(here we will discuss the son volt album, endlessly)

okay, so i’m going to try to contain the son volt ranting within this one thread.

it’s the best jay farrar work since wide swing tremolo. yesterday gob iron came up on the shuffle and i realized i’d completely forgotten that worthy side project within 48 hours of hearing this record.

two things off the bat:

two broad strokes of speculative blurblosity talked of ‘intriguing new directions’ (or whatever) and “farrar’s enduring optimism” (or whatever.) truth is, that was just bad industry writing talking there, so forget about any preconceptions of ‘novelty’ or ‘outward bound blah’ vibes. here’s what up on the new son volt record:

– reoccurring, abbey road-ish fender rhodes vibes.

– the fruition of farrar’s move from a weird, modern moral realism (the rural route sleeps/while the city bleeds all over itself) to weird, satirical pastoralism that unfolds in odd sonic and syntactical experiments. the record is ‘about’ pynchon-ish yo-yoing around by a fugazi kid. the sights, sounds and socializing described answer the longstanding question of how blade runner might’ve played if it’d been directed by robert altman.

– almost no lead guitar; instead, wash-y hazes and precise, odd chordal moves. that said, there’re a couple moments – ‘manufactured society,’ in particular – of genuine heaviness a la sabbath.

discuss or avoid.

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9 Responses to “(here we will discuss the son volt album, endlessly)”

  1. david Says:

    it’s like jay finally figured out how to blend the old son volt circa WST with his solo work. i can do without three of the songs, slow hearse (though it’s kind of growing on me), the horn song (you know the one) and L train is a little too local/topical or something for me. the rest of the album is righteous and the bonus tracks carnival blues and waking world should’ve been on the final cut. standout trax to me are beacon soul, satellite, and the search.

  2. david Says:

    on a related note i recently rediscovered “dues” from thirdshiftgrottoslack. great tune. if you decide you need a little jay guitar solo action after swimming in the new release for a while, this is yer track.

  3. lexdexter Says:

    speaking of bonus tracks, “houdini punches” blows my mind. the gtr’s like REM circa reckoning, and the odd harmonies at the chorus get me every time.

    i absolutely agree about “L Train,” but i love ‘slow hearse’ for all its fragmentariness.

    yeah, thirdshiftgrottoslack has some high points, and dues is very high up. what bums me out is ‘kind of madness,’ which is like an early, failed attempt to get at some of the imagery he nails on the Search. also, as we’ve discussed previously, ‘damn shame’ chafes me. – p

  4. david Says:

    that ep is really only good for station to station and dues, but they are worth the 4 bucks or whatever i paid for it. kind of madness has a great chorus but wierd disjointed verses.

    and yeah, houdini punches is the other standout bonus cut on the search. i like that he tried to capture the nightmare of sprawl in exurbia, but it came off clumsy and half baked. i almost like coltrane free, the accordian is cool and he should work with it more, but that damned synth-sitar-guitar sound is totally lame and ruins the song. jay’s messed with that shit since sebastopol and it has to stop. but i guess that’s why they’re bonus cuts and not main cuts, eh?

    i just got a copy of michelle shocked’s arkansas traveller lp where she performs an updated version of soldier’s joy with uncle tupelo, jay rocks the verses. heard it?

  5. lexdexter Says:

    dude! the shocked sounds OHHAWE-some. i must pursue it. you have it on vinyl? when the hell are you and snoot going to make me a mixtape, anyway? what’s the use of having a 1995 ford escort if i cannot use the tape deck..oh, wait. the deck’s (temporarily) busted.

    also, i should mention that circadian rhythym is going to go down with the greats. when the two newbies were debuted on the OKEMAH tour last year, i was way more excited by this one than meth. i was waiting for it to be overproduced and messed up, but no. it’s way more delicate a performance than the more rawking live versions, but it’s just as (hauntingly) forceful. brad rice’s laid-back playing here is just nuts, totally like what I’m trying to put in place behind certain squids tunes. it makes me wonder if i’d been listening to this song while writing a bunch of gtr lines i subsequently became proud of.

    adrenaline and heresy is a trip, too. as close to ‘personal’ as jay farrar has gotten, ever. and the upbeat, out-of-nowhere gbv-style refrain that it resolves itself through. wow.

    this shit will be amazing to see live, in congress with the back catalog. i put on straightaways the other day, and realized that i’d almost forgotten about that side of jay. this album is really pretty massive. oh, and i’m sending you an earlier, cooler take on exurbia from the OATMOR sessions. – p

    ps – RIGHT EFFING ON about the sitar thing…c’mon, man!

    pps- ah, and he says ‘shit’ on this record.

  6. david Says:

    i haven’t had a tape deck that i could record on since the salad days of austin. actually i still have it squirreled away in the attic, along with snoot’s. even though listening to music is easier and more convenient than ever with ipods and such, i do miss a good mixtape.

    and i misspoke about the shocked “lp”, it’s actually on a cd i got from the library and ripped to my ipod. yes, been hitting the library’s cd collection pretty heavily lately. i love michelle shocked, especially “short, sharp, shocked,” and had been wanting to get this one for a while, every track is with a different artist or group.

    ditto on circadian rhythm, incredible song. they are playing here in may but it’s at one of those damn “riverstages” type outdoor summer music festivals, which are kinda cool cuz they’re usually cheap or free and you get to see a lot of bands, but you get such a mix of people, most of whom have never heard the bands featured, that the performance isn’t as enjoyable. nothing like fucking vandy kids talking over their $8 bud lights while i’m trying to listen to circadian rhythm. god i’m such a snob. so, i might have to truck down to b’ham or chattanooga to see the shows there too.

  7. lexdexter Says:

    from the Onion A/V
    “More problematic are his lyrics, like in “Underground Dream”: “Guns or education / the answer’s larger than the Hollywood sign / bigger souls can see the writing / on the burning wall of eternity.” The burning wall of eternity? Did a goth kid write that, rather than the guy whose songwriting once overshadowed Jeff Tweedy’s? Things don’t improve later on “Automatic Society”: “Cash back heart attack you want fries with that?” Son Volt has long offered mixed bags on its records, The Search included. With everything it has going for it, it should be a lot better than it is.”
    “[/quote]

    honestly, i think those criticisms are fair, but also selective. the lines in question are a little bit “too easy,” as somebody else put it. however, there are less of those lyrical growing pains, and more grown-up, integrated turns of phrase on this record than there have been since jay started writing in this new way.

  8. Kyle's Mammy Says:

    David,
    Let me know if you wanna swing down to the B’ham show. I’ve got accommodations and stuff, yo.

    K

  9. david Says:

    thanks kyle, i may take you up on that. though my summer music budget is looking more and more slim…


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