place or recognize, until it hits you: they’re off the new Robert Pollard album you chose to dismiss. You ungrateful bastard. You know that since your turntable lost its virginity to GbV there’s always a Pollard song stuck in your head; they can morph, they can evolve, they can change, but he’s always there forcing you to purr. So shut up, put on hold your exciting new Destroyer and Deerhoof releases and give Space City Kicks another spin.”

Vezetett vélemény, Budapest, Hungary

“Pollard continues his streak of subpar releases. The blatant lethargy displayed in many of the songs, particularly the “more intimate” cuts (“Gone Hoping”, “Into it”), is discouraging. “Tired Life”, for instance, is such a tiring tune, drags on forever. I know he’s not even trying (has he ever?) but does that disinterest need to be so obvious. Also Bob, lay off the hard-rocking numbers, you don’t play in crowded arenas, only hipster-flooded shitty ass redneck bars, and you always will, even if youre “followed by losers” haha. Bleh this.”

EddieVedder4President@gmail.com, Raleigh, North Carolina

– – –

Space City Kicks is the new album by Robert Pollard, the lead singer of a band you maybe know called the Boston Spaceships. Although it has guitars this is pure indie music, made from the soul of a man who wants to manifest his passion of music to the listener’s soul. Even if the record is dominated by the pop, that doesn’t make it more light, instead, there is many rockings parts in the disc. It is produced by Todd Tobias (Sleeptalkers, Circus Devils, Kramies) and recorded in Ohio, in the USA. Interesting soundscapes are evoked: please try it and maybe you will enjoy this very special music.”

EsteladaSempre, Barcelona, Spain

– – –

“GENIOUS! Bob Pollard has done it again folks, he’s tricked us into believing he has recorded a new album when in fact he’s rehashing old material! People will argue it’s all about his genius. Albeit his brain must be shiny, over the years he’s set himself up as this “gimme a guitar and I’ll write you five songs in two minutes” kinda guy, which he really is not! He certainly is hyperactive, thats fo sho, but in his best interest! By putting out half a dozen records a year, there’s no way to re-listen to the albums and let them mature as they should! That way, he guarantees his releases will not be too strictly judged! The only folks who’ll listen to them again and again are jerky fanboys who are bound to love the hell out of it! Nice try Mr. Pollard!”

Nedra Carp, Surrey, UK

– – –

Thanks to everyone who took part in our little feedback project! Unfortunately no special prizes (a flock of dying seagulls) will be delivered to those who sent in their comments, as it had been announced, since they were eaten by one of our editors, who then proceeded to burp and die simultaneously. Our sincerest apologies.

Link in comments.

18
Dec
10

seek electricity…

… well I was born in the desert… came up from New Orleans… came up on a tornado sunlight in the sky… I went around all day with the moon sticking in my eye …

The gateway to Don Van Vliet is tricky. Though most souls subjected to his charming music will be electrified by the bluesy roots, it’s obvious he managed to DECONSTRUCT them whilst paying the uttermost tribute to the seed of all rock music. The opening track off Safe as Milk continues to haunt me to this day, the way the first lyrics are uttered (can anyone forget his/her first encounter with the vocals of Vliet?) and how the band kicks in. It’s so fucking groovy. He’d go on to experiment – not gratuitously – and literally tear the foundations of rock apart in a way never seen before, in a bizarresque yet honest fashion; to crumble down and become a sellout; to make a triumphant return and offer three beautiful, final albums. And then he’d retire and paint. Pretty good abstract meanderings, actually. And though his renovation of popular music and the brutal path which emerged from within is probably the “contribution” most memorials would technically masturbate about (and what would be more akin to my own exploration), Sure ‘Nuff ‘N Yes I Do, not his best achievement by any means, will always be what I think of when remembering this weird, exciting individual.

So, let his death serve as a vindication of his residues.

