Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sunday song revived

Rocking chair row
Image: alice ttlg

Back when I updated more frequently, I'd try to post what I thought of as "Sunday songs" on the seventh day. Songs that evoke that blanket of silence that descends on the world Sunday mornings, even here in the noisy city. They should be gentle and unforced, unemphatic, sporadically shadowed, sometimes sun-dappled, fundamentally good-natured, even as they're tinged with mild melancholy or regret. A Sunday song is the sound of settling into a creaky armchair with a good novel, walking straight country roads with a big dog or stirring a steaming amber pot of vegetable soup. Comfortable, but just faintly uneasy. After all, the world waits tomorrow.

40 Stripes - Blitzen Trapper

Blitzen Trapper isn't the simplest band to pin down. I included their shimmering psychedelic pop song "Silver Moon" in July's monthly mix. Just as often, though, the Portland band rides Americana's rutted road, flying the flags of CSNY (and its offshoots), The Flying Burrito Brothers and other country rock icons of 70s radio. Like Blitzen's pop tracks, "40 Stripes," brims with wistful wonder, even as its rollick & twang & ting marks the moments of a lover's growing disillusionment, the "Heavy doses of what may be/Catching on to your sorcery/Change in me."

From Folk Off!! (Amazon: US, UK, eMusic), it also appears on Blitzen Trapper's Field Rexx (Amazon: US, UK). Blitzen Trapper's Myspace, Web site.

Hoquiam - Damien Jurado

If you didn't look it up to find it's a town in Washington (Jurado's home state), you might think Hoquiam is some wonderful neologism. Say, hole + requiem = a remembering of the dead, but of a spotty, inconsistent, misremembering kind. What a puzzling way to open an album. And also appropriate, given that And Now That I'm In Your Shadow (Amazon: US, UK, iTunes) is a record of the dead and broken and the stories we tell about them (us), about memory, that rice paper, spindle-legged structure. Densely intertextual, the verses weave references to Jurado's previous records before yielding to brief "You should have" misgivings. Each refrain ends with a period of sorts, a rising note that makes you think is this the end? "Hoquiam" continues when you don't think it will, and then it leads into the album's next track ("Denton, TX"), and endings and beginnings, the past and present get all mashed and muddled, just like in life.

Damien Jurado's Myspace, Web site.

This is fun: Each Note Secure has posted Harp magazine's 50 Most Essential CDs since 2001.


Anonymous Neil said...

Thanks for introducing me to Damien Jurado (he writes, two months later). The two tracks you mention are excellent, although I find the rest of the album sorta blurring together. The lyrics distinguish the songs markedly, since they tell very specific, evocative stories. But the sameness of the musical approach (apart from the first two songs and "What Were The Chances") blunts the variety more than a bit.

11:55 AM  

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