a john henry memorial - "battle of the black cloud"
new batch of acoustic ballad from important songwriter. recorded in a few takes the winter of 2003. added sparse backdrop and sounds via wires/metal/pipes from the drunk kids around a year later. cleaned up and released as is. truly beautiful.
"your ghost and the teenagers playing dead"
"battle of the black cloud (one)"
"rotting worm food"
"its cold outside"
"better days to come"
"where is my heart?"
"the shallow carpenter"
"they dont like you"
I love getting something from a label I'm familiar with and being totally caught off guard. Unread is a label that receives a lot of love from me (see the label spotlight in this update). I usually have a pretty good idea of what to expect as far as their tapes go. A John Henry Memorial is a project I have some familiarity with, but this tape showed up unexpectedly this week. That's not the only way it caught me with my pants down. These lofi recordings are mostly just guitar and vocals by JHM kingpin, Davis, performed live. They're meant to be quick sketches of future songs. But sometimes, it's the scribbles which are the real gems, and such is the case here. These 12 songs are excellent - there's not a weak one among them. The full band feeling of "Rotting Worm Food" has hints of old Palace records. The warbling noises laid down on tracks like "Your Head" and "Your Ghost and Teenagers Playing Dead" by label-boss, Chris Fischer, add layers of immense texture to the proceedings. It's an excellent combination. The best song on this tape, though, is the Beatles-tinged "Where is My Heart?" The full band line-up returns, and Davis howls in his stretched falsetto. It's a brilliant song and shows JHM's real skill as a songwriter. This guy is an underrated talent in every sense of the word. There aren't many who have heard of him, but that will change over time. Get your hands on this tape now. In five years, you'll be telling your hipster friends you were there from the beginning. Recommended. 8/10 - foxy digitalis