Safe As Milk (download)

25
Nov
10

kim salmon and the surrealists – grand unifying theory

The recent whereabouts of Kim Salmon have been much talked about and discussed among the fans of Rock. Or so we’d wish. But the man’s kept quiet for a few years and therefore one has to ask: how does he feel? He’s been around, playing random gigs in Australian joints and continuing the Scientists reformation, but a new record was long overdue. Since 2007’s Salmon, a interesting (and sadly abandoned?) instrumental project, and the same year’s Sedition, a live album showcasing the Scientists’ return to venues, he’s maintained a discography silence. Until a few months ago, when this was released, the first Surrealists album in a dozen years: probably his strangest record. I’m aware they are possibly Salmon’s weirdest act, but still, most of their quirkiness derives from being tongue-in-cheek or just for shits and giggles, always residing in that awkward line in between soul and parody. But this, this Grand Unifying Theory, oozes strangeness in its structure, focus and, who knows, goal.

 

There’s two short opening songs in the vein of early Surrealist releases, that is, sleazy drugged-out punk blues with Iggy-esque vocals, much howling, guitar strums here and there, cocky words (“We are the elite, don’t blame us”), caverns and jack’n’coke. À la Jon Spencer, but looser. The rhythm section provided by drummer Phil Collings (that IS his actual name) and bassist Stu Thomas in them both is remarkably funky. Slightly different is perhaps the third track, “Rq1”, which has punkrockish, even hard rocker, leanings. These few compositions, which amount to nine minutes, turn to crumbs when the title track kicks in. 24 minutes of steady extravaganza, probably Salmon’s most ambitious stunt yet. After a bit of noisy distorted wankery (too extended), in which the instruments groan and create expectation, the bass strikes a solid line, soon followed by the wah-wah of Salmon’s fuzzed out guitar. Hendrix spirit at first, it actually evolves into some sort of disfigured, obscure Funkadelic track. And all the same, the swamps are ever so present: the muddy sense of Salmon, his very australian tone, remains. There’s a definite krautrock ambiance (only not as clinical), and the improvising, alternating treatment of the instruments also brings to mind electric (and funk) Miles and the European school of free jazz (there’s moments of little ‘tar noises, weepy bass and cascading drums that’d make you think Salmon’s a fan of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble – ’tis much more restrained, needless to say). The jazz conception is obvious, especially in the spacing of the trio. The fragments in which the bass and drums duel even sound stoney. And then the track degenerates, and it dies.

 

What could come after such mammoth exercise? Some more filth. “Pathological” is a draggy, sludgy blues in the tradition of young Nick Cave, female choruses included, “Predate” has a more furious pace but the same dirty approach, “Childhood Living” is rocky and catchy, and “Kneel Down At the Altar of Pop”, a hardrock superstar kind of title, features an excellent, jazzcore bassline. But I don’t know, man, it’s gritty and sounds all muddled and deranged. The album’s a fucking mess. As stated above, it is strange, but it’s just Salmon. I don’t know if he intended this to be a compendium of his facets. As if he wanted, particularly with the title jam, to revisit rock music, specially his own, which would explain the title. Two things are clear: he’s having loads of fun, and he’s cut loose. The result is not what could be expected of him – but it is. Irregular and perhaps not all that memorable. Yet, that’s partly the point, the aloofness, the detachment. The sick, swampy rock the Beasts of Bourbon championed is here (even their Stones echoes), diluted, but it is. Salmon continues to unfold danger. There is a tension, a sense of discomfort, when listening to his guitar and yells. In a time in which such visceral rock is not genuinely fashionable, material such as this is more than welcome. I mean, what the Drones do is nice, but it’s not scary as what the Scientists or some of them oz Amphetamine Reptile bands (King Snake Roost, Lubricated Goat) managed to evoke. Listening to “Revhead” and shitting in your pants. Yeah, that kind of thing.

Link in comments.

18
Nov
10

robbie basho – voice of the eagle / visions of the country

Since I reviewed that va tribute, here’s a couple rare Basho recordings that barely get mentioned and are among his best, briefly commented.

The Voice of the Eagle

Basho on full-blast mode. His singing voice might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and can be considered “excessive”, but this being post-Starsailor there shouldn’t be much nitpicking. And guitar-wise, there really is NOTHING wrong with the album. Instrumentally, it’s one of his more “controlled” records, though some tracks wander a little bit (“Wounded Knee”, “Blue Corn Serenade”) the intention is rather conventional. There aren’t any empty or skippable cuts here (most are haunting, my favourites being “Joseph” and “Moving Up A Ways”). All in all it’s sublimely beautiful – even if it is hard to connect with the spirituality of the record, one can’t deny its intensity.

