July 30, 2014
Sacred Bones 2014
I am absolutely floored by the beauty of these recordings. Like klonopin laced champagne, Love is full of woozy and off-kilter exercises in song writing. Three chords and a blindly bashed piano start off “White Child” and by the time songwriter Damon McMahon’s vibrato fires out of the speakers everything is spinning. This is a record built around minimal downstrokes of a cheap acoustic guitar and whatever else was lying around while the session was taking place, seemingly. Often times a floor tom will be ham-fisted to emphasize the particular emotion or a viola will screech into the mix and either lull or unsettle but more often than not it’s simply McMahon, a piano or a guitar, and his demons.
This is the most overlooked record of the year and that is both a shame and a blessing. Before I listened to it I read through the song list and was intrigued by titles such as the aforementioned “White Child,” “Lonely Richard,” “Everybody Is Crazy,” and “Lilac In Hand.” As the label Sacred Bones is wont to do they’re listed right there on the front cover, upper right hand side of course. I was so drawn to them that I didn’t notice the topless woman either taking off, or putting on her jacket in the fog that makes up the album art. Anyways, this is a record that does everything right.
Just yesterday I was on the downtown 4 train while “Sixteen” came through the headphones and suddenly the horrible smell rising off the man sitting next to me disappeared and I was no longer dreading the dinner shift I was about to suffer through in the chaos prone restaurant that employs me. Sounding something like what a 7-year-old piano student would do to warm up for his/her hour-long lesson the song starts off. Vocals take over the left and right channels and it remains this way for 3 minutes until it simply just… ends. Same thing with “Lonely Richard.” Think Lou Reed’s “Heroin” being cut with Issac Brock’s “Styrofoam Boots” while Daniel Johnston watches from behind a two way mirror. Yeah. These songs don’t go where they’re supposed to, they go where they need to and I admire anyone who takes that kind of risk.
Love is a triumph of the will and it’s always gorgeous.
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