Friday, April 27, 2007

Elvis Perkins - Ash Wednesday

(I would like to start out by apologizing for the lack of reviews lately. For those of you who don't know, I recently opened an online record store. There's some really cool stuff up there. If you have a chance, head on over and check it out. I'm very proud of it. It's called The Rooftop. Let me know what you think of it.)

And now, on with the review...

I had read something about this guy in Paste at one point or another, and, from their short description, I thought he sounded like something that I would like. I downloaded this album from Emusic, and was in love with it by the first minute.
The first song, “While You Were Sleeping”, is probably the best song on the album. It starts off as a happy little folk song, with a guitar and a voice and not much else. Over the course of the 6+ minutes, it grows into something amazing and beautiful. Instruments are added slowly, so that, by the end, you’re in an ocean of sound, with drums, strings, bass, horns, and other such gorgeousness to keep you company.
“May Day!” stands out as a down track. Maybe it’s because it sounds nothing like the rest of the album…almost like he was striving for a radio track with it, or something of that nature. It’s not a terrible song…in fact, it’s actually a pretty cool song…but it just doesn’t mesh with the rest of the album, and it throws me off every single time.
“The Night and the Liquor” also seems a bit long in spots, with his faux-yodeling and everything, but, other than those moments, it’s a pretty good song.
Those are really the only couple of tracks I don’t care for a ton. And it’s not even that I dislike those songs…I just love the rest of the album so much that anything less than stellar stands out as a disappointment.
“All the Night Without Love” is a great song…a song that would not be out of place being played at a French cafĂ©.
“Ash Wednesday” (a reference to the day after 9/11) and “Good Friday” are beautiful to the point of heartbreaking. When listening to either of these songs I find it very difficult not to drop whatever I’m doing at the moment and just listening. There’s a pain in his voice during these songs that really isn’t present in any of the other songs.
Speaking of which…
The musicianship and songwriting on this album is really great. However, his voice is the best part of this album. He is somehow able to mix the uniqueness of Thom Yorke with the world-weary groan-and-gravel of mid-60s Bob Dylan.
Granted, there’s nothing really too groundbreaking on this album. It’s not like listening to Revolver for the first time or anything like that. But, all the same, it’s a great album with a number of amazing moments. It’s also (along with The Good, The Bad & The Queen and Neon Bible) one of the best releases so far this year.

Rating: 9.3

Essential Tracks: “Emile’s Vietnam in the Sky”, “Sleep Sandwich”

Favorite Tracks: “While You Were Sleeping”, “Ash Wednesday”, “Good Friday”

Check out his website here

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