Visions of the Country

 

Deeply affecting. While not as spiritual as some of his other outings, it features a kind of contrived epicness inspired by the same cover. The atmosphere achieved here is bewildering. The monolithic “Green River Suite” opens with Basho half-yodeling about Wyoming and his guitar flowing down a stream of notes; follows the inspiring “Rocky Mountain Raga” in which he’s joined by poignant strings as the picture widens and we roam around the Rockies; “Variations on Easter” is a more intimate instrumental based on the works of fellow guitarist Leo Kottke; in “Orphan’s Lament” Basho switches to a rather lo-fi piano and you can perfectly picture him in some shady, empty bar playing by himself and singing to the walls; he keeps the piano in “Leaf in the Wind”, an offering to Yma Sumac, though the song is way more nervous and whistling is featured, creating an eerie ambiance – it may be the darkest song in the album; next Basho is inspired by navajo chanting and celebrates the Southwest in a very energetic guitar-driven piece; “Call on the Wind” closes the set – a goodnight song supposedly for all americans, but I’d like to join in as well. Overall, ultra solid release, Basho’s voice continues to be an aquired taste yet has shining moments, and the guitarwork is simply marvelous. Also, it’s one of his most varied and accessible albums, music-wise.
Links in comments.

 

10
Nov
10

V.A. – We Are All One In The Sun: A Tribute to Robbie Basho

What Robbie Basho carried on with his pals John Fahey and Ed Denson in the 60s was a pseudo-guitar revolution quite detached from the rock’n’roll uprising of the time. Seemingly aloof to that kind of rabid culture, they did also forge a new way of interacting with the instrument: whereas the rockers found in blues the seed of electricity, the Takoma guys reduced to steel string guitars the complexity of avantgardish classical music, achieving their very own stream of “folk”. Their fingers eventually reached out to other cultural sensitivities: in particular Basho who, most of all, created an unique, style-binding musical endeavor in which the folk roots converged with not only European echoes, but also the music of native Americans and that of India. And eventually, as opposed to some of his genre companions, he sang. And very joyfully, I might add.

He was also snobbish enough as to steal Matsuo Basho’s name and make it his own. The fragments of still life and the passing of the seasons, the soul’s brief glimpses into the surrounding reality, which populate Basho’s haikus might seem alien to Robbie’s mostly overlong compositions, but the sense of instant poignancy and of natural reflection flows neatly through his guitar. And as the poet did achieve an timeless form of art, the musician reached, with his introspective excursions and ragas, the sort of soundscapes that have no age whatsoever. But, what of it now?

Basho’s influence is evident in the spiritual sons of American primitivism, such as James Blackshaw or the late Jack Rose; but also among broader styles of sound, specifically experimental wankery (that of the Bishop brothers and their band the Sun City Girls – of course) and freak folk. This tribute album is composed mainly of the former, but there’s also brief glimpses into more varied territory. The collection, as a result, is irregular: in terms of rhythm, but also (slightly) quality-wise. The opener is Steffen Basho-Junghans, who, as Robbie before him, incorporated the haiku master’s name into his, as if there wasn’t enough confusion. Since then Stefan has worked hard to imitate closely of Basho (the guitarist, not the poet). His oeuvre, though unremarkable, coolly enough starts where Robbie’s ended, so it’s sexy to imagine him as some sort of reincarnation. The guitarists hired for this album, besides Basho v 2.0, are top notch. There’s Glenn Jones, whose band Cul de Sac collaborated with Fahey in the 90s and whose own solo recordings are not to be overseen. The track he presents, “1337 Shattuck Avenue, Apartment D”, snatched off his last album, Barbeque Bob in Fishtown, is truly a work from the heart. Rousing. From the other side of the pond comes young Irish Cian Nugent, whose original composition is meandering, slow and a little boring. The (mandatory?) exotic flavor is brought on by Rahim Alhaj from Iraq, who whips out his oud to offer us “Baghdad AlThania”. And then there’s the more psychedelic band additions: the least accessible is probably Espers’ Helena Espvall’s lo-fi cello drone, “Travessa Do Cabral”. Creepy stuff. Arborea’s cover “Blue Crystal Fire” is downbeat and ominous but, as Fern Knight’s take on “Song for the Queen”, goes on for too long and ends up dragging. Unjustifiably tiring. The clear winner among the “sung” pieces is Meg Baird’s delicate “Moving Up a Ways”. Basho-Junghans wraps up the tribute with the most cascading and riveting of tracks: “Rocky Mountain Variations”, obviously inspired by Robbie’s record Visions of the Country. Junghans’ rendition captures awfully well the dynamics of Basho, eventually reaching a climatic bliss. It also defines the level of attention which is required to grasp the genius of American primitivism. Here, Junghans has successfully become the perfect Basho clone. Congrats.

