March 20th was a big music day with cd releases with Modest Mouse, LCD System, Panda Bear, Low and Andrew Bird. All over the internet bloggers raced to their keyboards to talk about the albums that pitchfork liked, and with good reason becuase they are all good albums. I haven't seen as much coverage for Willy Mason's sophmore release If the Ocean Gets Rough, his first on his new major label home at alstralwerks (which got a less favorable pitchfork review).
The story goes that Willy Mason was discovered by Connor Oberst playing guitar backstage at a Bright Eyes show and was subsequently signed to Oberst's Team Love where he released his first EP and the full length Where the Humans Eat. Both the EP and LP were beautiful stripped down fold albums, and all the tracks on Where the Humans Eat were recorded in three takes or less. I remember hearing the track Oxygen for the first time which was on both his first two records. Its such a simple but powerful song with some of the best protest lyrics that have been written by my generation.
The incredibly strong lyricism that was found in that song and a handful of others on his first two albums seems to be missing on his first major label release. The songs on If the Ocean Gets Rough seem to have a knack for rallying around just one line. The recording quality on this record has definetly taken a step up with a full band playing on all the tracks replete with shimmering guitars and a string section which works against an album that might otherwise be a folk album.
I now find myself halfway through this review trying to dig myself out of the hole I've dug myself into because although I am dissappointed by this album, I still like it. Willy Mason has a beautiful voice and there are some really good tracks on here, my favorites being riptide and the closer when the leaves have fallen. I would post tracks from the album here but 1) I am afraid of the RIAA and 2) The whole album is on his myspace @ http://www.myspace.com/willymason .
I will post my favorite Willy Mason song of all time though which was on his first Team Love EP.
mp3:Willy Mason - Waiter at the Station
Another disc released this tuesday which hasn't gotten a whole lot of attention is Snake The Crown the Cross's second equalvision LP Cotton Teeth. This record marks a bit of a different direction for the TSTCTC with a simpler more direct alt countryish sound than their first record Mander Salis which could have been mistaken for a The Good Life album.
The Snake the Crown .... is a standout on its Equalvision a label known for Hardcore (BANE, Converge, among others), Coheed and Cambria, old Pop Punk (Saves the Day, The Stryder) and lately Screamo (Chiodos, Fall of troy). They did recently sign Dustin Kensrue of Thrice to do a solo album that has country roots not unlike TSTCTC.
The opening track of Cotton Teeth though lyrically simple and repetitive sets the soundscape for the album in with guitars that twinge, a clap track, and eerie synth someplace far in the background. The album also has a set of reoccuring characters Jim, John, Jack and Sue who tie the songs together almost as points of reference although I wouldn't exactly call this a concept album. Overall this album is pretty sweet, well recorded (by the cellist from the ataris), well thought out, fits together well but there aren't any songs here that really excite me. Here's one for you to check out.
mp3: The Snake the Crown the Cross - Behold the River
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