Sunday, May 25, 2014

Album Review: The For Carnation - Promised Works

Promised Works is a compilation of The For Carnation's early, mid 90s material, drawn from 1995 EP Fight Songs and 1996's mini-album Marshmallows.  Grace Beneath The Pines is à quiet start, Brian McMahan's whispered vocals underpinned by vaguely threatening rising and falling guitars provided by McMahan and David Pajo.
After brief guitar instrumental How I Beat The Devil, we get the steadily creeping Get And Stay Get March.  On The Swing invents the higher quality end of the 'Quiet is the new Loud' troubadours of the early noughties, while Imyr, Marshmallow has a soothing, conventional melody and Salo growls moodily.
We also get Slint-like workouts like I Wear The Gold, Winter Lair and Preparing to Receive You which have borderline atonal guitar lines.  Interesting to see where so-called 'post-rock' sprang out of.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Album Review: The Durutti Column - Short Stories for Pauline

What should have been the fourth Durutti Column album in 1983 was shelved on the advice of Tony Wilson. It finally came out in 2012.  On the evidence of this, the album was hidden away too long.  It opens with classic, forlorn Vini Reilly guitar lines on At First Sight. Plus, you should hear him play piano, as he does on this and the arrestingly beautiful Duet.  This latter track is a piano and viola duet, courtesy of violinist Blaine Reininger, and has an almost operatic, Italian feel.  At two and a half minutes long, it's lamentably short, yet at the same time there is not a note wasted.  It's a highpoint in Reilly's catalogue.
College features more violin, while Invitations is piano dominated. Yet everything is framed by Reilly's otherworldly guitar.  On this album his guitar lines take on a more romantic, faraway feel than usual.  Eric Sleichim's saxophone makes a not entirely welcome entrance on Destroy, She Said and later on Cocktail and Mirror B.  On the other hand Model is an unadorned throwback to Reilly's earliest material. 
Vini Reilly introduces his gentle vocals to Take Some Time Out, while lofty keyboards join his voice on A Silence.  The aforementioned Pauline sings on Mirror A.  The album is one of Reilly's strongest, with other instruments enhancing rather than overwhelming it.  Wilson, what were you thinking?