The justification of tribute albums is something unclear. They fall into two main categories: those which actually re-work the (supposed) genius of the honored artist in a new and exciting way; and those that just make you feel like listening to the original. I’m afraid this release fits in this second group. It doesn’t have much balls, inasmuch as it niftly presents the various aspects of Basho’s music and its influences on different parts of the globe and genres in a polite, orderly fashion. As a manual, it is intriguing. As a record, it is definitely hit or miss, even when the artists’ enthusiasm is evident. Jones’ and Junghan’s in particular are excellent contributions and will satisfy anyone with a faheyan urge. Hopefully this collective yearning of Basho will spread the interest towards the mustached finger master

I didn’t die!
the end of a journey
is autumn nightfall

[Matsuo Basho echoing the current sentiments of Robbie Basho, as channeled by Stefan Basho-Junghans]

Link in comments.

06
Aug
10

Twin Stumps – Seedbed

Finally Twin Stumps have decided to release their ode to balding people, as the cover states. The material inside the album does go farther than this mentioned tragedy and reaches heights of sonic filth. Twin Stumps themselves define their genre as “downer”; and of course the one band I can think of who could be also classified as so are the Swans in their nihilistic heyday (early 80s). The similarities are obvious; both bands could be somehow considered “industrial” and “noise-rock” yet they go beyond those tags. The Stumps are overall a sludgy punkish post-hardcore act, whose production here (engineered by the Pygmy Shrews’ Ben Greenberg) is intentionally lo-fi crappy – but also thankfully clear and not as muddled as it first appears to be: the instruments are identifiable instead of being buried in layers of nauseating noise (it’s evidently not recorded in some bathroom but it’s been manipulated as to sound “muddy” – the bass in the excellent “Missing Persons”, for instance, is fuzzy as fuck). Yet of course the album is permanently noisy. There’s some loud, abrasive tracks, such as the shouty “Business Class”; sonic experiments, notably “Body Plan” (a collage of eerie sounds – which might or might not be a subway train, shots being fired and drumsticks being thrown against a wal); or just quiet, disturbingly reptile and droneish segments of bass/guitar repetition (“Lungs”; “Pigs at the Trough”). But it’s always noisy as hell. Some of the cuts are even catchy (“Drainage City” has an ace bassline; “Caged Emily” has rushing hummable crescendos; “Lust Murder”‘s guitar is absurdly memorable). The slowest motherfucker here is probably “Pope’s Nose”, which should become a protosludge classic. Singer/shouter Alessandro Keegan screams “you’ll never be what your mother wanted” and other happy remarks in an array of hate reminiscent of… the Swans, who else. I really don’t know what he’s yelling most of the time, but I suppose it’s nothing too pretty. Many are the Stumps’ influences. Screeching guitars and hammering bass worthy of Flipper, the pounding rhythm and vicious vocals of Godflesh (no really, Keegan sounds like Broadrick at times), the noise/feedback mayhem of Harry Pussy, the gritty reality of the harsher Brainbombs (I’m thinking “Anne Frank”), the atonal, insisting soundscapes of many No Wave acts; the doomish decaying ambiance of Nootgrush; all these bands conform the core of the Twin Stumps’ aural tradition. I believe they display more creativity and expert composition (not just attitude and noise for noise’s sake) than SQRM, Drunkdriver or other “noisy” bands of the moment. I’m not underestimating them at all; it’s just that the whole of Seedbed inspires such confidence and cohesion (by not being boringly reiterative) it’s hard to imagine punky noise rock being more consistent than this. The album leaves the listener exhausted and messed up.

And that is a GOOD thing.

Download here (from icoulddietomorrow.blogspot.com, a “band-approved” leak of the album).

