too much typing—since 2003


trails of once it was and what it could be

I've been obsessing for the past few weeks over the Doleful Lions' 2002 release Out Like a Lamb. I'd heard the band's earlier release The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here! - and while I liked several songs quite a bit, overall it didn't compel me to pay much attention to the band. A year or so back, when rumors of the eventual change in e-Music's billing system were flying and I downloaded 5,362 albums in preparation, one of them was Out Like a Lamb. Because I am lame (and because 5,362 albums takes a long time for me to work through), I only recently actually heard the album - and when I did, it was a bit of a revelation. I'd brought one of the e-Music binge-CDs-full-of-mp3s out to the car, and I couldn't figure out who this band was that I was hearing, except that I really liked it. I could swear I'd heard "Surfside Motel" before - was it a cover of some obscure '60s track buried away on some comp somewhere? There was a sort of spooky, psychedelic folk quality that rather reminded me of Damon & Naomi's more haunting material, but the singer's quavery voice gave the music a different quality from Damon Krukowski's more straightforward singing, while the female singer's vocals weren't as pure as Naomi Yang's. Anyway, once I got home I checked the files and immediately pulled out Rats/Werewolves, thinking I must have misremembered what it sounded like. No - it's still a pretty good record, but the sound is completely different.

So when I read that Doleful Lions had a new release, Shaded Lounge and Mausoleum, coming out on Parasol, I zipped over to the label's site and ordered it. I haven't fully digested it yet, but it's yet another evolution in the band's sound. (I haven't yet heard Song Cyclops Vol. 1, their album between Rats/Werewolves and Out Like a Lamb.) The female singer, unfortunately, is gone - her voice provided a good contrast with Jonathan Scott's - and Scott's voice seems rougher, a bit hoarse and weakened in its lower registers. Curiously, that effect isn't as audible in his upper range, as you can hear in "Destroyers of the West." So far, Shaded Lounge and Mausoleum isn't the immediate hit that Out Like a Lamb was with me.

I like Damon & Naomi's new one The Earth Is Blue (you can buy it from their website) pretty well so far, though. (As an aside, one reason I could never do the posting-up-to-the-minute manic-contempo thing is that it takes me a long time, many several listens, to fully form opinions of most things. So in a year, I might be saying, yeah, The Earth Is Blue is D&N's best record by miles...or I might say, man, what was I thinking, it's mostly lame. Anyway.) Despite its title, "The Robot Speaks" is not their attempt to go all lektroronic on our asses; no, it's a fairly typical example of their style, with the hushed opening giving way halfway through to a storm of guitar from Michio Kurihara (from Japanese psych-folk act Ghost - who's apparently joined D&N as a full-time member, as opposed to guesting as the entire band did on that album a few years back) before subsiding into the opening prettiness buoyed by Naomi Yang's typically wandering upper-register bass parts. I do think I'll like it better than Dana over at The Mystical Beast seems to, whom I mention here primarily because I'm pretty sure it's through him that I got into D&N - although I probably would have gotten there on my own, via the Galaxie 500 connection.

That's a lotta purty music there - I may have to put up something ugly and mean just to counteract it. We'll see...

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