09
Jul
10

kristin hersh – cats and mice

’tis a live set from Kristin Hersh, whom you might primarily know as Tanya Donelly’s stepsister. The earliest solo album Hersh released was also a recorded concert, in which she went through Throwing Muses material; from that very first display of naked awesomeness she made quite clear she’s don’t need no band to rock out. It’s not nonsensical to prefer raw, solo Hersh over bandmate-crowded Hersh; in fact, I believe most pseudo-unplugged lone guitar Hersh songs sound way better than their polished studio counterparts, including Muses stuff. My first encounter with bare Hersh was this epic live version of “Sundrops”:

Dazzling. That guitar is just a strummed stream of chords. And Kristin’s black hair beats her most extended blond hair any day. SUN DROPS DOWN! When I saw Hersh live, she had this song written on the setlist as possible encore, yet she did not consider it. The only song she played solo was a mediocre Muses cut about she and her sister in a lesbian bar. The rest was violin-abusive and “pretty”. You might notice in that video her head side tilting, or sideways head-moving, which is one of Hersh’s most cheered trademarks. It seemingly got worse over the years, as this 00s video shows:

It’s almost as she was undergoing demonic possession or was an electric-singin’ robot. Even if the “tilting” was anticipated in her early Muses days. Fuck headbanging, go head side-moving (for lack of a more consecrated indie term)! The point is, Hersh live is the cat’s pajamas. Close listeners will have noticed the progressive coarsening and drying of her voice over the years. This must be related to her more punkish waste of vocal cords in that other group of hers, 50 Foot Wave. She’s never had a pristine mermaid voice, but it’s evident her tone’s become a tad rougher (and she doesn’t strike me as a smoker). It’s all displayed in this here release, Catz ‘n’ ratz, in which, coincidentally, neither of the two songs I’ve illustrated can be found. This greasy voice is perfect for her version of “Banks of Ohio”, which opens the album, a murder ballad popularized by Johnny Cash; or in “Fortune”, which would not work as well if her guts sounded more clean. And that’s just the first two songs. When she does a Muses song she obviously goes for a more Muses-y vocal style though, which is quite interesting. Let’s do a breakdown of the cuts featured, by album.

House Tornado (Throwing Muses) 1
Red Heaven (Throwing Muses) 1
Hips and Makers 4
Murder, Misery and Then Goodnight 1
Sunny Border Blue 1
The Grotto 2
Learn to Sing Like a Star 2
*new stuff* 4

So you’ve got quieter songs (“Deep Wilson”), furious guitar-acing songs (“Spain”, though Hersh says it’s “whiny”) and folksy old yarns (“One Train”), as well as nice chit chat. It’s a pretty neat overview of Hersh’s facets. It just further demonstrates how she doesn’t need no studio ornamentation, tricky over-producing or puke-inducing violin bedizenment. “Winter” for instance sounds way more heartfelt here than its Learn To Sing Like a Star version. The setlist is intriguing to say the least; she chooses an obscure Muses song (“You Cage”) and a slightly known one (“Pearl”) instead of going the easy way (and playing whatever off the self-titled album); she relies on yet unreleased cuts and trad jaunts rather than classics (no “Gazebo Tree”, no “Sundrops”). Nevertheless she bases the whole album finale on “Hips and Makers”, which I guess it’s her most well-regarded album. Well, at least she ignores “Sky Motel”, which sucks. Many of the unreleased cuts can be found on her CASH music project online, which gathers acoustic demos of songs off her upcoming new album (which I’m not sure if it’s gonna be solo or Muses). Presented this bare, the new tunes inspire darkness. Spooky bliss. Though certainly this release isn’t precisely cheerful. Hersh seems on despair-ridden mode. Near the end there’s a comment of hers about Vic Chesnutt (who apparently considered “Your Ghost” to be a “girly” song), which adds to the somberness. Kristin also mentions Chesnutt being able to knock things out – I suppose this was recorded before his ultimate death. The album concludes with the bluesy “Tuesday Night”, which is a fitting closure.

Clocking at one hour twelve minutes this holds up pretty well, not being monotonous. Well, after a while it might sound a bit samey, but only because you’d wish to be there instead of blindly listening. Both longtime Hersh nuts and puzzled noobs will probably enjoy the set.

Link in comments.




‘Come with your ears… leave with your ears!’

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